I’m sometimes asked why The Behemoth has so many history articles in it. “I thought this was mostly a science and nature magazine,” someone said. Another counseled that if we wanted to evoke awe and wonder, it’s a lot easier to do it without doing a lot on the social sciences, since the effects of brokenness and sin get in the way.
They’re right; we do a lot of science and nature here. But we also do a lot of looking at human stories. And this past week, Pope Francis helped to explain why.
“In the Judaeo-Christian tradition, the word creation has a broader meaning than nature, for it has to do with God’s loving plan in which every creature has its own value and significance,” he wrote. “Nature is usually seen as a system which can be studied, understood and controlled, whereas creation can only be understood as a gift from the outstretched hand of the Father of all, and as a reality illuminated by the love which calls us together into universal communion. … The universe did not emerge as the result of arbitrary omnipotence, a show of force or a desire for self-assertion. Creation is of the order of love.”
One of the key themes of Francis’ encyclical is that talking about creation rather than nature reminds us that we are part of that creation—that human history is part of the history of “our common home,” pointing to its ultimate goal.
“The ultimate destiny of the universe is in the fullness of God, which has already been attained by the risen Christ, the measure of the maturity of all things,” Francis wrote. “[A]ll creatures are moving forward with us and through us towards a common point of arrival, which ...
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