A journal of academic theology

Does Evolution Have a Purpose? The Theological Significance of William Stoeger’s Account of “Nested Directionality”

William Stoeger, SJ, a highly influential proponent of theistic evolution, maintained that scientific understanding of the three major phases of evolution—cosmic, prebiotic, and biotic—all indicate that the universe is marked by an intrinsic tendency to produce novel kinds of entities, greater and greater organized complexity, intensified interconnectedness between organisms and their environments, and an unimaginable proliferation of life forms. Stoeger’s account of this intrinsic directionality can be complemented by recent accounts of bio-cultural and social evolution. People of faith can affirm that the broad directionality of the universe, including its random events, provides the natural context within which God’s purposes are achieved.