Zygon: Journal of Religion & Science

Philip Hefner, Twenty Years Zygon’s editor: An introduction

by
Willem B. Drees

As Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science is in its 49th year of publication, we may look back upon our first half century. Our first three editors – Ralph W. Burhoe, Karl E. Peters, Philip Hefner – helped define the multifacetted agenda for reflections on religion and science. As thinkers in their own right they also contributed to the journal and the field. This year, three virtual issues honor them by pointing anew to their contributions, which may help us understand our past and prepare for the future.

Philip Hefner (b. 1932) served as Zygon’s third editor. In 1989 he succeeded Karl Peters as the main editor. In 2009, he was succeeded by Willem B. Drees (Hefner and Drees 2009). Hefner was professor of systematic theology at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, where in 1988 he also established the Chicago Center for Religion and Science, later renamed Zygon Center for Religion and Science. Though the journal and the center share a name, a history and an orientation, they are distinct entities.

In the twenty years of his editorship, Hefner’s editorials frequently were sharp observations and brief vision statements on major aspects of the interaction of religion and science, often involving culture, technology and society as well. In this virtual issue we make available some articles out of his 110+ contributions to Zygon. We pass by the editorials but it is certainly worthwhile to return to these as well. An overview can be easily acquired by searching the Wiley Online Library. In the September issue of 2014, there will be another article by Hefner, on the vision that drove Ralph Wendell Burhoe, the founding editor of Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science, a legacy that Hefner has acknowledged and developed in his own way.

Hefner’s theological description of humans as ‘created co-creators’ has attracted widespread attention, in the way it combined awareness of our contingent, evolved character as creatures with a great sense of moral responsibility for ‘God’s great project’, given the substantial powers we have. The theme was discussed extensively in his The Human Factor: Evolution, Culture, and Religion (Hefner 1993). Among the many articles, in Zygon and elsewhere, that refer to ‘the created co-creator’, are those of a symposium published in Zygon in 2004, with contributions by Vítor Westhelle, Jerome Stone, William Irons, Manuel Doncel, Ann Pederson, Anna Case-Winters, Gregory Peterson, Roger Willer, and Alan Nordstrom, who offered two poems. Hefner’s interest in human creativity found further expression in his interest in technology, as articulated in the more brief book Technology and Human Becoming (Hefner 2003; see also Hefner 2002). The interest in the arts, including poetry, resulted in invitations to more poets during his tenure as editor. Recent poetry written by Hefner, can be found on his personal blog, http://philnevahefner.wordpress.com/.

Understanding ‘the human factor’ in evolution and using our creative powers embodied in technology and the arts responsibly: these were important issues during Hefner’s twenty years as editor of Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science. They will deserve our attention as much in Zygon’s second half century.

References (Those references in bold type were brought together for the virtual issue on Philip Hefner and may be found here.)

Case-Winters, Anna. 2004. “Rethinking the Image of God.” Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 44: 813-826.

Doncel, Manuel G., SJ, 2004. “The Kenosis of the Creator and the Created Co-Creator.” Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 44: 791-800.

Hefner, Philip. 1993. The Human Factor: Evolution, Culture, and Religion. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress.

———. 2002. “Technology and Human Becoming.” Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 37: 655-666.

———. 2003. Technology and Human Becoming. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress.

———. 2014. “Ralph Burhoe: Reconsidering the Man and His Vision of Yoking Religion and Science.” Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 49 (September, in press).

Hefner, Philip, and Willem B. Drees. 2009. “Zygon, Evolving.” Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 44: 497-500.

Irons, William. 2004. “An Evolutionary Critique of the Created Co-Creator Concept.” Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 44: 773-790.

Nordstrom, Alan. 2004a. “Making Is Finding: A Poem.” Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 44: 745.

———. 2004b. “Faustus Is Us: A Poem.” Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 44: 859.

Pederson, Ann Millikan. 2004. “Created Co-Creator and the Practice of Medicine.” Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 44: 801-812.

Peterson, Gregory R. 2004. “The Created Co-Creator: What It Is and Is Not.” Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 44: 827-840.

Stone, Jerome A. 2004. “Remarks on the Modernist/ Postmodernist Divide.” Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 44: 755-772.

Westhelle, Vítor. 2004. “The Poet, the Practitioner, and the Beholder: Remarks on Philip Hefner’s ‘Created Co-Creator’.” Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 44: 747-754.

Willer, Roger A. 2004. “Created Co-Creator in the Perspective of Church and Ethics.” Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 44: 841-858.


(You may click on the “Access Free Sample & Back Issues” button, above, for ways of obtaining copies of these articles or visit the Wiley Online Library website for access to these articles through our publishing agent, Wiley-Blackwell.)

initially prepared July 2013

Zygon Themes & Disciplines

Zygon Authors