Six years ago, in the twenty-first volume of this journal, Zygon devoted two consecutive issues to the theme Recent Discoveries in Neurobiology—Do They Matter for Religion, the Social Sciences, and the Humanities? The twelve papers devoted to that theme were delivered at the 1984 annual summer conference of the Institute on Religion in an Age of Science (IRAS). This conference was put together by the renowned cultural anthropologist Victor Turner as the direct outcome of a 1982 conference which IRAS had devoted to his own thinking on the theme Ritual and Human Adaptation. At that conference, he made public a dramatic turn in his thinking, in which he recognized the correlations between human neurobiological structures and process on the one hand and cultural forms and behavior on the other. He produced his landmark paper, Body, Brain, and Culture, which appeared in the September 1983 issue of the journal.
It is argued here that the construction of time and eternity are among rituals entailments. In dividing continuous duration into distinct periods ritual distinguishes two temporal conditions: (1) that prevailing in mundane periods and (2) that prevailing during the intervals between them. Differences in the frequency, length, and relationship among the rituals constituting different liturgical orders are considered, as are differences between mundane periods and rituals intervals with respect to social relations, cognitive modes, meaningfulness, and typical interactive frequencies. Periods, it is observed, relate to intervals as ever-changing to never-changing, and close relationships of never-changing to eternity, eternity to sanctity, and sanctity to truth are proposed. In the argument that rituals times out of time really are outside mundane time, similarities to the operations of digital computers and Herbert Simons discussion of interaction frequencies in the organization of matter are noted.
eternity • hierarchy • orders of meaning • ritual • sanctity • time
Roy A. Rappaport is Leslie A. White Collegiate Professor of Anthropology, Department of Anthropology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109.
Making Sense of Soul and Sabbath: Brain Processes and the Making of Meaning by James B. Ashbrook
Making sense of soul and Sabbath necessitates understanding these phenomena experientially and then suggesting biochemical or empirical analogues. Soul, which is defined as the core or essence of a person (or group), includes a working memory of personally purposeful behavior. The states of the soul are reflected in the states of the mind and their physiological correlates—the states of the brain. Such uniqueness appears similar to the biblical cycle of creation-Sabbath-consciousness and its analogue in the biorhythm of brain-mind—that is, waking and work, sleeping and rest, dreaming (rapid eye movement [REM]) and the reorganization-integration process that is ever making sense of our senses by synthesizing what they mean to us. Working memory and biorhythm, therefore, are crucial for the making of meaning, and meaning is the making of soul.
biorhythm • brain-mind • memory • REM sleep • Sabbath • soul
James B. Ashbrook is professor of religion and personality at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, 2121 Sheridan Road, Evanston, IL 60201, and an advisory member of the graduate faculty, Northwestern University. The ideas in this essay were initially presented as the First Memorial Leroy G. Kerney Lecture in Chaplaincy and Pastoral Care, Department of Spiritual Ministry, National Institutes of Health, 23 October 1989. The author expresses appreciation to respondents Daniel Cowell, M.D., and Suzanne Kerney, M.D., and to Forrest Vance, Rodney Holmes, Barbara Stinchcombe, and the two Zygon reviewers for assistance with both content and style.
The phenomenon of moral inertia is often explained by reference to all-encompassing features of human nature, such as laziness and cowardice, but in fact it has many causes. A modern person may fail to stand up to social evil because he has difficulty seeing it—perhaps because it is deliberately hidden or because she and her neighbors cannot find ways to recognize and discuss it as a soluble problem. Fourteen factors contributing to moral inertia will be listed here under the headings of cognitive and linguistic factors. Further, a consideration of ideologys role (both liberal and Marxist) in inhibiting action against social evil will be presented.
apathy • evil • moral language • morality • social action
Mary Maxwell is a political scientist with an interest in morality and sociobiology. Her address is GPO Box 1824, Adelaide, 5001 Australia.
Religion in an Age of Science; Metaphysics in an Era of History by Holmes Rolston, III
Ian Barbours Religion in an Age of Science is a welcome systematic, theoretical overview of the relations between science and religion, culminating his long career with a balanced and insightful appraisal. The hallmarks of his synthesis are critical realism, holism, and process thought. Barbour makes even more investment in process philosophy and theology than in his previous works. This invites further inquiry about the adequacy of a highly general process metaphysics in dealing with our particular, deeply historical world; also further inquiry about the adequacy of its panexperientialism and incrementalism.
Ian Barbour • historicity • law and narrative • metaphysics • the nomothetic and the idiographic • panexperientialism • process philosophy • process theology
Holmes Rolston, III, is Professor of Philosophy, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523.
This article reviews Religion in an Age of Science by Ian G. Barbour.
Explanation, Social Science, and the Study of Religion: A Response to Segal with Comment on the Zygon Exchange by Daniel L. Pals
In the issue of Zygon devoted to methodological reflection on the boundaries between natural science, social science, and theology (September 1990), Edward O. Wilson pointed to the hierarchical tension between disciplines and antidisciplines. Working within this framework, Robert Segal outlined several misconceptions of social science held by religionists who fear it reduces, or explains away their subject. Philip Gorski, Nancey Murphy, and Kenneth Vaux suggested greater harmony but left Segals challenge largely unaddressed. Religionists, says Segal, distrust social science because they think it ignores the believers point of view, denies the irreducibility of religion, prefers materialist and mechanical explanations, and denies religious truth.
Do religionists really claim all, or just some of these things? Are some perhaps not misconceptions, but accurate understandings of a real conflict?
This article contends that distinctions need to be made; that at most, the humanistic assumptions of religionists compete with only one form of social science—reductionism; and further, that where conflict does arise, it is scientifically beneficial. Religionists differ from theologians, who argue from confessional premises, but the two are allied in opposing reductionism. Precisely because it is genuine, the debate with reductionist social science promises to advance understanding.
agent-intentional premise • competitive explanation • discipline and antidiscipline • genetic fallacy • humanistic discipline • irreducible religion • reductionism • religionist
Daniel L. Pals is Associate Professor and Chair of Religious Studies at the University of Miami, P.O. Box 248264, Coral Gables, FL 33124-4672.
Relgionists Misconceptions: Replies to Sharma and Pals by Robert A. Segal
I appreciate the spirited replies of Arvind Sharma (1991) and Daniel Pals (1992) to my Misconceptions of the Social Sciences (Segal 1990). …
believers point of view • irreducibly religious • misconception • reductive • religionist • social-scientific
Robert A. Segal is Professor of Religious Studies at Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA 70803.
Ethics of Environment and Development: Global Challenge and International Response edited by J. Ronald Engel and Joan Gibb Engel, reviewed by J. Mark Thomas
Robert Lyman Potter; Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine; Kansas University School of Medicine; Adjunct Professor of Religion and Medicine; Central Baptist Theological Seminary; Kansas City, Kansas