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Commentary

Not reforms, but evolution

If cavemen did not venture outside their caves at night to gaze at the stars and ponder the what and why of what they were seeing, we would probably still be living in caves today. The history of humankind tells of the evolution of humans from cave dwellers to hunters and nomads, to settlers, to communities, countries and nations. Alongside the progress of civilization is an evolvement of humans’ intelligence from instincts to consciousness to an awareness of the self (they know that they know).

At every stage of humankind’s advance along its path toward perfection, there were enlightened entities who detached themselves from the mob to seek new meanings and a better way of life. These radicals and nonconformists could be responsible for the progressive cultural and spiritual mutations that have occurred in the past and for where we are and what we have become today.

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In our universe, change is a constant as well as a necessity for every area of development. Evolution is a mechanism designed by God for the creation of the cosmos—from the big bang to energy to matter to the stars, galaxies and universes; from prelife to life, to single-celled organisms to more and more complex biological forms that peaked in the appearance of humans and their intellect.

From then on, humans with their intelligence became the conduit of God’s plan for humankind’s spiritual and cultural growth. Archeological discoveries have traced primitive humans’ awareness of an afterlife in the practice of burying their dead.  Perhaps we can assume that humankind’s spiritual concerns had their beginnings in that era.

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We now live in a world where most people believe in some kind of god or being and are into various forms of rites and rituals. Religious institutions have sprouted in every corner of the world, some practicing bizarre methods of adoration, some into a fanatical worship that boggles the mind.

The Roman Catholic Church boasts of two billion followers scattered worldwide. If we trace its history, we will notice an evolutionary concept of what God is like—cruel, vengeful and merciless according to the Old Testament, who commanded the killing of entire tribes and the torching of their villages; a Supreme Being according to the New Testament, who rewards good and punishes evil, a figure of authority, more intimidating than charismatic that does not encourage a creator-creation relationship of a more personal nature. Then, as humans internalized, a God within, loving and caring in a God-human union more intimate and comforting.

The Church has a history of brutality in its holy crusades against the Muslims of the Middle East who had taken over the holy land, and the public burning of women accused of witchcraft. All these and more, were done in the name of God.

If we look at ourselves at this point, against that background, it will be evident that there is an upward movement in humankind’s growth toward a better humanity as well as a concept of God more worthy of what a true god should be. The God I believe in is above all a God of Love who understands human nature, who does not require his people to suffer but rather participates in their suffering, is just, and considers all of his creation in equal measure.

The Church, in the course of its history, has formulated dogmas, rules of conduct, regulations and restrictions which it imposed on the faithful for guidance as well as control. Instilled in them were the fear of God and the prospect of eternal damnation should they, in some way, commit a mortal act as enumerated in a list of seven deadly sins. Hence, fear became a tool of control that made the task of evangelization easier and more productive.

Perhaps, at a certain point in history when people were simple and naïve, these measures were indeed necessary. But then, a maturation  has occurred according to the law of evolution, so that the clamor today for changes in the Church’s stand on many issues should be looked on as part of  the psyche’s growing process. Perhaps we have reached a point where detachment from the old beliefs and systems is the answer to meet the demand of a natural process that works according to God’s plan.  The issue of birth control, where women are allowed to make a choice as to the size of their families, the rights of homosexuals to be themselves and recognized as legitimate creations of God, the acceptance of women as ordained members of the clergy—an acknowledgment that they are indeed men’s equals,  the abolition of the vow of celibacy for those who are called to serve God as ministers—these are some of the issues that need immediate attention.

Can we then in truth claim that we are not seeking reforms but are merely complying with the call of evolution, which we believe to be God’s divine gift to humankind and the cosmos?

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Carmelita Roxas Natividad describes herself as a retired mother and active grandmother who likes to write, garden and bake, in that order.

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