Science and religion share the conviction that the world is intelligible, susceptible to being logically understood, but they delineate this under different paradigms. In the cleanest cases we can say that science operates with the presumption that there are causes to things, religion with the presumption that there are meanings to things.
Holmes Rolston III
I will never forget the lesson about the relations between science and religion that one of my best friends taught me when he died. A man in his seventies, he had been terminally ill with cancer for almost eighteen months. Because he was scientifically trained as a physician, when he first was diagnosed with cancer, he tried to understand the causes of his illness. As he put it, he wanted to know how his murderer worked. And he did know; in fact he lectured to our church exactly how, understood in light of the most recent scientific findings, his cancer was killing him.
It is a mistake to assume that science and religion are competing accounts of the same subject matter, so that either science supersedes religion or religion anticipates science. Using the question of cosmic origins as an example, I argue that the basic task of religion is not the scientific one of establishing the most accurate account of the origin of the universe. Rather, as illustrated from Jewish, Hindu, Chinese, and Buddhist thought, religion uses a variety of cosmologies to help specify the necessary terms and conditions on which human social life is possible in particular ecological niches.
cosmology • creation stories • religious systems • tasks of religion and science
John W. Bowker is the Dean of the Chapel, Trinity College, Cambridge University, Cambridge CB2 2TQ, England.
A Modern Look at the Origin of the Universe by Sten F. Odenwald
In what follows, I review the modern theory of the origin of the universe as astronomers and physicists are coming to understand it during the last decades of the twentieth century. An unexpected discovery of this study is that the story of cosmogenesis cannot be completely told unless we understand the fundamental nature of matter, space, and time. In the context of modern cosmology space has become not only the bedrock (so to speak) of our physical existence, it may yield a fuller understanding of the universe itself.
Big Bang theory • cosmology • geometrization of matter • multi-dimensional space • origin of universe • quantum gravity • supersymmetry
Dr. Sten Odenwald is an astronomer at SFA, Inc., working under contract to the E. O. Hulburt Center for Space Research at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D. C.
Cosmology and Hindu Thought by Anindita Niyogi Balslev
This paper outlines some major ideas concerning cosmogony and cosmology that pervade the Hindu conceptual world. The basic source for this discussion is the philosophical literature of some of the principal schools of Hindu thought, such as Vaiśeṣika, Sānkhya, and Advaita Vedānta, focusing on the themes of cosmology, time, and soteriology. The core of Hindu philosophical thinking regarding these issues is traced back to the Ṛk Vedic cosmogonical speculations, analyzed, and contrasted with the views of the opponent. The relevance of the Hindu worldview for overcoming the conflict between science and religion is pointed out.
cosmological cycles • creation • dissolution • Hindu cosmology and soteriology • time
Dr. Anindita Niyobi Balslev works in the area of philosophy and religion, Indian and Western; her present address is 822 Harris Road, Charlottesville, VA 22901.
This paper presents Buddhism as a path theory in which the adherent practices mindfulness in order to see the world as-it-is. The world as presented in a human situation is an interdependently originating process to which one can bring meaning but in which meaning is not inherent. The conceptualizing process by which one concretizes reality is the foundation on which human frustrations and dis-ease arise. However, it is by this conceptualizing process that one establishes a cosmological view of the universe. The soteriological consideration in Buddhism is to realize that reality created by the mind is like an illusion, a concretization of an interdependently originating process into a substantive reality. Through this realization one can remove the delusion created by mind and see reality as-it-is.
Buddhism • cosmology • mindfulness • problems of existence • reality • soteriology
Leslie S. Kawamura is professor of Buddhism, Department of Religious Studies, Faculty of Humanities, the University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2N 1N4.
Toward a Sound Perspective on Modern Physics: Capras Popularization of Mysticism and Theological Approaches Reexamined by Robert K. Clifton and Marilyn G. Regehr
Fritjof Capras The Tao of Physics, one of several popularizations paralleling Eastern mysticism and modern physics, is critiqued, demonstrating that Capra gives little attention to the differing philosophies of physics he employs, utilizing whatever interpretation suits his purposes, without prior justification. The same critique is applied and similar conclusions drawn, about some recent attempts at relating theology and physics. In contrast, we propose the possibility of maintaining a cogent relationship between these disciplines by employing theological hypotheses to account for aspects of physics that are free from interpretive difficulties, such as the ability to create mathematical structures with extraordinary predictive success.
Fritjof Capra • mysticism • quantum mechanics • relativity theory • science • theology
Robert K. Clifton and Marilyn G. Regehr are currently researching at Cambridge University in the Department of the History and Philosophy of Science and the Divinity School, respectively. Their correspondence address is Peterhouse, Trumpington St., Cambridge, CB2 1RD, England.
Relating the Physics and Religion of David Bohm by Kevin J. Sharpe
David Bohms thinking has become widely publicized since the 1982 performance of a form of the Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen (EPR) experiment. Bohms holomovement theory, in particular, tries to explain the nonlocality that the experiment supports. Moreover, his theories are close to his metaphysical and religious thinking. Fritjof Capras writings try something similar: supporting a theory (the bootstrap theory) because it is close to his religious beliefs. Both Bohm and Capra appear to use their religious ideas in their physics. Religion, their source for physical hypotheses, provides the motivation to develop and uphold them.
David Bohm • Fritjof Capra • holomovement • nonlocality • physics • religion and science
Dr. Kevin J. Sharpe is a faculty member of the Union Institute, Cincinnati. He is also Executive Officer of the Institute on Religion in an Age of Science and Director of the International Division of Meyer, Stone, and Company. His address is 65 Hoit Road, Concord, New Hampshire 03301.