The Origin of the Human Species: Philosophical and Theological Perspectives

Mariusz Tabaczek, OP

Pontificia Università San Tommaso d'Aquino (Angelicum)

The encounter of philosophical, theological, and biological views on anthropogenesis inspired the most emotional reactions to evolutionary theory and posed a considerable challenge to systematic and philosophical theology. The history of the conversation between scientific and religious worldviews on the topic of hominization is thus long and complicated. In my presentation I will discuss two issues. Firstly, I will delineate the contemporary Thomistic approach to the question of the origin of our species and defend it as theologically more accurate and precise than the most prevalent version of the semi-naturalistic position that is favored and repeated by many theologians and accepted in the official statements of the Magisterium of the Catholic Church. Secondly, I will address the complex debate on mono- versus polygenism. I shall argue that the contemporary model favoring monogenetic origin of the human species (Muller 1951, Alexander 1964, and Kemp 2011) does not stand without including a direct (special) divine intervention.

Mariusz Tabaczek, O.P., is a Polish Dominican and theologian. He holds Ph.D. in philosophical theology from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, CA and Church Licentiate from the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan, Poland. He is a professor of theology and member of the Thomistic Institute at the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas in Rome. He is interested in the science-theology dialogue, especially in the issues concerning science and creation theology, divine action, and evolutionary theory. His research also goes to other subjects related to systematic, fundamental, and natural theology, philosophy of nature, philosophy of science (philosophy of biology, in particular), philosophy of causation, and metaphysics. His works address a whole range of topics, including: the notion of species, metaphysics of evolutionary transitions, concurrence of divine and natural causes in evolutionary transitions, definition and role of chance and teleology in evolution, classical and new hylomorphism, classical and contemporary (analytical) concepts of causation, emergence, science-oriented panentheism and its critique, and various aspects of divine action in the universe. He published a number of articles on metaphysics and the issues concerning the relation between theology and science, and two monographs: Emergence. Towards A New Metaphysics and Philosophy of Science (University of Notre Dame Press 2019) and Divine Action and Emergence. An Alternative to Panentheism (University of Notre Dame Press 2020).

This talk is part of the conference “The Origin of Life and Nature Before Sin: Scientific and Theological Perspectives”, which took place at the Angelicum on 1-2 April 2022. Click here to download the conference brochure.