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HUMAN SALVATION IN AN EVOLUTIONARY WORLD: AN EXPLORATION IN CHRISTIAN NATURALISM

Authors

  • Karl E. Peters

    1. Karl E. Peters is Professor Emeritus of Philosophy and Religion, Rollins College, and a former editor and coeditor of Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science. He can be reached at 30 Barn Door Hills Road, Granby, CT 06035, USA; e-mail: kpeters396@cox.net.
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Abstract

Abstract In an evolutionary world, humans need “salvation” understood as restoring and maintaining well-being or functioning well. Humans are embedded in, embodiments of, and emergent creative-creatures of the universe. We have evolved also as ambivalent creatures—doing good, harm, and being bystanders while harm is being done. Multiple factors—for example, genetic, neurological, child developmental, and societal—contribute to malfunctioning and harmful behavior, and multiple religious and secular approaches help restore well-being. I develop a view of Jesus as a “religious genius” who, grounded in a direct experience of God, taught undiscriminating love and engaged in nonviolent political activism against the unjust domination system of the Roman Empire. Christians and others can follow Jesus by engaging in meditative practices that facilitate well-being out of which compassion for others and a passion for justice flows. Universal love rooted in Jesus is compatible with an evolutionary perspective that all humans are part of a natural family.

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