CTS Faculty Mary Vanden Berg Publishes Book on Human Uniqueness
Published by Calvin Seminary
Aquinas, Science, and Human Uniqueness: An Integrated Approach to What Makes Us Human
What is a human? Are we just a random collection of organic material? Is there something special about humans, something unique? What characteristics or behaviors might suggest humans are unique and different from other creatures? Or are there any such characteristics? In her new book, Aquinas, Science, and Human Uniqueness: An Integrated Approach to What Makes Us Human, Dr. Mary Vanden Berg addresses some of these basic questions about humans.
She begins by retrieving Aquinas’s structural understanding of humans as beings with a unique place in the hierarchy of existence. With that as a foundation, Vanden Berg digs into the biblical text, exploring various ways the Bible describes human persons beyond the basic designation of humans as the image of God. She moves from this Biblical portrayal of humans to what we can learn from science about humans, particularly biological science and evolutionary psychology. She helpfully includes a chapter suggesting ways to consider how one could understand and appreciate the stories of science and Scripture without necessarily feeling the need to harmonize.
Working with the ideas drawn from Aquinas, the Bible, and science, Vanden Berg asserts that humans are special because humans—and humans alone—are material-spiritual, intellective, worshiping animals. When combined, these characteristics set humans apart from all other non-human animals. Well-known theologian Kevin J. Vanhoozer writes that Vanden Berg “makes a persuasive case for retrieving Aquinas’s notion of the soul’s intellective capacity as the best way forward for doing justice not only to human uniqueness but to the human dignity of the disabled as well.” Old Testament theologian John W. Hilber also recommends the book writing that Vanden Berg “provides an uncommon integration of theological acumen, careful exegesis, informed science, and pastoral engagement.” The Forum encourages our readers to read this intriguing work about the special uniqueness of humans.
Visit Calvin Theological Seminary’s Campus
We can’t wait to host you on campus! Schedule your visit today, or, if you need more time to find a date that works for you, please request information so we can continue the conversation about supporting your calling!