We will finish Chapter 5 of The Groaning of Creation.
Please answer one of the following questions:
- In Section 5.5, what are your thoughts about “objective immortality,” that “the creatures’ experience lives in the memory of God”? Would such an “afterlife” do justice to “whose lives in the old creation know no flourishing… because they are killed so young, or born with a profoundly debilitating disease” as Southgate objects to? Is it possible for prey and predator to live side-by-side in peace even in a resurrected cosmos? Will predators be “transformed” into more docile creatures without predatory instincts? If so, then would their “selving” or purpose as predators been in vain while living?
- In Section 5.5, what do you make of Jay McDaniel’s statement that “The problem is not death, it is incompleteness”? Do you agree or disagree with his statement in regard to evolutionary creation? Will the predator and prey relationship be “purged” from their conflicting relationship and be harmonized with one another? What about his statement that “The journeys of animals continue ‘into a still deeper form of satisfaction that represents union with the Soul itself. Once this union is realized, death can occur’”?
- In Section 5.5, Ernst Conradie contemplates that in the new creation, “Perhaps there may even be room for a new completion of the life stories of those who died violently and prematurely…. This coming alive… is an embodied celebration in which everyone, inscribed in the history of the cosmos, can participate in God’s presence.” Furthermore, according to Southgate, Denis Edwards believes that some creatures may experience individual subjective immortality while other creatures will be “held in the eternal life of the Trinity and the communion of saints.” Do you agree with Conradie’s belief that those who “died violently and prematurely” will experience completion and redemption in the new cosmos? Why or why not? Do you believe, along with Edwards that there will be a split or distinction in the final destinies of creatures that experience subjective immortality and other who will experience eternal life in the Trinity?
- In Section 5.5, what do you make of James Dickey’s poem, “The Heaven of Animals”? Does his poem resolve the problem of preserving the nature of the predator/prey relationship in heaven? Do predators and prey retain their respective instincts, but feel no pain or struggle in the process? Or is the relationship radically transformed in the new creation where there is no more death and suffering in the afterlife? How would you answer Southgate’s question: “What could the life of a predator look like in the absence of the second law of thermodynamics, and the imperative of ingesting ordered energy to ward off the ever-present slide into decay?” Is there an inherent beauty and order between predator and prey that must be preserved somehow for each creature to attain some level of self-transcendence?
- For Section 5.6, do you agree with Wesley Wildman’s assessment that God’s goodness is in question in that God could have created a “pain-free cosmos” but this reality shows otherwise? Why couldn’t God have created a better world free of pain and suffering like heaven is supposedly like? Or do you agree with Southgate’s response that “this evolutionary environment, full as it is of both competition and decay, is the only type of creation that can give rise to creaturely selves” and that “our guess must be that though heaven can eternally preserve those selves, subsisting in suffering-free relationship, it could not give rise to them in the first place”? Why or why not?
We will discuss these topics this Sunday.