One of the ongoing tasks in relating science and religion is to define what is actually being related—to describe where there are possibilities for genuine dialogue, fruitful interchange, and meaningful yoking (zygon) of contemporary scientific theory with religious thought and practice.
When one looks at the sciences one discovers at least three ways in which science can have an impact on religion. First, well-tested scientific theories about the world or humanity may either supplement or challenge older ways of thinking employed in religious traditions. Second, the methodologies of the empirical sciences, which test ideas through repeated controlled observations made by any number of qualified yet independent observers, call into question older methods that rely on the unique experiences of charismatic individuals or on the authority of institutionalized religious organizations and their leaders. Third, the world view of contemporary science, which in recent Zygon issues has been characterized as naturalistic or materialistic, challenges those religious orientations that are transcendental or supernaturalistic and idealistic.
The philosophy of science of Imre Lakatos suggests criteria for acceptability of work in the interdisciplinary area .of theology and science: proposals must contribute to scientific (or theological) research programs that lead to prediction and discovery of novel facts. Lakatoss methodology also suggests four legitimate types of theology-and-science interaction: (1) heuristic use of theology in science; (2) incorporation of a theological assertion as an auxiliary hypothesis in a scientific research program, or (3) as the central theory of a research program; and (4) hybrid theology-and-science programs with empirical data. Three recent Zygon articles illustrate these four types.
Imre Lakatos • relation between theology and science • theories, acceptability criteria for
Nancey C. Murphy is a member of the board of directors of The Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences (CTNS) at the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, California.
A Generalized Conception of Text Applied to Both Scientific and Religious Objects by Mary Gerhart and Allan Melvin Russell
The idea of a text is reviewed and reconstructed to facilitate the application of concepts of interpretation to the objects analyzed in the natural sciences, as well as to objects analyzed in religion and literature. Four criteria—readability, formality, material transcendence, and retrievablility—are proposed as the basis for a generalized conception of text. Objects in both religion and science, not previously thought to be texts, are shown to be included in the new definition and therefore to be potential subjects of developing methods of interpretation.
data as text • epistemology • interpretation • nonlinguistic texts • objects in science and religion • text
Mary Gerhart and Allan Russell are professor of religious studies and professor of physics respectively at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Geneva, New York 14456.
Inaugurating Postcritical Philosophy: A Polanyian Meditation on Creation and Conversation in Augustines Confessions by R. Melvin Keiser
Michael Polanyi names Augustine as inaugurator of his postcritical philosophy. To understand what this means by exploring creation in the Confessions will clarify complex problems in Augustine and articulate theological implications in Polanyi. Specifically, it will show why an autobiographical account of conversion ends speaking of creation; how creation can thus be understood as personal language; how creation can be recovered in a time preoccupied with conversion; how conversion and creation are linked with incarnation, hermeneutics, and confessional rhetoric; and it will suggest a contemporary use of creation language that connects the scientific and the religious.
conversion • creation • hermeneutics • light • phenomenology • postcritical
R. Melvin Keiser is professor of religious studies, Guilford College, Greensboro, North Carolina 27410.
Christian Humanism and Psychotherapy: A Response to Bergins Antitheses by John F. Curry
Secular and religious values of psychotherapists influence the process of psychotherapy. The psychologist Allen Bergin has pointed out several major antitheses between values of secular psychotherapists and their religiously oriented clients. The present essay is a response to Bergins antitheses, on the one hand, and to humanistic psychology, on the other, from the point of view of a Christian humanism. Karl Rahners theological anthropology is proposed as one possible foundation for an explicit articulation of the relationship between psychotherapy and religion, and as a means to address apparently divergent values of psychotherapists and religious believers.
Christian humanism • humanistic psychology • psychology • psychotherapy • religion • theology
John F. Curry is assistant professor of medical psychology, Department of Psychiatry, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina 27710. This paper is based on a thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts, Washington Theological Union, Silver Spring, Maryland. The author is grateful to Michael J. Scanlon, OSA, for guidance and direction in the completion of this work.
Beliefs of a Christian Minister in Light of Contemporary Science by Marjorie Hall Davis
This paper states the authors understanding of the doctrines of the Christian faith in the light of her scientific background and her interpretation of current evolutionary, neuropsychological, and other scientific theories. It contains the actual ordination vows and her response to them, based upon an outline of questions suggested by the United Church of Christ.
adaptation • Christian doctrine • cultural evolution • Scriptures • suffering • Word and Sacrament
Marjorie Hall Davis has served congregations in Granby and Hartford, Connecticut as an intentional interim minister. She was ordained by the Farmington Valley Association of the United Church of Christ in Granby, Connecticut on June 15, 1986. An earlier draft of this paper was presented to a meeting of the Ecclesiastical Council of the Farmington Valley Association of the United Church of Christ in Granby, Connecticut on May 18, 1986. She resides at 30 Barn Door Hills Road, Granby, Connecticut 06035.
Evolution at a Crossroads edited by David J. Depew, reviewed by Stephen G. Goetz