Evolutionary interpretations of nature are quite ancient, dating back along with virtually everything else in Western thought, to the speculations of the Greek philosophers beginning in the sixth century B.C. But early evolutionary thinking never really went beyond this speculative stage, and evolution never provided a particularly compelling philosophy of biology until the time of Charles Darwin. Even now there are serious conceptual discontinuities in evolutionary theory, where its philosophical mission of unifying organic and inorganic nature is not fully realized. Whereas organic nature is pictured as purposive, self-serving, and, at least in its highest expressions, conscious, inorganic nature is conceived as behaving according to the blind mechanistic principles of chance and necessity. Even if the issue of consciousness is bracketed altogether, it is difficult to conceive of how mechanistic principles, which include no concept of purpose or of self, could ever have led to the evolutionary emergence of organized, self-referential systems. …
Jeffrey S. Wicken is assistant professor of science, Behrend College, Erie, Pennsylvania 16563.
Experiential Time and the Religious Concern by Charles M. Sherover
In the midst of crisis Augustine propounded the famous question which compels us to face the central dilemma of any attempt to comprehend the human situation in the world. What, then, is time? he asked. Who can find a quick and easy answer to that question? Time is central for each of us. Its presence pervades and structures every process in which we engage, everything we can know. It bounds every activity of life and indeed life itself. Yet we usually discuss important issues of life and thought without even noting their intrinsic temporality.
We do not hesitate to use temporal terms; we freely employ the tenses of our language. We read of our history, plan or bemoan our future. We take time and its meanings for granted. We may regard it as a burden or as a source of hope, but we know that we cannot avoid its inexorable sway. Yet we cannot define the word time. What, then, is time? Augustine asked. I know what it is if no one asks me what it is; but if I want to explain it to someone who has asked me, I find that I do not know.¹ Time pervades everything we think and do; yet just what it is, how it is, remains a mystery, the mystery of ultimate reality, the mystery of being itself. …
¹ Saint Augustine, The Confessions, trans. Rex Warner (New York: New American Library, 1963), p. 267.
Charles M. Sherover is professor of philosophy at Hunter College, 695 Park Avenue, New York, New York 10021 and thanks both Jeannette Hopkins and Karl E. Peters for their helpful suggestions.
God and the Statistical Universe by Patrick H. Byrne
In the conclusion to his On Waves, Particles and Hidden Variables C. W. Reitdijk wrote: Therefore, our only hope of survival, in the deepest sense of the word, the only hope of the truly religious man, has to be set on determinism, on hidden variables.¹ The hidden variable theory is a fairly recent development within the field of theoretical quantum mechanics.² Its aim has been to develop a theory of physical parameters which would both retain the verified discoveries of quantum mechanics and eliminate the ultimately statistical foundation of that theory. It is not my purpose to engage in a critical discussion of the hidden-variable theory. Rather the aim here is to challenge the view, stated so poignantly by Reitdijk, that determinism is essential to authentic religiosity. In particular I will discuss the philosophical contributions of the philosopher-theologian Bernard Lonergan to this subject. Lonergan argues that the existence of an inherently statistical (and therefore nondeterministic) universe is indeed compatible with traditional religious beliefs concerning God. I will explicate his argument. …
¹ C. W. Reitdijk, On Waves, Particles and Hidden Variables (Assen, Holland: Van Gorcum, 1971), p. 130.
² For a historical survey of hidden-variable theories, see Max Jammer, The Philosophy of Quantum Mechanics (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1974), pp. 253-339.
Patrick H. Byrne is associate professor of philosophy, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts 02167.
What does it mean to say that someone is religiously human? To which one might well reply: What does it mean to ask what it means to be religiously human?
The question seems strange, to say the least, when one remembers that in English the adverb religiously has come to mean over-scrupulous, or attentive to detail. In 1979 there was a fire in the Manchester Woolworths, in which ten people died, and a company spokesman commented: There was no sprinkler system. That depends on a local authoritys requirements—and they do vary. We comply with them religiously but in this case, there was no such requirement.¹ In the same issue of the paper which contained that report there was an article on British car workers who move to Germany for higher wages. The article pointed out that they are in for a number of shocks, including the high cost of living and the fact that work begins at 7.12 a.m. sharp. The starting time is so precise because the employees have won an 18 minute breakfast break. … As in all German companies the hours are rigorously, almost religiously, applied by the management. Persistent latecomers face dismissal.² …
¹ Daily Telegraph (May 9, 1979), p. 1.
² Ibid., p. 11.
J. W. Bowker is professor of religious studies, Furness College, University of Lancaster, Bailrigg, Lancaster, LA1 4YG England. The author thanks Lawrence Fagg and Sanborn C. Brown for discussion and criticism on earlier drafts of this paper.
When Prophecy Failed by Robert P. Carroll, reviewed by Walter Harrelson