Zygon: Journal of Religion & Science
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Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science
10 (4), December 1975

Table of Contents


Science, Religion, and the Counterculture by Ian G. Barbour

Though the extreme expressions of the counterculture which emerged in the late 1960s and early 1970s are less common today, many of its misgivings about American society are shared in varying degrees by a significant segment of contemporary youth. A persistent feature has been a disillusionment with science and technology as well as with institutional religion.¹ Scientists and philosophers of science have tended to react defensively to these attacks but have often failed to do justice to the motives of the counterculture or the aspects of its critique which might be valid.² The continuing polarization of viewpoints has proliferated rhetoric but hindered communication and dialogue in which each side might learn from the other. The present article sets forth some countercultural views of (1) reason, (2) science, and (3) technology and then attempts a sympathetic but critical analysis of each. Comments on countercultural attitudes to religion will appear at a number of points in the discussion. …
¹ See Theodore Roszak, The Making of a Counter Culture (New York: Doubleday & Co., 1969), Where the Wasteland Ends (New York: Doubleday & Co., 1972), and “Science: A Technocratic Trap,” Atlantic Monthly (July 1972), pp. 56-61; N. Wade, “Theodore Roszak: Visionary Critic of Science,” Science 178 (1972): 960-62. See also Stephen Toulmin, “Historical Background to the Anti-Science Movement,” in Civilization and Science (New York: American Elsevier Publishing Co., 1972); Stephen Cotgrove, “Anti-Science,” New Scientist (July 12, 1973), pp. 82-84.
² Charles Frankel, “The Nature and Sources of Irrationalism,” Science 180 (1973): 927-31; reviews of Roszak’s Where the Wasteland Ends by Peter Caws, New Republic (October 21, 1972), pp. 34-36, and Leo Marx, Saturday Review (September 23, 1972), pp. 69-71. See also Edward Shils, “Anti-Science,” Minerva 9 (1971): 441-50; Melvin Kranzberg, “Scientists: The Loyal Opposition,” American Scientist 60 (1972): 20-23.

Ian G. Barbour is professor of religion and physics, Carleton College.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.1975.tb00554.x

Whitehead’s Analysis of Perception as a Basis for Conceiving Time and Value by David R. Mason

Several years ago in a valuable assessment of the prospects for philosophical theology Malcolm Diamond urged those who are persuaded of the importance of Alfred North Whitehead’s metaphysics to apply Whitehead’s insights to areas other than theology lest they end up, like the Barthians, talking only to themselves.¹ He correctly noted that the consensus among contemporary analytic philosophers is still to treat both speculative metaphysics and theology as questionable enterprises. However, he remarked, if Whitehead’s metaphysical thought were used to illustrate problems in areas other than theology (e.g., the biophysical sciences), and if this were “well done,” contemporary thinkers would be forced to pay attention to this mode of thought in spite of their reluctance. In support of this claim he cited the example of Reinhold Niebuhr, who captured the attention of a generation of hostile intellectuals “by means of the power of his insights into politics, labor relations, international affairs, and the rest.”² The example, alone, shows that the advice is valuable and should be taken seriously. …
¹ Malcolm L. Diamond, “Contemporary Analysis: The Metaphysical Target and the Theological Victim,” Journal of Religion 47 (1967): 210-32.
² Ibid., p. 230.

David R. Mason is assistant professor of religious studies, John Carroll University.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.1975.tb00555.x

Science and the Self by James E. Huchingson

Historians are often reluctant to accept the idea that history periodically repeats itself. They see history not as a rotating hoop but as a linear vector, hopefully an ascending one. Yet anyone who is concerned with the history of ideas experiences an odd sense of déjà vu when he surveys the current global predicament. The similarities between our own times and those of some sixteen hundred years ago are disconcerting. In the fourth century the foundations of Roman civilization quaked under onslaughts from without and feeble leadership from within.

In those times a number of religious and quasi-religious systems competed for the spiritual and intellectual allegiance of the empire’s citizens. Augustine was one such citizen. His autobiography, the Confessions, is an account of his attempts to select and synthesize from among those systems available just the ones that would provide the most complete and satisfying self-understanding. Augustine’s personal quest ended successfully, as did the larger quest of the culture.

We know that a world view consisting of Christianity articulated in terms of Greek philosophy and in league with Roman law emerged as the prevailing cognitive system of a new era called the medieval world. This new synthesis of ideas and authorities was worked out in the arena of social and political strife, the accidents of history, and the precise creedal formulation of the great theological debater and councils of those early centuries.

It is both fashionable and perilous to push the parallels between the Romans of the fourth century and the entire earth of the late twentieth century. No one can deny that the cultural contexts of the two eras differ significantly and that the problems of the modern world are unique to its condition. Yet, when we consider the existential urgency and anxiety felt by contemporaries of the Hellenistic Roman world and compare them with the uncertainty and dread of the future we often experience, we can almost conclude that the two human experiences are identical despite the cultural differences. They were urgently seeking a scheme of knowledge that could assure personal and corporate meaning, significance, and survival in a civilization that could no longer provide any of those things. They were seeking a base of superior grounding, a system of principles, or a world view upon which to construct a stable culture in a desperate and perplexing predicament. We empathize with Augustine, as well we should; his search is our own. …
James E. Huchingson is assistant professor of religion. Florida International University.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.1975.tb00556.x


The Lives of a Cell by Lewis Thomas and New Theology No. 10 edited by Martin E. Marty and Dean G. Peerman, reviewed by Arnold W. Ravin

Arnold W. Ravin; University of Chicago
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.1975.tb00557.x

The World System edited by Ervin Laszlo, reviewed by James E. Huchingson

James E. Huchingson; Florida International University
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.1975.tb00557.x

Meaning and Method by Anders Nygren, reviewed by Theodore F. Peters

Theodore F. Peters; Newberry College, Newberry, South Carolina
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.1975.tb00557.x


A Pseudosolution to the Problem of Evil by Philip L. Quinn

In a recent paper called “A Logical Solution to the Problem of Evil,” William S. Hatcher tries to dispose of the traditional problem of evil by proving the consistency of seven propositions.¹ These propositions and Hatcher’s transcriptions of them in first-order logic are the following:
(Ex)(Ey)[Val(x,y)]           (i)
“There exist x and y such that x is better than y.”

(x)(y)[Val(x,y) ⊃ −Val(y,x)]           (ii)
“For any two things x and y, if x is better than y, then y is not better than x.”

(x) −Val(x,x)           (iii)
“Nothing is better than itself.”

(E!x)[Cr(x)]           (iv)
“God exists.”

Pw[ıxCr(x)]           (v)
“God is all-powerful.”

(y){[y ≠ ıxCr(x)] ⊃ Val[ıxCr(x),y]}           (vi)
“God is better than every other thing.”

(x){Pw(x) ⊃ (y)[Rsp(x,y)]}           (vii)
“If something is all-powerful, then it is responsible for everything that exists.”

A model which satisfies (i)–(vii) is the set of negative integers with Val read as “is greater than,” Rsp read as “is greater than or equal to,” and the unit set of −1 as the extension of both Cr and Pw. In fact, as Hatcher notes, (i)–(vii) have two-element models, for instance, {−1, −2}.

This result, though interesting, is no solution to the problem of evil. The trouble is that (i)–(vii)do not assert or imply that there is any evil. Informally, this should be obvious once we observe that if only God and Archangel Michael existed, then (i)–(vii) would still be true and yet there would be no evil thing. More formally, we can consistently add to (i)–(vii) the proposition:
−(Ex)[Ev(x)]          (viii)
“There is nothing evil.”

A model which satisfies (i)–(viii) is the set {1, ½, ¼, …, ⅟2n, …} with Val read as “is greater than;” Rsp read as “is greater than or equal to,” Ev read as “is less than zero,” and the unit set of 1 as the extension of both Cr and Pw. The two-element set {1, ½} is also a model of (i)–(viii).

Where Hatcher goes astray is in assuming that “x is better than y” (his “Val[x,y]”) is the converse of “x is more evil than y” (his “ Ev[x,y]”). That this is not the case is quite evident. There may be, indeed there are, two things such that one of them is better than the other, both of them are good, and neither of them is evil at all. The example of God and Archangel Michael makes this quite plain. If free, we are not always forced to choose the lesser of two evils; sometimes we are fortunate enough to be able to choose the greater of two goods. All Hatcher has really shown is that the existence of a supremely good and all-powerful God is consistent with there being something less valuable than God. But who, theist or atheist, ever denied this platitude? What he has not demonstrated is that the existence of such a God is consistent with there being something evil. In short, he has completely missed the point of the traditional problem of evil. …
¹ Zygon 9 (1974): 245-55.

Philip L. Quinn is associate professor of philosophy, Brown University.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.1975.tb00558.x

The Relative Conception of Good and Evil by William S. Hatcher

Philip L. Quinn obviously feels that he has seized the main thrust of my article entitled “A Logical Solution to the Problem of Evil,” and for him this main point is, “though interesting,” essentially trivial. I find that I feel rather that he has thoroughly missed the point and that for whatever reasons—be they due to my exposition, to his framework of interpretation, or to a combination of both—his critical remarks are largely beside the point.

My article consists of two distinct parts, only the last of which is substantially discussed or even mentioned in Quinn’s criticism. The first part of the article consists of a fairly detailed examination of the argument which constitutes what I have called the problem of evil. This examination involves first a formalization of the argument in order to establish clearly that there is real, logical contradiction and not just a paradox of some sort. Once the set of premises which leads to contradiction is clearly established, there follows a philosophical discussion of each of the premises with a view to answering the implicit question, “Which, if any, of these premises can we acceptably reject on philosophical grounds in order to avoid contradiction?” The only a priori restraint I impose is that we shall not reject God’s existence, or his omnipotence, or his goodness. This discussion tends to show that none of the other premises can be reasonably rejected on philosophical grounds as long as one insists on an absolute (monadic) concept (predicate) of “good” and of “evil.” …
William S. Hatcher is professeur titulaire, Département de Mathématiques, Université Laval, Quebec, Canada.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.1975.tb00559.x

In Memoriam

Theodosius Dobzhansky, January 25, 1900-December 18, 1975

DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.1975.tb00560.x

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