In, with, and under: The creative suffering of the Triune God in the evolutionary theology of Arthur Peacocke

Gloria L Schaab, Fordham University


Informed by the understandings of evolutionary cosmology and biology, grounded within a panentheistic paradigm of the God-world relationship, and rooted within the Christian theological tradition, this dissertation contends that the concept of the creative suffering of the Triune God is theoretically defensible, theologically viable, and pastorally crucial in view of the suffering of the cosmos. It bases its proposals upon the evolutionary theology of Anglican biochemist and theologian Arthur R. Peacocke. Commencing with an overview of 20th century Christian theological proposals concerning the suffering of God, this dissertation then examines the understandings and the implications of Neo-Darwinian biology, evolutionary cosmology, and quantum theory that undergird Peacocke's theological proposals. It then explains and evaluates Peacocke's epistemology of critical realism and methodology of inference-to-the-best-explanation in dialogue with science and with contemporary and Thomistic theology and philosophy. Integrating Peacocke's evolutionary insights, his epistemology of critical realism, and his methodology of inference-to-the-best-explanation, this thesis consequently investigates the implications of these elements for conceiving the nature, attributes, and purposes of the Triune God in relation to an evolving cosmos. Analyzing Peacocke's systematic presentation of cosmic being and becoming as the foundation for his inferences concerning Divine Being and Becoming, this investigation culminates in Peacocke's inference that, in view of the insights of evolutionary cosmology and biology and the inexorable suffering endemic within the universe and particularly within human experience, God suffers in, with, and under the creative processes of the cosmos with its gradual unfolding in time. Having demonstrated this inference within Peacocke's overall evolutionary theology, this dissertation then focuses upon six salient elements of Peacocke's theology that directly shape his Christian theopaschitism. Based on Peacocke's theology of the suffering God and on his panentheistic paradigm of God-world relationship, this dissertation concludes by developing a female panentheistic-procreative model of the creative suffering of the Triune God, a model of midwifery toward ecological ethics, and a pastoral model of threefold differentiation of suffering in God as steps toward viable Christian discourse regarding the mystery of God in relation to the ubiquity of pain, suffering, and death in cosmic existence and human experience.

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

Schaab, Gloria L, "In, with, and under: The creative suffering of the Triune God in the evolutionary theology of Arthur Peacocke" (2005). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3169394.