Created and Evolved: Describing a nuanced theological anthropology for the contemporary church through the writings of Gregory of Nyssa and Charles Darwin

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2023

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Abstract

The following thesis addresses an issue in ways of knowing that is both commonand destructive in the contemporary American context. Specifically, the issue of misunderstood anthropologies is posited to be an unnecessary destructive force against American churches already in decline. This damage is caused by wooden and polarizing theological and evolutionary anthropologies that underlie the basis of how many define themselves. This project endeavors to show that theological and evolutionary anthropologies are not necessarily adversarial. To this end, the theological anthropology of Gregory of Nyssa as described in On the Making of Man (de Hominis Opificio) and the evolutionary anthropology as described by Charles Darwin in The Descent of Man are defined and compared. These seminal yet still authoritative works are shown to be making different statements about humanity’s coming into being, more so than confrontational ones. The lack of mutual exclusivity between these two anthropologies is heightened by a number of interesting points of connection between them, such as reason being the definitive characteristics of humanity as well as the notion that humanity is continually becoming a more good creature. These ideas will serve to remove barriers of belief for many, all the while providing for a more holistic view of the origins of humanity and thus humanity’s place in the world.

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Nielsen, William John (2023). Created and Evolved: Describing a nuanced theological anthropology for the contemporary church through the writings of Gregory of Nyssa and Charles Darwin. Dissertation, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/27554.

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