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Creator Or Enabler


Brian Holley
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From the Evolutionary Christianity series (good to see so many responses on the previous thread), I discovered Brian Swimme's 'The Universe is a Green Dragon' and an anthology of Teilhard de Chardin by Ursula King, which I bought. I have to say that Swimmes' book brought me into a new experience of whatever it is we refer to as 'God'. My previous understanding was, to say the least fuzzy, and I was happy with the experience alone, but I'd like to share a little epiphany with members.

 

I looked up the origin of the word 'create' and was amazed to discover that it didn't enter the English language until the 14th century. According to my Bloomsbury disctionary of word origens, it is a verb formed from the word 'creature' and its conotation is 'to grow', 'to rear' or 'to breed'. Thomas Acquinas said that if we have an incorrect understanding of the creation we will have an incorrect understanding of God. I wonder if our thinking of creation as something that is designed and made might be the route of many of our difficulties with God. Such was not the meaning of 'create' originally. Thinking of God as a grower, rearer or breeder, changes the whole idea. Might it be appropriate to change the term 'creator' to 'enabler' for, in the light of our knowledge of evolution, that is what seems to have been going on over the last 13.7 billion years? Love does not force its attention, but it enables where it can. Where it can't, it forbears. Thus my term for God: "Enabling Love".

 

What do you think?

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In his description of process theology, Alfred North Whitehead describes God as a "lure toward novelty." I have never quite understood what he meant about novelty, but thinking of God's power as persuasive rather than coercive appeals to me. In this sense, I think of God as continuously interacting with "creation," and therefore involved in it from "the beginning" but not necessarily doing the creating.

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This is one of those areas my thinking is very muddled. I think God guides creation in some fashion, but I don't have a clear opinion about if this is Whitehead's non-coercive, not-omnipotent-by-standard-definitions version, or something more unequivocal.

 

I can't really back it up, but my current view is that the various guiding and enabling functions of divinity are more associated with the Holy Ghost than with the Father. I rather like Iranaeus' pre-Nicene argument that the Holy Ghost and Christ are the "hands of God."

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In his description of process theology, Alfred North Whitehead describes God as a "lure toward novelty." I have never quite understood what he meant about novelty, but thinking of God's power as persuasive rather than coercive appeals to me. In this sense, I think of God as continuously interacting with "creation," and therefore involved in it from "the beginning" but not necessarily doing the creating.

 

Yes, thanks for that Whitehead quote. I guess that since absolutely every aspect of every creature in nature - plants, animals bacteria - is unique, I do understand that 'lure toward novelty'. As I'm seeing it, it is doing what can be done, rather than what should be done, which is our own manufacturing process.

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This is one of those areas my thinking is very muddled. I think God guides creation in some fashion, but I don't have a clear opinion about if this is Whitehead's non-coercive, not-omnipotent-by-standard-definitions version, or something more unequivocal.

 

I can't really back it up, but my current view is that the various guiding and enabling functions of divinity are more associated with the Holy Ghost than with the Father. I rather like Iranaeus' pre-Nicene argument that the Holy Ghost and Christ are the "hands of God."

 

 

Thanks for this, Nick. I found a useful way to think of the trinity recently using parts of speach - first person, the father; second person, the Christ; third person, the indwelling Holy Spirit. Recently a friend died and in a eulogy at the church it was said of her that she was an 'enabler'. I thought then that this is the way God works in nature and in me. I have to become an enabler.

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Thanks for this, Nick. I found a useful way to think of the trinity recently using parts of speach - first person, the father; second person, the Christ; third person, the indwelling Holy Spirit. Recently a friend died and in a eulogy at the church it was said of her that she was an 'enabler'. I thought then that this is the way God works in nature and in me. I have to become an enabler.

 

That is an admirable thing to become.

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In his description of process theology, Alfred North Whitehead describes God as a "lure toward novelty." I have never quite understood what he meant about novelty, but thinking of God's power as persuasive rather than coercive appeals to me. In this sense, I think of God as continuously interacting with "creation," and therefore involved in it from "the beginning" but not necessarily doing the creating.

 

GW - well done! Another Process Theologist.

 

'Lure towards novelty' is that which errs towards creativity. It is progressive as it is challenging - at times scary even. It is the risk God took when he let us have free will. God lures us, seduces, in the directions he wants while never imposing his will.

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I remember reading an article in the news awhile back about how Genesis 1:1 is being mistranslated in English. When it says God created the heavens and Earth, the Hebrew word for created actually literally means formed in English. If this is true, then that meant that God didn't create the heavens and Earth but formed them from already existing material and that the doctrine of ex nihilo is a later Christian doctrine. I wish I could find that article.

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I remember reading an article in the news awhile back about how Genesis 1:1 is being mistranslated in English. When it says God created the heavens and Earth, the Hebrew word for created actually literally means formed in English. If this is true, then that meant that God didn't create the heavens and Earth but formed them from already existing material and that the doctrine of ex nihilo is a later Christian doctrine. I wish I could find that article.

 

Neon,

 

The Hebrew verb used is bara. According to "The Brown-Driver-Briggs" dictionary of Biblical Hebrew, it can mean 'create, 'shape,'form,'fashion.' Like in English, in which we have no special verb for create ex nihilo, the Biblical author could have meant any of these. But, it is almost certain the author had no concept of the Big Bang.

 

George

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Neon,

 

The Hebrew verb used is bara. According to "The Brown-Driver-Briggs" dictionary of Biblical Hebrew, it can mean 'create, 'shape,'form,'fashion.' Like in English, in which we have no special verb for create ex nihilo, the Biblical author could have meant any of these. But, it is almost certain the author had no concept of the Big Bang.

 

George

 

Interesting. Thanks for that, Geroge. I discovered that the word 'create' didn't appear in English until about the 14th Century. According to my Bloomsbury Dictionary of Word Origins, was a verb derived from the noun, 'creature' and derived from the Latin 'creatus': produce, in the 13th century. It has connotations of 'grow', 'rear' and 'breed' - not to make, as we have it now.

 

Brian

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