Plumbing the Depths: A Recovery of Natural Law and Natural Wisdom in the Context of Debates about Evolutionary Purpose


  • Celia Deane-Drummond

    1. Professor of Theology and the Biosciences in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Chester, Parkgate Road, Chester, CH1 4BJ, United Kingdom; e-mail She is founder and director of the Centre for Religion and the Biosciences.
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I argue that the theological traditions of natural law and wisdom offer helpful meeting points in discussions about evolutionary “purpose” and contingency in relation to theological purpose, and serve to form the basis for a theology of nature. Natural law offers a way of describing the ordered action of God toward complexity in a contingent world without using the language of either “design” or “progress.” The theological tradition of wisdom as implicit in the natural world, learned in the human community, and received as gift of grace offers a further means of interconnecting biological reality with spiritual experience, while retaining distinctions. Wisdom and natural law intersect inasmuch as natural law is participation in Eternal Wisdom, although the latter makes sense only from the prior perspective of faith.