Evolutionary biology in the theology of Karl Rahner

Philosophy and Theology 17 (1/2):85-105 (2005)
Abstract
The present study asks the question whether Karl Rahner’s treatment of biological evolution holds merit for the dialogue between Catholic theology on the one hand and evolutionary biology on the other. Central to this evaluation will be an emphasis on two core tenets of modern evolutionary biology, namely emergence and the continuity of the evolutionary process. While the former bears relevance for our understanding of how life and anthropologically important phenomena such as “mind” and “consciousness” came to be, the latter plays a crucial role in how we view our existence within the earth’s fluid and changing biosphere. It comes to the conclusion that Rahner’s concept of active self-transcendence recovers the notion of biological evolution as an on-going process where indeed something new emerges, and therefore offers an extremely helpful tool in the interdisciplinary conversation. However, this essay challenges Rahner’s understanding of the directedness of the evolutionary process toward the human being as well as his view that in us nature comes to self-consciousness for the first time and suggests alternatives
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