Zygon: Journal of Religion & Science
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Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science
36 (3), September 2001

Table of Contents


September 2001 Editorial by Philip Hefner

“Engagement” is one way of describing our ongoing efforts to attain depth and complexity in thinking about religion and science. The idea of engagement was an organizing principle for our preceding issue, June 2001, and again in this issue. Engagement means that writers do not work as if no one else were giving attention to the issues, nor are they content to talk past each other; rather, they try to advance the discussion by dealing with the specific ideas of others. This is not an easy task; authors often think that a critical reviewer has missed the point. Perhaps this comes with the territory, since we work so long and carefully searching for the best expression of our ideas that we begin to look upon those ideas as our children, and we wonder whether critics really appreciate the depth of what we are trying to say. For a journal like this one, it may indeed be the readers, not the authors, who are best able to see where genuine engagement has taken place—and of course readers will disagree among themselves, too.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.2001.00368.x

Think Pieces

Genomes, Gould, and Emergence by Ursula Goodenough

The publication of the human genome has elicited commentary to the effect that, since fewer genes were identified than anticipated, it follows that genes are less important to human biology than anticipated. The flaws in this syllogism are explained in the context of a treatise on how genomes operate and evolve and how genes function to produce embryos and brains. Most of our most cherished human traits are the result of the emergence of new properties from preexisting genetically scripted ideas, offering countless opportunities to celebrate the evolutionary process.
embryology • emergence • Stephen J. Gould • human genome • neurogenesis
Ursula Goodenough is Professor of Biology at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, and past president of the Institute on Religion in an Age of Science. Her address is Department of Biology, Box 1129, Washington University, St. Louis, MO 63130; e-mail: ursula @ biosgi.wustl.edu.
DOI: 10.1111/0591-2385.00369

Whither Panentheism? by Gregory R. Peterson

Panentheism has received widespread support among theologians involved in the religion-science dialogue, due in no small part to the success with which panentheism addresses a range of issues. Nevertheless, panentheism as a theological premise needs continued development and elucidation. Panentheism is often presented as a theoretical model of the God-world relationship, yet the supporting arguments rely on metaphors that are varied and open-ended. Analogy from the mind-body relationship leads to a “weak” panentheism that emphasizes the presence of God, while whole-part analogies suggest a “strong” panentheism that emphasizes some level of identity between God and the world. In turn, these analogies and metaphors bear nontrivial similarities to early Trinitarian and Christological debates in their treatment of God and world as distinct substances. This similarity suggests the importance of panentheistic approaches. Nevertheless, panentheists need to further clarify the relation of theory and metaphor in their work, as well as more precisely develop the central claim that God is in the world.
Christology • metaphor • mind-body analogy • panentheism • theory
Gregory R. Peterson is Assistant Professor of Religion and codirector of the Global Institute at Thiel College, Greenville, PA 16125; e-mail: gpeterso @ thiel.edu.
DOI: 10.1111/0591-2385.00370

Engaging Naturalism: William Rottschaefer and Willem Drees in Conversation

How to Make Naturalism Safe for Supernaturalism: An Evaluation of Willem Drees’s Supernaturalistic Naturalism by William A. Rottschaefer

Naturalism is often considered to be antithetical to theology and genuine religion. However, in a series of recent books and articles, Willem Drees has proposed a scientifically informed naturalistic account of religion, which, he contends, is not only compatible with supernaturalistic religion and theology but provides a better account of both than either purely naturalistic or purely supernaturalistic accounts. While rejecting both epistemological and methodological naturalism, Drees maintains that ontological naturalism offers the best philosophical account of the natural world and that, in addition, it provides the opening for a supernaturalistic understanding of religion and theology, one that best fits the condition of epistemic and moral distance from the transcendent characteristic of religious wonderers and wanderers. In this paper I examine Drees’s claim and argue that it is seriously flawed. I show that Drees’s naturalism is, in fact, both methodologically and epistemologically naturalistic. I also show that his attempts to limit naturalism to the sphere of the natural world by means of the phenomena of limit questions and underdetermination fail. Arguing for a more optimistic, but also, I contend, more empirically accurate account of human epistemic and moral capacities, I propose a full-fledged scientifically based naturalistic account of theology.
Willem Drees • epistemological naturalism • limit questions • methodological naturalism • naturalism • ontological naturalism • Wilfrid Sellars • strong underdetermination • supernaturalism • underdetermination • weak underdetermination
William A. Rottschaefer is Professor of Philosophy at Lewis and Clark College. His mailing address is Department of Philosophy, Lewis and Clark College, 0615 SW Palatine Hill Road, Portland, OR 97219; e-mail: rotts @ lclark.edu.
DOI: 10.1111/0591-2385.00371

Naturalism Need Not Be “Made Safe”: A Response to William Rottschaefer’s Misunderstandings by Willem B. Drees

In this article, I respond to William Rottschaefer’s analysis of my writings on religion and science, especially my Religion, Science and Naturalism (1996). I show that I am not trying “to make naturalism safe,” as Rottschaefer contends, but rather attempting to explore options available when one endorses naturalistic approaches. I also explain why I object to the label “supernaturalistic naturalism” used by Rottschaefer. Possible limitations to naturalistic projects are discussed, not as limitations imposed but rather as features uncovered.
empirical theology • limit questions • naturalism • William Rottschaefer • supernaturalism • underdetermination
Willem B. Drees holds the chair in philosophy of religion and ethics at the University of Leiden, Department of Theology, P.O. Box 9515, 2300 RA Leiden, the Netherlands; e-mail: wb @ drees.nl.
DOI: 10.1111/0591-2385.00372

Discerning the Limits of Religious Naturalism by William A. Rottschaefer

In response to my “How to Make Naturalism Safe for Supernaturalism: An Evaluation of Willem Drees’s Supernaturalistic Naturalism” (Rottschaefer 2001), Willem Drees maintains that I have misunderstood his purpose and views and have failed to make the case against his view that naturalism is intrinsically limited. In this response, I comment on these concerns.
Willem B. Drees • empirical theology • limit questions • naturalism • supernaturalism • underdetermination
William A. Rottschaefer is Professor of Philosophy at Lewis and Clark College. His mailing address is Department of Philosophy, Lewis and Clark College, 0615 SW Palatine Hill Road, Portland, OR 97219; e-mail: rotts @ lclark.edu.
DOI: 10.1111/0591-2385.00373

Engaging d’Aquili and Newberg’s The Mystical Mind

Understanding Biology in Religious Experience: The Biogenetic Structuralist Approach of Eugene d’Aquili and Andrew Newberg by Michael L. Spezio

What are the biological bases of religious experience? Are there biological constraints upon or determinants of religious narratives and practices? How does understanding the biology of religious experience inform the ongoing reconstruction of religious rituals and myths? In The Mystical Mind, Eugene d’Aquili and Andrew Newberg address these central questions and others from a distinct perspective called biogenetic structuralism. They propose a model of how brain activity gives rise to mystical experiential states, examine how neurobiological responses to rhythmic behavior form religious ritual, and point toward the development of a megatheology, or a theological system appealing to the widest scope of religious worldviews. This paper is a critical review of d’Aquili and Newberg’s exciting work.
biogenetic structuralism • brain imaging • mysticism • neuroscience • SPECT
Michael L. Spezio is a doctoral student at the Institute of Neuroscience at the University of Oregon, Eugene, OR 97403; e-mail: mlspezio @ darkwing.uoregon.edu. He is ordained in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
DOI: 10.1111/0591-2385.00374

Neuroscience in Pursuit of the Holy: Mysticism, the Brain, and Ultimate Reality by Carol Rausch Albright

Eugene d’Aquili and Andrew B. Newberg’s The Mystical Mind: Probing the Biology of Religious Experience presents a core theory regarding the neurophysical nature of mystical experience; extensions of this theory, focusing upon near-death experiences and the nature of religion itself; and buttressing arguments proposing that genetically based neurophysical “operators” within the brain compel human beings to think in certain ways. On the basis of this work, the authors pose a “metatheology,” suggesting that certain brain operations may underlie all the religions of the world. The core theory, its extensions, and related arguments are discussed in turn, concluding with commentary on the authors’ constructive theology.
Absolute Unitary Being (AUB) • causation • Eugene d’Aquili • dualism • holism • metatheology • mysticism • myth • neuroscience • Andrew B. Newberg • reductionism • ritual
Carol Rausch Albright is Co-Director of the CTNS Science and Religion Course Program, Midwest Region, based in Chicago. Her mailing address is 5415 S. Hyde Park Blvd., Chicago, IL 60615; e-mail: albright1@aol.com.
DOI: 10.1111/0591-2385.00375

Neurotheology and Evolutionary Theology: Reflections on The Mystical Mind by Karl E. Peters

Eugene d’Aquili and Andrew B. Newberg in their book The Mystical Mind suggest that their neurotheology is both a metatheology and a megatheology. In this commentary I question whether neurotheology is comprehensive enough and suggest that it needs to and possibly can take into account the moral and social dimensions of religion. I then propose an alternative metatheology and megatheology: evolutionary theology grounded in the science of biocultural evolution and focusing on ultimate reality as creatively immanent in natural and human history. Neurotheology and evolutionary theology may complement one another. Evolutionary theology accounts for both the neurology of the brain and culturally evolved ideas and practices of particular religions and their theologies. Hence it seems more comprehensive than neurotheology. However, because ultimate reality in evolutionary theology is immanent in the world of space and time, of baseline experience, it cannot account for the mystic experience of absolute unitary being. In accounting for this transcendent experience and its reality, neurotheology is more comprehensive. However, neither theology can account for how transcendent ultimate reality, experienced by the mystic as absolute unitary being, gives rise to the changing world experienced as baseline reality.
biocultural evolution • evolutionary theology • megatheology • metatheology • mystical experience • neurotheology
Karl E. Peters is Professor Emeritus of Philosophy and Religion at Rollins College, Winter Park, Florida. He also is Coeditor of Zygon. His address is 30 Barn Door Hills Road, Granby, CT 06035; e-mail: KPeters909 @ aol.com.
DOI: 10.1111/0591-2385.00376

Putting the Mystical Mind Together by Andrew B. Newberg

This article reviews and responds to various issues that have been raised in critical analysis of our work studying the relationship between religion and the brain. An adequate response necessitates a discussion about the origins of this research, the potential pitfalls of doing empirical research in this field, and the complex requirements of interpreting the implications of such an approach. Through inquiry such as this, the study of the brain and its relation to religion and religious experience will continue to advance and uncover the many fascinating questions that await.
mysticism • neuroimaging • neurophysiology • neurotheology • religious experience
Andrew B. Newberg, M.D., is Assistant Professor in the Department of Radiology at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, 110 Donner Building, 3400 Spruce Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104; e-mail: newberg @ rad.upenn.edu.
DOI: 10.1111/0591-2385.00377

Review Article

Spiritual Development: Han F. de Wit’s and Stanislav Grof’s Differing Approaches by K. Helmut Reich

For both Han F. de Wit and Stanislav Grof, spirituality constitutes an essential part of humaneness; a life built on materialism is deemed an impoverished life. For de Wit, spirituality yields courage, compassion, joy, clarity of mind, and consequently wisdom. For Grof, personal spiritual experiences gained during altered states of consciousness are of central interest. After defining spirituality, these views, built on long-term personal experiences of the authors and those of others, are explicated in detail. Both authors describe their respective approaches to spiritual development. In either approach, third-person knowledge and judgments (e.g., on humanness) have to be supplemented by first-person knowledge and judgments arrived at appropriately (e.g., on humaneness).
consciousness • development • first-person knowledge • Stanislav Grof • spirituality • third-person knowledge • Han F. de Wit
K. Helmut Reich (http://www.unifr.ch/pedg/staff/~Reich.html) is Professor at the School of Consciousness Studies and Sacred Traditions at the Senior University International, headquartered at Evanston, Wyoming, and Richmond, British Columbia. He is also a Senior Research Fellow at the School of Education, University of Fribourg, Switzerland. For twenty-eight years he was a physicist at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland. His mailing address is Departement Erziehungswissenschaften, Rue de Faucigny 2, CH-1700 Fribourg, Switzerland; e-mail: Helmut.Reich @ unifr.ch.

This article reviews both The Spiritual Path: An Introduction to the Psychology of the Spiritual Traditions by Han F. de Wit, translated from the Dutch by H. Jansen and L. Hofland-Jansen and Psychology of the Future: Lessons from Modern Consciousness Research by Stanislav Grof.
DOI: 10.1111/0591-2385.00378


Religion and Science: The Embodiment of the Conversation: A Postmodern Sociological Perspective by Barbara Ann Strassberg

In this paper I present a model of analysis of religion and science as forms of social construction of knowledge from the perspective of postmodern sociology. Numerous works have been recently published on the possible relations between religion and science. Most authors address this relationship from the perspectives of theology, philosophy, or selected disciplines of natural sciences (Ian Barbour, John Haught, John Polkinghorne). My goal is to add to that discussion a voice from the perspective of social sciences, specifically postmodern sociology. The model I propose brings the religion-science conversation down to earth, that is, to the level of people who “live” religion and science on a daily basis. The theoretical framework for my analysis of religion and science and of their relationship is constructed on the basis of selected works of leading postmodern sociologists Zygmunt Bauman, Anthony Giddens, and Piotr Sztompka.

I begin with a brief summary of the basic ontological and methodological presuppositions of the postmodern approach to reality. This summary is followed by a clarification of meanings of certain concepts that are crucial for the understanding of my model. Then, I present the model of analysis of religion and science and, finally, make some suggestions for sociology of religion and sociology of science that might open new opportunities and challenges for future research of the interface between religion and science in the postmodern culture.
embodiment • models • postmodernity • religiosity • scientificity • social becoming
Barbara Ann Strassberg is Professor of Sociology at Aurora University, 327 S. Gladstone, Aurora, IL 60506; e-mail: bstrass @ aurora.edu.
DOI: 10.1111/0591-2385.00379

Science and Religion: Some Demarcation Criteria by Varadaraja V. Raman

Discussions on the congruence, compatibility, and contradictions between science and religion have been going on since the rise of modern science. In our own times, there are many efforts to build bridges of harmony between the two. Most of these are anchored to particular religious traditions or denominations and also (often) to specific disciplines, notably cosmology, physics, and biology. Though these discussions serve commendable purposes for members of specific faiths and/or disciplines, they are also, for precisely this reason, of restricted appeal. There are not too many discussions of the topic that consider science and religion from a global perspective. It will therefore be useful to define science and religion in terms of their unique characteristics, draw the line of demarcation between them, and show where they overlap. This is what this paper attempts to do.
complementarity • definition • endopotent • exopotent • facts and truths • impact potential • incompatibility • orthogonality • perceived reality
Varadaraja V. Raman is Emeritus Professor, Rochester Institute of Technology, 20 Sutton Point, Pittsford, NY 14534; e-mail: vvrsps @ rit.edu.
DOI: 10.1111/0591-2385.003780

Theology in a Dynamic Universe by Arnold Benz

According to recent astrophysical evidence, the present universe has been forming for the past 14 billion years. New kinds of objects have emerged even recently. The reverse side of this creativity is the observed and predicted decay of all objects. Will new structures form in the future? This is a question of hope, which is not a scientific term but originates from experience on the level of personal and religious perceptions requiring participation. Anticipating the future, science and theology of creation meet, and the tension between practical knowledge and visionary hope enters a constructive dialogue.
astrophysics • creation • evolution of the universe • future • hope • pattern recognition • religious perception • science and religion • star formation • worldview
Arnold Benz is Professor of Astrophysics at the Swiss Institute of Technology (ETH), 8092 Zurich, Switzerland, and the current president of the Division “Sun and Heliosphere” of the International Astronomical Union; e-mail: benz @ astro.phys.ethz.ch.
DOI: 10.1111/0591-2385.003781

The Problem of Evil: A Solution from Science by Patricia A. Williams

In this essay, I attempt to solve the problem of the existence of evil in a world created by an omniscient, omnibenevolent, omnipotent God. I conclude that evil exists because God wanted to create moral creatures. Because choice is necessary for morality, God created creatures with enormous capacities for choice—and therefore enormous capacities for evil. Material creatures are subject to pain and death because, for such creatures, moral choices are deeply serious. The laws that underlie the material world and from which material life arises are such that, from their workings out on a planet that can support life, natural evils happen.
cosmos • evil • God • morality • Nazis • problem of evil • sociobiology • theodicy
Patricia A. Williams (http://hometown.aol.com/theologyauthor/myhomepage) is a retired professor of philosophy. Her mailing address is P.O. Box 69, Covesville, VA 22931; e-mail: theologyauthor @ aol.com.
DOI: 10.1111/0591-2385.003782

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