Zygon: Journal of Religion & Science
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Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science
1 (2), June 1966

Table of Contents


June 1966 Editorial by Ralph Wendell Burhoe

In the world population of the twentieth century, the culturally transmitted belief systems about primary human values, usually called religious, are fast losing their efficacy, in spite of the many valiant and ingenious efforts to reinforce them. In the past, religious beliefs have provided perceptions and motivations effective on the whole for integrating the individual meaningfully into a viable relationship with the world and with the group of individuals with whom he is interdependent. But today, the cry that the gods are dead is fast spreading from the level of a relatively few sophisticated philosophers to a wide segment of the population. There is much evidence of feelings of personal meaninglessness and anomie and many signs of social instability and lack of social integration, as well as of unrealistic or invalid attitudes of man to the total world or reality in which he lives. Although there have been many worthy efforts to reform religions from within or to develop so-called secular systems of values—such as the various nationalistic and other “philosophies” of life—many of us feel warranted in saying that the function of formulating and transmitting the primary values of self, society, and the world is not being done at all adequately for the needs of the world today and tomorrow.

For more than a decade, the Institute on Religion in an Age of Science has been asking some of our wisest scientific and scholarly analysts what must be done if we are to be safely delivered from our crises in human values? What new formation of the religious enterprise can save us? In this issue of Zygon we present three recent papers delivered by members of the Institute to its conferences which seek to analyze what must be done. The Institute has been based on the conviction that any future religious beliefs can hardly afford to violate the scientific beliefs about the nature of man and the reality in which he lives. In this light these three papers deal with the problem of religion and its reformation, the nature of man and his values, and how man’s own image of himself and his values is formed.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.1966.tb00448.x


Science and a New Religious Reformation by Henry Nelson Wieman

Science is the way we achieve knowledge and power; religion is the way we give ourselves in supreme devotion to the best we know. If knowledge and power are not merged with supreme devotion to the best we know, they will not be used effectively to serve the best we know. If supreme devotion is not guided, informed, and empowered by the most penetrating method of inquiry at our command, our devotion will stumble and blunder in relative futility. I think we are generally agreed that the resources of science and the resources of religion must be united if the human race is not to destroy itself or sink to desperate futility just when it reaches its highest peak of power. …
Henry Nelson Wieman is professor emeritus of Christian theology, University of Chicago.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.1966.tb00449.x

The Brain and Crises in Human Values by Hudson Hoagland

Many of our present crises have resulted from the exceedingly rapid advances of science and technologies in a world of archaic social institutions. There is, first and foremost, the crisis produced by nuclear weapons and their means of delivery. This is a new aspect of our environment since 1945. These weapons have arrived in a world of highly contentious ideologies controlled by obsolete concepts of national sovereignty. We are rapidly approaching the time when a nuclear war can render man an extinct species.

There is of course the crisis of the population explosion. This is a result primarily of advances in medical science and public health, which have markedly increased life spans in countries where death rates were very high before the applications of these medical technologies. Birth rates are also high and remain so with ignorance and prejudice blocking birth control. The result is that, in the underdeveloped countries in particular, there has been an enormous upsurge of numbers of people in terms of the resources and economic facilities available, and this is indeed a crisis of major importance.

There is also the crisis of the pollution of our environment by radioactive fallout, by industrial waste in air and rivers, and by the widespread use of insecticides, which last are necessary if the huge populations of the world are to be fed. There is a crisis brought about by automation in industry and by computer technology, which are producing unemployment in the white- and blue-collar classes, but which will in the long run give more leisure to be used, one may hope, constructively.

Then there is a crisis developing of new ways of controlling people. This crisis has arisen through use of the mass media, press, radio, television, etc., for propaganda purposes to control votes, public opinion, and sales. There are also controls of behavior through conditioning techniques, brain surgery, and through chemical agents and drugs. …
Hudson Hoagland is executive director of the Worcester Foundation for Experimental Biology in Shrewsbury. Massachusetts.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.1966.tb00450.x

Man’s Changing Image of Himself by Lawrence K. Frank

Each cultural group has its conception of human nature which derives from and, in turn, gives support to its conception of the nature of the universe, of man’s place therein, of his destiny in that universe, and of his relation to his social order. Its conception of human nature is therefore basic to its religion and its design for living, and operates to evoke selectively some of their human potentialities while denying and suppressing other potentialities.

Western culture has had a conception of human nature in which are combined a number of traditions. The Judaic tradition was infused by survivals from earlier religious cults, especially from the East, and was later modified and enlarged by Greek and Roman elements. The Christian conception that emerged from this amalgam was in turn altered, modified, elaborated, and given a fairly rigid formulation by successive theological pronouncements early in our history.

As I understand this development, the Christian conception of human nature was given a malign and self-defeating character, largely, I believe, by Saint Augustine, who through his great authority defeated the Pelagian concept of human nature as potentially good. The Augustinian concept of man—tainted by original sin, fallen from grace, and prone to evil—became the official Christian conviction. Later, Calvin reinforced and restated this by declaring that man was innately sinful and wicked so that both Protestant and Catholic versions are alike in asserting that human nature is bad.

Accordingly, for the past twelve hundred years and more, we have been vicariously atoning for Saint Augustine’s guilt feelings, due, no doubt, to his self-confessed misspent youth. The consequences for Western man have been appalling. I believe that we have sufficiently atoned for Saint Augustine and that it is time we renounce his malign and self-defeating beliefs and begin to create a new conception of human nature.

But we should recall previous efforts to do this. …
Lawrence K. Frank is an independent scholar in the psychosocial sciences, Belmont, Massachusetts.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.1966.tb00451.x


Indeterminacy, Mystery, and a Modern Epistemology by William G. Pollard

In the first part of his paper Brown points to the function of models in both science and theology.¹ He describes a three-step process in the development of a model in physics and shows how much the same process applies to models in the humanities and in theology. This is an important point. The same idea has been developed in a full and detailed manner by Harold K. Schilling in his book Science and Religion.² Schilling distinguishes three phases in science: the empirically descriptive (data gathering), the theoretical (model building), and the transformative (application and verification). He points out that religion has the same three phases with theology constituting its theoretical phase. Since each phase depends upon and informs the other, there is a circularity among them. Detailed examples in both fields are worked out in this illuminating book.

In his discussion of models, it seems to me that Brown confuses the issue in the examples he gives. The caloric and energy theories of heat are two different and alternative models of which one or the other is to be chosen as most faithfully representing its subject. The wave-particle theories of light on the other hand are not alternative models but through the Bohr Principle of Complementarity are required together to constitute a single complete theory of the phenomenon of light. We could note in passing that theology too, as Bohr has pointed out, involves just such complementary structures as the wave-particle dualism. Examples are the duality between freedom and grace, or that between transcendence and immanence. …
¹ See Sanborn C. Brown, “Theological Resources from the Physical Sciences: Can Physics Contribute to Theology?” Zygon, 1 (March, 1966), 14-21, and “Commentaries on Resources from the Physical Sciences” (ibid., pp. 22-42) by F. S. C. Northrop, Ian G. Barbour, John F. Hayward, and John R. Platt.
² New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1962.

William G. Pollard is Executive Director, Oak Ridge Institute of Nuclear Studies.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.1966.tb00452.x

Science, Theology, and Ethical Religion by Paul Arthur Schilpp

The papers by Brown, Northrop, Barbour, and Hayward I found both interesting and instructive; but that by Platt was fascinating.¹ (I’m afraid this judgment is largely due to the fact that I find myself in such very large agreement with Platt’s position and point of view. Confession, you know, is said to be “good for the soul”; so I might as well begin with this confession.)

Brown’s emphasis on “boundary conditions” can, I feel confident, be of significant value to theologians, if (and this is a very big if!) they are sufficiently at home in physical science and in the use made by physicists of “boundary conditions.” It is always helpful to have one’s limits called to one’s attention and constantly to keep them in mind. Unfortunately, most so-called theologians are not that well versed either in the physical sciences or even in philosophy. But at this point I must also agree with Platt that the application of this methodology in theology does not seem to me to be nearly so valuable as Brown would seem to have us believe. The very etymological meaning of the word “theology” already forces the theologian to concern himself with a boundary situation (if these last two words are not in themselves already a self-contradiction). The contemporary “God is dead” school of theologians, I am sure, has something to say to us; but, again, it may not be as important as they themselves seem to think. For, obviously, God can be said to be “dead” only if formerly he was “alive.” And there are some who may wish to question this (except in the sense of a “live—i.e., useful—hypothesis”). And a detailed and minute concern either with first beginnings (First Cause) or with ultimate (final) ends may, in theology, be as uninstructive of significant answers as are similar ontological and cosmological considerations by the natural scientists. Since no man can stand outside of space or beyond time (in either direction), it is a bit futile to keep on speculating concerning the unknowable. By all means let’s be Honest (as) to God and also as to man! But, in order to be the former, we may have to be satisfied with Herbert Spencer’s “Unknowable”; and, as concerns the latter, namely Man, it is precisely his present, here-and-now position and situation that Platt is interested in and that he (and I too) feels should be the major concern of religion. We have a great many human sciences, but as yet not really a Science of Man. Anthropology, psychology, and all of the so-called social sciences are sciences of man, concerning themselves with various aspects of man. But man qua man is not the subject matter of any science (unless it be in philosophy). It may, of course, have to be granted that the study of man qua man is probably as impossible as is the study of nature qua nature. Just as in nature there have to be many natural sciences studying different aspects of nature, so probably in the study of man there too have to be many different types of the study of man. Yet in both cases the problem of a holistic approach remains. …
¹ See Sanborn C. Brown, “Theological Resources from the Physical Sciences: Can Physics Contribute to Theology?” Zygon, 1 (March, 1966), 14-21, and “Commentaries on Resources from the Physical Sciences” (ibid., pp. 22-42) by F. S. C. Northrop, Ian G. Barbour, John F. Hayward, and John R. Platt.

Paul Arthur Schilpp is professor emeritus of philosophy, Northwestern University, visiting distinguished professor of philosophy at Southern Illinois University, and editor of “The Library of Living Philosophers.”
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.1966.tb00453.x

Is Science Relevant to Theology? by Herbert Feigl

The following remarks intend to outline what I consider the major points at issue. It seems to me that most of the previous contributions to this topic published in Zygon have dealt with the implications of current science for theology and religion mainly by way of rather gingerly, halfhearted allusions. The straightforward spirit of the eighteenth-century Enlightenment (e.g., Hume, Kant) needs reviving and “updating.” Surely, no one can claim to “know all the answers,” and—in all humility (I trust this is still regarded as a virtue!)—I wish to set out what strike me as, at least, some of the pertinent questions. And I shall also attempt to give some tentative answers. Since I have been asked to do this in very brief compass, the harsh tone and terse style of my presentation will make my contentions appear more dogmatic and intransigent than I should wish them to be. …
Herbert Feigl is director of the Minnesota Center for Philosophy of Science, University of Minnesota.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.1966.tb00454.x

Reason and Unreason in Religion by Brand Blanshard

One of the curiosities of recent decades is the revival of Kierkegaard and his antirationalist theology. He had seemed to be safely buried more than a century ago, and he was so completely forgotten that one could look for his name in vain, even in biographical dictionaries. He was resurrected in the thirties by the devoted Walter Lowrie, and his formidable ghost has been flourishing as the living man never did. He has become required reading in theological schools from coast to coast, and his words have been quoted and echoed by an impressive succession of eminent theologians. How is one to account for this revival?

Part of the answer lies in this: Theologians have discovered that his strategy, devised for one purpose, is adaptable to another. His defense against the rationalism of Hegel may be used again in meeting the rationalism of science. The strategy was remarkably simple. Say to the scientist and philosopher: “Your kind of inquiry is sound enough if kept within the bounds of nature, but it becomes illegitimate the moment you cross into the region of the supernatural. Religious knowledge comes exclusively from revelation. The secret of peace between science and theology lies in a clear division of labor. The tragic ‘warfare of science with theology,’ which has raised so much dust and noise for centuries, is altogether needless. Good fences make good neighbors.”

At the first look, this is an attractive view. It gives back to the theologian the dignity he has lost in the course of a long and ignominious retreat. He had to retreat before Galileo, to retreat again before Darwin, to retreat before the higher critics, to retreat before Frazer and Freud. He can now turn and face his attackers. He can say to them, “Let us have done with all this. There is really no issue between us; our ‘warfare’ has been a mistake from the beginning. The religion you have been attacking with your science is not an intellectual affair at all; it is not a thesis to be made out by evidence, or a proposition that can be refuted by argument. It is a commitment of the will, or better, an act of faith made possible by a descent of grace. And because it is not a rational matter, science is simply irrelevant to it. It can neither be supported by scientific evidence nor undermined by scientific criticism.” …
Brand Blanshard is professor emeritus of philosophy, Yale University.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.1966.tb00455.x


Scientific Theory and Religion by E. W. Barnes, reviewed by Robert B. Tapp

Robert B. Tapp; Meadville Theological School
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.1966.tb00456.x

Maker of Heaven and Earth by Langdon Gilkey, reviewed by Robert B. Tapp

Robert B. Tapp; Meadville Theological School
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.1966.tb00456.x

Revelation through Reason by Errol E. Harris, reviewed by Robert B. Tapp

Robert B. Tapp; Meadville Theological School
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.1966.tb00456.x

The Promise of Science and the Power of Faith by M. Holmes Hartshorne, reviewed by Robert B. Tapp

Robert B. Tapp; Meadville Theological School
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.1966.tb00456.x

Christian Faith and Natural Science by Karl Heim, reviewed by Robert B. Tapp

Robert B. Tapp; Meadville Theological School
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.1966.tb00456.x

Theology in an Age of Science by Leonard Hodgson, reviewed by Robert B. Tapp

Robert B. Tapp; Meadville Theological School
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.1966.tb00456.x

Christian Theology and Natural Science by E. L. Mascall, reviewed by Robert B. Tapp

Robert B. Tapp; Meadville Theological School
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.1966.tb00456.x

Models and Mystery by Ian T. Ramsey, reviewed by Robert B. Tapp

Robert B. Tapp; Meadville Theological School
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.1966.tb00456.x

Natural Religion and Christian Theology by Charles E. Raven, reviewed by Robert B. Tapp

Robert B. Tapp; Meadville Theological School
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.1966.tb00456.x

Modern Science and Christian Beliefs by Arthur F. Smethurst, reviewed by Robert B. Tapp

Robert B. Tapp; Meadville Theological School
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.1966.tb00456.x

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