Two central theme areas command our attention in this issue of Zygon: the neurosciences and morality. Since these themes have been continual areas of concern for us over the years, the reader may well ask, What is new in the treatment they receive at our hands now? The answer, clearly, is that as the discussions have developed, there is much more scientific material to be taken into account, and similarly we are more sophisticated in our strategy for relating this material to our understanding of religion.
I develop a multilevel, holistic view of persons, emphasizing embodiment, emotions, consciousness, and the social self. In successive sections I draw from six sources: 1. Theology. The biblical understanding of the unitary, embodied, social self gave way in classical Christianity to a body-soul dualism, but it has been recovered by many recent theologians. 2. Neuroscience. Research has shown the localization of mental functions in regions of the brain, the interaction of cognition and emotion, and the importance of social interaction in evolutionary history and child development. 3. Artificial intelligence. Some forms of robotics use embodied systems that learn by interacting with their environment, but the possibilities for emotion, socialization, and consciousness in robots remain problematic. 4. Relations between levels. Concepts that can help us relate studies of neurons and persons include the hierarchy of levels, the communication of information, the behavior of dynamic systems, and epistemological and ontological emergence. 5. Philosophy of mind. Two-aspect theories of the mind-brain relation offer an alternative between the extremes of eliminative materialism and the thesis that consciousness is irreducible. 6. Process philosophy. I suggest that process thought provides a coherent philosophical framework in which these themes can be brought together. It combines dipolar monism with organizational pluralism, and it emphasizes embodiment, emotions, a hierarchy of levels, and the social character of selfhood.
artificial intelligence • body-soul dualism • consciousness • embodiment • emotions • neuroscience • process philosophy
Ian Barbour has retired from Carleton College, Northfield, MN 55057, where he was Professor of Physics, Professor of Religion, and Bean Professor of Science, Technology and Society.
Religion and Science Conversation: A Case Illustration by James B. Ashbrook and Carol Rausch Albright
The March 1999 issue of Zygon provides a case illustration of a religion-and-science conversation. The three responses to the issues raised by The Humanizing Brain represent a spectrum ranging from skepticism to affirmation. Each is examined in turn. Next, we present a constructive set of guidelines beginning with the recognition that interdisciplinary talk requires stretching disciplinary language into metaphor and analogy. We conclude with a methodology emphasizing empiricism and wholism.
complexity • empirical theology • evolution • mind-brain • the neurosciences • neurotheology • wholism
James B. Ashbrook was Professor Emeritus of Religion and Personality at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, Evanston, Illinois. He died on 2 January 1999. Carol Rausch Albright, a scholar and writer, is Co-Director of the Midwest Region of the CTNS-Templeton Science and Religion Course Program; her mailing address is 5415 S. Hyde Park Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60615; e-mail: Albright1 @ aol.com.
Evolutionary and Religious Perspectives on Morality
Reflections on the Evolution of Morality by Karl E. Peters
In my summary lecture at the IRAS 1997 Star Island Conference on the Evolution of Morality, I reflected on the thinking of other speakers in light of my own personal experience. My remarks were organized around five questions: (1) Do worldviews matter, and how do we decide if some matter more than others? (2) What does it mean to be moral? (3) What is the relation between biology and culture? (4) How does a scientific, sociobiological description of how we have become moral fit with our own personal quest for meaning and moral guidance toward richer and fuller lives? (5) How do we test evolutionary views of the biological conditions of morality scientifically?
epistemology • evolution • morality • scientific testing • sociobiology • worldviews
Karl E. Peters is Professor of Religious Studies at Rollins College, Winter Park, FL 32789. He also is Coeditor of Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science; e-mail: KPeters909 @ aol.com.
Evolutionary Ethics: What Can We Learn from the Past? by Michael Ruse
In this paper I look at the question of the derivation of ethics from evolutionary biology, and I do so by considering both historical attempts to make such a derivation and contemporary work.
Charles Darwin • social Darwinism • sociobiology • Herbert Spencer • Edward O. Wilson
Michael Ruse is Professor of Philosophy and Zoology at the University of Guelph.
The Myth of Man the Hunter, Man the Killer and the Evolution of Human Morality by Robert W. Sussman
Since the discovery of the first man-ape, many have assumed that the earliest humans were hunters and that this was associated with a killer instinct. The myth of man the hunter was repeated in the 1960s in anthropology texts and popular literature. In the 1970s it was adopted by sociobiologists to explain human nature. Man the hunter is used to explain not only human biology but also human morality. The morals described, however, often reflect ancient beliefs and appear to be new ways of justifying old morality codes. The newest version of this myth is presented in a recent book, Demonic Males. I will discuss various accounts of this myth and the evidence used to justify them, and will specifically critique the arguments presented in Demonic Males.
chimpanzees • evolution • humans • hunting • killing • morality • selfish genes
Robert W. Sussman is Professor of Anthropology, Washington University, St. Louis, MO 63130, and Editor-in-Chief of American Anthropologist.
Evolutionary Ethics: Its Origin and Contemporary Face by Paul Thompson
The development of modern evolutionary ethics began shortly after the publication of Charles Darwins On the Origin of Species by Natural Selection. Early discussions were plagued by several problems. First, evolutionary ethical explanations were dependent on group-selection accounts of social behavior (especially the explanation of altruism). Second, they seem to violate the philosophical principle that ought statements cannot be derived from is statements alone (values cannot be derived from facts alone). Third, evolutionary ethics appeared to be biologically deterministic, deemed incompatible with the free will required for ethics to be possible. Fourth, social policies based on evolutionary theory (for example, eugenics in the early part of this century) seemed patently unethical. Sociobiology (which coalesced as a field of study with Edward O. Wilsons Sociobiology: The New Synthesis, 1975) addressed several of these problems and provided a rich framework and a new impetus for evolutionary ethics. The lingering problems were the philosophical is-ought barrier and biological determinism. After tracing the early and more recent development of evolutionary ethics, I argue that the remaining problems can be surmounted and an incipient evolutionary ethics can be defended. Thoroughgoing evolutionary ethics must await theoretical developments in neurobiology and cognitive science.
biology of morality • ethics • evolution • evolutionary ethics • morality • naturalistic fallacy • sociobiology
Paul Thompson is Professor of Biology and Philosophy at the University of Toronto at Scarborough, Scarborough, Ontario M1C 1A4, Canada.
Going As Far As We Can Go: The Jesus Proposal for Stretching Genes and Cultures by Philip Hefner
The Christian perspective on morality is examined under the rubric of being like Jesus and the Jesus proposal for morality. The Peace People of Northern Ireland are examples of this proposal. Among the features of Christian moral thinking that are emphasized are: Jesus concern for the future, the transformation that the future requires, human nature interpreted in terms of how it can undergo transformation, and self-giving love as the core of this transformation. Attention is given to the ways in which Jesus both radicalized and relativized the moral conventions of his day. Dialogue with sociobology comes into play when Jesus is viewed as a proposal for cultural evolution and a kind of biocultural mutation. Gerd Theissens scholarship on Jesus moral perspectives is given special attention.
future • Jesus • love-command • Northern Ireland • Peace People • self-giving love • sociobiology • solidarity-in-empathy • Gerd Theissen • transformation
Philip Hefner is Professor of Systematic Theology at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, 1100 East 55th Street, Chicago, IL 60615-5199.
The Teachers File
Thermodynamics: What One Needs to Know by Carl S. Helrich
Thermodynamics is the foundation of many of the topics of interest in the religion-science dialogue. Here a nonmathematical outline of the principles of thermodynamics is presented, providing a historical and conceptually understandable development that can serve teachers from disciplines other than physics. The contributions of Gibbs to both classical and rational thermodynamics, emphasizing the importance of the ensemble in statistical mechanics, are discussed. The seminal ideas of Boltzmann on statistical mechanics are contrasted to those of Gibbs in a discussion of the microscopic interpretation of the second law. The role of information theory is discussed, and the modern ideas of Prigogine and nonequilibrium are outlined in some detail with further reference to the second law. Implications for our interaction with God are considered.
ensemble • entropy • first law • information theory • nonequilibrium • second law • statistical mechanics
Carl S. Helrich is Professor of Physics and Chair of the Department of Physics at Goshen College, Goshen, IN 46526.
God and Contemporary Science: Philip Claytons Defense of Panentheism by Willem B. Drees
Philip Claytons God and Contemporary Science is summarized and discussed. Clayton presents a theological reading of biblical texts. In my opinion, science-and-religion studies should deal more substantially with insights of secular studies on the situated character of these texts. Clayton uses the relationship between mind and brain as analogy for the relationship between God and the world. This runs the risk of understanding God as analogous to the mind and hence secondary and emergent relative to the world. Besides, Claytons arguments for mental causation are wanting. But then, why should a defender of panentheism decouple the mental and the material?
Philip Clayton • divine action • exegesis • human agency • naturalism • philosophy of mind • philosophy of religion • postmodernism
Willem B. Drees holds the Nicolette Bruining chair in philosophy of nature and of technology from a liberal Protestant perspective at the University of Twente, Enschede, the Netherlands. He also works at the Bezinningscentrum of the Vrije Universiteit, De Boelelaan 1105, 1081 HV Amsterdam, the Netherlands; e-mail: wb.drees @ dienst.vu.nl.
This article reviews God and Contemporary Science by Philip Clayton.
Religious Studies: The Making of a Discipline by Walter H. Capps, reviewed by Russell T. McCutcheon
This Christian sermon uses a DNA lab experience as a basis for theological reflection on ourselves and our offering. Who are we to God? What determines the self that we offer? Can the alphabet of DNA shed light for us on the Word of God in our lives? This first attempt to introduce the language and laboratory environment of genetic testing (represented by DNA fingerprinting) within a parish preaching context juxtaposes liturgical, scientific, and biblical language and settings for fresh insights.
DNA • DNA fingerprinting • eucharist • faith • grace • laboratory • offertory • sacrifice • sermon • Word of God
The Reverend Dr. Kim L. Beckmann is pastor at Bethany Lutheran Church, Amasa, Michigan, and Trinity Lutheran Church, Box 636, Stambaugh, Michigan 49964.