Personal God, Loving Evolution: My Conversation with Ilia Delio

As part of our prelude to the Cosmic Campfire Gathering this February 1-2 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina (co-hosted with Tripp Fuller of Homebrewed Christianity and ‘Science’ Mike McHargue of The Liturgists), I got to sit down with one of my favorite theologians, Ilia Delio:

We dive into her life and inspirations over the course our hour-long conversation. What I most wanted to know is this: how does one go from a New Jersey Catholic upbringing, to PhD studies in pharmacology, to a traditional Carmelite monastic life to a Franciscan community with a penchant for Medievalism, culminating in a ‘Second Axial Age’ renewed understanding of God and cosmos? How does all this fit together in one life??

Dr. Delio graciously indulged my curiosity, and in the process we also talked about:

  • If we robustly embrace an evolutionary understanding of the universe, what about Adam and Eve?
  • How can we embrace both a God of love and the process of evolution, which is ostensibly ‘red in tooth and claw’?
  • What do we do when ‘revelation’ and ‘science’ apparently conflict?
  • How can we encounter a personal God on the other side of deconstruction?
  • The idea of God as Trinity: Does it help or hold us back?
  • In a pantheistic world where God is all and all, is the Incarnation redundant?
  • If we’re entering a new understanding of cosmology, what are the gifts – and shortcomings – of specific religious traditions, including our own? Would we be better off giving them up to form some new universal spirituality? Why or why not?

It was an incredible conversation. Be sure to watch it above, and check out some of her books in her bio, here…

About My Dialogue Guest

Ilia Delio, PhD, OSF, currently holds the Josephine C. Connelly Endowed Chair in Theology at Villanova University and has authored or co-authored many books including Care for Creation: A Franciscan Spirituality of the Earth, which won two Catholic Press Book Awards in 2009. Her recent books include A Hunger for Wholeness: Soul, Space and Transcendence, Making All Things New, and The Unbearable Wholeness of Being: God, Evolution and the Power of Love, which received the 2014 Silver Nautilus Book Award. She lectures nationally and internationally in the areas of science, religion and culture and is the general editor for the series Catholicity in an Evolving Universe published by Orbis Books. Visit her website at

AND: While Dr. Delio won’t be able to join us in-person at the Cosmic Campfire Gathering, she will be sharing a Cosmic Query for us to ponder there, together!


Speaking of: Early Bird Tickets are now on-sale for the Cosmic Campfire Gathering, this February 1-2 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. (And stay for Sunday morning February 3 if you can, for extra Cosmic Campfire goodness at our host space, Holy Trinity Lutheran!). Early Bird tickets are $129 through January 15th, saving $70 on the at-the-door price, if they even last that long. Seats are limited, so if you’re looking for the perfect Christmas gift for loved ones, yourself, or best-yet all of you, please get yours now.

If this is your first time hearing about this one-of-a-kind gathering, Tripp, Mike McHargue and I are creating space to talk about the Big Questions:

  • Who are we as a species?
  • What does it mean to inhabit these bodies, on this planet, in this universe?
  • How are we so beautiful?
  • How do we find ourselves in such a multi-lateral mess ?
  • Does being a friend of God, aspiring follower of Jesus, and student of Scripture have anything meaningful to add to this conversation?
  • Do the inquiries of biology, physics, psychology, archaeology and anthropology have anything meaningful to add to this conversation?

We’ll be exploring these questions, specifically as framed in the emerging cosmological projects Big History and the New Universe Story, with some of our favorite scientists, philosophers, and theologians. Buying your Early Bird Ticket now helps us plan for the full breadth of contributors to your experience, so we really appreciate it.

Confirmed dialogue partners include: 

Barbara Holmes, PhD, is a theologian, writer and scholar who publishes books about the intersection of ethics, spirituality, mysticism, science, cosmology and African American religious culture.She is president emerita of United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities and formerly professor of ethics and African American religious studies and vice president of Academic Affairs at Memphis Theological Seminary.In addition to her work with law firms, she has worked with homeless missions, HIV/AIDS ministries, and international ministries in Kenya (the Presbyterian Church of East Africa) and Japan. Her published work includes Liberation and the Cosmos: Conversations with the Elders, Race and the Cosmos: An Invitation to View the World DifferentlyJoy Unspeakable: Contemplative Practices of the Black Church, and other publications. Want to hear from Dr. Holmes? Listen to her on these episodes of Homebrewed Christianity and Contemplify!

Joan Roughgarden, PhD, is an evolutionary biologist, transgender, and described by the New York Times as “one of the world’s most influential theoretical ecologists.” She is well-known for her unique perspective on theistic evolution, and bold and pioneering work on sexuality in humans and the rest of the animal kingdom. She the author of numerous books and studies; for a popular readership, she has written Evolution’s Rainbow: Diversity, Gender, and Sexuality in Nature and People and Evolution and Christian Faith: Reflections of an Evolutionary Biologist. Dr. Roughgarden is no stranger to podcasts – check her out on Just Plain Sense, BBC Analysis (‘Why Are Even Women Biased Against Women?’), and her insights in the just-released Science Vs. episode The Science of Being Transgender.

Robyn Henderson-Espinoza, PhD, has been described in a myriad of ways: a scholar-activist, scholar-leader, thought-leader, teacher, public theologian, ethicist, poet of moral reason, and word artist. Among these ways of describing Dr. Robyn, they are also a visionary thinker who has spent two decades working in the hybrid space of church, academy, and movements seeking to not only disrupt but dismantle supremacy culture by focusing their PhD studies on new concepts of being and becoming, decolonizing knowledge production, and bridging with radical difference. Named one of ten Faith Leaders to watch by the Center for American Progress in 2018, Dr. Robyn is currently at work helping co-create Activist Theology. Dr. Robyn is a non-binary Transqueer Latinx who calls Nashville, TN home. (Dr. Robyn is one of Homebrewed Christianity’s favorite guests. Check them out in this interview archive!)

And while we’ll be having fascinating conversations with experts in their fields, the conversations continue with you…we’re building in plenty of space for all of us to explore the questions that drive us…together.

So…will you join us? You can find out even more info, and grab your early bird tickets, at

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