Emergens – en hållbar teologisk vision?

  • Antje Jackelén


Emergence is certainly not the magical wand that can offer us the ultimate vision of nature, God, evil, and sacramentality. Theories of complexity and emergence come with both promise and pitfalls, a number of which are discussed in this article. For example, the insufficient understanding of the phenomenon and the idea of emergence itself, the problematic use of the concept of levels and hierarchies as well as the tendency to conflate facts and values pose obvious problems to the theological discussion and application of emergence. Nevertheless, I argue that a heuristic use of the concept of emergence can generate some interesting and significant theological input. On a general level, emergence thought supports my notion of differentiated relationality, i.e. the understanding that relationality is the basic pattern of all that is and research is basically the activity that attempts to describe and understand the difference between and within various patterns of relationality.

Difficulties of definitions, predictability and value judgments notwithstanding, I argue that emergence facilitates constructive ways of framing a new theological vision of nature. This theological vision also includes talk about God as the wellspring of the frameworks in which complexification can occur. Moreover, the constructive potential of emergence thought is exemplified by discussing natural evil and the sacrametns in light of emergence.