The doctrine of theosis and the reality of purpose: exploring the convergence between deification and organismic teleology

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Abstract

Theosis is gaining significant attention in theological research. This paper argues that the doctrine of theosis, as it is portrayed in Eastern Orthodox Theology, mediates a profoundly teleological vision of both humanity and creation. The telos of human nature and the wider world only makes sense in the light of God’s sovereign plan. Yet, modern science is on the whole reluctant to entertain any broader teleology within or for nature. This situation seems to produce a tension between a central component of Orthodox theology with contemporary science, and evolutionary biology in particular. This paper seeks to resolve this tension by exploring non-reductionist accounts of evolution, as well as the possibility of grounding teleology in the nature and functions of biological organisms. Thus, this paper also explores the conceptual shift from “mechanism” to “organism” in biological research. Moreover, as theosis locates the nature of humanity in the light of God’s broader purpose for the world, I make the concluding argument that Eastern Orthodoxy brings with it a well-needed realism regarding the epistemic limitations of the natural sciences.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)198-209
Number of pages14
JournalToronto Journal of Theology
Volume37
Issue number2
Early online date14 Dec 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 17 Dec 2021

Keywords

  • Teleology
  • Deification
  • Theosis
  • Evolution
  • Purpose

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