AIOCS Conversations: Neil Ormerod (2)

The second conversation with Professor Neil Ormerod, FACTA, focuses on the reality of evil and the implications of human freedom, as well as the incapacity of our optimistic culture to save us from ourselves, despite scientific and technological advancement.

The discussion orbits around the complex view of providence as an ongoing divine activity that bridges God’s creative work and the end times, regardless of how we understand the latter. While affirming the reality of providence, Neil points out, a robust theology of providence does not warrant confidence in our own future. Providence renders us free and so, responsible for the decisions we make, and thus, furthermore, entails God’s judgment of our deeds and their consequences. We are a failed species, says Neil, namely, we ruined the planet for ourselves and robbed the next generations of a home. Quoting Lonergan, Neil characterises the situation as follows: “A civilisation in decline digs its own grave with relentless consistency.” That we do, indeed. Against this backdrop, it is impossible to escape God’s judgment. Therefore, we should understand providence within a broader perspective, beyond anthropocentrism. God loves us and takes care of us in a salvific manner, but God does not focus exclusively on us, the failed species. Providentially, we were given opportunities to mend the situation we have created, but we did not make good use of them. And while we will experience resurrection, since we have not fulfilled our stewardship of the creation providence might very well prevail without us in the picture. God, Neil keeps repeating, has the first and the last word. It’s not us.

Turning to brighter perspectives, Neil depicts the divine providence as an ongoing activity whose presence and impact are registered in the very matrix and unfolding of the universe. The universe might be old and always changing, but its march through the eons also proves that providence has been at work all along the cosmic evolution, and that it still is. We do not need extraordinary signs of God’s activity. The fact that we are here, in this very moment and place, is the most amazing proof of the providential arrangement of all things. The constants of the universe are there, working in our favour. And this is providence. Our very existence proves it, and this should inspire us awe at God’s love and wisdom towards the creation. The fact that we have failed cannot take away this truth. The fact that we will not wake up and learn from our mistakes even now, at the midnight of our story, will not efface this truth. God’s providence will prevail, regardless of our fate.

Here is the video recording of this inspiring conversation:

by Doru Costache

10 September 2021 © AIOCS

Check out the first conversation with Professor Neil Ormerod

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