Paradox Lost: Longing, Alienation, and the Mystery of Humanity in a Technological Age
The Christian concept of creation is contested in the present age for many reasons, but one of those reasons is the incredibility of a distinctiveness of humanity beyond the explainable and the material. Figures from the past century—from Walker Percy to Wendell Berry to Marilynne Robinson—though have drawn from theology, biology, psychology, and the humanities to suggest that the mysteriousness of human nature points beyond itself to a greater mystery of the cosmos. Christian theology can account both for the human similarity to the rest of nature and the human predicament of alienation from nature, and from ourselves. A sense of humanity as a paradox of integrity-in-brokenness, intelligibility-in-mystery, cultivation-in-conservation, and wayfaring-in-habitation can help us to reconcile the tensions between imagination and reason, community and individualism, and realism and justice while maintaining what we intuit to be true—that humanity is unique—alongside the challenges to that uniqueness in questions about whether humanity is alone in the universe or can be replicated by an algorithm.