I believe in the forces of Nature, the forces Almighty, creators of Heaven and Earth, and in human beings, not as Natures only sons but as beings who must fit into the vast and interrelated universe which formed us and controls our destiny.
Sanborn C. Brown
This issue of Zygon is dedicated to the memory of
Sanborn C. Brown
It is made possible in part by gifts from family and friends
Professor and Mrs. William P. Allis
William C. Kelly
Julius S. Bixler
Allen L. and Nancy T. King
Carl B. and Martha Bihldorff
Arthur and Aina Knight
David R. and Ann H. Breed
George G. Brooks
Laurence D. LaFore
Arthur and Elizabeth Brown
Mr. and Mrs. Edward Connery Lathem
Marjorie N. Leaming
Stanley W. and Susan L. Brown
Clifford W. Loft
Allen S. and Jean H. Brush
Frantisek and Geraldine Mikes
Ralph W. and Calla Burhoe
Robert F. and Prudence E. Nagel
Warren F. Busse
Francis B. Nesbett
William R. and Harriet D. Carroll
Karl E. and Carol D. Peters
Dr. and Mrs. Eric Clarke
Arthur M. and Gertrude K. Phelps
Professor and Mrs. Norman C. Dahl
Mary and Franklin Porter
Eugene G. and Mary Lou dAquili
Seymour R. and Jean E. Protter
Dr. and Mrs. Daniel B. Dorman
Henry J. Rajkowski
William W. Fitzhugh, Jr.
George A. and Merle Riggan
Angela and Frederick Frick
Mr. and Mrs. Dero A. Saunders
Robert C. Sorensen
Dr. Ward H. Goodenough
Malcolm R. and Mary Ann Sutherland
Dana M. and Deborah Greeley
Afif I. Tannous
John K. and M. Oressa Hammon
Donald Szantho Harrington
Louisa W. Valley
Philip and Neva Hefner
Dr. and Mrs. Vladimir Vukanovic
Robert M. Hemstreet
Ruth and Weiant Wathen-Dunn
Gerald J. and Nisha Holton
Ruth E. Winter
Verna W. Johnson
William and Margaret J. Witherspoon
Solomon H. Katz
Piers P. Woodriff
December 1984 Editorial by David R. Breed and Karl E. Peters
Although people of ancient societies often developed acute powers of observation and introspection, modern science has opened up new ranges of experience that must be taken into account if thinking about lifes purpose and meaning is to be credible in a scientific age.
When one studies the beliefs and practices of traditional societies, one is struck by the acute powers of observation developed by ancient peoples. Not only did tribal peoples develop refined observational knowledge of the natural world, but some ancients also developed keen powers of introspective analysis, enhanced by elaborately evolved practices that gave rise to altered states of consciousness. The aphorisms of the yoga master Patanjali exemplify the sophisticated analysis of human experience achieved by some of the old masters. Such analysis of ordinary and extraordinary human experience still rivals some of the modern developments in the psychological sciences. The reason for this is not surprising: although modern analysts of human experience have the advantage of centuries of thought, in terms of the experience itself nothing much has changed. Ancient traditions continue to present, in Donald T. Campbells words, well-winnowed insights regarding human nature (Zygon 11 [September 1976]: 167-208).
The basic features of thermodynamics as the science of the possible are outlined with a special emphasis on the role of the concept of entropy as a measure of irreversibility in natural processes and its relation to order, precisely defined. Natural processes may lead to an increase in complexity, and this concept has a subtle relationship to those of order, organization, and information. These concepts are analyzed with respect to their relation to biological evolution, together with other ways of attempting to quantify it. Thermodynamic interpretations of evolution are described and critically compared, and the significance of dissipative structures, of order through fluctuations, is emphasized in relation both to the evolutionary succession of temporarily stable forms and to kinetic mechanisms producing new patterns.
Arthur Peacocke is Dean of Clare College, Cambridge CB2 1TL, England, and from January, 1985, director of the lam Ramsey Centre, Saint Cross College, Oxford, England, a center for the study of ethical problems arising from scientific and medical research and practice and of the underlying philosophical and theological issues.
Central among problems in cosmology is the crucial question of the articulation of natural and historical time: how is human history related to natural processes described by science? A deterministic world view in which natural processes are reversible, as emphasized by classical Western science, is obviously not the answer. Recent research in fields such as far-from-equilibrium thermodynamics and statistical mechanics reveals irreversibility in natural processes and allows us to explore new forms of dialogue between science and the humanities.
Ilya Prigogine is Professor at the Universite Libre de Bruxelles, Dpt. Chimie Physique II, Boulevard du Triomphe, B1050 Brussels, and Professor at the University of Texas at Austin.
This paper explores a possible relationship between entropy and evil in terms of metaphor. After presenting the various meanings of entropy in classical thermodynamics and statical mechanics, and the Augustinian and Irenaean theodicies, several similarities and dissimilarities between entropy and evil are described. Underlying the concepts of evil and entropy is the assumption that time has a direction. After examining the scientific basis for this assumption, it is hypothesized that, if evil is real in nature, entropy is what one would expect to find at the level of physical processes, and conversely that, if entropy is coupled to a physical arrow of time, one could expect to find dissipative yet catalytic processes in history and religious experience.
Robert John Russell is assistant professor of theology and science in residence at the Graduate Theological Union (GTU), Berkeley, and Executive Director of the new Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences (CTNS) at the GTU (2465 Le Conte Avenue, Berkeley, California 94709). The author thanks Dr. Nancey Murphy for the many helpful suggestions made in preparing this manuscript.
God and Chaos: The Demiurge Versus the Ungrund by Philip Hefner
The human quest for meaning is an attempt to bring experience into conjunction with illuminating concepts. The second law of thermodynamics is of wide human concern, because it touches experience which is existentially charged and therefore which humans must interpret in broad metaphysical terms. Five types of experience have been incorporated into the second law: running down, degeneracy, mixed-up-ness, irreversibility of time, and emergence of new possibilities. The dominant Western tradition (Plato) places these experiences within a metaphysical scheme that evaluates them negatively, whereas a minority tradition (Berdyaev) evaluates them positively. The former makes entropy anti-God; the latter places entropy within God.
Philip Hefner is professor of systematic theology at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, 1100 East 55th Street, Chicago, Illinois 60615.
The Cosmic Breath: Reflections on the Thermodynamics of Creation by Jeffrey S. Wicken
This paper views such distinctions as creation and degeneration or good and evil in the Eastern sense of unity in polarity rather than in the Western sense of dual, antagonistic principles. Hence it considers the thermodynamic forces of evolution as processes of creation driven by entropy dissipation and explores the analogies this conception bears to the Hindu image of nature as the changing mist of a universal breath. Using this image, the paper examines the sense in which the second law of thermodynamics connects chance and teleology in the operations of nature and provides for a causal hierarchy in which decision and volitional behavior co-participate with the laws of nature to determine the course of evolution.
Jeffrey s. Wicken is associate professor of biochemistry, Behrend College, Erie, Pennsylvania 16563.
The New Evolutionary Timetable by Steven Stanley, reviewed by Robert M. West