Date of Award
Santa Clara : Santa Clara University, 2020.
Licentiate in Sacred Theology (STL)
George E. Griener, S.J.
In my thesis, Evolution Science and the Imago Dei: A Richer and more Robust Treatment of Theological Anthropology, the first chapter demonstrates, from the historical analysis of the content attributed to the concept imago Dei over the centuries, that different ages in the Church have interpreted the content of that expression in different ways. From this historical analysis that the imago Dei assumes different meanings at different points in history, I justify my expectation that the term is open to ever new meanings.
With the second chapter, by exploring the evolutionary contribution to the emergence of modern human, I establish the similarity and divergence between humans and nonhumans, genetically and phenotypically. In the third chapter, I criticize the exclusive reference of the imago Dei to only humans. Even though humans continue to be special and distinct from other species, human species has a lot in common with nonhuman species. Evolutionary science helps demonstrate that what our ancestors in faith thought was unique to humans is not so.
My claim is that every living species is imago Dei in different ways. Every time that there is similarity between species, there is imago Dei, and every time that there is divergence, there is imago Dei in a different way. The divergence is not a difference between members of the same species, or else there would be in the same species so many imago Dei in different ways. Rather, the divergence is the speciation, that is, the difference between species. Because we are all imago Dei, we have a purpose which is not only individual, self-centered, or universal but which is divine; therefore, the meaning of our life does not end in this life but is opened to eschatology. Because we are imago Dei, we are called to be in solidarity and to live in sincerity with each other. Solidarity, rather than having anything to do with pity or charity, affirms that as imago Dei, we all have value in the eyes of our God.
Paterne, GANSA Tchétongbé Cathérin, "Evolution Science and Imago Dei: A Richer and More Robust Treatment of Theological Anthropology" (2020). Jesuit School of Theology Dissertations. 53.