Celia Deane-Drummond
University of Notre Dame

Human Nature, Evolution and Other Animals

Project Description:

The main research to be conducted this year relates to the completion of a substantial academic monograph of ten chapters that is under contract with Eerdmans, entitled, Human Nature, Evolution and Other Animals: Tracing The Wisdom of the Liminal. The primary concern of this book is to chart a renewed theological anthropology. This is not to diminish human distinctiveness, but to show up more clearly those aspects that are in common with as well as distinguished from other evolved species. This book also sets out to explore the theological and ethical implications of the erosion of the boundary between the human and other animals. Drawing on ethology, studies of evolutionary pre-history, and primatology, this book will seek to re-frame an understanding of the human/animal boundary through a critical dialogue with classical theological traditions. The structure of the book begins with a critical engagement with core themes that have, in the Christian tradition of imago Dei, served to bolster an ontological or epistemological account of human identity. Such core characteristics that have more often than not been used to separate humans from animals, including, or example, reason, freedom, morality, and language that in the light of current research show up in new and interesting ways in the lives of other species. The last three chapters tackle the implications of such an approach for theological anthropology in marking out how humans are to act in relation to other animals. I argue that theological anthropology is not simply about defined ontological characteristics, but also about the human performative place in a theodrama.

Professor Celia Deane-Drummond is currently full Professor in Theology at the University of Notre Dame. She took up this position in August 2011 and her unique appointment is concurrent between the Department of Theology in the College of Arts and Letters and the College of Science. Her research interests are in the engagement of theology and natural science, including specifically ecology and evolution. Her research has consistently sought to explore theological and ethical aspects of that relationship. Her most recent books include Future Perfect, ed. with Peter Scott (London:Continuum, 2006, 2n edn. 2010), Ecotheology (DLT/Novalis/St Mary’s Press, 2008), Christ and Evolution (Minneapolis: Fortress/London:SCM Press, 2009), Creaturely Theology, ed. with David Clough (London: SCM Press, 2009) Religion and Ecology in the Public Sphere, ed. with Heinrich Bedford-Strohm (London, Continuum, 2011).