Akun Visala

Aku Visala
University of Helsinki

Imago Dei or a Meat Machine? A Philosophical Appraisal of Contemporary Theological Responses to the Evolution of Human Nature

Project Description:

In popular discourse, it is common to assume that the so called evolutionary human sciences (cognitive anthropology, evolutionary psychology) cast doubt over theism and traditional theological anthropology. My project provides a critical analysis of the contemporary theological and philosophical responses to the purported challenges of theological anthropology coming from evolutionary psychology. Among the issues examined are (1) the methods used in theological and philosophical engagements with evolutionary human sciences, (2) the nature of human persons and the traditional notion of imago Dei and (3) freedom and moral responsibility. My argument is that contemporary attempts to reformulate theological anthropology in the context of evolutionary human sciences have many problems, but at least some of them can be remedied by reorienting the debate in analytic philosophical terms.

Aku Visala’s work is located at the intersection of cognitive science, philosophy and theology. He has authored and co-authored papers in these areas for Religious Studies, Zygon, Human Development and Neue Zeitschrift fur Systematische Theologie und Religionsphilosophie. His latest book, Theism, Atheism and the Cognitive Study of Religion: Religion Explained? (Ashgate, 2011) discusses the religious implications and philosophical assumptions of contemporary cognitive and biological theories of religion. He has also published books on science and religion as well as philosophy of religion in Finnish. His research interests include the relationship between evolutionary psychology and theological and philosophical anthropology, philosophy of religion and the relationship between religion and science. He holds a PhD in philosophy of religion from the University of Helsinki and is currently a Research Fellow of the Finnish Academy and Post Doctoral Research Fellow of the Ian Ramsey Centre for Science and Religion at the University of Oxford.