Two weeks of writing have resulted in a final structure for my book. I think I’m getting closer to telling the story that I wanted to tell in my dissertation, but I still need to weed out some unnecessary digressions and to strengthen the connections between succeeding steps in my argumentation.
First, I will give a short introduction to evolutionary studies of religion (ESR). Instead of presenting the reader with a long overview of different approaches and branches of ESR, I will offer brief examples of how ESR might explain why people of faith participate in spiritual walks.
In this introduction I will also make clear that tensions exist between what ESR and theology say about religious behavior. Therefore, in the second chapter I explain what I think to be the most fruitful way of bringing both fields together. I’m influenced by Elisabeth Johnson’s proposal of ‘practical cooperation‘, but also by Zygon’s notion (actually: the meaning of their name) of ‘yoking‘.
In the third chapter I will discuss what I see as a possible obstacle for a positive relation between theology and ESR, offering a solution to this problem in the fourth chapter. In short, I think the best way for theology to both learn from evolution and to contribute to our understanding of evolution, is to assume a historical perspective. When we see evolution as the historiography of life, we can benefit from theological sources on the meaning of history.
To develop this thesis, I offer a critical discussion and analysis of Philip Hefner’s theological anthropology in the final chapter. I must say I’m really inspired by his work, not only as an academic but also as a person. Of course, this does not mean I slavishly follows every argument he makes. But as I will show in this chapter, I think his anthropology offers a good starting point for further theological reflections on the evolution of culture and religion. I’m specifically interested in how this can lead us to a deeper theological understanding of education.
I have two weeks left to edit my manuscript. Since my summer break has come to an end I’ll have to make sure to schedule enough writing time. That’s life, I guess 😉 If you have any comments on this outline, do let me know!