Kenosis and emergence: A theological synthesis

Zygon 45 (1):149-164 (2010)
Abstract
Emergence, a hot topic of discussion for the last several years, has implications not only for the study of science but also for theology. I survey Philip Clayton's book Mind & Emergence , drawing from it and applying some of its philosophical principles to a theological interpretation of emergence. This theological interpretation is supplemented by a brief examination of relevant biblical usages of the term kenosis. From this exploration of kenosis, I assert that the Spirit is kenotically poured into creation, which onsets the long and laborious process of prebiotic evolution, leading to biological evolution toward increasing complexity. The complexification of matter, then, has its ontological origin in and through the agency of the Spirit of God. As such, the concept of creatio continua , continuing creation, is defended. The Spirit enables emergence by endowing creation and creatures with the ability to unfold by apparent natural processes according to their own inherent potentialities and possibilities. This essay contributes to a systematic theology of creation by constructing a theological synthesis between kenosis and emergence.
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