Throughout the biblical witness, humanity is consistently depicted as occupying a unique location within the rest of creation. Humanity was created “a little lower than the angels,” as the Psalmist puts it, yet “crowned with glory and honor.” In Genesis humanity alone is said to be “very good,” made in the image and likeness of God, and given dominion over the rest of creation. These depictions ground the Christian understanding of humanity’s place in the cosmos. What the Bible takes for granted is a point of debate in modern, scientific thought and a focal point in the science-theology discussions. Differences between humanity and other animals has been replaced with an emphasis on similarities.
This conference aims to promote interdisciplinary conversation on theological anthropology in the twenty-first century. Scripture portrays humans as both lowly in stature—composed from dust—while also unique in creation in bearing the likeness and image of God. Christians throughout history have tended to emphasize what distinguishes humans from the rest of creation, reflecting our role as stewards of creation. The sciences, by contrast, tend to emphasize the strong similarities that humans have with the rest of nature. Can these differing ways of understanding human nature be reconciled? How might science help better articulate and place constraints on the way Christians talk of human uniqueness?
This conference will be hosted at Samford University by Beeson Divinity School and the Departments of Christian Ministry and Biblical and Religious Studies.
This event is made possible through the support of a grant from the John Templeton Foundation. The opinions expressed in this conference are those of the participants and do not necessarily reflect the views of the John Templeton Foundation.