Zygon: Journal of Religion & Science
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Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science
32 (4), December 1997

Table of Contents


December 1997 Editorial by Philip Hefner

The fare served up in this final issue of Zygon’s thirty-second year stretches to the breaking point the attempt to summarize its parts or to place it under a single theme. In defying any ordering within easy categories, these articles are a strong witness to what is happening within the field of religion-and-science studies: a kaleidoscopic expansion into intellectual, scientific, and religious spaces that were scarcely imagined even a few years ago.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.1997.00106.x


Storytellers and Scenario Spinners: Some Reflections on Religion and Science in Light of a Pragmatic, Evolutionary Theory of Knowledge by Karl E. Peters

Asserting that both scientists and religious thinkers are involved in telling stories about the past and spinning scenarios about the future, I first compare and contrast the purposes of scientific and religious storytelling. Then, in light of some recent work on brain and language evolution, I offer a possible story about how humans might have become storytellers. Finally, I discuss how religious stories might be evaluated pragmatically and even scientifically by developing Lakatosian-type research programs.
brain evolution • creativity • empirical theology • evolutionary epistemology • human evolution • pragmatism • theology and science
Karl E. Peters is Professor of Religious Studies at Rollins College, Winter Park, FL 32789-4499. He also is coeditor of Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science.
DOI: 10.1111/0591-2385.00107

An Unfinished Debate: What Are the Aims of Religion and Science? by Mikael Stenmark

I discuss the kinds of fundamental questions that must be addressed by people who develop theories about how religion and science are (or should be) related. After categorizing these questions as axiological, epistemological, ontological, or semantic, I focus on those that concern the goals of religion and science (the axiological issues). By distinguishing between epistemic and practical goals, individual and collective goals, and manifest and latent goals, I identify seven axiological questions. The various answers that religion/science theorists give or presuppose to these axiological questions help to explain why such deep, ongoing differences continue among them.
axiology • cognitive or epistemic values • epistemology • goals or aims of religion • goals or aims of science • practical or pragmatic values
Mikael Stenmark is Associate Professor in Philosophy of Religion at Uppsala University, Box 1604, 751 46 Uppsala, Sweden; e-mail: Mikael.Stenmark @ teol.uu.se.
DOI: 10.1111/0591-2385.00108

Chaos and God’s Abundance: An Ontology of Variety in the Divine Life by James E. Huchingson

The primordial chaos of Genesis 1 may be understood as the Pandemonium Tremendum (or PT), the infinite field of variety or abundance within God. The concept of variety is taken from Claude Shannon’s theory of communication. Especially significant is Shannon’s notion that communication is the limitation of variety through decision processes. In one model of the divine life suggested by the theory, the PT is the boundless source of potential reaped by an agential God in the act of creation as a communication process. Other models for creation include the PT in a biased mode and creatures themselves as decision agents.
chaos • communication theory • God • information • Pandemonium Tremendum • Claude Shannon • variety
James E. Huchingson is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Florida International University, Miami, FL 33199.
DOI: 10.1111/0591-2385.00109

Postmodernism and the Dialogue between Religion and Science

Naturalisms and Religion by Willem B. Drees

Such terms as materialism, naturalism, and near synonyms evoke strong negative reactions among many believers. However, the notion of naturalism has various meanings; implications for religion differ for the several varieties of naturalism. In this paper I analyze epistemological and ontological variants of naturalism and explore the perspectives for religion within a nonreductive ontological naturalism.
epistemology • limit questions • materialism • naturalism • ontology • reductionism • religious traditions
Willem B. Drees, a physicist, theologian, and philosopher, holds the Nicolette Bruining Chair for Philosophy of Nature and Technology from a Liberal Protestant Perspective at the University of Twente, Enschede, the Netherlands. He is also a staff member of the Bezinningscentrum at the Vrije Universiteit,De Boelelaan 1115, 1081 HV Amsterdam, the Netherlands; e-mail: WB.Drees @ dienst.vu.nl.
DOI: 10.1111/0591-2385.00110

Polanyi’s Finalism by John F. Haught and D. M. Yeager

Although Michael Polanyi’s model of science and his construal of the nature of the real are usually thought to be congenial to religion and although Polanyi himself says that “the stage on which we thus resume our full intellectual powers is borrowed from the Christian scheme of Fall and Redemption” (Polanyi 1958, 324), theologians have given little attention to the model of God he presents. The metaphysical and theological vision unfolded in part 4 of Personal Knowledge is a thoughtful alternative to materialist versions of neo-Darwinism and provides a platform for revisiting four long-standing controversies at the interface of science and religion: whether life and mind can be completely specified in terms of physical analysis, whether nature can be adequately understood without appeal to final causes, whether natural selection adequately explains life’s diverse forms, and whether knowledge can be fully objectified. Through an exploration of Polanyi’s contribution to these discussions, we undertake to show not only that his treatment of God as a cosmic field is strikingly original but also that in reinstating activity as a metaphysical category, he reconstructs our understanding of our creaturely hope and calling.
act metaphysics • commitment • Richard Dawkins • Daniel Dennett • field of force • final causation • formal causation • logic of achievement • Michael Polanyi • reductionism
John F. Haught is the Landegger Distinguished Professor of Theology at Georgetown University, Washington, DC20057-1135. D. M. Yeager is the General Editor of the Journal of Religious Ethics and an Associate Professor in the Department of Theology at Georgetown University, Washington, DC 20057-1135.
DOI: 10.1111/0591-2385.00111

Should We Be Trying So Hard to Be Postmodern? A Response to Drees, Haught, and Yeager by J. Wentzel Van Huyssteen

This paper explores the thesis that both modernism and postmodernism, as contemporary cultural phenomena, have been unable to come to terms with the issue of human rationality in any positive way. As a result of this, nearly all of the stereotyped ways of relating theology and science through models of conflict, independence, consonance, harmony, integration, or dialogue are likely to be revealed as too simplistic generalizations about the relationship between these two dominant forces in our culture. What is proposed is a postfoundationalist model where theology and science can rediscover the resources of rationality shared by these two reasoning strategies. Postfoundationalism in theology and science wants to point creatively beyond the confines of the local community, group, or culture toward a plausible form of interdisciplinary conversation. In taking seriously the role of local context and interpreted experience, postfoundationalism in theology and science should enable us to reach beyond the walls of our own communities in cross-contextual, cross-cultural and cross-disciplinary conversation.
interdisciplinary dialogue • naturalism • postfoundationalism • postmodern science • rationality • tradition
J. Wentzel van Huyssteen is the James I. McCord Professor of Theology and Science at Princeton Theological Seminary, CN 821, Princeton, NJ 08542.
DOI: 10.1111/0591-2385.00112

Book Symposium: Religion, Science and Naturalism by Willem B. Drees

Broken-Backed Naturalism by J. Wesley Robbins

Willem Drees’s stated purpose in Religion, Science and Naturalism is to maintain the continuing importance of religion in human life while being honest to the sciences. His preferred way of doing that is an example of what John Dewey once called “broken-backed naturalism.” In contrast, Deweyan humanism accomplishes Drees’s purpose in a more thoroughly naturalistic way. It does not bifurcate the world into the domain of the sciences—the natural world—and the domain of religion—the provider of answers to limit questions about the world as a whole, which fall outside the scope of the sciences.
humanism • naturalism • timeless transcendent God
J.Wesley Robbins is Professor of Philosophy at Indiana University South Bend, P. O. Box 7111, South Bend, IN 46634; e-mail: wesrobbins @ worldnet.att.net.
DOI: 10.1111/0591-2385.00113

A Richer or a Poorer Naturalism? by David Ray Griffin

Willem Drees endorses not only minimal naturalism, understood as the rejection of supernatural interruptions of the world’s normal causal processes, but also maximal naturalism, with its reductionistic materialism. Besides arguing that this reductionistic naturalism provides the best framework for interpreting science, he believes that it is compatible with religion (albeit of a minimalist sort). The “richer” naturalism advocated by Whiteheadians is, accordingly, unnecessary. Drees’s position, however, cannot do justice to a number of “hard-core commonsense notions,” which we inevitably presuppose in practice and thereby in science as well as religion. His naturalism is too poor, in particular, to account for subjectivity, freedom, and mathematical, religious, and moral experience.
common sense • consciousness • Darwinism • freedom • materialism • metaphysics • naturalism • reductionism • science and religion • subjectivity • theism • Alfred North Whitehead
David Ray Griffin is Professor of Philosophy of Religion and Theology at Claremont School of Theology, 1325 North College, Claremont, CA 91711, and Claremont Graduate University.
DOI: 10.1111/0591-2385.00114

The Teachers’ File

Cognitive Science: What One Needs to Know by Gregory R. Peterson

Cognitive science is a new paradigm that informs and involves several disciplines, including artificial intelligence, neuroscience, cognitive psychology, cognitive ethology, and the philosophy of mind. Cognitive science studies the mind as an information processor, with the computer often operating as a metaphor for the operations of the mind. Developments in the cognitive sciences stand to affect tremendously how we think of the mind and, consequently, how we think of theological and religious claims that concern the human subject. The unity of self, claims of human uniqueness, the relation of mind and body, human nature, and the personal agency of God are all areas of religious import in which the cognitive sciences need to be taken into account.
artificial intelligence • cognitive ethology • cognitive psychology • cognitive science • human nature • human uniqueness • information processing • mind of God • mind-body problem • neuroscience • philosophy of mind • unity of self
Gregory R. Peterson is Assistant Professor of Religion, Thiel College, Greenville, PA 16125. Permission is hereby granted to reproduce this article for class use, with this note: Reprinted from Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science.
DOI: 10.1111/0591-2385.00115

Two Books for Teachers

On the Moral Nature of the Universe: Theology, Cosmology, and Ethics by Nancey Murphy and George F. R. Ellis, reviewed by Gregory R. Peterson

Gregory R. Peterson; Assistant Professor of Religion; Thiel College; Greenville, PA 16125
DOI: 10.1111/1467-9744.t01-1-00116

Science and Religion: From Conflict to Conversation by John F. Haught, reviewed by Zachary Hayes

Zachary Hayes; Professor of Systematic Theology; Catholic Theological Union; 5401 South Cornell Avenue; Chicago, IL 60615
DOI: 10.1111/1467-9744.t01-1-00116

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