One of the persistent themes implicit in much of the work appearing in Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science is the complex relationship between tradition and innovation. In many ways the yoking signified by the word zygon involves interrelating past and present human understandings in constructing for the future a better relationship between science, religion, and values. The Statement of Perspective on the second page of each issue of the journal concludes: Zygons hypothesis is that when long-evolved religious wisdom is yoked with significant, recent scientific discoveries about the world and human nature there results credible expression of basic meaning, values, and moral convictions that provides valid and effective guidance for enhancing human life. This statement of perspective was developed in the spring of 1979 as the joint effort of founding editor Ralph Wendell Burhoe and myself, in consultation with others. Even as it serves as one expression of the relation between tradition and. innovation, for the two of us the statement also represents our own personal involvement in a transition between editors that attempted to unite a founders vision with a younger colleagues aspirations and enterprise.
Employing categories derived from the philosopher of science Imre Lakatos, this essay analyzes the theological thought of Wolfhart Pannenberg, with the aim of showing that he is engaged in a research program that takes seriously the various sciences and their understanding of the world on the one hand and the traditions of Christian faith and theology on the other. The course of the argument demonstrates that Pannenbergs thought extends comprehensively to provide a conceptuality that centers on the phenomena of contingency and field and encompasses nearly every realm of science and the breadth of biblical and theological traditions.
contingency • field theological and scientific method • Lakatos • research program
Philip Hefner is professor of systematic theology at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago and director of the Chicago Center for Religion and Science, 1100 E. 55th Street, Chicago, Illinois 60615.
Toward an Evolutionary Ecology of Meaning by Jeffrey S. Wicken
I will discuss some of the implications of the ongoing Darwinian revolution for theology as a constructor and interpreter of human meaning. Focus will be directed toward the following issues: How should we best understand ourselves in the new, evolutionary cosmos? What are the problems with the kind of genetic reductionism espoused by neo-Darwinism? How are those problems resolved by the relational understanding of life made available by thermodynamics and ecology? How do we generate meaning-structures in this relationally-constituted cosmos? Finally, how do these developments enrich our understandings of responsibility—to each other and to our private conceptions of God?
ecology • evolution • relationality • responsibility • spirit
Jeffrey S. Wicken is professor of biochemistry at Pennsylvania State University, Behrend College, Erie, Pennsylvania 16563.
Spirit, Method, and Content in Science and Religion: The Theological Perspectives of a Geneticist by Lindon Eaves
There are three ways in which bridges may be built between science and theology: spirituality, methodology, and content. Spirituality is the power which drives each to address reality and the expectations with which each approaches the pursuit of truth. The methodology of science is summarized in terms of three activities: taxonomy; the hypothetico-deductive cycle; derivative technology. The content of science, especially with respect to the phenomena of givenness, connectedness and openness in the life sciences, is correlated with theological constructs. Attention is drawn to the role of the double helix in biology and a possible parallel is proposed to the function of the icon in religion and theology.
anthropology • genetics • methodology • model • spirituality • theology and science
Lindon Eaves is distinguished professor of human genetics at the Medical College of Virginia, P.O. Box 33 M.C.V. Station, Richmond, Virginia, 23298. The author is indebted to Philip Hefner and Lora Gross for their provocation, encouragement, and friendly criticism, and to students who attended a seminar supported by G.T.E. held at the Chicago Center for Religion and Science, Lutheran School of Theology, Chicago, in January 1989 for their help in clarifying some of the issues.
The Omega Point as Eschaton: Answers to Pannenbergs Questions for Scientists by Frank J. Tipler
I present an outline of the Omega Point theory, which is a model for an omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent, evolving, personal God who is both transcendent to spacetime and immanent in it, and who exists necessarily. The model is a falsifiable physical theory, deriving its key concepts not from any religious tradition but from modern physical cosmology and computer science; from scientific materialism rather than revelation. Four testable predictions of the model are given. The theory assumes that thinking is a purely physical process of the brain, and that personality dies with the brain. Nevertheless, I show that the Omega Point theory suggests a future universal resurrection of the dead very similar to the one predicted in the Judeo-Christian-Islamic tradition. The notions of grace and the beatific vision appear naturally in the model.
computer models of the mind and reality • eschatology • grace and the beatific vision • personal God • physical cosmology • resurrection of the flesh
Frank J. Tipler is professor of mathematical physics at Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisiana 70118. The author thanks Frank Birtel, Wim Drees, Wolfhart Pannenberg, John Polkinghorne, Robert John Russell, and Michael Zimmerman for their comments on an earlier version of this paper. This work was supported in part by the National Science Foundation under grant number PHY-86-03130.
Theological Appropriation of Scientific Understandings: Response to Hefner, Wicken, Eaves, and Tipler by Wolfhart Pannenberg
Philip Hefners focus on contingency and field as the guiding concepts in my thinking and his characterization of my theological enterprise as a Lakatosian research program are appropriate and helpful.
I welcome Jeffrey Wickens holistic approach to the emergence of life. Theology can appropriate the language of self-organizing systems exploiting the thermodynamic flow of energy degradation for interpreting organic life as a creation of the Spirit of God.
However, I cannot sympathize with Lindon Eavess equation of hard science with a reductionism which raises the double helix to the status of icon; the meaning of DNA derives from its place in the total phenomenon of life—not the reverse.
Frank Tiplers cosmology raises the prospect of a rapprochement between physics and theology in the area of eschatology. A Christian cosmology, however, would require at least three modifications: contingency in the history of creation; the uniqueness of Jesus resurrection; and the relation of these to the problem of evil.
contingency and field • double helix • eschatology and the Omega Point • Lakatosian research program • self-organizing systems • thermodynamics
Wolfhart Pannenberg is professor of systematic theology and director of the Ecumenical Institute at Universität München, Evangelisch-Theologische Facultät, Schellingstraße 3/III, 8000 München 40, Federal Republic of Germany.
Creation and the End of Days: Judaism and Scientific Cosmology edited by David Novak and Norbert Samuelson, reviewed by George L. Murphy