The whole question of what role, if any, supernaturalism should play in religion given all that has transpired in Western science is something that especially intrigues me (as, I hope, some of the meanderings below suggest). It often strikes me as the elephant in the living room of otherwise progressive Christians. I love to read and try to understand what I can of science, even as layperson, simply because it fascinates me so. It has taken me to murky areas that do not fit neatly into fixed categories of the empirical and the supernatural. While I feel no compelling need to figure it all out (as if I could), and am ready leave much to Mystery, at the same time I find it frustrating that scientific knowledge and thought often are scarcely addressed in the context of discussions of faith and religion, other than by Biblical literalists and fundamentalists who oppose scientific understandings.
Anyway, here are bits of what I've gleaned today from Mystical Seeker. I recommend reading his essays and comments in full, but I especially liked the following:
... by conceiving of God, much as process theology does, as something other than an authoritarian micromanager. The article describes Haught's views this way:From Religion, Evolution and God's Nature."Love persuades, it doesn't force," Haught says. "God doesn't compel the world to be a certain way, and that's because of how love works. God lets things be, and lets the weeds grow up with the wheat."...I especially like the statement that "creation is not divine pyrotechnics". I view creation as not a one-time event, and Divine creativity is not a magic show; rather, it is a continuous and co-participatory activity with uncertain outcomes. However, when Haught describes God as "letting things be" and as an infinite mystery "contracting itself", he seems to be suggesting that God voluntarily withholds autocratic power and thus chooses to stand by when things happen. I am not really comfortable with this expression of the concept; instead, I view Divine power as inherently a persuasive and creative lure--autocracy is not "voluntarily" renounced because autocracy is not built into God's character in the first place. As I see it, it is important to note that God is never just standing by and "letting" things happen, but is always urging creation forward in particular ways, and always cares about the outcomes of events.
"Creation itself is not divine pyrotechnics but the consequence of infinite mystery contracting itself, making itself small, so something other than God can come into the world," Haught says.
Another thought-provoking passage was from James McGrath, Assistant Professor of Religion at Butler University:
Here is a quote from James McGrath's blog:From The Religious Life as its own Reward.
...it is worth asking theoretically, even if one hasn't been driven to ask such questions by one's own experiences or theological reflections, whether faith in God based on what God has done or can do for you is necessarily a wholesome, positive sort of faith. What if it turned out that God doesn't do anything for anyone specifically - the weather on your wedding day just happened to be good, and the person you love who recovered from an illness just happened to do so? What if it turns out that God is not the answer to our individual problems, but simply the meaning of our existence? How many of those who call themselves Christians would worship such a God for that reason alone, expecting nothing in return? Would willingness or unwillingness to worship such a God be a good thing? (emphasis added).
This, in effect, takes one beyond science to the one of the biggest questions of them all -- must religion and faith stand on supernaturalism? I've been to Tillich, myself, some years ago in my own seeking and while I think there is more than just "meaning" in this sense and something other than conventional notions of the "supernatural" (i.e. as something above, beyond, and outside "nature"), it strikes me that religious folk (me included) spend too much time doing everything but trying to "mean" what God "wills" us to mean.