The Human Surprise: The Unexpected Science of our Origins and Why It Matters for Theology

Thursday, March 8th 2018, 7:00pm
Dinner Board Room, Flora Lamson Hewlett Library, 2400 Ridge Road Berkeley, CA 94709

Over the past decade, scientific discoveries have suggested a new and surprising view of the origins of today’s human family. The classic “Out of Africa” story, prominent among scientists from the mid-1990s until just recently, held that “modern” Homo sapiens emerged as a distinct species about 200,000 years ago and spread around the world, replacing all previous forms of humans.  This view has been called into question by several recent developments, such as DNA studies that show widespread interbreeding between various forms of ancestral humans, including Neandertals.  Just since 2017, researchers have published unexpected discoveries suggesting that modern humans come into existence not in a flash but in many small modifications stretching back further than we once thought.  The human story is a tale of multiple hominin lineages overlapping in time, with periods of separation followed by interbreeding.  As more discoveries are made, how will our view of ourselves change in the future?  Building on the 2016 book, The End of Adam and Eve: Theology and the Science of Human Origins, this talk will discuss what these new scientific findings suggest for Christian theology, centering on our need for redemption and our understanding of Jesus Christ as incarnate in this complex hominin lineage.