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Evolving into the Image of God
Peter M.J. Hess, Ph.D.
July 20, 2013
1900 Belmont Blvd
This paper explores theological dimensions at the intersection of biological evolution and the Christian doctrine of the “image of God.” How can we reinterpret the doctrine of the imago Dei to reflect what we know from science, that humans are “stardust become conscious of itself” 13.7 billion years after the Big Bang?
The Bible does not contain a well-developed doctrine of the “image of God.” However, the moral and spiritual response of humans to the Word of God is intelligible only in light of the imago Dei.
The imago Dei is a foundational teaching of Christian theology, for only if humans reflect God’s image are we able to comprehend and respond to God’s invitation.
This paper will argue in light of contemporary science that the primary criteria for reflecting the image of God are moral understanding, spiritual responsiveness, the capability of sustaining authentic relationships, and a sense of responsibility for God’s creation. This is a theology in which God works in, with, and through creation to transmit the soul integrally through the evolution of human physical nature and its increasing neural endowment. This theology is consistent with a Hebraic understanding of the person as a psychosomatic unity, and addresses a number of important theological problems: (1) it argues against a dualism in which all and only human souls are “saved”; (2) it dissolves the genetically unintelligible disjunction between prehuman hominids and Homo sapiens; (3) it renders ecological theology more coherent; and (4) it maintains the integrity of both scientific and theological perspectives on reality.
American Scientific Affiliation Annual Meeting
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