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Theology, Tragedy, and Suffering in Nature: Toward a Realist Doctrine of Creation - Studies in Episcopal and Anglican Theology 12 (Hardback)
  • Theology, Tragedy, and Suffering in Nature: Toward a Realist Doctrine of Creation - Studies in Episcopal and Anglican Theology 12 (Hardback)

Theology, Tragedy, and Suffering in Nature: Toward a Realist Doctrine of Creation - Studies in Episcopal and Anglican Theology 12 (Hardback)

Hardback 244 Pages / Published: 14/07/2016
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The discovery by Charles Darwin of natural selection as the principal mechanism of biological evolution sharpened the classical theological issue of suffering in the natural world. Darwin's discovery revealed predation and starvation to be the engine of biological development. Theological responses to evolution within the Christian tradition have typically failed to come to terms with these features of biological evolution, focusing instead on romantic notions of nature or assumptions about the benefits of progress. As a result, many doctrines of creation have operated with a limited understanding of the created world that is their subject. As Joel C. Daniels shows, however, this shortcoming can be remedied by utilizing the ancient resources of dramatic tragedy in a theological vein. By drawing together a theological interpretation of tragedy and a scientifically accurate understanding of nature, a realist doctrine of creation can achieve a high degree of realism with regards to suffering, respecting the unique characteristics of individual experiences while situating them in a theologically meaningful frame of reference. The theological category of tragedy does not solve the problem of natural evil. However, it has the double virtue of attending closely to the specifics of the natural world and maintaining a principled tension between experiences of suffering and Christian claims about the possibility of redemption. This book thus makes a unique contribution to Christian theology by drawing on multiple disciplines to address this issue of existential importance.

Publisher: Peter Lang Publishing Inc
ISBN: 9781433133756
Number of pages: 244
Weight: 470 g
Dimensions: 225 x 150 x 18 mm
Edition: New edition

"Joel C. Daniels brilliantly addresses the most vexing problem in theology: natural suffering in the face of trust in God's goodness expressed in creation. After tracing the history of classic and contemporary theodicies, and evaluating them in light of the post-evolutionary context, he rejects their tendency to resolve particular suffering in teleological explanations. This leads Daniels to his constructive move: a turn to the genre of tragic drama, arguing that it has the capacity to reset our disposition toward suffering. In this spirit he urges the reader to live with the uneasy dialectic of inexplicability (even uncertainty) and hope, and holds that this stance is true to the Eucharistic core of Christian liturgy. This is a creative move from a theologian who will no doubt contribute much more still in the years ahead."-W. Mark Richardson, President and Dean, Church Divinity School of the Pacific
"This book is of the highest value for theologians in the religion-science dialogue. How do we affirm that nature `red in tooth and claw' is also the creation of a benevolent deity without distorting our account of nature? How can we acknowledge the roles of both cooperation and predation in the evolutionary process without minimizing the challenge to divine goodness? Joel C. Daniels argues that the answer lies in a renewed understanding of tragedy as a theological category with vital implications for divine creation."-Wesley J. Wildman, Professor of Philosophy, Theology, and Ethics, Boston University
"This book develops a fresh approach to one of the most compelling problems about God and suffering. A great deal has been written about the challenges raised by God's permission of human harm as a result of moral evils and natural misfortune. Significantly less attention has been given to the question about why a benevolent God would create a natural order that generates massive suffering and death among non-human sentient beings. This question gains special urgency in light of Darwin's theory of evolution, which intimately links biological creativity to the unforgiving dynamics of the struggle to survive. The theology of creation must concern itself with this world, a world whose deep structure intertwines flourishing and perishing, living and dying. Joel C. Daniels brings to this discussion both a well-informed appreciation of the development of evolutionary theory and a subtle grasp of theological history. He argues that attention to the concept of tragedy provides resources to shape a Christian theological response that moves beyond simple appeal to the greater goods served by evolutionary evils, and that candidly acknowledges the damage done to individual lives. This approach generates a rich set of insights that will advance the discussion about God and suffering in the natural world."-Thomas Tracy, Phillips Professor, Philosophy and Religious Studies, Bates College
"Joel C. Daniels has identified a much underexamined problem-that of natural evil when evolution is taken seriously-and located it within a wider theological frame. In doing so, he has made a significant contribution both to evolutionary theodicy and to doctrinal reflection more generally."-Christopher Southgate, Associate Professor of Interdisciplinary Theology, University of Exeter
"In this rich and intriguing study, Joel C. Daniels brings evolutionary theory, classic literature and theology together to argue that the tragedy writ large even in the full scope evolution is a theme demanding of theological articulation. If the problem of suffering is ingrained in nature itself, then the only possible answer is a renewed and deepened theology of creation. This is a thought-provoking and timely meditation for an age of ecological crisis."-Sarah Coakley, Norris-Hulse Professor of Divinity, University of Cambridge

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