Raymond J. Nogar, O.P.
This is a remarkable account of a personal journey exploring the evidence for, and far-reaching implications of, human evolution. It is also a powerful inside look at the experience of lecturing on controversial matters at the academic meccas of America. In 1964, Raymond Nogar, a Dominican Scholar Priest and author of the highly regarded book, The Wisdom of Evolution, set out on a ten campus tour that took him to the Universities of Illinois, California, Stanford, North Carolina, Harvard, Michigan and Notre Dame, among others.
The Lord of the Absurd is not a collection of Nogar’s Lectures, but rather a series of reflections about interaction with audiences, challenging modes of thinking, understanding the risk of unsettling ideas, and the deepening of the author’s own convictions in the very presentation of his lectures. He came to realize that the “transforming effect of speaking, in its most creative phases, calls forth much more interpersonal existence, one in which the speaker, the listener and the word are caught up in a drama of human experience which reinterprets the world and gives directions to an existence which otherwise would remain utterly senseless.”
One sees in Nogar’s reflections on his lecture experiences a progressive deepening of his own thought and spirituality. The same evidence for human evolution that has led some to atheism and a view of existence itself as Absurd, the result of nothing more than chance, circumstance and complexity, leads Nogar to a deeper appreciation of the mystery of creation He acknowledges that the human situation is filled with frivolity and fate, wonders and strangeness and happenings whose apparent meaninglessness pose a dilemma. But, for Nogar, it was exactly in that human situation that Christ presented himself. His life, death and resurrection show him not as the Lord of cosmic order but as Lord of the Absurd.
“This is one of the rare books on evolution, science, and religion that is still fresh and current one-third century after its authorship by a Dominican priest-professor. Anyone who is wrestling with issues related to the conflicts and tensions that prevail between Christian faith and scientific evolution will benefit from the insights sprinkled lavishly throughout this book.” — Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation