Sunday, 9 March 2008

Bishop Michael Ingham's panentheism?

[...] Diarmuid O'Murchu in Quantum Theology: the Spiritual Implications of the New Physics says we should stop thinking of God as a supernatural Being located outside the universe. Instead, he says, we should think of the universe itself as a pulsating, vibrant dance of energy alive with benign and creative potential in which God calls to us from within, not without.

He says we should stop thinking of ourselves as created beings, and see ourselves instead as woven into the fabric of a dynamic, evolving and self-renewing universe in which we must play our part or become extinct. The damage we are doing to the planet and to other life forms may leave the universe no choice but to spit us out, as it has done to countless species before us.

Old forms of religion that perpetuate the idea we humans are some sort of crown or pinnacle of creation, the very best that God could do, may actually be dangerous, he says, in that they foster illusions of superiority that divorce us from the rhythms of nature, the pulse of existence, and prevent us from acquiring the humility we need before the vast mystery of life itself.

I am fascinated by all this. The new physics seems like more of a friend than an enemy. It brings a new understanding of the non-predictability of events, starting with Heisenberg's "Principle of Uncertainty," that begins to leave room for the unexplained, like the healing miracles of Jesus and the inexplicable interventions of God in human affairs. It begins to look as though science and religion don't necessarily conflict. It's just bad science and bad religion that conflict, and if we want to outgrow that period in human history then we need to re-think our faith as well as our science.

Easter, for example, is much more than a story about the body of Jesus walking out of a tomb. Easter is a kind of uncertainty principle thrust into the heart of our tidy, ordered universe, undermining all our theories about how things ought to be. It's an event that makes everything unstable. Read more
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Peter Kirk said...


Interesting. Well, when I suggested that Packer's doctrine of the Trinity might justify Ingham's charge that Packer has renounced the doctrine of the Anglican church, I was writing tongue in cheek and by no means intending to say that Ingham is any more orthodox! But I do note that in the video just posted here Packer fails to mention the Athanasian creed. Does he in fact uphold it, as he should as a good Anglican?

Revd John P Richardson said...

I wasn't aware that a certain lack of credal orthodoxy was a necessary disqualifier for Anglican ministry.

Peter Kirk said...

Nor was I, John. But one of the charges Ingham made against Packer was renouncing the doctrine of the church, so presumably his attitude is different. Of course he might not agree with you and me on what the doctrine is which might be renounced.