Process Thought and Philosophy is a constellation of ideas sharing the common assertions that;
The world and God are expressions of continuous, dynamic relational change. We label that process as creativity. The mutual commitment to that process is faithfulness/emunah, which rises above any faith (doctrine or creed).
We and the world are not solid substances, but rather recurrent patterns of energy, occasions, which change with each new instantiation but also maintain continuity from moment to moment.
We are interconnected, each to each and each to all. Therefore all creation – not just humanity or a subset of humanity – has value and dignity.
Every occasion has an interiority (first person mode, subjective) appropriate to its nature as well as an outer (third person, objective) way of related interaction and becoming, that is to say that we are all selves-in-relation.
Therefore we and every occasion relates to each and all creation instantaneously and intuitively. We respond to the determinations of each other and of the totality, as we ourselves are re-created each instant.
God is the One who makes this relating possible, who creates the openness of a future of real novelty and the variety of its possibilities, and who relates to each of us in our particular individuality.
God is the One who invites us (and empowers us) in our particularity to select the optimal choice for our own flourishing (optimal in terms of maximizing experience, justice, compassion, and love) and for our mutual flourishing; to exist is to be self-determining, inter-connected, and creative to some degree.
We and everything in the cosmos become co-creators with God in fashioning the present (which has primacy) out of the possibilities offered by the future and the constraints received from the past. God’s primary mode of power is persuasive, not coercive. That goes for us too.
Once the present becomes actual, it is known eternally by God and cherished forever.
These convictions can seem unsettling at first glance, even though I will try to show that they actually reflect what you really know to be true about yourself, all life, and the cosmos. We take for granted what it means to be conventionally religious, and those traditionalist assumptions make it difficult to open ourselves to an engaging and explanatory way to articulate what we intuit and to connect to each other, the world, and the Divine with an embracing faithfulness.
Much of what Process Thought offers as an alternative may sound initially shocking, perhaps even irreligious, if this is your first encounter with Process Thought. Much of what we were told we should believe when we were younger (or even by many preachers today) forces us to choose between our spirit and our intellect, between science and religion, between morality and dogma. In such a split, any decent human being would – with reluctance – choose intellect, science, and morality.
But the gift of Process Thought is to realize that this dichotomy, this choice of either A or B, is a false choice. There is a way to understand the world, God, and religion in such a way that we don’t have to make that choice at all. Indeed, armed with Process insights and tools, we can affirm that our religiosity, our spirit, our minds and our ethics all strengthen and refine each other.
As you persist, you may discover as many others have, that you need not put up a wall between what you know and what you believe, that science and religion need not remain locked in a winner-take-all battle, that there is a way to affirm the poetry and wisdom of ancient faiths without having to make morally or intellectually compromised positions, that one can be religious without leaving one’s education or morality outside.
Translated by Han Sun: International Institute of Education and Culture & Department of International Cooperation and Exchanges,Heilongjiang University, Harbin, Heilongjiang Province, P.R.China 150080