Confessions of a Playful Agnostic

Let's begin with a confession. Many years ago I watched an interview with William Kunstler, the lawyer who defended the Chicago Seven back in the hippie days of the 60's. He defined himself as a "playful anarchist." I will paraphrase his definition and confess to being a "playful agnostic." It is within this context that I offer a few comments on John F. Haught's illuminating book 'God After Darwin.'

Haught maintains that "Darwin's portrayal of the way the universe works actually invites us to think about God once again in a meaningful and truly inspiring way." This is the crux of Haught's argument. The concept of evolution, rather than being a hindrance to religious belief, actually is a benefit, as it allows for a new way of looking at both religion and divinity. Here is Haught's concluding paragraph which I believe is an excellent summation of his thesis:

"A world in evolution does not follow a strict plan but is nonetheless given its being, value, and meaning by God's vision for it. The God of evolution does not fix things in advance, nor hoard selfishly the joy of creating. Instead God shares with all creatures their own openness to an indeterminate future. Such an interpretation does not destroy the cosmic hierarchy but by its openness to new being brings special significance to every epoch of nature's unfolding, including humanity's unique history in a still unfinished universe."

It is all here. The reconciliation of evolution and a God who does not control but rather provides possibilities. A God of vision, a God of the future, contrasting with a God of the past. A God of change, and of endless creation, freed by Darwin to enlighten us on our journey.

Here's my problem. I concur that the only way to accept the staggering amount of innocent human suffering on the planet is to posit a God who does not control or intervene. In other words an evolutionary God that allows the world to unfold according to its laws but with enough randomness to elicit change. A delicate balance of law, order, and chaos. A balance which provides a seemingly endless amount of diversity and beauty in the universe. But how do we know there is God behind all of this and if the universe is scheduled to disappear into itself in the very distant future then what does that say about a theology that postulates God as the future.

I am an agnostic because I can't say with any certainty that I comply with a theistic vision of the world. I am playful because I know that I won't be around in the number of billions of years that it will take for the universe to disappear, but somehow that still matters to me.

back to what's new next

comments by Disqus
Change Theme!