This issue of Zygon is notable for several reasons:
1. It brings to a conclusion a year in which we have published more material than in any single previous year. Readers in 1996 were presented with one-third more to choose from than they were in 1986. This increase is an indicator of something significant—that the field of religion-and-science is burgeoning. We receive many more manuscripts than we can publish, while the list of issues that we want to explore grows ever longer and more complex. Since our journal is dedicated to keeping abreast of our field, we will continue the effort to bring our audience a wide range of offerings. Even though many of our readers will not have the time to study every article, they will note the topics we present, for future reference. Over its thirty-one years, copies of Zygon have demonstrated their lasting value. Every year we receive many requests for back issues and for permission to use our articles for teaching purposes. Publishers Weekly recently referred to us as the premier journal in our field. We never relax our efforts to be worthy of that judgment.
When President George Bush and the Congress of the United States designated the 1990s the Decade of the Brain, they not only recognized the tremendous advances being made in the neurosciences, but they also recognized that this new information speaks directly to a core question of our society: What does it mean to be human?
A pluralistic society interested in the brain comes with its own goals, preconceptions, and values. The best way that our neuroscience can enlighten the most profound questions of what it means to be human is not to negate these goals, preconceptions, and values, but somehow to address them in light of unfolding knowledge. …
H. Rodney Holmes is a research scientist at the Chicago Academy of Sciences, 2060 North Clark Street, Chicago, IL 60614.
Interfacing Religion and the Neurosciences: A Review of Twenty-five Years of Exploration and Reflection by James B. Ashbrook
Exploration and reflection on the interfacing of religion and the neurosciences in the last twenty-five years provide a unique point of convergence on the relationship between science and religion. A focus on two streams of consciousness characterized the first phase in the 1970s. Scholarship suggested correlates between the styles of analytical steps and synthetic leaps of imagination and the belief patterns of proclamation and manifestation. The use of lateralized consciousness was critiqued as covering too much as well as not attending to evolutionary developments and philosophical and theological foundations. A shift to whole brain functioning with more differentiated investigations came during the second phase in the 1980s. Empirical studies corroborated the earlier analytical speculations in neurotheology and advanced the heuristic value of using the whole brain as a metaphor for understanding religion. By the third phase of the 1990s, meaning-making and integrating consciousness emerged as shaping the agenda between religion and cognitive neuroscience. The emerging methodology combines analogical continuities among levels of complexity and metaphorical leaps of inferential patterning.
bimodal consciousness • cognitive neuroscience • lateralization • religion • science • whole-brain functioning
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.
Neuroscientific evidence requires a monistic understanding of brain/mind. Truly appropriating what this means confronts us with the vulnerability of the human condition. Camuss absurd and Tillichs despair are extreme expressions of a similar confrontation. This crisis demands a type of courage that is consistent with scientific truth and does not undermine the spiritual dimension of life. That dimension is not a separate substance but the process by which brain/mind meaningfully wrestles with its crisis through aesthetic symbols, religious faith, and ethical affirmation. The validity of these activities does not depend upon human autonomy but instead upon the fact that they exist. Furthermore, they constitute the self, which Dennett calls a center of narrative gravity.
absurdity • aesthetics • brain/mind • courage • despair • ethics • meaninglessness • religious faith • self
Charles Don Keyes is Professor of Philosophy at Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, PA 15282.
The Story of the Mind: Psychological and Biological Explanations of Human Behavior by Marya Schechtman
Persons have a curious dual nature. On the one hand, they are subjects, whose actions must be explained in terms of beliefs, desires, plans, and goals. At the same time, however, they also are physical objects, whose actions must be explicable in terms of physical laws. So far no satisfying account of this duality has been offered. Both Cartesian dualism and the modern materialist alternatives (reductionist and antireductionist) have failed to capture the full range of our experience of persons. I argue that an exciting new approach to this difficulty can be found by considering developments in clinical psychology. The clinical debate between those endorsing biological models of mental illness and those endorsing psychodynamic models mirrors broader debates in the philosophy of mind. The possible resolution of this debate through the development of integrated psychobiological models suggests a promising way to reconcile the dual nature of persons in a far more appealing way than any yet proposed.
dualism • materialism • mind • mind/body • person • philosophy of mind • psychobiology
Marya Schechtman is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Department of Philosophy (M/C 267),1421 University Hall, 601 South Morgan Street, Chicago, IL 60607-7114; e-mail: marya @ tigger.uic.edu.
Neural Fetal Tissue Transplants: Old and New Issues by Lois Margaret Nora and Mary B. Mahowald
Neural fetal tissue transplantation offers promise as a treatment for devastating neurologic conditions such as Parkinsons disease. Two types of issues arise from this procedure: those associated with the use of fetuses, and those associated with the use of neural tissue. The former issues have been examined in many forums; the latter have not. This paper reviews issues and arguments raised by the use of fetal tissue in general, but focuses on the implications of the use of neural tissue for basic concepts of personhood and personal identity.
abortion • fetal tissue • individuation • medical ethics • mind/brain • neural fetal tissue • personhood • tissue transplantation
Lois Margaret Nora is Associate Dean, Academic Affairs, and Associate Professor, Neurology, at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine, Lexington, KY 40506. During much of the preparation of this paper, she was a fellow at the MacLean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL 60637. Mary B. Mahowald is Professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and in the MacLean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics at the University of Chicago, Chicago, IL 60637.
Why a Brain Capable of Language Evolved Only Once: Prefrontal Cortex and Symbol Learning by Terrence W. Deacon
Language and information processes are critical issues in scientific controversies regarding the qualities that epitomize humanness. Whereas some theorists claim human mental uniqueness with regard to language, others point to successes in teaching language skills to other animals. However, although these animals may learn names for things, they show little ability to utilize a complex framework of symbolic reference. In such a framework, words or other symbols refer not only to objects and concepts but also to sequential and hierarchical relationships with other symbols. This process is essential to human mental operations, including language, mathematics, and music. In humans, these operations may have coevolved with the prefrontal area of the cerebral cortex, which is proportionately much larger in humans than in other animals and more intricately linked with other areas of the brain. Analysis of the structure and function of the prefrontal area suggests that it is centrally involved in the operation of higher-order associative relationships involving the subordination of one set of associations to another. This alternate learning strategy apparently appeared at the cost of certain sensory, motor, or limbic abilities. The payoff was symbolic thinking. Humans thus are unique among species, not just for their highly developed language ability but for their odd style of thinking and learning.
brain • coevolution • dualism • information processes • language • prefrontal cortex • mind • symbolic reference
Terrence W. Deacon is Associate Professor of Biological Anthropology at Boston University and Lecturer in Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. His mailing address is Neuroregeneration Laboratory, Mailman Research Center, Maclean Hospital, MRC 101, 115 Mill Street, Belmont, MA 02178.
The Teachers File
Biology: What One Needs to Know by Ursula Goodenough
Biology on this planet represents an astonishing experiment in carbon-based chemistry which, over billions of years, has generated billions of species adapted to countless major and minor fluctuations in ecological circumstances. In one sense there is no way to generalize about biology. While biological activities can all be ultimately explained by physical laws (like everything else in the universe), it is the emergent intensely particular properties of organisms that most interest us. This essay represents an attempt to describe some of the more prominent patterns that emerge from the sea of biological particularities, patterns that present many opportunities for religious reflection.
biology • death • evolution • meaning • natural selection • sex
Ursula Goodenough is Professor of Biology at Washington University, St. Louis, MO 63130 and past president of the Institute for Religion in an Age of Science (IRAS); e-mail: ursula @ biodec.wustl.edu. Permission is hereby granted to reproduce this article for class use, with this note: Reprinted from Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science.
Artificial Intelligence: Walking the Boundary by Anne Foerst
Theology and science generally conduct research independently, with no interchange. The possibility for mutual enrichment often is thwarted because people working in the two fields have very different worldviews, which are mostly held subconsciously. In this paper I will try to establish a dialogue of mutual enrichment. I have chosen artificial intelligence (AI) as an exemplary scientific discipline and the theology of Paul Tillich as a complement. I reinterpret Tillichs concept of sin to introduce a framework for a dialogue between the two. This framework aims to prevent people from either camp from assuming the existence of absolute truth and thus creating a dogmatism. Paradoxically, it also prevents people from being relativistic. The aim is to overcome mutual indifference and ignorance.
artificial intelligence • dialogue • mutual enrichment • theology
Anne Foerst is a postdoctoral fellow in the Cognobotics Group at the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She is also a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for the Studies of Values in Public Life, Harvard Divinity School. Her mailing address is 545 Technology Square, NE 43-812, Cambridge, MA 02139; e-mail: annef @ ai.mit.edu. Permission is hereby granted to reproduce this article for class use, with this note: Reprinted from Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science.
Three Comparative Maps of the Human by Norbert M. Samuelson
This article is a response to the 1994 Star Island conference on the Decade of the Brain from a Jewish perspective. After a brief introduction about the logical function of models and maps, I compare and contrast three models of the human: Ezekiels vision of the chariot in the Hebrew Scriptures, Franz Rosenzweigs geometry of the human face in Der Stern der Erlösung (the Star of Redemption), and a standard anatomical picture of the human brain. Whereas Rosenzweigs face is seen to be compatible with Ezekiels chariot, both are seen to be radically distinct from the implicit conception of what a human being is in modern medical science. I conclude with a suggestion that the differences are to be understood in terms of their different intended functions and express my hope for some new kind of model that will incorporate the functional advantages of both.
brain • chariot vision • Hermann Cohen • course • Darwinist • Terrence Deacon • element • Ezekiel • face • God • Hebrew Scriptures • human being • map :• midrash • model • neuron • ontology • person • redemption • Franz Rosenzweig • Duane Rumbaugh • soul • Star of Redemption • vector
Norbert M. Samuelson is Professor of Jewish Philosophy in the Religion Department at Temple University, Philadelphia, PA 19122.
Zygons 1996 Expedition into Neuroscience and Religion by Carol Rausch Albright
Neuroscience is in a period of explosive growth. To address the implications of the new findings for religion and science, Zygon in 1996 published fifteen articles in this field. Although the authors explorations of neuroscience and religion are various, three issues in particular are addressed repeatedly: (1) the nature of human identity, or hallmarks of humanness; (2) the nature and origin of religious consciousness; and (3) our means of discovering or constructing order and integration in the brain/mind, in the environment, and holistically. With these categories as templates, this article correlates the findings of the Zygon neuroscience contributors of 1996.
brain • consciousness • ethics • fitness • human identity • language • meaning • mind • mysticism • Neanderthal • neuroscience • sentience • soul • symbol systems
Carol Rausch Albright is Executive Editor of Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science and Associate for Programs of the Chicago Center for Religion and Science. Her mailing address is 1100 East Fifty-fifth Street, Chicago, IL 60615.
Faith in Theory and Practice: Essays on Justifying Religious Belief edited by Elizabeth Radcliffe and Carol White, reviewed by Steven Bouma-Prediger