God, Modern Biology, and the Metaphysics of the Person

God, Modern Biology, and the Metaphysics of the Person

JPI 954
3 Credits

Modern evolutionary biology, it is often assumed, has rendered God irrelevant for our understanding of the natural and particularly biological world. But what sort of God is excluded by this theory, what are the effects of this exclusion on our understanding of nature and persons, and what are its practical and existential consequences? This course will examine the development of modern biology from Darwin to the present and the ways that this discipline determines the status of God and the human person for contemporary culture—with particular attention given to the theological, metaphysical, and anthropological assumptions of this discipline. Along the way, we will also discuss the proper relationship between science, theology, and metaphysics more generally and the implications of a proper understanding of creation ex nihilo for this relationship and for the truth claims of modern biology. We will consider how modern biology is affected by modern culture and capitalist economics and how these in turn are affected by modern biology. We will also consider the tragic relationship between modern biology, classical eugenics, and contemporary developments in biotechnology, asking in what ways this relationship can be attributed to the failure of modern biology both to acknowledge its own metaphysical and theological debts, and to embrace an adequate theological anthropology.

Selected Texts


Michael Hanby portrait

Michael Hanby

Associate Professor of Religion and Philosophy of Science

Dr. Hanby is author of No God, No Science?: Theology, Cosmology, Biology (Wiley-Blackwell 2013) which reassesses the relationship between the doctrine of creation, Darwinian evolutionary biology, and science more generally. He is also author of Augustine and Modernity (Routledge 2003).

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