A good deal of the work that is done on the interface of science and religion attempts to get ones mind around certain central questions. These questions are sometimes perennial ones, but often they are new questions that emerge from developments in scientific research and from past attempts to deal with the perennial questions. This issue of Zygon gives us a glimpse of thinkers who are dealing with questions from both of these sources.
The concept mind refers to the human and humanlike features of the brain. A historical review of thinking about the mind contextualizes humanitys search to understand itself by sketching biblical and philosophical perspectives from the Hebrew scriptures through the Greeks and Descartes to the German philosophers Goethe, Kant, and Hegel. These provide an enlarged context for an analytic approach to mind as focusing on the interface between physical signals and experiential symbolic expressions. Drawing on a holistic paradigm, several features are discernible: empathic rationality, imaginative intentionality, meaningful memory, and adaptability. These reflect the evolutionary development of uncommitted cortex that contributes to the brains explosive capacity for order, complexity, and novelty. The basic issue continues, namely, how are the distributed modules of information-processing integrated into the meaning-making reality of human beings?
brain • holistic paradigm • mind • neuroscience • philosophy • 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.
Altruism: A Social Science Chameleon by Colin Grant
The self-interest paradigm that has dominated and defined social science is being questioned today in all the social sciences. Frontline research is represented by C. Daniel Batsons experiments, which claim to present empirical evidence of altruism. Impressive though this is against the background of the self-interest paradigm, its ultimate significance might be to illustrate the inadequacy of social science to deal with a transcendent reality like altruism.
altruism • C.Daniel Batson • self-interest • social science
Colin Grant is Professor of Religious Studies at Mount Allison University, Sackville, New Brunswick, Canada E0A 3C0.
Myths as Instructions from Ancestors: The Example of Oedipus by Lyle B. Steadman and Craig T. Palmer
The growing interest in dual-inheritance models of human evolution has focused attention on culture as a means by which ancestors transmitted acquired phenotypic characteristics to their descendants. The ability of cultural behaviors to be repeatedly transmitted from ancestors to descendants enables individuals to influence their descendant-leaving success over many more generations than are usually considered in most analyses of inclusive fitness. This essay proposes that traditional stories, or myths, can be seen as a way in which ancestors influence their descendant-leaving success by influencing the behavior of many generations of their descendants. The myth of Oedipus is used as an example of a traditional story aimed at promoting proper behavior and cooperation among kin. This interpretation of the Oedipus myth is contrasted with Freudian and structuralist interpretations.
evolution • mythology • Oedipus • religion • tradition
Lyle B. Steadman is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Arizona State University, Box 872402, Tempe, AZ 85287. Craig T. Palmer is an Instructor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, CO 80903.
The Question of God in an Age of Science: Constructions of Reality and Ultimate Reality in Theology and Science by Anna Case-Winters
Both science and theology have lately faced a crisis of authority. Their shared realization of the extent to which knowledge is underdetermined by the data and socially constructed provides a kind of common ground for reconsideration of their respective methods of inquiry as well as of the status of the claims they have warrant to make. Both fields are now consciously and critically employing a models approach. This article proposes criteria for assessing models and applies the criteria to one model from each field. The model of understanding evolution as a struggle for existence is considered from the field of science, and the traditional model for understanding the God-world relation as that of a kings relation to his kingdom is considered from the field of theology. Each of these models is evaluated with respect to its credibility, religious viability, and moral adequacy. In each case an alternative analogy is proposed and argued for.
authority • credibility • moral adequacy • panentheism • power • religious language (models and metaphors) • religious viability
Anna Case-Winters is Associate Professor of Theology atMcCormick Theological Seminary, 5555 South Woodlawn Avenue, Chicago, IL 60637.
Inference to the Best Explanation by Philip Clayton
The common role of research programs in science and religion is now widely accepted. The next step in the methodology debate is to specify more concretely the shared standards for adequate explanations. The article presents a detailed account of the method of inference to the best explanation and gives examples of how the method can structure the philosophical and theological interaction with science. The resulting approach dispenses with deductive and inductive proofs of religious propositions and limits itself to initially plausible hypotheses that are to be assessed according to their explanatory power. Only when a domain of data and a particular explanatory task have been specified can any serious claim be made that religious theories are equal or superior to their naturalistic alternatives.
inference to the best explanation • Imre Lakatos • Peter Lipton • philosophy of science • rationality • science and religion • scientific method
Philip Clayton is Associate Professor of Philosophy at California State University, Rohnert Park, CA 94928.
The Teachers File
The Origins of Life: What One Needs to Know by Ronald F. Fox
Many solar systems in the universe may be expected to contain rocky planets that have accreted organic compounds. These compounds are likely to be universally found. In addition, the chemistry of sulfur, phosphorus, and iron is likely to dominate energy transductions and monomer activation, leading to the eventual emergence of polymers. Proteins and polynucleotides provide living matter with function, structure, and information. The conceptual puzzle regarding their emergence is discussed. The fitness of various elements to serve various roles is analyzed from the viewpoint of electron orbitals. Elements with d orbitals are of central importance.
Keywords: d orbitals • energy metabolism • evolution • fitness • periodic table of the elements • phosphates • phosphorus • polymers • polynucleotides • proteins • silicon • stellar nucleosynthesis • thioesters • uroboros
Ronald F. Fox is Regents Professor of Physics at Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, GA 30332. Permission is hereby granted to reproduce this article for class use, with this note: Reprinted from Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science. All rights reserved.
Fowlers Stages of Faith Development in an Honors Science-and-Religion Seminar by Allen C. Gathman and Craig L. Nessan
According to Paul Tillichs understanding of religion as ultimate concern, a religious dimension is implicit in all university curricula. A science-and-religion course, such as one taught at Southeast Missouri State University, can offer students the opportunity to integrate their worldview, taking seriously both religious ideas and scientific information. Assignments based on A. E. Lawsons model of a learning cycle provide a vehicle for evaluating significant student learning leading toward fuller integration. The stages of faith developed by James W. Fowler serve as a fruitful framework for interpreting changes in student viewpoints. Fowlers six stages of faith are characterized. Examples from student writing assignments demonstrate shifts in the cognitive understanding of faith that coincide with Fowlers stages.
curriculum • faith development • faith stages • James W. Fowler • integration • A. E. Lawson • learning cycle • Paul Tillich • ultimate concern
Allen C. Gathman is Professor of Biology at Southeast Missouri State University, Cape Girardeau, MO 63701. Craig L. Nessan is Assistant Professor of Contextual Theology at Wartburg Theological Seminary, Dubuque, IA 52004. Permission is hereby granted to reproduce this article for class use, with this note: Reprinted from Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science. All rights reserved.
Powerful Pedagogy in the Science-and-Religion Classroom by William Grassie
This essay is a discussion of effective teaching in the science-and-religion classroom. I begin by introducing Alfred North Whiteheads three stages of learning—romance, discipline, and generalization—and consider their implications for powerful pedagogy in science and religion. Following Whiteheads three principles, I develop a number of additional heuristics that deal with active, visual, narrative, cooperative, and dialogical learning styles. Finally, I present twelve guidelines for how to use e-mail and class-based listserves to achieve some of these outcomes.
computer-mediated communications • e-mail • humility theology • listserves • pedagogy • science and religion • teaching • John Marks Templeton • Alfred North Whitehead
William Grassie (http://www.voicenet.com/n_grassie) is an Assistant Professor in the Intellectual Heritage Program at Temple University and a visiting lecturer in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. His address is P.O. Box 586, Unionville, PA 19375; e-mail: grassie @ voicenet.com. Permission is hereby granted to reproduce this article for class use, with this note: Reprinted from Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science. All rights reserved.
Divine Action and the Natural Sciences by Steven D. Crain
The Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences and the Vatican Observatory have jointly sponsored a series of conferences exploring the overarching question: How can we conceive a personal God creating and active within the universe described by the natural sciences? The volumes include significant contributions to the field, although I highlight two important weaknesses: (1) theology is not adequately respected as an active conversation partner capable of advancing the agenda under discussion; and (2) insufficient attention is paid to the many scientific and philosophical uncertainties that plague the overall project.
Ian Barbour • Big-Bang cosmology • chaos theory • Christianity • complexity • cosmology • creation • critical realism • dialogue • divine action • epistemology • God • Mary Hesse • integration • laws of nature • metaphysics • natural science • philosophy • quantum cosmology • theology • time
Steven D. Crain teaches at Canterbury High School, 3015 Smith Road, Fort Wayne, IN 46809; e-mail: sdcrain @ artsci.wustl.edu. Work on this article was supported by a grant from William Witherspoon during Crains tenure as Witherspoon Fellow in Religion and Science at Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri.
This article reviews Physics, Philosophy and Theology: A Common Quest for Understanding edited by Robert John Russell, William R. Stoeger, S.J., and George V. Coyne, Quantum Cosmology and the Laws of Nature: Scientific Perspectives on Divine Action edited by Robert John Russell, Nancey Murphy, and C. J. Isham, and Chaos and Complexity: Scientific Perspectives on Divine Action edited by Robert John Russell, Nancey Murphy, and Arthur R. Peacocke.
Chaos and Complexity: Scientific Perspectives on Divine Action edited by Robert John Russell, Nancey Murphy, and Arthur R. Peacocke, reviewed by John R. Albright
Evolution can be a weasel word unless circumscribed to mean only a morphological change over time. When this is done, the fact of what can be distinguished from the faith of how. I believe that evolution is purely a natural process, but recognizing that everyone creates his or her own God, I feel justified in giving the name God to that mysterious presence in every interaction that causes transformation, since this is what gives the universe its dynamism. I relate how this God concept informs my religious and ethical life and gives my life meaning and purpose.
choice • evolution • faith • impartial • panentheism • transforming presence
George G. Brooks is retired from a forty-year Unitarian Universalist ministry and from twenty-five years of teaching physics and astronomy at the community college level. His address is P.O. Box 694 Enfield, NH 03748.