This is a continuation of my discussion of methodology in theology and science. Here is Part III of my consideration of Radical Orthodoxy’s contribution to the question.
Cunningham’s reading is powerful and his use of Patristic sources to narrate the Christian vision as it is both protologically and eschatologically centered in Christ is compelling. There is some ambiguity, however, in the shape Cunningham provides that narrative. Most of his Patristic sources of Biblical interpretation are Eastern, and most of the contemporary interpreters of those sources upon whom he draws are Eastern Orthodox. Indeed, he quotes Orthodox scholar Peter Bouteneff, who argues (along with many contemporary historical-critical exegetes of all theological stripes) that “[n]either in Paul nor in the rest of the Bible is there a doctrine of original guilt, wherein all are proleptically guilty in Adam.” This seems a bit tendentious, as the understanding of “original sin” – and the reception of Augustine, notably in regard to “original sin” – remains one of the key sticking points between the Christian East and West.
Cunningham makes an oblique reference to this difference in a footnote: “Yes, in the West, Fathers such as Augustine seem to emphasize the Fall, the advent of evil, and so on.” However, says Cunningham, “it is important to realize that Augustine, for example, developed his notion of original sin in a very particular context, namely, the Donatist controversy, and the Pelagian one. So it was to this degree polemical.” But it is unclear whether this contextualization of Augustine can do all the work Cunningham assigns to it. As late as 1950, Pope Pius XII’s Encyclical Humani Generis responded to the developing science of human evolution with an insistence on a literal individual Adam, tied to an Augustinian doctrine of original sin:
For the faithful cannot embrace that opinion which maintains that either after Adam there existed on this earth true men who did not take their origin through natural generation from him as from the first parent of all, or that Adam represents a certain number of first parents. Now it is in no way apparent how such an opinion can be reconciled with that which the sources of revealed truth and the documents of the Teaching Authority of the Church propose with regard to original sin, which proceeds from a sin actually committed by an individual Adam and which, through generation, is passed on to all and is in everyone as his own.
Pope Pius seemed to tie this conclusion to what sounds like a fundamentalist-creationist reading of scripture:
To return, however, to the new opinions mentioned above, a number of things are proposed or suggested by some even against the divine authorship of Sacred Scripture. For some go so far as to pervert the sense of the Vatican Council’s definition that God is the author of Holy Scripture, and they put forward again the opinion, already often condemned, which asserts that immunity from error extends only to those parts of the Bible that treat of God or of moral and religious matters. They even wrongly speak of a human sense of the Scriptures, beneath which a divine sense, which they say is the only infallible meaning, lies hidden…..
Further, according to their fictitious opinions, the literal sense of Holy Scripture and its explanation, carefully worked out under the Church’s vigilance by so many great exegetes, should yield now to a new exegesis, which they are pleased to call symbolic or spiritual. By means of this new exegesis of the Old Testament, which today in the Church is a sealed book, would finally be thrown open to all the faithful. By this method, they say, all difficulties vanish, difficulties which hinder only those who adhere to the literal meaning of the Scriptures.
To be sure, the Catholic Catechism after the Second Vatican Council seems to sound a more cautious note concerning the different senses of scripture and its interpretation. Pope Benedict XVI, in a set of homilies on the Biblical creation texts, agrees with the Patristic sources cited by Cunningham that “the biblical creation narratives represent another way of speaking about reality than that with which we are familiar from physics and biology.” These texts, Pope Benedict says, “do not depict the process of becoming or the mathematical structure of matter; instead, they say in different ways that there is only one God and that the universe is not the scene of a struggle among dark forces but rather the creation of his Word.” Concerning “original sin,” Benedict takes a “relational” approach to the doctrine. For Benedict,
[t]o be truly a human being means to be related in love, to be of and be for. But sin means the damaging or destruction of relationality. Sin is a rejection of relationality because it wants to make the human being a god. Sin is loss of relationship, disturbance of relationship, and therefore it is not restricted to the individual. When I destroy a relationship then this event – sin – touches the other person involved in the relationship. Consequently sin is always an offense that touches others, that alters the world and damages it. To the extent that is true, when the network of human relationships is damaged from the very beginning, then every human being enters into a world that is marked by relational damage.
This approach to original sin seems a far cry from the seeming Biblical fundamentalism and Augustinian realism of Humani Generis. Nevertheless, the Catechism continues to affirm that the Fall and original sin have a historical referent in time: “The account of the fall in Genesis 3 uses figurative language, but affirms a primeval event, a deed that took place at the beginning of the history of man. Revelation gives us the certainty of faith that the whole of human history is marked by the original fault freely committed by our first parents.” The Catechism further refers to the transmission of original sin by propagation:
the transmission of original sin is a mystery that we cannot fully understand. But we do know by Revelation that Adam had received original holiness and justice not for himself alone, but for all human nature. By yielding to the tempter, Adam and Eve committed a personal sin, but this sin affected the human nature that they would then transmit in a fallen state. It is a sin which will be transmitted by propagation to all mankind, that is, by the transmission of a human nature deprived of original holiness and justice. And that is why original sin is called “sin” only in an analogical sense: it is a sin “contracted” and not “committed” – a state and not an act.
Thus, it is unclear whether Cunningham’s implicit methodology of out-narrating both the ultra-Darwinists and the creationists succeeds. Perhaps it succeeds if one opts for an Eastern Orthodox account of the Fall and original sin that draws primarily on some of the Eastern Fathers. But, it seems, the scientific understanding of biological evolution does, in fact, seem to stand in considerable tension with the Western-Augustinian Christian tradition, as evidenced in documents such as Humani Generis and the Catholic Catechism.
Perhaps, however, another of Cunningham’s comments towards the end of the final chapter of DPI hints at a solution, or at least at a way of managing some of these tensions: “We all stand before the law; such is the lot of man.” As Cunningham notes, “even if we know of laws, we don’t think they are the Law but are rather somewhat arbitrary – cultural products, or fruits of evolution, and therefore relative.” Indeed, “in the Judeo-Christian tradition there was a time before the Law of Moses, a time before the Decalogue.” Yet, he continues, “from the time of Adam, there was prohibition.” Perhaps “the Law” is the “missing link” between Origen, Nyssa, and Augustine, the methodological basis for narrating the true harmony of “faith” and “science.” As Pope Benedict suggests, perhaps the loss of relational friendship occasioned by the Fall is precisely the loss of the Law; and perhaps Christ’s fulfillment of the Law is what enables us to overcome the ban of exclusion from our humanity and recover our participation in the law of love. “Law” might be the thread by which Christian theology “out-narrates” reductive naturalism in a rich tapestry of human culture that participates in God’s gracious gift of creation and redemption.
 In particular, Peter Bouteneff, Beginnings: Ancient Christian Readings of the Biblical Creation Narratives (Baker Academic 2008); John Behr, The Mystery of Christ: Life in Death (St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press 2006); David Bentley Hart, The Beauty of the Infinite: The Aesthetics of Christian Truth (Eerdman’s 2004).
 Id., at p. 383, quoting Bouteneff, Beginnings, at p. 41.
 Id., at p. 513, Note 38.
 Encyclical Humani Generis of the Holy Father Pius XII, August 12, 1950, ¶37, available at http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/pius_xii/encyclicals/documents/hf_p-xii_enc_12081950_humani-generis_en.html.
 Id., ¶¶22-23.
 See Catechism of the Catholic Church, ¶¶101-141.
 Pope Benedict XVI, ‘In the Beginning:’ A Catholic Understanding of the Story of Creation and the Fall (Eerdmans 1990), at p. 25.
 Id., at p. 73.
 Id., at p. 73.
 Catechism of the Catholic Church, ¶390.
 Id., ¶404.
 DPI, at p. 414.