This dissertation argues that when Reinhold Niebuhr’s anthropology is informed by evolutionary biology, the resulting framework provides increased moral significance for relationships of humans with each other and non human creation and reemphasizes humanity’s responsibility as created co-creators. After exploring briefly the life and context of Reinhold Niebuhr, his criticism of his contemporaries’ response to science is used as a starting point to placing his thought into conversation with insights from the theology and science dialogue. In order to further this conversation, the details of Niebuhr’s anthropology with special attention to sin are explored. In order to have a more fruitful dialogue the focus tightens in on the concepts of original sin and original righteousness. Niebuhr’s understanding of these concepts is the starting point, but insights from the natural sciences as well as the theology and science dialogue are incorporated to re-imagine aspects of Niebuhr’s anthropology.
The project concludes with examining three current issues in order to show that the conversation between Niebuhr’s anthropology and science and religion not only changes the anthropology, but also has implications for theological ethics. These changes include methodological concerns for virtue ethics; original sin requires virtue ethicists to be more intentional about the kinds of friendships they form. There are also implications for environmental ethics, where human relationships with other organisms can affect their relationship with God. Stewardship should also be re-imagined as trusteeship, where humans can benefit some from the rest of creation, but ultimately are meant to ensure the flourishing of the trust for all of creation. Finally, in the context of biotechnology, changes to human DNA could result in changes to human nature. Sin as pride and sensuality are both operative in the pursuit of biotechnology, so there should be guidelines to identify appropriate uses of biotechnology.