The Center For Progressive Christianity
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Evolutionary Christianity
Are We Evolving?
April 2010
"In an evolutionary context, the goal of the spiritual life is not peace; it's perpetual development. It's about the ecstasy that compels us to create the future. And it's not a future that's going to unfold by itself, it's a future that we must create through direct, conscious, intentional engagement with the life-process itself." 
- Andrew Cohen

In This Issue
What Is Evolutionary Christianity?
The Salvation of Religion
The Four Tenets of Evolutionary Christianity
Does Evolution Favor Religion?
Evolution Favoring Religion
The Great Story
Evolution: The Next Step
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All Thing Are Connected
By: Karen Holmgren
A few years ago I read The Universe Story by Brian Swimme and Thomas Berry in which the 13.7 billion year history of our evolving and emerging Universe is told as both a scientific, historical account and as a sacred story. Something in this clicked for me and I began to see the natural world through newly opened eyes, discovering a level of joy and wonder that far exceeded my childhood experience.

Season of Creation
A Poem
By: Bruce Sanguin
spruce bud opening
Scatter us, O Holy One,
like seed into fertile soil.
Bury us, in the loam
of what is yet to come.
Give us the wisdom, Sower of Life
to learn the delicate art of dying,
again and again,
until we know the difference
between the shell and the seed,
the persona and the soul,
the role and the real.
Crack open our hard shells
and release the thin filament within,
that knows to reach for the sun,
soul's fragile ambassador
heralding the universe of life
waiting to emerge.
Draw our greening souls upward,
in love with light,
And drive our roots deep,
allured by sacred darkness.
Grow us.
We consent to your evolutionary grace.

This Month's Contributors

Kaila smiles
Michael Dowd
Author of: Thank God for Evolution

Bruce Sanguin
Bruce Sanguin
Author of The Emerging Churchand Darwin, Divinity, and The Dance of the Cosmos
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Fred Plumer
TCPC President
Karen Holmgren
Karen Holmgren
Jesse Tanner
Jesse Tanner
blog writer
Deshna Ubeda
Deshna Ubeda
TCPC Associate Director/Editor
New Book: I Want To Be Left Behind
By: Brenda Peterson

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With stirring immediacy, Peterson describes the traumatic awakenings during the 1960s and 1970s that inspired her to reject the concept of the Rapture and embrace the effort to preserve earthly creation.
Visit our Store to Purchase

There are a growing number of dedicated thinkers and spiritual leaders who are writing, speaking and teaching of a new world view and new ways to interpret the Christian story in it. Dynamic theologies and renewed Christologies are springing up often stimulated by our scientific and philosophical thinkers, with a few theological revolutionaries thrown into the mix.
These creative people are talking, writing and teaching about a major shift of consciousness. In the words of Michael Dowd, "It is a shift from seeing ourselves as separate beings, placed on Earth,(the world was made for us,) to seeing ourselves as a self-reflexive expressions of Earth, (we were made for the world) is a major shift in our understanding of who we are and what we are. It is a shift at the deepest possible level: our identity or sense of self."

Somehow these folks have been able to find the words and concepts to describe and define this shift, something that many people, particularly young adults, have been feeling for some time but have been unable to find the words or even a point of reference to express it. 

What Is Evolutionary Christianity?
By: Bruce Sanguin

multi racial and generational community
We are facing a planetary crisis that is unparalleled in human history. There is overwhelming scientific evidence that we are at a tipping point. Species extinction is accelerating, global warming is melting the polar icecaps at a rate that exceeds all scientific predictions, and our air, water, and soil is rapidly becoming a toxic soup that is ending up in our own bodies. We have only a few years to reorient ourselves and avert a disaster from which there may be no return.

The good news is that there is an emerging groundswell of people who are awakening to a universe that is alive, purposeful, and unfolding in trajectory toward increased complexity, consciousness, and compassion. It is dawning on many of us that after 13.7 billion years, we are the presence of the evolutionary process that has become self-aware - and that while the beauty of the cosmos consists of its splendid diversity, there is no disconnection anywhere in the universe.

The Salvation of Religion: From Beliefs to Knowledge
By: Michael Dowd

earth from space
The Salvation of Religion: From Beliefs to Knowledge

Much has been written and countless discussions have ensued in recent years about the seemingly inevitable decline of Christianity and rise of secularism in America in the 21st century, which is along the lines of what happened in Europe in the mid 20th century.
Thinking and speaking of God in traditional ways (thereby using mostly biblical metaphors) has cost all forms of traditional faith in the western world both relevance and credibility. Indeed, I'd go so far as to suggest...
  • The primary cause of the Church's decline in size and influence in Europe, and now also in America, is this: valuing the Bible as the only scripture while failing to see that today's science, interpreted meaningfully and mythically, reveals God's nature, God's ways, and God's guidance in many ways far more accurately than anything the biblical writers could have accessed millennia ago.
The Four Core Tenets of Evolutionary Christianity
By: Michael Dowd

planet earth miraclesEvolutionary Christianity values big history -- the 14-billion-year epic of physical, biological, and cultural evolution -- as divine revelation and as our common creation story. Here are four core tenets of Evolutionary Christianity:

1. It is impossible not to trivialize and demean God and gospel without a science-based, deep-time appreciation of human nature, our shared ancestry, the trajectory of big history, and the creative role played by death at all levels of the universe.
Does Evolution Favor Religion?
By Mark Vernon
Religion Dispatches
Posted on 3/26/10

compassion caring
I was at a conference just recently, where we told tales of vampire bats that share their blood, bacteria that work together, and monkeys that ease group tensions by making love. It set me thinking about the evolution of morality, for there is one story of it that's often told, and it begins with a problem. Natural selection favors the best-adapted individual: it's called survival of fittest. It explains why we feel fear or lust. But how can this 'selfish' account of natural selection explain moral emotions like altruism that might lead the individual to abandon their self-interest in favor of others, even to the point of self-sacrifice?

Evolution Favoring Religion
By Jesse F. Tanner  

community painting
A recent post by Mark Vernon of Religion Dispatches traces some findings of David Sloan Wilson who is a biologist researching and suggesting that the so-called "selfish gene" proposed by evolutionary biologists of the past is a fallacy. Instead, Wilson's research has lead him to posit the idea that we haven't, as humans, evolved toward the ends and purposes only of the self but rather more toward the aims and benefit of the groups in which individuals live.

Although I haven't delved very deeply into the findings of Wilson, what he's suggesting is quite exciting to me. The notion that we are genetically geared toward doing what's best for the communities in which we work, play, love, live, etc. just makes sense to me from my own personal experience of the world but also from the perspective of evolutionary theory.

The Great Story
By Michael Dowd

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For a long time, so-called supernatural (pre-natural) spirituality gave us the best answers we had. Prior to advances in technology and scientific ways of testing truth claims, factual answers were, in fact, simply not available. It was not just difficult to understand infection before microscopes brought bacteria into focus; it was impossible. It wasn't just difficult to understand the structure of the Universe before telescopes allowed us to see galaxies; it was impossible. Similarly, I now suggest that it is impossible to understand God's nature and how God is communicating to humanity today if we look only to the Bible and ignore current, public revelation available through science.
Science, well done, is God teaching us, revealing the workings of the Universe to us right here and now.
Evolution: The Next Step
By: Howard Grace

Newbury Progressive Christian Director

flower openingAs a Christian who is centred on the spiritual aspect rather than on literal doctrinal interpretations, I see no conflict between evolution and my faith. In fact a realisation about how humanity is evolving shows me an inspiring path ahead. I personally see the evolutionary process as an expression of God. (In saying this I am not assuming anything about the nature of God which I personally have come to understand in a mystical sense.) But before considering the moral and spiritual implications let us consider briefly how this evolutionary process has developed. There seems to be a large consensus on four distinctive steps.

Thank you for taking this journey with us as we continue to encourage the growth and understanding of a Christianity that is open, inclusive, just, loving and compassionate.  As you delve deeper into the heart of this beautiful and authentic spiritual path, we hope you share it with those around you, educate those who desire to learn, and most importantly let it fill you with light and loving kindness.
Fred Plumer
And the Team at The Center For Progressive Christianity
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Until June 1, 2010