This month Zygon has done something never before essayed in our twenty-eight-year history—it has turned over the entire issue, except for the book reviews and the final piece, to professional academic philosophers. The skepticism that the editors of this journal have traditionally harbored toward philosophy has called forth substantial criticism from the academic community over the years. After all, it is dogma in some circles that without philosophy as a gatekeeper, religion and science cannot even carryon a conversation. By this criterion, the editors have walked for a quarter century in pathways of heterodoxy, and they appear likely to continue to do so.
The logical relationships between the ideas of evolution and of special creation are explored here in the context of a recent paper by Alvin Plantinga claiming that from the perspective of biblical religion it is more likely than not that God acted in a special way at certain crucial moments in the long process whereby life developed on earth. I argue against this thesis, asking first under what circumstances the Bible might be thought relevant to an issue of broadly scientific concern. I go on to outline some of the arguments supporting the thesis of common ancestry, and argue finally that from the theistic perspective, special creation ought to be regarded as, if anything, less rather than more likely than its evolutionary alternative.
Bible • common ancestry • consilience • creation science • evolution • homologies • integrity of nature • semideism • special creation
Ernan McMullin is Director of the Program in History and Philosophy of Science, as well as of the Reilly Center for Science, Technology, and Values, at the University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN 46556.
Theology, Science, and Postmodern Philosophies
A Neopragmatist Perspective on Religion and Science by J. Wesley Robbins
Pragmatists, most notably John Dewey and Richard Rorty, propose overcoming the modern split between science and values with a new image of ourselves as language users. In this new self-understanding, both our scientific and evaluative vocabularies are integral parts of self-reliant human problem solving and coping with the larger natural environment. Our language is not the medium of any higher power from which it derives its legitimacy. On this view, the principal matter at issue between pragmatists and realists so far as interaction between religion and science is concerned is the moral one of human self-reliance.
our language • pragmatism • religious humanism • self-reliance
J. Wesley Robbins is Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Master of Liberal Studies program at Indiana University at South Bend, IN 46634.
The Limits of Pragmatism and the Limits of Realism by Nancey Murphy
I argue here for a limited version of pragmatism—called conceptual pragmatism—that recognizes that conceptual systems are to be evaluated according to their usefulness for helping us get around in the world. Once a conceptual system is in place, however, the truth of sentences is a matter of both empirical fit and coherence with the rest of our knowledge. The error of critical realists is to fail to take into account the limited conceptual relativity that is to be expected on the basis of conceptual pragmatism. The conceptual realist thesis applies equally in science and theology.
critical realism • pragmatism • science and theology
Nancey Murphy is Associate Professor of Christian Philosophy at Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, CA 91182.
The present article continues an earlier critique of Robbinss and Rortys neopragmatism. Their skepticism about the traditional concept of correspondence and about the criteria for truth are both unjustified, and their own assertion of meaning as usefulness either presupposes a prior notion of linguistic reference or fails to qualify as a sufficient criterion for knowledge. The difficulties with neopragmatism have implications for two other areas of the religion/science discussion, postmodernism and empirical theology. Postmodernism shares neopragmatisms mistakes regarding the philosophy of language and can be rejected without endangering ones empiricism, humanism, or naturalism. By contrast, the strengths of empirical theology, and of religious empiricism in general, can be preserved without Robbinss proposed ban on metaphysics.
Dewey • empirical theology • Lakatos • neopragmatism • postmodernism • realism and reference • Rorty • scientific method
Philip Clayton is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the California State University, Sonoma, Rohnert Park, CA 94928.
What Epistemic Values Should We Reclaim for Religion and Science? A Response to J. Wesley Robbins by J. Wentzel van Huyssteen
Postmodernism in science rejects and deconstructs the cultural dominance of especially the natural sciences in our time. Although it presents the debate between religion and science with a promising epistemological holism, it also seriously challenges attempts to develop a meaningful relationship between science and religion. A neopragmatist perspective on religion and science is part of this important challenge and eminently reveals the problems and reduction that arise when pragmatist criteria alone are used to construct a holism that renounces any demarcation between different areas of rationality. In this pragmatist vision for a holist culture, the cognitive resources of rationality are bypassed in such a way that a meaningful interaction between theology and science becomes impossible.
cognitive • epistemic values • holism • intelligibility • postmodern culture • rationality • theory-acceptance
J. Wentzel van Huyssteen is James I. McCord Professor of Theology and Science at Princeton Theological Seminary, Princeton, NJ 08542. Brad Elliott, Wioleta Polinska, and Bill Greenway, Ph.D. students at Princeton Theological Seminary, made contributions to this paper through discussion.
Cultural Psychology: Essays on Comparative Human Development edited by James W. Stigler, Richard A. Shweder, and Gilbert Herdt, reviewed by William Irons
Creativity is a concept far more often associated with art than with science. The creative dimension of scientific inquiry and practice is described and compared with its artistic counterpart; similarities and differences are analyzed.
art • creativity • science
Ursula W. Goodenough is a cell biologist and Professor of Biology at Washington University, St. Louis, MO 63130.