A religion (… there is no such thing as religion in general) always signifies a special body of beliefs and practices having some kind of institutional organization, loose or tight. In contrast, the adjective religious denotes nothing in the way of a specifiable entity, either institutional or as a system of beliefs. It does not denote anything to which one can specifically point as one can point to this or that historic religion or existing church.… It denotes attitudes that may be taken toward every object and every proposed end or ideal.
In examining the nature of religion, we in the Western world often regard religion as a separate area of life. Not only are religious organizations such as church, synagogue, and temple viewed as distinct from political, economic, educational, and other societal institutions; but religious activity also is thought to deal with a special dimension of existence characterized by the sacred over against the profane or the supernatural over against the natural.
This separateness is often exemplified by the isolation of the activities of organized religion from those of everyday life, especially from those of economics but also from activities of the arts and the sciences. While some people live their total lives with the awareness that all they do is permeated by religion, many see no connection between their faith and the rest of their life.
The English term religion is used to refer to local Christian churches, their organizations, and their practices. Nevertheless, Western anthropologists have tried to utilize it as if it were a technical term with universal applicability. Anthropologists have sought to characterize religion by several dichotomies, .although their own field researches have revealed the irrelevance of such dichotomies as well as the fact that non-Western peoples do not recognize an entity equivalent to religion. Were the characteristics used by anthropologists in defining religion precisely applied to Western societies, then several other kinds of organizations, ceremonials, and practices would have as much, or even greater, claim to being included within the rubric of religion as the Christian and allied churches. The consequence of this conceptual imprecision has been the theoretical stagnation noted by eminent theorists.
Murray L. Wax is visiting distinguished professor at the College of Saint Thomas, Saint Paul, Minnesota 55105.
Loren Corey Eiseley: In Appreciation by Ward H. Goodenough
In his writings, Loren Eiseley revealed the feelings and the wonder that inspire many scientists in their work but that most scientists are unable or unwilling to write about. He was at once an anthropologist of science and the scientists bard.
Ward H. Goodenough is university professor of anthropology, University of Pennsylvania, University Museum, 33rd and Spruce Streets, Philadelphia 19104.
Loren Eiseley is known both as a scientist and an essayist/poet. The disillusionment with science and technology among many in the late 1950s and the search for new values in the 1960s help account for Eiseleys significance as a writer. He appears to offer a solution to mankinds contemporary disillusionment by reminding that science has limits and that intuitive, nonscientific insight is valid, especially when it is complementary to scientific knowledge. The thesis of this essay is that in content and style Eiseley writes as a religious writer in the sense that he reaffirms what is necessary for humankind to be happy and even to be saved.
Robert G. Franke is dean of the college of sciences, University of Arkansas at Little Rock 72204.
Ecology, Biblical Theology, and Methodology: Biblical Perspectives on the Environment by Richard H. Hiers
Historian Lynn White, Jr.s theory that the current ecological crisis derives from the biblical creation story still has its adherents. There is no single biblical viewpoint on ecology, nor were the biblical writers addressing twentieth-century problems. Yet the great weight of biblical tradition—including the Genesis creation narrative—represents God as caring actively for all living beings, and humanity as having not only dominion over, but also responsibility for the well-being of other creatures. The Bible gives no support to those who would exploit the earths resources at the cost of destroying any species of life.
Richard H. Hiers is professor of religion at the University of Florida, Department of Religion, 115 Arts and Sciences Building, Gainesville, Florida 32611.
Oh Mother Earth,
We are fully dependent on you.
It is you who received us
With your open arms at birth
When we were yet naked. …
The above prayer sums up the philosophy of the Akan people of southern Ghana regarding our relation to nature, hopefully in a way that Jews and Christians will appreciate.
In Akan tradition there exists a relationship between the individual and nature which is expressed in terms of kinship, identity, and mutual respect. As human beings, Akans consider themselves part of creation and intimately bound to nature. The Mother Earth received us when we were born, she sustains us throughout life, and she will receive us back into her womb when we are dead and buried. …
Kofi Appiah-Kubi is a research associate at the Olive Garvey Center for the Improvement of Human Functioning, 428 North Oliver Street, Wichita, Kansas 67208.
Process Philosophy, Social Though, and Liberation Theology by Roy D. Morrison II
This essay sets forth the decisive notions and postulates of process philosophy in Process Philosophy and Social Thought, edited by John B. Cobb, Jr. and W. Widick Schroeder. After commenting on the circumstances in which process philosophy came to be a major option among philosophical theologians, I provide some amplification of those notions and postulates. Then, selecting material from the eighteen articles in the volume, I offer several critical assessments of the process viewpoint and its relation to science and to the contemporary call for liberation.
Roy D. Morrison II is professor of philosophical theology, philosophy of science, and philosophy of black culture at Wesley Theological Seminary, 4500 Massachusetts Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20016.
The Analogy Between Ethics and Science by Ronald L. Hall
It is highly appropriate that the editors of Zygon have seen fit to publish Virginia Helds The Validity of Moral Theories (1983), for they are explicitly aware that our culture is in dire need of yoking far more than just religion and science; indeed, they seem to be aware that such a yoking may require, perhaps even as prolegomena, a consideration of other yokings such as the one Professor Held explores between ethics and science.
Congratulations also to Held, for hers is a radical voice calling on all of us to move against the grain of our cultures persistent worship of what J. L. Austin once characterized as neat and tidy dichotomies. …
Ronald L. Hall is associate professor of philosophy and religion, Francis Marion College, Florence, South Carolina 29501.
In The Validity of Moral Theories Virginia Held argues that there is a way of testing moral theories (Held 1983). She says, our choices, when actually acted on in test situations with awareness that we are in them, put moral theories to the test. I f we understand a test as a way of seeing how a theory stands up to the challenges of actual experience, we in this way test our theories through action (Held 1983, 172). The actual experience she has in mind is of course moral experience. Held characterizes moral experience as the experience of consciously choosing, of voluntarily accepting or rejecting, of willingly approving or disapproving, of living with these choices, and above all of acting and of living with these actions and their outcomes (Held 1983, 173). …
Arthur Zucker is assistant professor of history and philosophy of science, College of Medicine, Pennsylvania State University, Post Office Box 850, Hershey, Pennsylvania 17033.
Brain Hemisphericity, Mysticism, and Personal Wholeness by Norma Tucker
That mystics and victims of delusion share such sudden and passive states as an experience of abnormal significance, pseudohallucinations, a sense of mission, the suspension of time, and extremes of mood as discussed by Hermann Lenz (1983) is supported and partially explained by recent research in medicine and psychology. Such research also lends credence to his criteria for distinguishing between belief and delusion by the presence of hope and doubt, increased human freedom, and personal interaction among the mystics, with a corresponding absence of those qualities among the victims of delusions.
Neuroscientists and psychologists have begun to map brain activities, and a growing body of evidence demonstrates that each person has the capacity to use two major modes of consciousness: a logical, sequential, analytical mode, which is processed primarily, but not exclusively, in the left hemisphere of the brain; and an intuitive, synthetic, and holistic mode which develops insights primarily, but not exclusively, from the right hemisphere (Bogen 1969, Deikman 1971, Gazzaniga 1967, Grady and Luecke 1978, Lee et al. 1976, Ornstein 1977). …
Norma Tucker is vice president for academic services, McPherson College, McPherson, Kansas 67460.
Darwinism Defended by Michael Ruse, reviewed by Neal C. Gillespie