Peace cannot be kept by force. It can only be achieved by understanding, This quotation from Albert Einstein was used by James Reston in his New York Times column on June 7, 1967, commenting on the irony of Israels military success over the Arabs and reflecting on the difficulty of long-range stability in the Middle East. It is not easy to create and maintain the understanding or attitude that generates peaceful co-operation within or among human societies. Psychosocial scientists, as well as historians and religious partisans, have recognized that one of the functions of the religious cores of human cultures has been to motivate some agreeable social conscience in this genetically not overly programmed social primate.
I. Introduction: Empirical Theology and the Life Sciences
The centennial celebration of the Divinity School of The University of Chicago impels us to focus our thinking upon the prospects for empirical theology. Just what this empirical theology might be is open to question and difference of opinion. One of the leading proponents of such a theology has said that empirical theology in the Chicago tradition means simply that what one believes must be authenticated by his experience and that what one experiences is in this sense a norm of theology whose integrity cannot be violated. According to this understanding, the present essay stands dearly in the Chicago tradition of empirical theology.¹ There are others, however, who would insist that the adjective empirical refers to a specific stream of Anglo-American philosophy (in which S. C. Alexander, Alfred North Whitehead, William James, and Charles Hartshorne figure most prominently), from which empirical theology takes its roots. Although I have no particular interest in repudiating this stream of philosophical thinking, and in fact find it instructive, I would consider it artificial to claim that this stream has a monopoly on experientially honest theology, and I have not consciously tried to derive my insights from this school of thought.
What follows is empirical in the sense that it has tried to listen to the voices of the empirical world in which the theologian lives, and it has tried to listen to the richness and vivacity of those voices in a very concrete manner. I would emphasize the vivacity of the voices from the empirical world, because at the root of that word is life. The importance of doing empirical theology lies in the fact that life resides in the empirical, and the task of theology is to speak from and to that world of life. It is in this sense that the theologizing represented in this essay intends to be empirical. …
¹ Of the Chicago School, I have in mind the well-known writings of Bernard Meland, Daniel Day Williams, John Cobb, and Schubert Ogden.
As of September, 1967. Philip Hefner will be associate professor of systematic theology at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago.
It would be a simple matter to open a discussion on the theme of Science and Religion in a New World View with a critique of the incompatibilities of traditional religious doctrines with the methods and findings of empirical science. Indeed, it would be exhilarating to review the old battles between science and old-style religion—those battles which were so gallantly fought and from which the liberal, pro-science wing emerged with such a satisfying sense of victory. Then it was a clear question of competing world views, with an ancient Christian metaphysics pitted against the new world view of science. The conflicts were clear and often empirical in nature. How old was the earth? Was the earth once destroyed by a flood? Did the sun ever stand still? Was man created by God, or did he evolve from a pre-existing primate? Was there a virgin birth and a genuine physical resurrection? Surely, it was a case of a nascent scientific world view versus a pre-scientific theology in a society where the implicit prejudices were all on the side of the old view and all the good evidence was on the side of the science-influenced view.
However much we may regret it, the time has passed for such nostalgic activity. The issues today are of another order, and they are too urgent to wait while we indulge in remembrance of things past. Those issues of science versus religion are obsolete. This has been brought about by a basic change in the functioning world view of our culture as a whole. …
Wallace A. Russell is professor of psychology at the University of Minnesota.
For the Modern Liberal: Is Theology Possible? Can Science Replace It? by Bernard E. Meland
This symposium has convened to discuss two questions: Is Theology Possible in the Liberal Church? and Can Science Replace Theology? The fact that you have asked a theologian outside the Unitarian community to address himself to these questions suggests at the outset that, while you mean to have these questions discussed in a way that speaks to your own situation, you intend also to have them looked at in the wider setting of contemporary liberal thought. …
Bernard E. Meland is professor emeritus and visiting professor of theology, University of Chicago Divinity School. This paper was given as two addresses at the Centennial Conferences of the Unitarian Society of Germantown, Pennsylvania, January 1415, 1965.
A little over seventy years ago, in 1896, the founder of psychology in America, William James, spoke before the philosophical clubs of Yale and Brown. The title of his still-famous lecture was The Will To Believe. Its topic, as James noted with tongue in cheek, was hardly in line with what he called Harvard freethinking and indifference.¹ In fact, a year later, when sending his lecture to print, he felt the need to explain why he had spoken of faith to an academic audience. He knew that according to most of his colleagues modern conditions required not stronger beliefs but a keener sense of doubt and criticism. Yet, James did not consider it a misuse of opportunity on his part to emphasize the role of faith before a gathering of scholars. He admitted that credulous crowds needed to be exposed to what he called the northwest wind of science. For intellectuals, however, he had the following diagnosis: Academic audiences, fed already on science, have a very different need.² What they needed, according to him, was the will to believe.
It is rather a reassuring symptom that, today, academic circles suffer much less of what James called a paralysis of their native capacity for faith.³ The recognition is growing strong that faith, or belief, forms the ultimate foundation of the certainty of every knowledge.⁴ Such is certainly the case in the field of physics. Leading physicists voice with ever greater emphasis the conviction that faith plays an indispensable role in their search for new discoveries. Their awareness is steadily growing that historic breakthroughs in physics are as much the product of a trusting faith in nature as of a critical analysis of the facts of nature. Most important, leading physicists of today know all too well that the products of science will ruin mankind unless science will foster mans faith in himself and in his goals. …
¹ William James, The Will To Believe and Other Essays in Popular Philosophy (New York: Longmans, Green Be Co., 1897), p. 1.
² Ibid., p. x.
⁴ The role of faith in scientific inquiry is rich in aspects, some of which have been given illuminating treatment in recent literature. Foremost to mention is the work by M. Polanyi, Science, Faith and Society (London: Oxford University Press, 1946; reprinted with a new Introduction by the author: University of Chicago Press, 1964). Some valuable contributions to the subject were made by noted physicists, such as H. Margenau, Open Vistas: Philosophical Perspectives of Modern Science (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1961), pp. 73-76; K. Lonsdale, I Believe: The Eighteenth Arthur Stanley Eddington Memorial Lecture, 6 November 1964 (Cambridge: University Press, 1964); H. K. Schilling, Science and Religion: An Interpretation of Two Communities (New York: Charles Scribners Sons, 1962).
Stanley L. Jaki is research professor of the history and philosophy of physics, Seton Hall University. He also holds a doctorate in theology from the Pontifical Institute of San Anselmo, and is a member of the Benedictine Order.
The Relevance of Physics by Stanley L. Jaki, reviewed by Kenneth Cauthen