Culture at the Crossroads
Maker of Heaven and Earth
Heller understands that the profession of faith that God is the maker of heaven and earth does not imply an ignorance of science, but rather a recognition that science and religion must work together for the sake of human understanding of the world.
In contrast to Teilhard's and Heller's views are those of modern Christian fundamentalists. That movement, a reaction against modernism, has captured the minds of many who cling to a naïve faith in the face of threats. Fundamentalism has captured the attention of many in the United States, in particular, adding fuel to the fire of various Christophobes who claim that Christianity as a whole denies science and pits creation against the abundant scientific evidence supporting evolutionary theory.
There is, of course, an alternative to intellectually bankrupt fundamentalism. Orthodox Catholicism has shown itself to be intellectually dynamic over its history. To be sure, many Catholics—including some leaders—have been slow to embrace scientific methodologies in thinking about the doctrine of creation. But it is equally clear that Catholicism is expansive and flexible enough to consider the cosmological and paleontological data as contributing to our understanding of creation, helping us to understand a most basic question: why is there something rather than nothing? (Or, to put the question theologically, why did God make a world?)
To profess faith that God created heaven and earth is emphatically not about professing ignorance of particle physics or indifference to billions of years of evolution, both cosmic and terrestrial. It is to profess that everything that is knowable through science—from Higgs boson to hominid evolution—has meaning. The researcher in theoretical physics, no less than the professor of Divinity, performs a loving work of meaning-making, and in so doing cooperates in the ever-unfolding work of divine creativity. In such work, the original sin is falsehood: the unwillingness to pursue one's questions fully, to stop at partial explanations.
Tim Muldoon holds a Ph.D. in Catholic systematic theology and is an award-winning author and Catholic theologian of the new evangelization.