With this June 1988 issue I find myself beginning my tenth year as editor of Zygon. During the past nine years I have become aware of the complexity and richness of the process of relating science and religion that the founders of the journal chose to call Zygon. The word zygon was used in ancient Greece to specify, among other things, the yoking of a team of horses, mules, or oxen. A primary English derivative is zygote, the result of a union of sperm and egg that is a new form of life. Zygon, too, is a new form of life—of cultural life that seeks to unite scientific knowledge with religious and philosophical insights as it explores ways to answer questions such as the meaning and purpose of human life, how to live morally, and how to be whole and happy rather than disintegrated and miserable.
Human concern with problems of being and becoming promotes conceptions of ideal states of being, exemplified by paragons and heroes and projected as utopias or visions of salvation; it leads to regimens for cultivating and maintaining individual ability to meet social expectations; and it produces fantasies, as in myth and popular literature, that rehearse the problems and that offer escape from them and roles to emulate in dealing with them. Many of these regimens and fantasies appear in the rituals and teachings of organized religion. Many also figure in private devotions apart from established religions. The many forms they take constitute much of the religious life of ordinary people. From this viewpoint, there is much to examine in American life.
American life • religion • ritual • self-maintenance
Ward H. Goodenough is university professor of anthropology, University of Pennsylvania, University Museum, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104-6398.
Fantasy Worlds and Self-Maintenance in Contemporary American Life by John L. Caughey
Because actual social experience is often damaging to conceptions of self, individuals in all societies engage in identity work beyond ordinary social interaction. For people in religious groups, identity work may involve the subjective experience of interactions with spirit beings as in altered states of consciousness such as dreams, reverie, or trance. In memories, anticipations, and fantasies, secular Americans, too, may experience gratifying imaginary social interactions when they gain recognition and acclaim from imagined others. Unlike spirit relations these fantasies are not culturally defined as real. However, like spirit relations, they may have very real effects on self-maintenance.
fantasy • identity • imagination and culture • self-maintenance • social interaction
John L. Caughey is an anthropologist and associate professor of American studies at the University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland 20742.
Barrow and Tiplers Anthropic Cosmological Principle by Fred W. Hallberg
John D. Barrow and Frank J. Tiplers recently published Anthropic Cosmological Principle is an encyclopedic defense of melioristic evolutionary cosmology. They review the history of the idea from ancient times to the present, and defend both a weak version, and two strong versions of the anthropic principle. I argue the weak version of the anthropic principle is true and important, but that neither of the two strong versions are well grounded in fact. Their final anthropic principle is a revision of Teilhard de Chardins evolutionary cosmology. They rectify Teilhards factual errors but commit even more serious psychological and religious errors of their own.
anthropic principle • evolutionary cosmology • natural theology
Fred W. Hallberg is an associate professor of philosophy at the University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, Iowa 50614.
Realism and Openness in Scientific Inquiry by Thomas F. Torrance
Intrinsic to rigorous knowledge of God is the recognition that positive theological concepts and statements about God arising under the compelling claims of Gods reality upon the human mind must have an open revisable structure. A similar combination of critical realism and ontological openness is apparent in the profound change that has taken place in the rational structure of rigorous science from the radical dualism and closed causal system of classical mechanics to the unifying world view and open dynamic field-theories of modern physics. It is argued that the intersection of theological and natural science in their epistemological foundations can enhance their ontological commitment and heuristic thrust.
conceptual assent • epistemological realism/ontological openness • intrinsic intelligibility • theological/natural science • true/not certain propositions • unifying field-theory
Thomas F. Torrance is emeritus professor of Christian dogmatics, University of Edinburgh, a Fellow of the British Academy, and of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. He was awarded the Collins Prize in 1969 and the Templeton Prize in 1978 for his work on the relations of theology and science. His address is 37 Braid Farm Road, Edinburgh, EH10 6LE, Scotland.
Beliefs about Evolution, Mind, Nature, and Society: Excerpts from an Interview with Ervin Laszlo by Joseph H. Schaeffer
Fundamental questions arise in every age, questions such as those concerning the individual in society, social order, labor and exchange, meaning and ethics, and spiritual life and values. In addressing these questions Ervin Laszlo emphasizes insight and understanding, the mutability and flexibility of knowledge, cultural diversity and organizational interdependence, and harmony in nature. General Systems Theory and a theory of general evolution provide the framework for his thinking. He asks that as human beings we assume responsibility for creative, reasoned, ethically sound decisions in dealing with the inner and outer limits of humanity.
epistemology • ethics • evolution • general systems theory • international relations • philosophy of science
Ervin Laszlo is a philosopher and general systems theorist. He is a member of the Club of Rome, a fellow of the United Nations Institute for Training and Research, a senior fellow of the Center for Peace Studies, a distinguished tutor of the International College, and a director of Planetary Citizens. He is founder-director of the General Evolution Research Group and editor-in-chief of the World Encyclopedia of Peace. Laszlo has published over forty books and 200 articles. His most recent book is Evolution: The Grand Synthesis (Boston: Shambhala, 1987). Joseph Schaeffer is professor of anthropology and communication at Marlboro College, Marlboro, Vermont 05344. During the past two years he has traveled to fifteen countries on four continents to conduct interviews with internationally known scientists, social scientists, novelists, artists, philosophers, and professionals in business and politics as part of a comparative study of human values and global issues.
Editors Note: This is the second time Zygon has published a more personal statement relating science and religion under the heading of Credo. In contrast to the intentionally worked out set of reflections by Marjorie Hall Davis in the September 1987 issue, this credo statement by Erwin Laszlo comes in the form of a more spontaneous discussion with interviewer Joseph H. Schaeffer. It was neither the intention of Laszlo nor Schaeffer to have this be published as a credo statement in the strictest sense. Yet, as editor, it seems to me that the following discussion substantially presents a personal set of convictions regarding the search for meaning and purpose in the context of the contemporary sciences; hence it qualifies for being published under the heading Credo. A distinctive feature of this particular set of reflections by Laszlo is their unfinished nature: consistent with Laszlos emphasis on humans being an important and distinctive part of an evolving universe, one must see all human reflection, even of fundamental convictions, as tentative, exploratory, and evolving. This is a very unusual type of credo, yet one quite consistent with living in the spirit of a scientific age.
The Open Court Publishing Company was founded to serve as a center for an earnest and thoroughgoing reformation of religion under the influence of science, and in working to this end it has combined a fearless radicalism with a reverent conservatism. Its founder as well as its manager,¹ together with most of its friends, are convinced that this is the only correct attitude, and that, therefore, the publications of the Open Court Publishing Company are leading in the right direction on the path of progress, foreordained in the history of mankind by the law of evolution.
The Open Court discusses the philosophical problems of God and soul, of life and death, and life after death, the problems of the origin of man and the significance of religion, and the nature of morality, occasionally including political and social life without, however, entering into party questions. …
¹ Open Court Publishing Company was founded in 1887 by Edward C. Hegeler of La Salle, Illinois. Paul Cams began his work at Open Court as editor and manager in 1888.
Paul Carus was born in 1852 in Ilsenburg am Harz, Germany. The son of a Lutheran minister, he studied mathematics and classics in the Gymnasia and philosophy, classical philology, and the natural sciences at the universities, receiving his Ph.D. from the University of Tübingen in 1876. After moving to the United States, in 1888 he became editor and manager of the Open Court Publishing Company, founded a year earlier by Edward C. Hegeler. Under Caruss editorship Open Court became internationally known for its titles in philosophy, religion, science, and mathematics.
Editors Note: With this June 1988 issue Zygon inaugurates a new section called Classics. Classics is intended to be a section of the journal in which, from time to time, articles are published that call attention to individuals and institutions whose work predates that in Zygon but whose vision of the relation between science and religion is essentially the same as that expressed by many current articles in our journal. …
Science and Religion, A Critical Survey by Holmes Rolston III, reviewed by Joseph Pickle