Zygon: Journal of Religion & Science
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Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science
31 (3), September 1996

Table of Contents


September 1996 Editorial by Philip Hefner

This issue of Zygon follows up on what in the previous issue (June 1996) we described as “the first installment of a major project that we have had in mind for some time: to take the measure of the burgeoning and significant work of the neurosciences.” The seven articles that carry the freight of the project in this issue center on the work of James B. Ashbrook, not only paying tribute to his foundational and avant-garde work, but also suggesting how it can be carried forward.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.1996.tb00032.x

James B. Ashbrook in Context

Toward a New Creation of Being by James B. Ashbrook

The author traces the path from split brains to basic beliefs by linking the deautomatized pattern of spiritual masters, as reported in Rorschach protocols, with subsymbolic, parallel, distributed processing. The older brain structures constitute humanity’s common heritage, while the new brain constitutes particular cultural heritages. Expanding levels of complexity move from the limbic system through cognitive left-mind vigilance and right-mind responsiveness to belief patterns of proclamation and manifestation to the world-integrating mysticism of limbic input and the world-fulfilling action of the new brain. Whole brain activity combines emotional meaning and propositional explanation. Analogically speaking, the brain provides clues to understanding God. A dialectical theology parallels the reciprocal integration of brain processes. Whole brain belief originates in the old brain’s evolutionary adaptation to our genetic inheritance and in the new brain’s conscious intention to fulfill the will of God through our cultural inheritances.
belief patterns • brain • consciousness • evolutionary adaptation • God • spiritual masters
James B. Ashbrook is Senior Scholar in, and formerly Professor of, Religion and Personality at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, 2121 Sheridan Road, Evanston, IL 60201.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.1996.tb00033.x

Making Sense of God: How I Got to the Brain by James B. Ashbrook

I describe the development of my work in relating brain research and religion from my personal roots in my family of origin through my professional responsibilities as a pastor, a clinician, and a theological educator to my developing what I call “a neurotheological approach“ to faith and ministry. My early correlations gave simplistic attention to bimodal consciousness as an interpretive tool for understanding religion. Subsequently came a more sophisticated exploration of whole-brain functioning and suggested cultural correlates. Currently, I am explicating the humanizing brain as reflective of our living in an open system, a universe that is unfolding and evolving, a universe in the hands of the whole-making, integrating, emerging God whose reality far exceeds the insights of cultural construction. As we humans relate to this God, attachment and aspiration are reciprocal.
attachment theory • bimodal consciousness • brain-mind • emergent evolution • neurotheology • religion
James B. Ashbrook is Senior Scholar in, and formerly Professor of, Religion and Personality at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, 2121 Sheridan Road, Evanston, IL 60201.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.1996.tb00034.x

Women: A More Balanced Brain? by Paul D. MacLean

On the basis of knowledge prior to 1988, Ashbrook pointed out that whereas most men are primarily dependent on the left cerebral hemisphere (“dominant hemisphere”) for verbally related functions, women show a greater hemispheric balance in this respect. For men, he argues, their possession of a “speaking” and a “non-speaking hemisphere” results in a positive-negative, bipolar way of thinking that may be characterized as dualistic and dialectically hierarchical. In contrast, the greater balance of hemispheric function in women appears to promote greater generalization and synthesis in their thinking.

In this article I cite more recent neuroanatomical and brain imaging studies that provide further evidence of disparities in structure and function of the brains of men and women. As background for an attempt to explain these differences, I give a brief review of the triune evolution of the mammalian brain leading up to the human cerebrum. It is of major significance that the female has played a central role in mammalian evolution for more than 180 million years and that the evolutionary transition from reptilian therapsids to mammals is characterized by the development of (1) nursing, conjoined with maternal care; (2) audiovocal communication for aiding mother-offspring contact; and (3) play. In human beings, the infant-carrying hypothesis suggests one means by which, over generations, certain parts of a woman’s right hemisphere could undergo functional and eventual anatomical expansion. The mother-infant communication of basic mammalian sounds with vowel and consonant components suggests a basis for the origination of speech.

Finally, in an expansion of Ashbrook’s original thesis, we arrive at the provocative consideration that, unlike men, with their dialectical reasoning, women, with their more balanced brain, are provided with a trialectial ladder for climbing to achieve knowledge. In terms of quantum mechanics, the particle and wave would correspond to the substance and strength of the sides of the ladder, and the derived psychic information (which is neither matter nor energy) would compare to the rungs in between.
brain disparities in men and women • brain imaging • evolution • hypotheses • limbic system • neuroanatomy
Paul D. MacLean, M.D., is Senior Research Scientist in the Clinical Brain Disorders Branch of the National Institute of Mental Health Neuroscience Center at St. Elizabeth’s, Washington, DC 20032.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.1996.tb00035.x

Homo religiosus and Its Brain: Reality, Imagination, and the Future of Nature by Rodney Holmes

“Daddy, is God real or is he a part of people’s imagination?” The brain constructs reality by bottom-up, genetically programmed mechanisms. Nature selected the human holistic, symbolically thinking, aesthetic brain using a mechanism of brain-language coevolution. Our religious nature and moral capabilities are rooted in this brain, and in the real images it constructs.
brain • evolution • Homo religiosus • imagination
Rodney Holmes, a neurophysiologist, is Senior Lecturer in the Biological Sciences Collegiate Division at the University of Chicago, 1116 East Fifty-ninth Street, HM Box 25, Chicago, IL 60637.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.1996.tb00036.x

Ashbrook as Neurothologian by Larry L. Greenfield

James Ashbrook is described as a negotiator in the sense of arbitration and pathbreaking, followed by an account of how he achieved a new way of “making sense” in his neurotheology. Questions are raised about what is distinctly theological about Ashbrook’s effort and how the issue of human and divine will is treated. Ashbrook provides inspiration and model for scientifically-based religious inquiry.
brain-mind • evolution • neurosciences • neurotheology • religion • theology
Larry L. Greenfield is Research Scholar at the Park Ridge Center for the Study of Health, Faith, and Ethics. His address is Park Ridge Center, 211 East Ontario Street, Suite 800, Chicago, IL 60611.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.1996.tb00037.x

God Is Great, God Is Good: James Ashbrook’s Contribution to Neuroethical Theology by Kenneth Vaux

James Ashbrook’s work has not only clarified issues in brain and belief, it has offered intriguing suggestions for ethics. The relevance of neurotheology to ethics is evident if we assume that ethics entails, in part, concerns about character, responsibility, and the art of living.
brain • ethics • morality • responsibility • soul • theology
Kenneth Vaux is Professor of Theological Ethics, Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, Evanston, IL 60201.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.1996.tb00038.x

A Rippling Relatableness in Reality by James B. Ashbrook

I describe my development as a thinker from that of simple pragmatism to applied theory. My style is that of discerning a rippling relatedness in the various dimensions of reality. I respond to five specific themes raised by colleagues: what it means to be human; the relation of whole to parts; the various methodological melodies; a relational view of reality; and ethical imperatives in the descriptive indicatives.
anthropology • brain-mind • ethics • knowledge • neurotheology • theology
James B. Ashbrook is Senior Scholar in, and formerly Professor of, Religion and Personality at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, 2121 Sheridan Road, Evanston, IL 60201.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.1996.tb00039.x

Publications by James B. Ashbrook

DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.1996.tb00040.x

The Teachers’ File

Physics: What Does One Need to Know? by John R. Albright

For the basic areas of physics—classical mechanics, classical field theories, and quantum mechanics—there are local dynamical theories that offer complete descriptions of systems when the proper subsidiary conditions also are provided. For all these cases there are global theories from which the local theories can be derived. Symmetries and their relation to conservation laws are reviewed. The standard model of elementary particles is mentioned, along with frontier questions about them. A case against reductionism in physics is presented.
classical field theory • classical mechanics • collective phenomena • conservation laws • determinism • dynamical theory • Lagrangian mechanics • Maxwell’s equations • Newton’s laws • parity • phase transition • physics • quantum mechanics • quark • reductionism • Schrödinger equation • standard model • symmetry • teleology • uncertainty principle • wave function
John R Albright is Professor of Physics and Head, Chemistry and Physics, at Purdue University Calumet, Hammond, IN 46323. Permission is hereby granted to reproduce this article for class use, with this note: Reprinted from Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.1996.tb00041.x

Chemistry: What Does One Need to Know? by Allen R. Utke

The general knowledge and understanding that every teacher of religion and science should have relative to chemistry can be found in the answers to three major questions. In my own response to the first question, How did chemistry emerge as a discipline? I trace the origins, establishment, and subsequent historical significance of cosmology. I contend that chemistry is “the obvious, oldest science” and, as such, has played a key role among the sciences in agelong human efforts to understand reality. In my response to the second question, How do chemists currently view (cosmic) reality? I outline three prominent examples in support of my contention that chemistry, despite being “the obvious, oldest science,” is seen by some as playing only a tacit role in current efforts to (re)integrate religion and science. In my response to the third question, How do chemists currently view ultimate reality and meaning? I argue that “unifiers” in chemistry can also now play a key role in a reality revolution that is pointing humankind not only toward a possible historical (re)integration of religion and science but also toward a return to cosmology.
breakdown of cosmology • chemistry • cosmology • IRAM • reality • (re)integration of science and religion • return to cosmology • URAM
Allen R Utke is Professor of Chemistry at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, Oshkosh, WI 54901. Permission is hereby granted to reproduce this article for class use, with this note: Reprinted from Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.1996.tb00042.x


The Universality of Electromagnetic Phenomena and the Immanence of God in a Natural Theology by Lawrence W. Fagg

Following a survey of how universal the electromagnetic interaction (EMI) and light, its radiation, are in the living experience and spirituality of men and women, I make a case for the hypothesis that the EMI serves as a physical correlate for the immanence of God. This in turn will be used as partial support for the principal thesis of this article: given the vast spectrum of natural phenomena, from atoms to human brains, that operate via the EMI, we need seriously to consider the EMI in formulating a viable natural theology. The encompassing properties of the EMI provide a unifying and cohesive influence heretofore neglected by the natural theology community. I intend here to stimulate more rigorous study of this approach.
electromagnetism • immanence • indwelling • light • natural theology • photons • quantum electrodynamics
Lawrence W. Fagg is Research Professor of Physics at the Catholic University of America. His address is 905 Canterburg Road, Stephens City, VA 22655.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.1996.tb00043.x


The Advancement of Science: Science without Legend, Objectivity without Illusions by Philip Kitcher, reviewed by John Polkinghorne

John Polkinghorne; President, Queens’ College; Cambridge, CB3 9ET; United Kingdom
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.1996.tb00044.x

Steps toward Life: A Perspective on Evolution by Manfred Eigen with Ruthild Winkler-Oswatitsch, reviewed by David W. Oxtoby

David W. Oxtoby; Professor of Chemistry; University of Chicago; Chicago, IL 60637
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.1996.tb00044.x

The Religious Critic in American Culture by William Dean, reviewed by John B. Cobb

John B. Cobb; Emeritus Professor of Theology; School of Theology at Claremont; 777 N. Cambridge Way; Claremont, CA 91711
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.1996.tb00044.x

Biology, Ethics, and the Origin of Life edited by Holmes Rolston, III, reviewed by Clifford Matthews

Clifford Matthews; Emeritus Professor of Chemistry; University of Illinois at Chicago; 1010 Twelfth Street; Wilmette, IL 60091
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.1996.tb00044.x

Tables of Contents, Articles & Abstracts