Date of Award

Spring 4-28-2017

Document Type


Primary Advisor

Dr. Peter Althouse


The purpose of this paper is to provide a framework through relational theology for understanding the randomness evident in genetic variation which is an element within evolution. I propose that evolution can be incorporated into a theology of creation by placing evolution in context of the interaction of love between God and creation when interpreted through a framework of relational theology. Relational theology, as engaging God as primarily self-giving and holistically hospitable (towards God’s self in the Trinity and towards creation), provides space for a theological understanding of randomness genetic variation and mutation within the evolutionary process. Chapter 1 discusses Ian Barbour’s four methods of engagement (or disengagement) between theology and the empirical sciences, and concludes with Barbour’s method of dialogue as the chosen method for continuing the discourse through a mutually illuminative conversation. Chapter 2 considers the central theme of kenosis in the nature and activity of the economic and the immanent Trinity (identified as existing in perichoretic harmony). The Triune God’s self-limitation means that God to exist in authentic relationship with all that is created; hence, creation is also empowered to exist as a free agent. Ultimately, the kenotic perichoresis of the Trinity carries deeply embedded implications for the nature of creation and its evolutionary development. Chapter 3 addresses a theology of evolution, specifically the randomness of genetic mutation and variation, through a framework of relational theology which seeks to interpret God’s power in terms of God’s primary nature of love. God’s love sustains creation’s existence and simultaneously invites creation to participate in creating by empowering creation to become more of itself through the evolutionary process.