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Christianity in Evolution

An Exploration

Jack Mahoney

Publication Year: 2011

Evolution has provided a new understanding of reality, with revolutionary consequences for Christianity. In an evolutionary perspective the incarnation involved God entering the evolving human species to help it imitate the trinitarian altruism in whose image it was created and counter its tendency to self-absorption. Primarily, however, the evolutionary achievement of Jesus was to confront and overcome death in an act of cosmic significance, ushering humanity into the culminating stage of its evolutionary destiny, the full sharing of God's inner life. Previously such doctrines as original sin, the fall, sacrifice, and atonement stemmed from viewing death as the penalty for sin and are shown not only to have serious difficulties in themselves, but also to emerge from a Jewish culture preoccupied with sin and sacrifice that could not otherwise account for death. The death of Jesus on the cross is now seen as saving humanity, not from sin, but from individual extinction and meaninglessness. Death is now seen as a normal process that affect all living things and the religious doctrines connected with explaining it in humans are no longer required or justified. Similar evolutionary implications are explored affecting other subjects of Christian belief, including the Church, the Eucharist, priesthood, and moral behavior.

Published by: Georgetown University Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xiv

In 1988 Pope John Paul II put the following questions to the participants of a conference held in Rome to study the relationships between evolution and religion: “Does an evolutionary perspective bring any light to bear upon theological anthropology, the meaning of the human...

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Chapter One Accepting Evolution

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pp. 1-17

The relationship between science and religion has long been a topic of debate and dispute, and nowhere more markedly in modern times than as it concerns the scientific account of evolution. Considerable attention is regularly given to the question of whether Darwinism and religion are in principle compatible, and in recent times distinguished...

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Chapter Two Evolution, Altruism, and the Image of God

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pp. 18-48

As discussed in the last chapter, Pope John Paul II once asked a series of challenging theological questions regarding evolution: “Does an evolutionary perspective bring any light to bear upon theological...

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Chapter Three The Evolutionary Achievement of Jesus

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pp. 49-70

In the previous chapter I offered a response to a question that Pope John Paul II once addressed to evolutionary science, whether an evolutionary perspective would throw any light on Christian beliefs, specifically on the significance of the human person as created in the image...

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Chapter Four Incarnation without the Fall

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pp. 71-97

In chapter 3 I argue that with the acceptance of the evolutionary origin of humanity there is no longer a need or a place in Christian beliefs for the traditional doctrines of original sin, the Fall, and human concupiscence resulting from that sin and, further, that much more positively...

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Chapter Five Seeking a New Paradigm

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pp. 98-110

Examining the traditional Christian doctrines of original sin, the fall of humanity, and concupiscence reveals that these beliefs have been heavily influenced by a Jewish culture that was preoccupied in ascribing all human sufferings, including death, to divine punishment for...

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Chapter Six The Church and the Eucharist in Evolution

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pp. 111-141

As the previous chapters have examined, acknowledging the findings of evolutionary science can highlight and clarify the evolutionary achievement that Jesus brought about for the human race through his...

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Chapter Seven

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pp. 142-170

This book has aimed to explore a theology of evolution that will enable the Christian faith to take constructive and systematic note of the way in which the science of evolution has advanced our knowledge of human origins. Much of it will appear negative to many in terms of arguing...


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pp. 171-180

General Index

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pp. 181-186

Scriptural Index

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pp. 187-188

E-ISBN-13: 9781589017993
E-ISBN-10: 1589017994
Print-ISBN-13: 9781589017696
Print-ISBN-10: 1589017692

Page Count: 208
Publication Year: 2011