Zygon: Journal of Religion & Science
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Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science
13 (4), December 1978

Table of Contents


December 1978 Editorial by Ralph Wendell Burhoe

Before introducing the papers of the last issue of Zygon’s thirteenth volume, probably my last full volume as editor in chief, I pause to contemplate a bit of what has been done, where we are, and where the future may lead us. We are expecting some changes that will improve Zygon while still providing continuity with what makes it significant.

We can take some pride, in the midst of today’s confusions and uncertainties, that we have been able to publish so many papers throwing much light from the sciences and scholarship upon the mission set forth in the first two paragraphs of our first editorial in 1966:
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.1978.tb00337.x

New Biocultural Explanations of the Persistence and Power of Religion

The Neurobiological Bases of Myth and Concepts of Deity by Eugene G. d’Aquili

It has become apparent that belief in a God, in organized religion, and indeed in many cults purporting to serve demonic agencies, powers, or other supernatural forces has not evaporated over the three-hundred-year span since the inauguration of the Age of Reason. This phenomenon in itself is somewhat startling since most interpreters of science from the seventeenth-century philosophes onward have assured us that such belief is merely the vestige of primitive customs bound to pass with the advent of sufficient knowledge derived from science, its appropriate dissemination, and the demonstration to mankind of the power of that knowledge in a flowering technology. During the past three centuries scientific knowledge indeed has blossomed, has been disseminated to the masses via huge programs of compulsory public education in western Europe and America, and has been manifested in a mind-boggling technology reaching to the moon and interplanetary space. …
Eugene G. d’Aquili, M.D. is associate professor of psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania, University and Woodland Avenues, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.1978.tb00338.x

Neurological Bases of Revitalization Movements by Barbara W. Lex

Ethnographic reports and historical accounts document the existence among human capacities of a broad range of psychophysiological states. To illustrate, Erika Bourguignon’s extensive analysis of data in George P. Murdock’s Ethnographic Atlas indicates that people in 437 of the 488 societies for which adequate ethnographic information is available engage in some institutionalized form of “dissociation.”¹ Reviewing these findings, Felicitas D. Goodman concludes that “we are dealing with a capacity common to all men.”² The near universality of such states (which I prefer to designate as “ritual trance”), frequently manifested in conjointly altered muscle movements, speech patterns, and responses to external stimuli, points to a complex but discernible biological substrate.³ Techniques for establishing these states commonly are associated with religious rituals. ⁴ But apart from traditional religious contexts extraordinary psychophysiological states are also dramatically evident in the spontaneously occurring behavioral alterations of individuals whose inspirations innovate reformulated belief systems, whether sacred or secular.⁵ …
¹ Erika Bourguignon, “Dreams and Altered States of Consciousness in Anthropological Research,” in Psychological Anthropology, ed. F. K. L. Hsu, 2d ed. (Homewood, Ill.: Dorsey Press, 1972), p. 418: idem, “Foreword,” in Trance, Healing, and Hallucination: Three Field Studies in Religious Experience, ed. Felicitas D. Goodman, Jeannette H. Henney, and Esther Pressel (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1974), p. viii; George P. Murdock, Ethnographic Atlas: A Summary (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1967).
² Felicitas D. Goodman, Speaking in Tongues: A Cross-cultural Study of Glossolalia (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1972), p. 70.
³ Barbara W. Lex, “Physiological Aspects of Ritual Trance,” Journal of Altered States of Consciousness 2 (1975): 109-22, and “The Neurobiology of Ritual Trance,” in The Spectrum of Ritual, ed. Charles D. Laughlin, Jr., Eugene G. d’Aquili, and John McManus (New York: Columbia University Press, 1979), pp. 117-51.
⁴ Eliot D. Chapple and Carleton S. Coon, Principles of Anthropology (New York: Henry Holt & Co., 1942); Eliot D. Chapple, Culture and Biological Man: Explorations in Behavioral Anthropology (New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1970).
⁵ Anthony F. C. Wallace, “Mazeway Resynthesis: A Biocultural Theory of Religious Inspiration,” Transactions of the New York Academy of Sciences 18 (1956): 626-38; idem, Religion: An Anthropological View (New York: Random House, 1966); idem, Culture and Personality, 2d ed. (New York: Random House, 1970); Mircea Eliade, “‘Cargo Cults’ and Cosmic Regeneration,” in Millennial Dreams in Action: Studies in Revolutionary Religious Movements, ed. Sylvia L. Thrupp (New York: Schocken Books, 1970); Weston La Barre, “Materials for a History of Studies of Crisis Cults: A Bibliographic Essay,” Current Anthropology 12 (1971): 3-44; idem, The Ghost Dance: The Origins of Religion (New York: Delta Books, 1972).

Barbara W. Lex is associate in psychiatry (anthropology), Harvard Medical School, and research fellow, Alcohol and Drug Abuse Research Center, McLean Hospital, Belmont, Massachusetts 02178. She notes: “My inability to answer students’ probing questions about biological processes manifested in revitalization prophets’ seemingly bizarre behaviors stimulated me to seek answers beyond the traditional boundaries of anthropology. A Western Michigan University faculty research fellowship permitted my investigation of psychophysiological research at the Langley Porter Neuropsychiatric Institute in 1973. In 1975 and 1976 my study of the human brain was assisted by National Institute on Drug Abuse Postdoctoral Fellowship Award No. 1 F22 DA 02555. Comments on this paper were provided by Eliot D. Chapple, Bryan T. Woods, Charles D. Laughlin, Jr., and Eugene G. d’Aquili. I am grateful for their suggestions and encouragement.”
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.1978.tb00339.x

Art, Theology, and Religious Systems: A Case for the Inquisition? by J. W. Bowker

In the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge there hangs a large picture by Paolo Cagliari, better known from his place of origin as Veronese. It is not a picture which is likely to produce on its own any great admiration for the artist. It gives an impression not of imaginative daring and excitement but of prosaic competence and conformity. The painting is large and almost entirely conventional. It is a picture of a somewhat obscure classical subject, the story of Hermes and the two sisters Herse and Aglauros. Hermes, messenger of the gods, has fallen in love with Herse. This is made known to Aglauros, who is consumed with envy and tries to prevent Hermes from coming to see her sister Herse. As a result Hermes touches her with his wand, and she is turned into a statue, and that is the moment represented in the picture. …
J. W. Bowker is professor of religious studies, Furness College, University of Lancaster, Lancaster LA1 4YL, England.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.1978.tb00340.x


Psychology of Religion by Heije Faber, reviewed by Lewis R. Rambo

Lewis R. Rambo; San Francisco Theological Seminary, San Anselmo, California
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.1978.tb00341.x

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