We are still left, however, with the question asked at the end of the section on love: Where does love come from? Only now it can be enlarged to a perhaps even more basic question: Whence comes the whole force of evolution? And to this we can add our puzzlement about the origins of grace. For love is conscious, but grace is not. Whence comes this “powerful force originating outside of human consciousness which nurtures the spiritual growth of human beings?”
We cannot answer these questions in the same scientific way we can answer where flour or steel or maggots come from. It is not simply that they are too intangible, but more that they are too basic for our “science” as it currently exists. For these are not the only basic questions that science cannot answer. Doe we really know what electricity is, for existence? Or where energy comes from the first place? Or the universe? Perhaps someday our science of answers will catch up with the most basic questions. Until then, if ever, we can only speculate, theorize, postulate, hypothesize.
To explain miracles of grace and evolution we hypothesize the existence of a God who wants us to grow—a God who loves us. To many this hypothesis seems too simple, too easy; too much like fantasy; childlike and naïve. But what else do we have? To ignore the data by using tunnel vision is not an answer. We cannot obtain an answer by not asking the questions. Simple though it may be, no one who has observed the data and asked the questions has been able to produce a better hypothesis or even really a hypothesis at all. Until someone does, we are stuck with this strangely childlike notion of a loving God or else with a theoretical vacuum.
And if we take it seriously, we are going to find that this simple notion of a loving God does not make for an easy philosophy.
If we postulate that our capacity to love, this urge to grow and evolve, is somehow “breathed into” us by god, then we must ask to what end. Why does God want us to grow? What are we growing toward? Where is the end point, the goal of evolution? What is it that God wants of us? It is not my intention here to become involved in theological niceties, and I hope the scholarly will forgive me if I cut through all the ifs, ands, and buts of proper speculative theology. For no matter how much we may like to pussyfoot around it, all of us who postulate a loving God and really think about it eventually come to a single terrifying idea: God wants us to become Himself. We are growing toward godhood. God is the goal of evolution. It is God who is the source of the evolutionary force and God who is the destination. This is what we mean when we say the He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.
When I said that this is a terrifying idea I was speaking mildly. It is a very old idea, but, by the millions, we run away from it in sheer panic. For no idea ever came to the mind of man which places upon us such a burden. It is the single most demanding idea in the history of mankind. Not because it is difficult to conceive; to the contrary, it is the essence of simplicity. But because if we believe it, I then demands from us al that we can possibly give, all that we have. It is one thing to believe in a nice old God who will take good care of us from a lofty position of power which we ourselves could never being to attain. It is quite another to believe in a God who has it in mind for us precisely that we should attain His position, His power, His wisdom, his identity. Were we to believe it possible for man to become God, this belief by its very nature would place upon us an obligation to attempt to attain the impossible. But we do not want this obligation. We don’t want to have to work that hard. We don’t want God’s responsibility. We don’t want the responsibility of having to think all the time. As long as we can believe that godhood is an impossible attainment for ourselves, we don’t have to worry about our spiritual growth, we don’t have to push ourselves to higher and higher levels of consciousness and loving activity; we can relax and just be human. If God’s in his heaven and we’re down here, and never the twain shall meet, we can let Him have all the responsibility for evolution and the directorship of the universe. We can do our bit toward assuring ourselves a comfortable old age, hopefully complete with healthy, happy and grateful children and grandchildren; but beyond that we need not bother ourselves. These goals are difficult enough to achieve, and hardly to be disparaged. Nonetheless, as soon as we believe it is possible for man to become God, we can really never reast for long, never say, “OK, may job is finished, my work is done.” We must constantly push ourselves to greater and greater wisdom, greater and greater effectiveness. By this belief we will have trapped ourselves, at least until death, on an effortful treadmill of self-improvement and spiritual growth. God’s responsibility must be our own. It is no wonder that the belief in the possibility of Godhead is repugnant.
The idea that God is actively nurturing us so that we might grow up to be like Him brings us face to face with our own laziness.