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The Unbearable Wholeness of Being: God, Evolution, and the Power of Love

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This title explores the meaning of Christian theology in light of the scientific discoveries of our age. Like Teilhard de Chardin and Thomas Berry, Delio opens out eyes to the omni-active, all-powerful, all-intelligent Love that forms and guides the interrelatedness and interbeing of everything and everyone - ourselves included.


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This title explores the meaning of Christian theology in light of the scientific discoveries of our age. Like Teilhard de Chardin and Thomas Berry, Delio opens out eyes to the omni-active, all-powerful, all-intelligent Love that forms and guides the interrelatedness and interbeing of everything and everyone - ourselves included.

30 review for The Unbearable Wholeness of Being: God, Evolution, and the Power of Love

  1. 4 out of 5

    Ron

    This book explores Teilhard de Chardin's idea of evolution being God in action through love in the universe. These are complex ideas but even someone not familiar with Teilhard will be able to understand it. DeLio is a scientist as well as a mystical theologian with a gift for bringing a lot of different approaches to this idea in comprehensible way. What is especially compelling is the way Teihard's ideas bring a holistic approach to science and a truly spiritual understanding of the reality an This book explores Teilhard de Chardin's idea of evolution being God in action through love in the universe. These are complex ideas but even someone not familiar with Teilhard will be able to understand it. DeLio is a scientist as well as a mystical theologian with a gift for bringing a lot of different approaches to this idea in comprehensible way. What is especially compelling is the way Teihard's ideas bring a holistic approach to science and a truly spiritual understanding of the reality and materiality of the world. These ideas offer a true alternative to further blind technological manipulation of the world in order to solve humankind's and the planet's problems - most of which have been caused by the blind technical manipulation of things. If you are interested in the spirituality of science, mysticism alternative understandings of how the universe grows/works, I think you will find this fascinating. I've been asked if this book stands alone or if one needs to read the other two of the trilogy. Simple answer: it stands alone. I would have responded directly but the site would not let that happen for some reason.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Sharon Halsey-Hoover

    This was one of the most powerful books that I have read...it impacted me greatly. I realized after reading it that it was the third in a trilogy so I am now reading the first in the trilogy, Christ in Evolution. I am finding it to be almost as amazing.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jim Nail

    Indeed, not an easy read, but easier to read than Teilhard de Chardin himself. This book meant a lot to me. I read it twice.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Ali M.

    The theological implications of evolution have always intrigued me, but Ilia Delio, standing on the shoulders of Jesuit philosopher and paleontologist/geologist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, paints with a broader brush than anyone I've read on the subject before. Breathtaking insights abound in this book. Strange ones do, as well—Delio even drops a few references to cyberpunk culture in her rumination on technology and "noogenesis"—there's no niche corner of this topic she's not interested in. She The theological implications of evolution have always intrigued me, but Ilia Delio, standing on the shoulders of Jesuit philosopher and paleontologist/geologist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, paints with a broader brush than anyone I've read on the subject before. Breathtaking insights abound in this book. Strange ones do, as well—Delio even drops a few references to cyberpunk culture in her rumination on technology and "noogenesis"—there's no niche corner of this topic she's not interested in. She sees a powerful spiritual arc in the grand cosmological drama that science is uncovering, and traces it beautifully for any reader who is equally interested in reconciling these two spheres of understanding, which are too often pitted against each other. "Theological education," she says, "should include Big Bang cosmology, quantum physics, systems biology, and consciousness studies as well as tradition and Scripture." If only...

  5. 4 out of 5

    Rick Barr

    I love this book! Ilia Delio is able to embrace here Roman Catholic tradition while at the same time opening up all the windows, unlocking the doors and inviting all of creation in. Building on an evolutionary perspective championed by De Chardin, Delio invites her readers to see Christ, the church, our world, indeed, even the whole cosmos as drenched in the loving, creative presence that we call God. It was a joy to read and worthy of deep contemplation during this Easter season.

  6. 5 out of 5

    David

    I really appreciate the goals of a book like this, and I wanted to love it. But I just found myself not quite able to resonate with Delio's attempt to wed God with evolution. Evolution happened. That's science. God is love. That's an assertion of faith. Can these be integrated? I'm left feeling pretty dissatisfied. Judging by the other reviews, however, I'm the outlier. I really appreciate the goals of a book like this, and I wanted to love it. But I just found myself not quite able to resonate with Delio's attempt to wed God with evolution. Evolution happened. That's science. God is love. That's an assertion of faith. Can these be integrated? I'm left feeling pretty dissatisfied. Judging by the other reviews, however, I'm the outlier.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Adam Ross

    A breathtaking book that explores and updates the work of Teilhard de Chardin and provides a view of evolution that takes it out of the realm of mechanistic materialism and shows how spirituality and religion are inherent to evolutionary theory.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Connie Hintz

    Great introduction to the thought of Teillhard de Chardin. Fascinating, but not easy reading.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Aidan Owen

    Without question the best book I've read this year, and one of the best I've ever read, in terms of changing the way I see and experience the world and my faith. There are chapters in this book where I underlined almost every sentence. Beware: it is a dense book. I had to go back and reread a few chapters to make sure I'd gotten the points Delio was making. Even so, I'm sure I'll return to this book again and again. Delio's project is to bring together the scientific insights behind evolution wit Without question the best book I've read this year, and one of the best I've ever read, in terms of changing the way I see and experience the world and my faith. There are chapters in this book where I underlined almost every sentence. Beware: it is a dense book. I had to go back and reread a few chapters to make sure I'd gotten the points Delio was making. Even so, I'm sure I'll return to this book again and again. Delio's project is to bring together the scientific insights behind evolution with Christian theology and self-understanding. Her conclusion is that for Christianity to have anything meaningful to contribute to human and earthly flourishing today, it absolutely has to reframe itself in the context of the unfolding of the cosmos in evolution. At the same time, she is firm that Christianity, reframed in the light of evolutionary self-understanding, has essential contributions to make to human societies that are ever more distanced from material reality. Just a few of the many passages worth contemplating: 'The fecund relationality of God renders creation neither chance nor necessity; it is God's destiny. God does what God is--what is true to God's nature and thus what is divine--love. Because God is love, God is entirely free, and in this freedom God is entirely Godself. God loves the world with the very same love which God is. God is not divine substance governing creation but the radical subject of everything that exists, the depth and wholeness of nature itself that reveals itself in its hiddenness. God's love fills up each being as "this" (and not "that"), but the limits of any being cannot contain God; thus, the excess of God's love spills over as "transcendence," more than any being can grasp. Transcendence is the fecundity of love and the "yearning" dimension of everything that exists. The excess of love draws each element and creature toward greater union and more being. God, therefore, can never be behind creation, as if God does something then steps away to observe it from a distance. Rather, God-Omega-Love is the power of everything that exists and, as the excess of love, the future who holds open in the very present moment the radical possibilities of love.' (71) Or 'To be free in love, however, we must know ourselves as being loved, and this means accepting ourselves as lovable. Jesus was free in love because he lived in truth and authenticity of being. We discover our true selves in love when we realize we are not alone and therefore have no need to defend our isolated egos. The lovability of our lives is our particular inscape, our "thisness," not simply our genome or phenotypes, but the unique constituency of relationships that makes each "I" a living "Thou" with a distinct personality. To realize our human capacity to love is the beginning of divinization because in the beauty of our "I" is the living Thou waiting to be called upon as God.' (133) Or 'Homo sapiens are the last arrival in the evolutionary story, the most complex and intelligent species and, yet, the most unnatural species alive. We separate ourselves from the whole and refuse to be part of the whole; we kill and maim our own species, as well as other species. We lock ourselves up in artificial environments with artificial lighting and sit behind artificial computer screens, sometimes creating artificial lives online because our own lives are so boring and empty. We boast of our intelligence as human creatures but we have lost the human center that feels for another, that weeps for the poor and oppressed, that has a righteous anger in the face of injustice, that forgives our enemies and shows mercy to the wounded. Being creatures created for wholeness in love we are the most loveless of creatures filled with fear, jealousy, anger, hurt, resistance, and rivalry. A center empty of love is ripe for extinction because there is nothing to live for.' (181)

  10. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Blok

    I grabbed this book from the library after hearing Delio on podcast The Bible for Normal People. Her discussion of the connectedness of the cosmos and its tendency toward greater unity, complexity and love was full of ideas that I'd never considered and sparked a lot of interest and excitement in me. I put her book on hold and, after passing it back and forth with another patron a couple of times, finally got it read. I have to say: if I was hoping to be clear on the ideas she'd brought up on the I grabbed this book from the library after hearing Delio on podcast The Bible for Normal People. Her discussion of the connectedness of the cosmos and its tendency toward greater unity, complexity and love was full of ideas that I'd never considered and sparked a lot of interest and excitement in me. I put her book on hold and, after passing it back and forth with another patron a couple of times, finally got it read. I have to say: if I was hoping to be clear on the ideas she'd brought up on the podcast, those hopes haven't been entirely fulfilled. It's probably due to my inexperience with philosophical texts and that the way she talks about Christianity is so very different from the ways I'm used to. Part of Delio's point in this book is that Christianity today relies on a conception of God that was cemented at a time and in texts that assumed the universe was a static place that played by the rules of a machine, like a clock. She tracks a revolution of Christian thought and practice that occurred when ideas like heliocentrism and Newtonian physics came on the scene. Understandings of God changed because of change in understandings of the universe God was understood to have created. Delio suggests (relying on the work of other thinkers before her) that the arrival of evolution and quantum physics marks another fundamental shift that should change our understanding of God, the universe and humans' place in it. It is a big shift and the challenge of wrapping my mind around it felt like confirmation of its bigness. It's not the most accessible book (though I am not the most expert reader) and some of my confusion surely stems from my unfamiliarity with the thought that came before. At the same time, it feels challenging in that it dares to suggest big things about God and Christianity and humanity that do feel as ground-shifting as they are promised to be.

  11. 5 out of 5

    John Laliberte

    How do you describe what Sr. Delio has for us? Amazing is a good start. For anyone who is interested in exploring the power of both God and the human spirit, heart and passion in the context of evolution, this is a great book. If you are content with the current Church, world view and powerlessness we seem to be slogging through, don’t bother to read this book. Sr. Delio challenges us to look deeper and more broadly of what our Christian faith is all about. Life and death seem to be bookends, bu How do you describe what Sr. Delio has for us? Amazing is a good start. For anyone who is interested in exploring the power of both God and the human spirit, heart and passion in the context of evolution, this is a great book. If you are content with the current Church, world view and powerlessness we seem to be slogging through, don’t bother to read this book. Sr. Delio challenges us to look deeper and more broadly of what our Christian faith is all about. Life and death seem to be bookends, but our loving Sister takes us on a journey of what our future can hold for us, if we have faith in the power of Love – Love, as revealed by Jesus and his life. One thing is for sure, we are not finished on this journey of discovery of what “The unbearable Wholeness of Being” is. May God give us the grace and wisdom to transform into a people of wholeness. Thank you …

  12. 4 out of 5

    Bruce

    Written like a prayer - every sentence is inspired and inspiring. For anyone seeking intellectual and spiritual depth and to be spared religious dogmatism this is a must.("Deeply religious without being formally religious, deeply secular without being profane ..") Based on the work of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin and also inspired by The Unbearable Wholeness of Beings by Stephen Talbot. Read a while back but kept copious notes. These stand out: Love and relation are the producers not the product of Written like a prayer - every sentence is inspired and inspiring. For anyone seeking intellectual and spiritual depth and to be spared religious dogmatism this is a must.("Deeply religious without being formally religious, deeply secular without being profane ..") Based on the work of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin and also inspired by The Unbearable Wholeness of Beings by Stephen Talbot. Read a while back but kept copious notes. These stand out: Love and relation are the producers not the product of being. Without relationship there can be no being ... If love is absent from the core of knowledge - whether on the level of science, university education, or faith - the end result is division, confusion and separation

  13. 5 out of 5

    Baxter Trautman

    Can't believe I hadn't rated this yet. I found this book while going through an awkward period of life where I was trying to reconcile my training as a scientist with my belief in a very large and broad cosmology. Delio, as both biologist and theologian, penetrated the heart of my doubts and skepticism and helped me see how the two disciplines are indeed complimentary rather than in opposition. It's not a casual read but absolutely a primer for those interested in marrying mind and soul. (Note: Can't believe I hadn't rated this yet. I found this book while going through an awkward period of life where I was trying to reconcile my training as a scientist with my belief in a very large and broad cosmology. Delio, as both biologist and theologian, penetrated the heart of my doubts and skepticism and helped me see how the two disciplines are indeed complimentary rather than in opposition. It's not a casual read but absolutely a primer for those interested in marrying mind and soul. (Note: Delio comes from a Christian perspective, but if that is not your faith as it isn't mine, don't be put off for she addresses spirit more than religion.)

  14. 5 out of 5

    Eve

    There is too much to say about this book. It is incredible. I want to buy a copy for so many people. It encompasses the closest to what I believe the truth about life, God, faith, and Christianity is that I have ever read, and it written so beautifully and comprehensively. It has taken me over a year to read it because I was so blown away at times that I had to sit with the information for a while before continuing to read. Thank you deeply, Ilia Delio, for this book.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Anita

    The book was difficult for me to understand as it seems to be written for theologians more than for the more casual reader. There were several times when the light went on for me with such things as the wholeness of being and how the Cosmos and humanity as a part of that whole is evolving. There was a strong emphasis on the power that love has in being itself. There is a lot of material and thoughts of Teilhard de Chardin contained and clarified. That was a big plus for me.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Eddie

    Dense and hard to consume very much at a time, but really good. It's not a book that I particularly enjoyed reading, just because it was so much to take in...but a good deal of the material has become some of my core beliefs! I could make a book just from my highlights. She quotes Teilhard de Chardin so much that at times I wondered if I should have just read his works instead. Dense and hard to consume very much at a time, but really good. It's not a book that I particularly enjoyed reading, just because it was so much to take in...but a good deal of the material has become some of my core beliefs! I could make a book just from my highlights. She quotes Teilhard de Chardin so much that at times I wondered if I should have just read his works instead.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Claude H. Blanc

    Mind blowing, heart warming Ilia Delio takes us on a cosmic journey where the awesome love of God and the greatness of human destiny, far from being scary, makes one feel at home, in the bosom of Reality.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Patrick

    This is my introduction to Delio's work and one to reread. There is a lot of ground covered in this book, and is a great way to get one thinking about the relationship among evolution, the Christian faith, Christ, and the future of humankind. This is my introduction to Delio's work and one to reread. There is a lot of ground covered in this book, and is a great way to get one thinking about the relationship among evolution, the Christian faith, Christ, and the future of humankind.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    Lovely, lovely read! Teilhard was a head of his time.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Amy Bird

    “Love does strange things. It does not often function logically or systematically; it is often spontaneous, creative, and provocative.”

  21. 4 out of 5

    Tamara

    An eye-opening book. We are all connected. Love is our purpose.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Christopher

    A good introduction to and extension of the work of Teilhard de Chardin.

  23. 4 out of 5

    David

    From the next to last page of the book - "God's love is unmanageable and unruly; it is creative, spontaneous, and novel." This is very interesting book and worth every minute reading and pondering. Here are the dog-ears and highlights: pg. 10 - man seeks transcendence in ways that actually inhibit it... pg. 41 - great description of the Greek love words. pg. 51 - Love turns passion into transformative power. pg. 65 - Theonomous culture - every cultural creation has a religious meaning. pg. 77 - Divine From the next to last page of the book - "God's love is unmanageable and unruly; it is creative, spontaneous, and novel." This is very interesting book and worth every minute reading and pondering. Here are the dog-ears and highlights: pg. 10 - man seeks transcendence in ways that actually inhibit it... pg. 41 - great description of the Greek love words. pg. 51 - Love turns passion into transformative power. pg. 65 - Theonomous culture - every cultural creation has a religious meaning. pg. 77 - Divine love as a river. pg. 84 - To love is to risk being rejected by the other. pg. 85 - Love is not a concept but a transforming power...heals, reconciles, unites, makes whole. pg. 88 - "Love means to let go and enter the storm and to love as passionately, extravagantly, and wastefully as God loves." pg. 97 - Flight from the world while living in the middle of it. pg. 99 - Authentic love and freedom of self. pg. 104 - God not as a magician... pg. 128 - Repentance not as a one time act but a permanent newness of life. pg. 131 - Jesus gather things divided, confronted systems that diminished, marginalized, or excluded human persons. pg. 135 - Love pushing through what is dead and breathes new life. pg. 140 - Bonaventure's warning against intellectual pursuits divorced from soul-building. pg. 145 - Artificial charade called life. pg. 167 - Technology, control, and change. pg. 179 - The desire of every human person. pg. 180 - When we separated from the whole. pg. 183 - Descartes children!!! pg. 184 - Letting go of what we try to possess. pg. 192 - The Eucharist and love.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Carol Hassell

    Hope A new and hopeful understanding of the place and contribution of Christianity to the evolution of consciousness and to the unity of all in love.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jason Lyle

    This was a good book, but a very tough read for me. It is scientific and theological at the same time. The main idea of the book is Christianity should be evolving more toward love and kindness and therefore God will evolve with us toward love, kindness and acceptance. One thing I would have liked for her to address, however, is how evil plays into her theology of evolution. It seems evil would have to be a factor to be dealt with. Nonetheless, it was a good read and I wrote down many quotes fro This was a good book, but a very tough read for me. It is scientific and theological at the same time. The main idea of the book is Christianity should be evolving more toward love and kindness and therefore God will evolve with us toward love, kindness and acceptance. One thing I would have liked for her to address, however, is how evil plays into her theology of evolution. It seems evil would have to be a factor to be dealt with. Nonetheless, it was a good read and I wrote down many quotes from it.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    One of the best titles in theology I have read. Ilia Delio demonstrates why the theory of evolution is a nonnegotiable not only for the survival of spirituality and religion but for the survival of the human species. She argues that the power and arrow of evolution is love, and that God will not, indeed, cannot, save us if we do not choose love as the power of our future. She also unearths the thought of Teilhard de Chardin in a way more relevant than ever.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Kyle Arcement

    I finished this book weeks ago, and it is still imposing itself on me. Sr. Ilia brings so many ideas together in this fascinating work--ideas that need to be heard and are too often ignored by mainstream Christianity. With this book, Sr. Ilia reveals her staggering ability to integrate and create something new and lead us into the becomingness of God.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Tom Gorski

    The science is at times daunting but that may keep the "powers that be" (men in lace outfits and red caps) from actually reading what is an excellent forward movement of Teilhard's efforts during the previous century on evolution and spirituality. The science is at times daunting but that may keep the "powers that be" (men in lace outfits and red caps) from actually reading what is an excellent forward movement of Teilhard's efforts during the previous century on evolution and spirituality.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Sheila Pritchard

    Excellent coverage of the material I heard her personally expound in a three day conference. Not easy reading but very comprehensive and one to refer back to.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Christin Weber

    A must read for anyone with a God thirst.

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