What is the ‘Big Story’ of cosmic evolution? Does our best scientific understanding of the world undercut faith in God? Can it enliven our
spirituality? Is it an asset to Christian Theology?
In this amazing video series Christian theologian and philosopher of science Philip Clayton tells scientific story of emergent evolution and invites the viewer into an evolutionary spirituality. The video series was produced by Travis from The Work of the People \ Alter Video Magazine and recorded during the Emergent Village Theological Conversation at Claremont School of Theology.
Video #1 (Origins of the Universe)
It used to be that science was thought to have nothing to do with us. In this first of five videos
on “Emergent Evolution, Spirituality and God,” Philip Clayton explains how we are in fact part of the
grander story of the universe. This brief history of the cosmos shows how we belong to the narrative of
continual emergence that is the history of the cosmos. Understanding the physics of the universe’s birth
helps one to see how humanity fits into the universal story. (And what about life on other planets?)
Video #2 (Origins of Life)
Is life the result of a miraculous divine intervention, or is it an inevitable byproduct of the laws of physics
and chemistry — or both? In this second video of the series “Emergent Evolution, Spirituality and God,”
Philip Clayton describes current scientific thinking about the origins of life on earth. We see how life is
influenced from the beginning by natural selection, which produces increasingly complex organisms over
time. Can this process be seen as the means for generating increasing levels of spiritual possibility?
Video #3 (Symbiosis versus Competition)
We are often taught that evolution requires the concept of “competition” to be at its very core. In this
third video of the series “Emergent Evolution, Spirituality and God,” Philip Clayton talks about recent
scientific discoveries that show how organisms work together symbiotically to create ever new forms
of cooperation. More than just being “red in tooth and claw,” nature seems to act in powerful ways
through cooperation across a vast variety of ecosystems. It appears that some scientists have projected
their own (materialist, sexist, or atheist) values onto the data that they are seeking to interpret.
Video #4 (The Coevolution of Biology and Culture)
Could it be that more than just biology is involved in the evolutionary process? In this fourth video of
the series “Emergent Evolution, Spirituality and God,” Philip Clayton shares the concept of coevolution,
the idea that cultural and biological forces both play a role in determining the broader trajectory of
living organisms. Through the phenomenon of social learning—that is, being taught new skills by friends
and relatives that are not genetically programmed—we begin to see that evolution includes social and
cultural influences as well. Genes and cells are apparently not the only determiners of who we and the
other animals become; agency and intentions play central roles as well.
Video #5 (Evolution, Spirit, and Spirituality)
In the centuries after Newton, science was held not only to exclude “spirit” but also to disprove its
existence. In this final video of the series “Emergent Evolution, Spirituality and God,” Philip Clayton
argues that recent changes in the interpretation of science actually invite the non-material back into
the conversation. The question confronting us now becomes whether we think of the universe as
functioning only reductively—with all true explanations lying ultimately at the level of physics—or as
full of possibility, with newness emerging from sources all around us. If the universe is really “upwardly
open” in this way, science and religion may serve as partners in addressing life’s deepest questions:
what is the meaning of life? What matters; what is of value? And what does it all point to in the end?