Impersonating the Divine: An Essay in Theological Anthropology
The Berry Street Essay, 1982
Delivered at the Unitarian Universalist Association General Assembly
June 21, 1982
A year ago I accepted your invitation to present the Berry Street Essay this spring, and immediately the search began for a theme of suitable scope. I found my answer in a most unexpected place.
Early this past summer, my wife and I were wandering back from a trip to Texas and ended up on the North Carolina coast near Kitty Hawk. We decided since we were there, to go to the museum and park which is devoted to the first powered flight by human beings.
It is an awesome experience to stand on the little flying field, beside the iron rail laid on a strip of wood from which the Wright Flyer was launched, and sight down the flight path to the first stone, 120 feet away, which marks the end of that first flight. To realize that this truly historic flight happened in this century, in 1903, and to contemplate the advances in aviation since this humble beginning, is to have dramatic evidence of the power of the human mind.
But there is another, somewhat deeper lesson to be learned from the early experience of the Wright Brothers, and it is this which provided the seed for this Berry Street Essay. Most of the people alive during the early years of flight believed that human beings were never meant to fly, could not fly - period. The Wright brothers and a tiny band of fellow aviation pioneers were different - these few fervently believed that human beings were on the verge of achieving powered flight, and because they believed this, they were liberated to attempt it.
Most people apparently had a great deal of difficulty believing that powered flight was possible, even long after the Wright brothers had DONE it. Years later, after eye witness news reports and photographs of their flights had become commonplace, many people still had to witness a flight WITH THEIR OWN EYES before they could bring themselves to believe that human flight was POSSIBLE. Even this was sometimes not enough. In the years following the first flights at Kitty Hawk, when the Wrights were busy in Dayton, perfecting their invention, visitors to the area would ask what that was, flying undeniably overhead, and the answer would be - oh, that's just the crazy Wright brothers; they think they are going to invent a flying machine!
The interesting thing here is this - the very conception of human nature, and especially whether human beings were "ever intended to fly" was perhaps the most important determining factor in the development of aviation. At the time the Wright brothers first flew their fragile motorized kite in the gusty winds of Kitty Hawk, there were very few persons in authority who believed that what they were attempting was POSSIBLE. Not whether it was difficult, or would require study and effort, but whether it was in the nature of things that human beings would ever find it possible to achieve sustained and controlled flight.
Let this story be a reminder, then, of the power of preconceptions, the power over our aspirations of what we believe is possible, the influence over our behavior of what we understand to be the nature of human beings, an understanding which defines what we will attempt to do because it defines what we believe is possible.
Now anthropology is the discipline which has to do with defining and understanding the nature of humanness. This effort may proceed from one of several bases. The most familiar such basis for moderns is perhaps the scientific study of humanity, which leads to a scientific anthropology, and the disciplines which grow out of this root - principally sociology and psychology, and even economics, if you are not too stuffy about the distinction between science and humbug.
There are other bases for the definition of humanness. The Bible declares that man was created a little lower than the angels. This is one of the important affirmations, in western civilization, of theological anthropology, the effort to define and understand the nature of humanness from a religious perspective, as I will be doing in this essay.
The recent history of attitudes about human nature provides ample justification for considering this topic this morning. The high esteem for human nature which we find in the biblical view carried over into the secular philosophies of the rationalist and optimistic enlightenment. But there was a gradual deterioration of the human self-image. It may be instructive to highlight some of the events which led to the apparent failure of contemporary human beings to envision their own interconnections and their stake in the future with sufficient clarity to avoid extinction.
That sturdy Unitarian, Charles Darwin, finally facing the need to publish or perish by the pen of a rival, propounded the theory of evolution, tracing our lineage not to the angels but to the apes. Later scientists demonstrated that all of the creatures of the earth, not just humans, are merely more or less imaginative devices by which the immortal genes seek to secure their own endless propagation.
If there was any tendency to glorify human nature as we moved into the middle years of the 20th century, this was severely inhibited by the career of Adolph Hitler, who made genocide the dominant art form of this most bloody of all human centuries. It would have been enough of a blow to our human self respect simply to know that Hitler was born of woman, but the worst part was, his madness was eagerly embraced by a culture we had thought represented the highest expressions of the human spirit. If Bach could degenerate into Buchenwald, was there anything left in which we could put our faith?
The human self-image received its final coup de corruption in the terrible light of Trinity, in the flash of radiant destruction which vaporized Hiroshima, in the mushroom clouded madness which rose into the August sky over Nagasaki. Clearly, the demonic was not only a real component of human personality - it was in control.
Through all of this we were not given much help by developments in psychology. To pick two representative extremes, we have on the one hand Fritz Perls, and an image of the human which he intends to summarize in his famous Gestalt Prayer:
I do my thing, and you do your thing. I am not in this world to live up to your expectations. And you are not in this world to live up to mine. You are you, and I am I, And if by chance, we find each other, it's beautiful. If not, it can't be helped.
After we recovered from the first shock of irresponsible freedom which this philosophy seeks to bestow, we began to realize that Perls here presents us with a bleak and powerless prospect, in which the best we can do is try to avoid being resentful that we are the pawns of a careless fate. I happen to know that Perls did not really believe this. A good friend of mine in Dallas, an attractive woman who knew him well, assured me that Fritz never left it simply to chance to determine whether a woman he fancied would end up in bed with him. He did not simply rejoice over beauty - he actively pursued it in a fashion wholly consistent with the theory that he could have some real control over his own fate. But this is not what he told us, and we tried, without much satisfaction, to live by what he told us.
At another psychological extreme, we find more bad news about human nature in the philosophy of B. F. Skinner. I say philosophy, because in many of his books, most notably the one titled "Beyond Freedom and Dignity" he attempts to extend a useful insight about learning into a universal and quite inhumane philosophy of human determinism. Now I happen to believe that the method he developed, operant conditioning, is one of the most powerful methods known for influencing behavior. Like any powerful tool, it can be dangerous in the hands of the unwary or the malicious. One need not accept his philosophy, however, just because his method is ingenious, any more than one must accept the paranoid foreign policy now playing in Washington just because one was once fond of cowboy movies.
The trouble with both Skinner and Perls and many of their scientific colleagues is that they try to convince us that we ultimately have no control over and therefore no responsibility for our individual or corporate existence. This is a philosophy of ethical impotence, and such human self- understandings are suicidal right now, because we are on the steep slope of a mindless slide into nuclear warfare. If we mean to survive we may have to postpone for a while our attempt to convince ourselves that the ancient apple of knowledge and responsibility can somehow be regurgitated. The world we have created is too dangerous for us to attempt to live comfortably simply as hedonistic monads.
What we require for our survival is an understanding of our humanness which has not been reduced to petty mechanism a la Skinner, or to helpless accidentalism a la Perls. What we require for our survival is the renewal of a holistic, which is to say religious, vision of our humanness.
Images of innocence and impotence are no longer useful or tolerable if we mean to survive. We must find within ourselves and our religious tradition a new spiritual energy, that we may rise above the confusion we have spawned. We must assume responsibility again for the human presence in a world in which our real power is so unblinkingly enormous, that one more false step on our part may plunge the whole of life on this globe into the abyss of death. We must rediscover a theological anthropology because there seems now to be no place else to look for a vision of humanity which will enable us once again to choose life.
The trouble with our popular secular view of human nature is, of course, deeper than Fritz Perls or B. F. Skinner. It is rooted in a basically materialistic bias in western culture which is given extreme and dangerous expression in the technological civilization in which we live, a civilization staggering between the twin tragedies of ecological disaster and nuclear holocaust. But the trouble began with the Greeks.
Looked at from the point of view of matter, of substance, the world is an unquenchable flow of fragments. The more one examines the various substances which surround us, the more one is struck by the relentless impermanence of nature. Around 500 B.C. a thoughtful Greek by the name of Heraclitus established a place for himself in the philosophical hall of fame by noting that one could never step into the same river twice. The water, the substance of the river, was constantly moving, constantly flowing, and although it might appear to be the same river, actually from one second to the next, it is a completely different river, the atoms constantly flowing, constantly changing their relationship to each other - never the same river twice. This kind of impermanence is finally intolerable psychologically, and in the effort to find some kind of enduring reality, materialism is forced to seek for permanence in the unchanging components of matter.
Materialism is in its very nature reductionist and must always end up making the claim that ultimate reality is not only material but also atomic, so that, for example, if you want to understand a bird, you must understand its anatomy, and if you want to understand anatomy you must understand cellular chemistry, and if you want to understand cellular chemistry you must understand atomic physics, and if you want to understand atomic physics, well, you have to know about quarks. In the current pantheon of subatomic physics, there is nothing more subatomic and therefore more elementary and more real than quarks.
The only trouble is, no one has ever experienced a quark directly - indeed the theory says quarks can exist only in certain combinations, quarks are never found alone but only in combination with other quarks, and in combination quarks are no longer really quarks but rather subatomic particles like neutrons, so what we are left with is this: what is most real, what lies at the very foundation of reality, cannot be experienced. What is most real, a quark, is well, really a mental construct, an idea, a theory, and to tell the truth, we may some day discover that there are no such things as quarks.
Now there is, of course, enormous power in the method we have been characterizing, the method of looking for components. On the strength of the last 200 years or so of human experience in western culture, it is safe to say that if you want to control and manipulate the substances of the cosmos, then it is of course important to examine the components, nay the components of the components, even unto the third and fourth level of fragmentation.
The trouble comes about when you try to make this practical method of manipulating matter into a religion, that is, when you make the claim that ultimate reality, the most comprehensive truth about existence, is somehow approachable through the use of this method.
The method of fragmentation, of materialistic reductionism, of breaking substances down into their components is, I must insist, not at all a good method for discovering what is ultimately real. It is a good method for discovering and manipulating the components of reality, but the further you follow this method, the more you get into the components and the further you get from the meaning of the whole. We have formed the habit, under the influence of scientific materialism, of assuming that the most important, the ultimate reality, is somehow imbedded in the minutiae of the material components, but in truth, meaning and reality emerge in confrontation with wholes, with interacting systems, rather than with components. It is not the component but the whole, and the relationship of the component within the whole, which always defines and displays the more inclusive, the more ultimate reality.
Perhaps we can approach the issue by examining the question of identity, which is after all, a fairly crucial question for human beings, and we can do this by engaging in a couple of what are called thought experiments, as a means of clarifying the basic concepts in this area.
One such thought experiment is the brain transfer. Imagine that it were possible to take your brain, with all your thoughts and memories, and switch your brain with the brain in another body. Now tell me where you are? Are you in the body with the familiar face in the mirror, or are you in the new body, but with the same thoughts?
This thought experiment helps us clarify whether it is the body or the mind which is the center of our personal identity, and most people agree that it is the mind - I am in the body where my mind, my memories and beliefs are.
But the question of identity is much more complex than that. Consider another thought experiment, the case of the changing ship. Imagine a wooden ship. Now the shipbuilders take out one board at a time, and replace it with a different board which fits exactly into the place of the old one. This continues until every board in the original ship has been replaced. The question is - is this ship, now with all new boards, the same ship or is it a different ship?
If you say it is a different ship, then you have to decide just when it became a different ship - when the first board was replaced? But surely you don't want to insist that replacing a single board on a large ship really makes it a different ship!
But you are in equal difficulty if you say it is the same ship, because surely the new boards were not precisely the same as the old boards - the grain was different, or some cut was not exactly the same. And would it be the same ship if the new boards were the same shape but made of a different kind of wood? pine, say, instead of the original oak?
But there is a diabolical hooker in this old thought experiment. Just about the time you think you are finally ready to decide whether our gradually transformed boat is the same boat or a different boat, the old Greek says, Oh yes, by the way, I forgot to tell you - those boards we took out of the original ship. Well, we just took them around the corner and stacked them up and when we had all of the old boards in a pile there, we just put them back together again to make a ship - NOW is this new ship which we put together out of the old boards, is this the same ship again or is it a different ship?
These are not trivial questions - far from it, they are questions of absolutely fundamental importance, because they are questions about what is real. Our convictions about what is real are perhaps the most important pillars of our whole structure of thought. To recall again the story of the Wright Brothers - our convictions about what is real set the limits of what we believe is possible, and this can make all the difference.
Traditionally, there have been two points of view about what is most real - one the one hand is the claim that matter or substance is most real; on the other hand is the claim that form or process is most real.
Religion has always been on the side of form or process - spirit is the ancient word which religion has used - as contrasted with matter or substance, and spirit has always been a religious concept which attempted to point to something behind the substance, more significant that the material of everyday experience. A theological anthropology, therefore, would not start with the assumption that ultimate reality is to be found by fragmenting matter and searching for more and more remote components. On the contrary, religion is holistic, looking for the largest and most comprehensive patterns which can be discovered.
A theological anthropology, therefore, looks to the most complex and highly developed forms, rather than to the simplest and most primitive, for an understanding of the meaning of the whole, on the sound theory that doing an autopsy on a football quarterback is not finally as instructive as watching him play. Or as Mae West must have said someplace - it's what I do with what I've got that counts!
Which brings us, of course, to process philosophy, in which the most important insights of modern science and ancient religion are most successfully harmonized. Although it is not my intention to go deeply into the semantic quagmires of process philosophy as written by, say, Alfred North Whitehead, it is still a process point of view which I am presenting here, and to reinforce the point about what is most real, let me explore for a moment a rather oversimplified illustration of process oriented thinking.
I stand here before you on a wooden floor. It is made of boards cut from logs, which are, of course, what you get when you cut down a tree. The tree grew from a seed, which is to say, a rather small organism, the seed, organized various materials in the immediate environment - water and carbon dioxide and a few other chemicals - into a living tree.
Now what is real here? Are the boards on which I stand real? I trust they are, but the process view is that reality is not a single, simple substance, but rather a complex of dynamic interactions in which various substances are progressively transformed or re-formed, and most specifically, the process point of view urges us to notice that it is the process of continuous transformation which is more real, more important in understanding what is going on, than any of the materials or substances which may be caught up in the process.
All of the processes which we might, for the moment, view as separate or distinct are, in fact, all interrelated. The growth of the tree, from seed to maturity, can be seen as a unit, as a connected sequence of events, but of course we know that an individual tree is related to and is part of the ecology of the hillside on which it is growing, and in a larger sense, the fate of the tree, if you will, is tied up with those developmental processes which gave rise to human life forms, and the tendency of human beings to cut down trees in order to make wooden floors.
The process is always more real than the material. It would not make any sense at all to examine a tree which has just been cut down on an Oregon hillside, in an effort to determine where the wood in this tree might end up. An Oregon pine might end up as a shelf in a New York City apartment, or as a plank on the floor of a Wisconsin summer cottage, but there is simply nothing in the material itself which can give any clues. The process is the source of the answers. And the more comprehensive and inclusive an answer you want, the larger the reality you want to explore, the further away from the material you must move. Ask the foreman on the logging team, and he will tell you the logs are going to the mill. Ask the mill foreman, and he will tell you the boards are already on order and will be shipped to several lumber yards. But if you want to know what is finally going to happen to the cut tree on the Oregon hillside, you must get completely away from that particular piece of material, and find out what are the building plans, the intentions, of human beings thousands of miles away.
The universal process is comprehensively interconnected - this is the basic message of ecology, which is one of the most important contemporary expressions of the process point of view. And if the process of the universe is comprehensively interconnected, then the ultimate meaning, the ultimate reality is to be discovered by looking in the most comprehensive fashion possible at the patterns manifested in the whole.
It is precisely because the universal process is comprehensively interconnected that we say that ultimate reality is what the universe as a whole is doing. This is why theological anthropology is so close to ecology. Indeed, one of the basic affirmations of our western religious tradition, and especially of Christianity, is that God is Love, and what is Cosmic Love, I ask you, but the ultimate conceptual extension of the experience we all have of loving connectedness. The Love of God is the ultimate metaphor of the larger significance of our lives, in which we understand ourselves as existing in a network which binds us into one living whole with all creatures great and small, and indeed, beyond the network of life to the whole universe, out of which life emerged, and in which life finds the materials which can be drawn into the dynamic process of continuous creation.
Love is the horizontal or contemporary dimension of that comprehensive reality about which religion has always tried to speak. The other dimension, the vertical dimension, the historical dimension, is simply another way of looking at the seamless web of the cosmos, of telling the story of creation. Creator is, of course, the other ancient name of God, and in another of the disciplines which embody the process orientation in modern science, the theory of evolution, we have a detailed explication of the creative development which is the history of God.
You will notice that I am beginning to move back and forth between religious and scientific language, and I propose to do so right now rather pointedly. If you take the horizontal dimension of the cosmic reality, which we have seen can be called either Love or ecology, and combine this with the vertical dimension, which can be called either Creator or evolution, then we have a symbol which is familiar, at least to the older graduates of the Harvard Divinity School. I am a Starr King graduate myself and therefore had to stumble upon it more or less by accident. In any case, it turns out that a Cross is, after all, a pretty good way of symbolizing both the ancient metaphors of religion, the Love of God as the Creator, as well as the modern metaphors of process oriented science, the evolution of the ecological network.
We are now very close indeed to the Kingdom. What remains is to specify a little more closely what our human role is in the drama of cosmic evolution. An adequate contemporary theological anthropology must deal with the new relationship between the human and the divine which has been discovered in our lifetime.
Let me begin this task by making a few obvious but fundamentally important observations about the nature of humanness. First, and most fundamental, we are not born human. We become human as we learn from others already human the style and the content of humanness.
There is, in this respect, a fundamental difference between the higher and the lower animals. In the amoeba, for example, what little is not already pre-programmed, what little there is that can be learned must all be learned from the environment, because there is no parent from which an amoeba can learn. Each amoeba is half of what remains of the parent cell after it has split. Parenthood is a later invention in the evolutionary process, and even for most of the living things which reproduce in a manner which leaves the parents still alive as separate beings, parental influence is very minor. Insects, for example. seem to be born with a complete knowledge of what to do and how to do it. There are no schools in the insect world.
Only as we reach very high on the evolutionary ladder do we begin to find significant learning taking place after birth, and only in the primates do we find anything like the cultural traditions of human beings.
Now cultures are processes, not substances, and this is why, in the effort to focus attention on what is distinctively human, the theologies of most world religions make the claim that there is a soul, somehow distinct from the body. What these myths are asserting is that those qualities which distinguish human beings from other animals are somehow distinct from the body.
Since we moderns are accustomed to thinking in materialistic terms, and assuming that the human body is somehow the most real aspect of humanness, we are caught off balance by the claim that what is most distinctively human is, in fact, independent of the body. But in the light of developmental or evolutionary understandings of human personality, we are beginning to see that humanness itself is a slowly developing evolutionary process which has been gathering momentum for something like two million years now, a process which is manifest or embodied in individual human beings, but a process which is essentially independent of any one of us.
The human infant is born with the capacity, the biological equipment, to acquire humanness, but of course, if left entirely alone, an infant would never develop into a real human being. It takes continuous and intense exposure to the humanness already embodied in other human beings for an infant to acquire the qualities of humanness, the most fundamental of which is, of course, language.
Humanness is acquired only by exposure to those who have already been transformed by the process, who have been lifted from the biological to the human level by acquiring those characteristics of humanness which have developed through gradual accumulation over many hundreds of generations.
Parallel to whatever slow genetic development might have been taking place in the human species over the past several hundred thousand years, there has been an enormous burst of change by means of cultural transformations. Cultural change is many hundreds of times more rapid than genetic change, and because of this, cultural change, or cultural evolution, has become the dominant influence in human life.
We come now to the central point of this paper. Humanness is essentially, that is, by its very nature, interpersonal; it is a level of reality which is more than biochemical. Humanness itself is a social process. We acquire our individual humanness through intense and prolonged interaction with others, already human; we develop and extend our our human qualities through lifelong interaction with others; and through our sharing with others, our individual humanness becomes part of an ongoing, immortal process, the unfolding drama of human development.
In the life experience of others, I hear echoes and portents of my own life; there is a resonance of my life in the lives of others, and of their lives in mine, a resonance in which the essential qualities of humanness are nourished and enlarged. This is a process which was ancient already before my birth, a process in which for a moment I participate, in which for a moment I am a living link, a temporary custodian, but a process which by its basic nature is almost unimaginably larger and more complex than my individual instance of it. Small wonder that the ancient images of this reality picture it as supernatural.
What I am, what you are, what we have been and will yet become, the central reality of our human beingness - this was not born when we were born, nor will it die when we die - it is essentially immortal. This is, I suggest, the authentic deeper meaning of the myths of human immortality which most of the ancient religions teach.
Human history is not simply the saga of times past, forever alien and gone. Human history is MY history. What I am today is linked in a living chain of being with all lives past. I am Socrates, probing the mysteries of the mind. I am Moses, proclaiming the majesty of the moral law. I am Jesus, witnessing to the love which animates the process in which I live and move and have my being. I am Gallileo, meditating on the pathways of the stars. I am Johan Sabastian Back, composing temples of beauty out of the raw stuff of the imagination, I am Susan B. Anthony, proclaiming a new era in human development.
But what is even more profoundly significant is that what I am now, as I participate in the complex patterns of humanness which exist in this moment of time, as I connect with the humanness of others in those myriad currents of meaning and sharing which make up the human network, what I am now is and remains a part of the totality of humanness, which is ongoing, continuing, immortal, so in the most simple and literal way, the humanness which is in me will live on, long after that instant of awareness which I call me has finally faded.
In all of this we are caught up in a process which has been called divine or spiritual or supernatural because in order to understand this process it has been vitally important to notice that it is more than the material through which it is expressed. Whatever else the word divine may mean, it certainly must include the creative process, the evolutionary adventure which we have come to understand is the central thread of cosmic reality. God, after all, is first and foremost The Creator.
If we may agree that the divine is that energy of creative development which is the dominant principle and power of the universe, then we come to the really exciting news about human beings. The divine, this power of creation, achieves personality in us. We are one locus, and so far as we yet know, the only focal point of personhood in this vast, boiling universe.
Human personality is a new level of existence, an ontologically distinct dimension of reality. Humanness is essentially interpersonal, by its very nature a more comprehensive and inclusive process than any other process known to us.
As persons, we are beings who exemplify that level of divine development in which creation becomes self-aware. Our essential mission as human beings, our unique task, is to impersonate the divine, to embody the personness which is the highest expression of the divine and at the same time the dominant aim of cosmic creation.
A preview, as it were, of this modern human mission, was contained in earlier understandings of what it meant to impersonate the divine. Thomas a Kempis, in "The Imitation of Christ" says, "Count not of great importance who is for thee, or against thee; but let this be thy aim and care, that God be with thee in everything thou doest." This striving to become more like the divine image has been a strength to the faithful in all ages. Impersonating the divine in this sense of imitation has long been regarded as the highest of religious callings. By seeking to become more divine, one became, in fact, more richly personal.
But we are now required to acknowledge a new and even more challenging meaning in our lives. We leave behind us efforts simply to impersonate, to emulate, the divine. We must now understand that it is our calling to imperson the divine, to express, to embody, to develop personhood, to exhibit personhood as the most highly evolved form of those qualities which are characteristic of the life process - responsiveness, organic development and self-awareness.
To put it most starkly - we have been created by a process in which we have now, in turn, become creators ourselves. The divine urge of creation has become personal in us. The evolutionary network of ecological development, the God whom our ancestors worshiped as Loving Creator, this great God has become conscious and self-aware in us.
This requires a new and enlarged understanding of what it means to be human. We are challenged to respond to the question - is it really possible for human beings to leave the solid material earth and fly in spiritual realms heretofore reserved for the gods - and to answer yes!
But this new vision also challenges us to achieve a new understanding of the divine, and process oriented theology can help here as well. There is simply no place in process thought for the static and omnipotent god of traditional theology, the unchanging originator. It is, indeed, in process theology, and the theological anthropology which grows out of this thought, that we can most fully express the exhilarating sense of partnership in creation which our new power to create or to destroy has now conferred upon us. The theological landscape of the 20th century is being transformed by process thought, and I foresee an era coming when religion will once again be in a position to take the initiative against the spiritual sterility of the reductionist materialism which has brought western civilization so close to self destruction.
There are now many voices proclaiming the new gospel of holistic humanity, but my own favorite is still the writer who first awakened in me the awareness of what was to become the dominant theme of my own intellectual life. Although he never claimed to be a process philosopher, Lewis Mumford, puts it very well in a book written over 30 years ago, "The Conduct of Life." Mumford says, "Our logic is at fault in assigning God to the wrong end of the cosmic process. The universe does not issue out of God, in conformity with his fiat: it is rather God who in the long processes of time emerges from the universe, as the far-off event of creation and the ultimate realization of the person toward which creation seems to move. God exists, not at the beginning, but at the end: we shall not find him, except in an incredible degree of tenuity in the earliest stages of the formative process; for he first discloses himself in a self-revealing and identifiable form, only in the human heart, as a truly personal God...If one finds God at the other end of the process, not as the foundation which underlies the whole structure of life, but as the still unfinished pinnacle that may ultimately crown it, the world's development and human life itself begin to take on a rational form; for our business becomes not so much the mere contemplation as the active creation of the divine...God is the faint glimmer of a design still fully to emerge, a rationality still to be achieved, a justice still to be established, a love still to be fulfilled." (pp 71-75)
In becoming persons, we have indeed become partners in the divine adventure of cosmic creation.
Or as Stewart Brand, the editor of the Whole Earth Catalog succinctly puts it - we have become as gods, now we might as well get good at it.
This is precisely the point, precisely.