Zygon: Journal of Religion & Science

Asian Religions and the Sciences

by
Willem B. Drees

The richness of human culture, and human religious traditions, finds expression in the “religion and science” discourses as well. Over the years, Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science has published a wide variety of articles on interactions between the sciences and the Asian religions, in particular on Hinduism (e.g., Raman 2002, 2003a, 2003b, 2012; Sharma 2004; Dorman 2011; Gosling 2012; Ellis 2012; Brown 2012; Edelman 2012) and Buddhism (Andresen 2000; Ratanakul 2002; Yong 2007), including a section on Donald Lopez“s Buddhism and Science: A Guide for the Perplexed (2008; Harrison 2010; Jinpa 2010; Lopez 2010). Some address these interactions in a moral context, such as appears in the article on organ donation in Japan (LaFleur 2002) and India (Cohen 2003), and another on responses to natural disasters such as volcanic eruptions in Indonesia (Bagir 2012).

The articles are not merely about Religion in Asia, as the traditions considered also have their Western presence, both in fairly traditional forms and re-invented in particular Western forms, for instance as discussed in Colin Campbell“s The Easternization of the West (2008). One example is the practice of yoga, and the question how such practices and associated claims about chakras may be understood in the context of contemporary science (Maxwell 2009). Some of the issues are shaped by colonial interactions and contemporary confrontations in the West, such as papers on Hindu creationism and avataric evolutionism (Brown 2002, 2007; Gosling 2011). Among the topics that have attracted special attention in the West has been the interpretation of quantum physics, especially since the publication of bestsellers by Fritjof Capra (1976) and Gary Zukav (1979); for a critical discussion, see (Restivo 1984; Jones 1986, 2010); the later one was reviewed in Zygon by Drees (2012); see on this theme also Duquette (2011); Ijjas (2013). Another issue, perhaps with greater academic credibility, is the discourse on consciousness and the brain (e.g. Sharma [2004]; Yong [2005]; Vieten et al. [2006]; Tamatea [2010]; Colzato and Silk [2010]; Hommel and Colzato [2010]; Deleanu [2010]; Raffone [2010]; De Prycker [2011]).

More studies on science and religion in Asia and on science and the global presence of the Asian religions are to come. Submissions welcome!

References (Those references in bold type were brought together for the Asian Religions and Sciences virtual issue and may be found here.)

Andresen, Jensine. 2000. “Vajrayāna Art and Iconography.” Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 35: 357-370.

Bagir, Zainal Abidin. 2012. “Practice and the Agenda of ‘Islam and Science’.” Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 47: 354-366.

Brown, C. Mackenzie. 2002. “Hindu and Christian Creationism: ‘Transposed Passages’ in the Geological Book of Life.” Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 37: 95-114.

———. 2007. “The Western Roots of Avataric Evolutionism in Colonial India.” Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 42: 423-447.

———. 2012. “Conciliation, Conflict, or Complementarity: Responses to Three Voices in the Hinduism and Science Discourse.” Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 47: 608-623.

Campbell, Colin. 2008. The Easternization of the West: A Thematic Account of Cultural Change in the Modern Era. London: Paradigm Publishers.

Capra, Fritjof. 1976. The Tao of Physics: An Explorations of the Parallels between Modern Physics and Eastern Mysticism. Boston: Shambhala.

Cohen, Lawrence. 2003. “Where It Hurts: Indian Material for an Ethics of Organ Transplantation.” Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 38: 663-688.

Colzato, Lorenza S. and Jonathan Silk. 2010. “Imag(in)ing the Buddhist Brain: Editorial Introduction.” Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 45: 591-595.

De Prycker, Valérie. 2011. “Unself-conscious Control: Broadening the Notion of Control through Experiences of Flow and Wu-Wei.” Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 46: 5-25.

Deleanu, Florin. 2010. “Agnostic Meditations on Buddhist Meditation.” Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 45: 605-626.

Dorman, Eric R. 2011. “Hinduism and Science: The State of South Asian Science and Religion Discourse.” Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 46: 593-619.

Drees, Willem B. 2012. “Review of Piercing the Veil: Comparing Science and Mysticism as Ways of Knowing by Richard H. Jones.” Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 47: 645.

Duquette, Jonathan. 2011. “‘Quantum Physics and Vedanta’: A Perspective from Bernard d’Espagnat’s Scientific Realism.” Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 46: 620-638.

Edelmann, Jonathan B. 2012. “The Role of Hindu Theology in the Religion and Science Dialogue.” Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 47: 624-642.

Ellis, Thomas B. 2012. “Growing Up Amid the Religion and Science Affair: A Perspective from Indology.” Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 47: 589-607.

Gosling, David L. 2012. “Science and the Hindu Tradition: Compatibility or Conflict?” Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 47: 575-588.

———. 2011. “Darwin and the Hindu Tradition: ‘Does What Goes around Come around?’” Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 46: 345-369.

Harrison, Peter. 2010. “A Scientific Buddhism?” Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 45: 861-869.

Hommel, Bernhard and Lorenza S. Colzato. 2010. “Religion as a Control Guide: On the Impact of Religion and Cognition.” Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 45: 596-604.

Ijjas, Anna. 2013. “Quantum Aspects of Life: Relating Evolutionary Biology with Theology via Modern Physics.” Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 48: 60-76.

Jinpa, Thupten. 2010. “Buddhism and Science: How Far Can the Dialogue Proceed?” Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 45: 871-882.

Jones, Richard H. 1986. Science and Mysticism: A Comparative Study of Western Natural Science, Theravāda Buddhism, and Advaita Vedānta. Lewisburg, PA: Bucknell University Press.

———. Piercing the Veil: Comparing Science and Mysticism as Ways of Knowing Reality. New York: Jackson Square Books.

LaFleur, William R. 2002. “From Agape to Organs: Religious Difference between Japan and America in Judging the Ethics of the Transplant.” Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 37: 623-642.

Lopez, Donald S. 2008. Buddhism and Science: A Guide for the Perplexed. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

———. 2010. “The Future of the Buddhist Past: A Response to the Readers.” Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 45: 883-896.

Maxwell, Richard W. 2009. “The Physiological Foundation of Yoga Chakra Expression.” Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 44: 807-824.

Raffone, Antonino, Angela Tagini, and Narayanan Srinivasan. 2010. “Mindfulness and the Cognitive Neuroscience of Attention and Awareness.” Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 45: 627-646.

Raman, Varadaraja V. 2002. “Science and the Spiritual Vision: A Hindu Perspective.” Zygon: Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 37: 83-94

———. 2003a. “Some Hindu Insights on a Global Ethic in the Context of Diseases and Epidemics.” Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 38: 141-146.

———. 2003b. “Hindu Perspectives on the Thirst for Trancendence.” Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 38: 821-839.

———. 2012. “Hinduism and Science: Some Reflections.” Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 47: 549-574.

Ratanakul, Pinit. 2002. “Buddhism and Science: Allies or Enemies?” Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 37: 115-120.

Restivo, Sal. 1984. The Social Relations of Physics, Mysticism and Mathematics. Dordrecht, NL: Reidel.

Sharma, Arvind. 2004. “The Scientific Study of Religion: Its Contribution to the Study of the Bhagavadgītā.” Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 39: 707-712.

Tamatea, Laurence. 2010. “Online Buddhist and Christian Responses to Artificial Intelligence.” Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 45: 979-1002.

Vieten, Cassandra, Tina Amorok, and Marilyn Mandala Schlitz. 2006. “I To We: The Role of Consciousness Transformation in Compassion and Altruism.” Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 41: 915-931.

Yong, Amos. 2005. “Christian and Buddhist Perspectives on Neuropsychology and the Human Person: Pneuma and Pratityasamutpada.” Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 40: 143-166.

———. 2007. “Trinh Thuan and the Intersection of Science and Buddhism.” Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 42: 677-684.

Zukav, Gary. 1979. The Dancing Wu-Li Masters: An Overview of the New Physics. New York, NY: William Morrow.


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initially prepared July 2013

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