Rawlings School of Divinity


Doctor of Philosophy in Theology and Apologetics (PhD)


Daniel Mitchell


Theology, Molecular Biology, Philosophy of Science, Apologetics, Anthropology, Social Networks


Biology | Practical Theology | Religion


This interdisciplinary dissertation examines how Imago Dei and the impacts and redemption of sin may be observable in molecular biology. It introduces the idea of biological redemption, where, in support of our Imago Dei mission and calling, our bodies can respond to environmental and spiritual factors with biological redemptive adaptations. This project does both theological and scientific assessment. It explores how God is engaged with individuals in community via spiritual social networks, where Christian communities act as an ecosystem in which individuals can thrive and undergo spiritual formation, living out Christian spiritual practices. The main question this dissertation addresses is: what evidence exists in human molecular biology that demonstrates God’s redemption in a spiritual community through to dependence on the Lord? This dissertation addresses this question by exploring three areas. First, it considers the theology of creation, focusing on the anthropology of man and the Imago Dei. Second, it examines man in community, looking at our spiritual social networks. This is done by looking at key biblical and early church champions and how they transformed God’s world. By using the term champion, the intent is to convey how individuals influence their network with an idea or innovation. This historical science review shows that man is made to interdependently thrive in a networked, supportive spiritual ecosystem. Man is intended to operate in a networked spiritual community or ecosystem as God does in the Trinity. Third, it analyzes how God’s plan for redemption from the effects of sin can be seen in molecular biology. Using genome wide association study (GWAS) data, molecular biological insights about alcohol metabolism is done, analyzing genetic and epigenetic adaptation of the enzyme called alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH). Through also looking at various published literature it also examines the impact of environmental and spiritual factors on alcohol use, abuse, and recovery. This project offers a distinctive and creative way of thinking about spiritual formation and positive Christian spiritual influence within a socio-spiritual ecology. In terms of application with these assumptions, a theologically informed researcher may have an advantage in uncovering new insights into nature. God has designed multi-level mechanisms for the redemption in creation and has laid out a plan for redemption, which can be uncovered through examining evidence in creation.