When Were We Persons? Why Hominid Evolution holds the Key to Embodied Personhood

In this paper I want to ask whether human evolution as such might provide us with important links to theological anthropology and thus to a positive and constructive way of appropriating Darwinian thought for Christian theology. From a more philosophical point of view I am asking whether Darwin's perspective on human evolution can help us move forward to more constructive, holistic, notions of self and personhood? I will argue in this paper that in the history of hominid evolution we find surprising answers to the enduring question of what it means to be a self , a human person. In fact, what we now know about key aspects of hominid evolution affirms and confirms what Darwin argued for as crucial aspects of humanness. To this end I want to consider the problem of human evolution and its potential impact on theological anthropology by tracking a number of challenging contemporary proposals for the evolution of crucially important aspects of human personhood that were all of great significance for Darwin: the evolution of sexuality, the evolution of music and language, the evolution of morality, and the religious disposition. I will then argue that the evolution of these crucial aspects of human personhood converge of the issue of the moral sense, or morality, which then might give us an interesting, if not intriguing, transversal connection of religious belief and theological reflection. My argument will then unfold by specifically focusing on two important questions: first , what do we learn from evolutionary history about the evolution of morality and moral awareness in humans? and second , what do we learn from evolutionary history about the way we construct our moral codes and our ethical systems? The evolution of morality is, of course, closely related to the evolution of religion, with which I have not dealt with in this paper
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DOI 10.1515/nzst.2010.021
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