"During his opening remarks, which were posted on the Vatican website, Cardinal Müller criticized LCWR for a “focalizing of attention” around the “concept of Conscious Evolution,” stating that “the fundamental theses of Conscious Evolution are opposed to Christian Revelation.”
Last August, Ilia Delio, a Sister of St. Francis of Washington, D.C., gave the keynote address “Religious Life at the Edge of the Universe,” at the 2013 LCWR Assembly. Global Sisters Report asked Sr. Delio to respond to Cardinal Müller's remarks about conscious evolution...
In his recent conversation with leaders of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, Cardinal Gerhard Muller, Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), expressed a concern about the LCWR focusing attention on the concept of conscious evolution, a concept fundamental to the work of Barbara Marx Hubbard who addressed the LCWR assembly in 2012. Cardinal Müller said that “such an intense focus on new ideas such as conscious evolution has robbed religious of the ability truly to sentire cum Ecclesia (to think with the Church and embrace its teachings).”
He continued: “The fundamental theses of conscious evolution are opposed to Christian Revelation and, when taken unreflectively, lead almost necessarily to fundamental errors regarding the omnipotence of God, the incarnation of Christ, the reality of Original Sin, the necessity of salvation and the definitive nature of the salvific action of Christ.”
While it is possible that the Cardinal’s words were extracted from a broader conversation, his concern offers an opportunity to say a few words about conscious evolution and, more broadly, the mutual engagement of science and religion.
The term “conscious evolution” was not coined by Barbara Marx Hubbard, although she has made significant contributions in understanding the implications of conscious evolution for our age. The term itself emerges from the sciences of evolutionary biology, quantum physics and cognitive neuroscience, among others. The term does not belong to science per se but is descriptive of our species, Homo sapien sapien: evolution brought to self-reflective awareness. To use the words of the renowned Jesuit Fr. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, “We are the universe become conscious of itself.” We are the ones “who know that we know” (Homo sapien sapiens); hence it is important to reflect on our choices and decisions for the future. Conscious evolution refers to the idea, expressed by Teilhard, that we humans are the arrow of evolution, the crest of the ongoing evolution of the universe. We are co-creators of an unfinished evolutionary process toward more being..." ...Religious women and men around the world are catching Teilhard’s fire; it is igniting a new passion for the Gospel, new meaning of Christian life in a world of change. It is good that the Vatican has expressed concern about conscious evolution. We all need to be concerned because we are co-creators; our decisions do make a difference as to how all life and, in particular, Christian life will proceed in the future. I hope that Cardinal Muller’s words will evoke new conversations on faith and science in a way that understanding will deepen, insights will broaden, new horizons of faith will emerge and the Gospel will take on new meaning in light of conscious evolution. As St. John Paul II exclaimed: “Be not afraid, open, open wide to Christ the doors of the immense domains of culture, civilization and progress."