It is significant that in the twentieth century thus far there has been a large number of miracles proceeding from the application of the sciences in satisfying various human wants and needs. The miracles include fantastic new sources of energy, marvelous medical cures, and instant communication around the earth.
However, the miracle of satisfying mans most critical need has not yet happened. This critical need, we suggested in our March editorial, is religion—the cultural technology for transmitting values to motivate the behavioral patterns required for the emergence and maintenance of human society above the animal level. Our analysis of the increasing psychological and social disorder accompanying the declining effectiveness of religion led us to conclude that we must, and now could, revitalize and advance the basic value-transmitting functions of religious institutions by reinterpreting their long-evolved and sacred wisdom in the light of our best science. Our hypothesis is that only in this way can religious convictions again become credible, relevant, and effective in the new scientific and technological world.
I shall try to answer the question, What is it to be a human being? I hope to do this by bringing together in a new way four well-known areas of thought—process philosophy, evolutionary theory, relationships between the sexes, and ancient religious traditions. My thesis is that, if one assumes the framework of process philosophy, then ancient religious traditions, modern evolutionary theory, and relationships between the sexes all point to the same reality—a reality that is nothing less than the image of God in man and that provides a model in terms of which we can become more aware of both dehumanizing and humanizing trends in our contemporary situation. …
Karl E. Peters is assistant professor of religion, Rollins College, Winter Park, Florida.
The Dehumanization and Rehumanization of Science and Society by Solomon H. Katz
I shall discuss three themes: rapid technological change and its associated effects upon man in the twentieth century, the probability of national and even international revitalization movements, and, finally, the need for a new science of man. I shall attempt to link these themes, thereby synthesizing some new perspectives on the dilemma of dehumanization as well as possibly delineating some new pathways toward rehumanization. But first a note on the relation of Purpose and Humanization. …
Solomon H. Katz is associate professor of physical anthropology, University of Pennsylvania, and medical scientist at the Eastern Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute, Philadelphia.
A Special Savor of Nobility: Confronting the Dehumanization in Childrens Justice by Lisa A. Richette
For what gives justice its special savor of nobility? Only the divine wrath that arises in us, girds us, and drives us to action whenever an injustice affronts our sight.¹
To comprehend fully how a technologically advanced society committed to humanitarian and democratic goals of limitless personal growth tolerates a control system which brutalizes and mutilates significant numbers of children, we must take a glance at the past. Not only will we avoid Santayanas prophecy that those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it, but we will also be in a position to confront honestly a profound question most social reformers avoid but which is, nevertheless, part of the folklore response to proposals for humanization—the question of the immutability of human nature. Proponents of atavistic solutions to crime control, from death penalties to the whipping post, maintain that propensity to criminal behavior is a fixed human trait. One can ask whether instead it is the response to criminal behavior that is inexorably programmed, and to what extent the premises of both religion and science are programming forces. The question may also be posed in another way. Are concepts of sin and deviation so imprinted in the consciousness of Western man that he is forever barred from a humanized view of the offender, both young and old? …
¹ Edmund Cahn, Confronting Injustice (Boston: Little, Brown, 1962), frontispiece.
The Honorable Lisa A. Richette is judge of the Court of Common Pleas, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Evolutionary Aspects of Freedom, Death, and Dignity by Alfred E. Emerson and Ralph Wendell Burhoe
Our aim, in response to the call of the Conference on the Humanizing and Dehumanizing of Man, is to explore some aspects of what is involved in our becoming human, to contribute something to the scientific, philosophic, and religious criteria [that] enable us to distinguish the humane from the inhumane, and to respond to related questions, including our hope for a more humane future.
Harlow Shapley, to the delight of an early conference of the Institute on Religion in an Age of Science, announced the discovery of the missing link between apes and humans—it is man! Shapleys story suggests the longer evolutionary perspective that defines our approach. We shall use recent scientific discoveries to examine the continuing evolution of human nature from its biological origins. We believe these can clarify the meaning of the humanity of man and guide us toward a more humane future.
We were asked to explain two highly esteemed human values—freedom and dignity—in relation to that seemingly inhumane indignity—death—from which we apparently have no freedom. We were intrigued by contemporary theories of evolution that can do much to clarify mans meaning, freedom, and dignity in the face of death.¹
At the same time, we attempt to find some principles that relate natural science, social science, aesthetics, and religion within a common unity.² Early and recent thinkers have suggested that one can discover orderly relationships among diverse phenomena, indicating that all human experience can be arranged within an interrelated whole—a viewpoint that seems increasingly convincing.³ …
¹ By contemporary theories of evolution, we mean the increasingly broad and systemic theories that encompass physical, biological, and cultural evolution. An important view of evolutionary theory that covers human and computer learning as well as genetic and cultural accumulations of information patterns is found in Herbert A. Simons The Sciences of the Artificial (Cambridge, Mass.: M.LT. Press, 1969), esp. chap. 4, The Architecture of Complexity. But we also include the neo-Darwinian views of biological and the new physical-chemical views of prebiological evolution.
² Swami Budhananda, Can One Be Scientific and Yet Spiritual? (Calcutta: Advaita Ashrama, 1973).
³ Ralph Wendell Burhoe, ed., Science and Human Values in the Twenty-first Century (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1971); Burhoe, The Control of Behavior: Human and Environmental, Journal of Environmental Health 35 (1972): 247-58; M. V. Mathew, review of K. Chaitanyas The Physics and Chemistry of Freedom (India, 1972), Times of India, December 3, 1972, p. 6; E. Haskell, ed., Full Circle: The Moral Force of Unified Science (New York: Gordon & Breach Science Publishers, 1972).
Alfred E. Emerson is professor emeritus of zoology, University of Chicago, and Ralph Wendell Burhoe is research professor in theology and the sciences, Meadville/Lombard Theological School, Chicago. We wish to express our indebtedness to Ralph W. Gerard, Eleanor Fish Emerson, Helen Fraser, Calla Burhoe, George Riggan, and Gertrude Emerson Sen for assisting with the preparation of the manuscript, providing references, and, most important, discussion of the concepts and evidence.
Institute of Society, Ethics and the Life Sciences: The Hastings Center by Susan L. Peck
Organ transplantation, human experimentation, the prolongation of life, the imminence of genetic engineering, the reality of genetic counseling, population limitation—the issues were proliferating, the most profound issues of human rights, human survival, and social policy. Unquestionably, many of the scientific breakthroughs could be deemed an improvement on the human condition, but these same remarkable advances could also pose a critical range of ethical and social dilemmas.
Early in 1969, under the leadership of philosopher Daniel Callahan and psychiatrist Willard Gaylin, an informal group of scholars, researchers, and others with a professional interest in the life sciences held a series of meetings to discuss a common concern: what ought society as a whole, and the professions in particular, do in the face of the remarkable advances in the life sciences? The outcome of these meetings was the establishment of the Institute of Society, Ethics and the Life Sciences, a nonprofit research group directed to the ethical, legal, and social questions arising from new bioscientific developments, especially in medicine, biology, and population.
New technologies had raised common questions and created an urgent need for a reappraisal of many traditional values touching on the nature of man, his dignity, and future. It was necessary to rethink the questions of how scientific research ought to be carried out, what the priorities should be, and how the results should (or should not) be used. How could ethical codes be devised and norms of professional responsibility be fashioned? The good of the individual had to be balanced against the requirements of the common good, necessitating a close examination of law and public policy in the light of new needs. To state it succinctly, How could advances in the life sciences be put in the service of human welfare? …
Susan L. Peck is associate for publications, Institute of Society, Ethics and the Life Sciences, 623 Warburton Avenue, Hastings-on-Hudson. New York 10706.
Editors Note: [This] continues Zygons program to provide information on institutions working in fields related to those of the publishers of Zygon. The story on the Hastings Center was dated December 18, 1973.