“Reality is event, not substance. The Ultimately Infinite Real (whether named Void, Open, Being, Creativity, Good, gods, God) … is a verb, not a noun.”—David Tracy, Fragments: The Existential Situation of Our Time (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2020), p. 2.
Ever since I was in college, how I think about God, and how I experience God (at least allegedly), has been deeply informed by process philosophy and theology. My first exposure to it was through a book I was reading in a course on science and religion—Ian G. Barbour’s (still worth reading) Myths, Models, and Paradigms. And it was always hovering in the background of my theological mentor, David Tracy (quoted above), in both his early and most recent work. The two most influential process thinkers in the twentieth century were Alfred North Whitehead and Charles Hartshorne. Many process theologians take one or the other of these thinkers as the final word on the subject and try to force their theologies into their respective terminologies, which especially in Whitehead’s case can be obscure and forbidding to the novice. (One notable exception, and my favorite introduction to process theology, is Catherine Keller, On the Mystery: Discerning God in Process [Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2008].) I recommend reading them. But process thought is a much broader movement than the works of either Whitehead or Hartshorne, as you can see from the online Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy article. So in the following blog entries I’m not following anybody else’s terminology exactly, and even my own terminology shifts sometimes (also compare here, here, and here) as I keep looking for more direct ways to communicate a way of seeing things that, while odd at first, doesn’t have to be forbiddingly complicated.
Note, however, while my lifelong faith experience has been deeply informed by process thinking, it did not and does not start or end there. So I recommend reading this post first:
Process Theism from Different Angles
The God We’re NOT Debating: Confessions of a Different Kind of Theist (from a 2008 Facebook discussion)
Responses to Other Course Readings
Other Tangential Topics for the Curious
Process Thought for Freethinkers and Other Naturalists, with an Optional Theological Afterward (This is pretty lengthy. I presented an abbreviated version of the first part to the local, “secular humanist” Center for Inquiry in 2009.)
An Ontology for Practical Wisdom (my most academically pretentious publication on process thought)