Book Excerpts

Feb. 21, 2018  (From page 29)

In the biography[i] of Templeton Prize winner Holmes Rolston III, I find clues that help me understand how God leads us to optimize our potential.


In the Colorado wilderness, Rolston as scientist was reminded that the potential optimization of plants confirms that life continues in the midst of challenge. Like the Pasqueflower, human beings strive toward something better.


Rolston argues that, in the evolution process, something new appeared. In the modern human brain, the capacity was developed to transmit information among humans in their genes, in their conversations, and in their books, their libraries, and their databases.


The creation and transfer of moral values from person to person and from generation to generation hinges almost entirely upon the possibility of this information transfer. Wisdom about right and wrong could not be transferred without it.


For Rolston as theologian, God’s grace is ultimately responsible for Earth’s progressive history. Suffering can be seen as leverage for something higher.


The capacity to learn and innovate from suffering is a gift of God’s grace.


The urge to avoid suffering has generated countless innovations in human cultures, including moving toward living in mutually supportive social groups, the development of agriculture, and continual improvements in technology and medicine.


Like plants, we are wired to move on up from survival to optimize our potential. Even when we stumble and encounter life-threatening challenges, God is there to help us get up and to equip us to keep our eyes on the prize of being all that we are made to be.


  • Do you agree with Rolston’s understanding of how God nudges us toward our potential? 
  • Why or why not?
  • What are the barriers to your reaching your potential? 
  • What are you willing to do to stretch to your potential?

[i] Christopher J. Preston, Saving Creation: Nature and Faith in the Life of Holmes Rolston III (San Antonio: Trinity University Press, 2009)