In both the Exodus and the Resurrection stories, God intervenes at a crucial public moment on behalf of embattled people in a dusty corner of the world. In both cases, unpromising human material is forged into a band of believers who change global history, succeeding against all common sense and sociological norms.
And in both cases, decisive actions of God are never repeated again, not in the same way. In his book “The Disappearance of God,” Richard Elliott Friedman argues that God slowly removes himself from the Hebrew Scriptures. Friedman is not attacking the Bible. He argues that public contact with the divine recedes in order to give human beings room to come of age. After the birth of modern science and skepticism, the “death of God” triggered a crisis for Western civilization. But Friedman resists despair. Contemporary physics, cosmology and Big Bang theories suggest mystical new points of divine contact, a restoration with God. “The name Yahweh probably means ‘that which causes to be,’ ” Friedman writes. “And that which causes to be is what we are seeking. It is what we have been seeking all along. We may be very close to it. There is some likelihood that, as some of the conscious matter of the universe, we are created more in the divine image than we have suspected. There is some likelihood that the universe is the hidden face of God.”
God as that which causes to be. I like that. That is a definition to sink one's teeth into. We are here. No doubt about that. How did we get here and why? Well, science has told us quite a bit about that story. The Big Bang. Galaxy formation. The development of the different generations of stars. Then the planets. Ocean life. Land life. Emergence. Consciousness. Most of that narrative is from the past two hundred years and opaque to previous generations. We are lucky to be here now to become aware of it. But however it happened, we give a name to that which is behind the process and call that name God.
It fits with a growing interest of mine in Process Theology. I've got to delve further into it. And that is the topic of Rob Bell's new book What We Talk About When We Talk About God which I learned about from Homebrewed Christianity: Rob Bell: Out of the Process (Tillichian) Closet. I've gotta get that one and maybe Friedman's too.