The religion-and-science discussion moves constantly between the old and the new, between familiar themes that are freshly interpreted and unexplored issues that are novel both for their fascination and their challenge. The very fact that we are continually revisiting the familiar, to give it a fresh look, just as we are regularly surprised by new phenomena, reminds us that the discussion is far from static and far from finished, because religion and science both exist in a dynamic, evolving world. In an evolutionary framework, we say that both religion and science have emerged in an ambient terrain and persist as they adapt to it and also change it. I often picture those of us who work in the field of religion-and-science as searchers in their territory, discovering new features at every step, shining our torches into caverns as yet unknown and uninvestigated. Or, alternatively, sometimes we cross territory that we have explored many times, and yet we see things we have missed before or find that with the passage of seasons new emergents are making themselves known. In my editorial for the March 2002 issue I spoke of the terrain in terms of its multilocationality; now I call attention to the presence of the familiar and the novel.
In recent years, interest in the scientific basis of religious experience has resurged. In particular, research and publications by V. S. Ramachandran and by Eugene dAquili and Andrew Newberg have sparked considerable curiosity and debate over the reality and basis of religious experience. This article puts such research into a broader context and examines the extent to which scientific research supports or undermines particular religious and theological claims. I argue that such experiments show that religious experience has some biological basis and is not simply a product of cultural suggestion. At the same time, such experiences are not completely self-interpreting, so that cultural context, including theological claims, are needed to make sense of such experiences. By itself, scientific research does not prove or disprove the reality of religious experiences generally, but it does shape how we think of the possibilities and interpretations of such experiences.
Buddhist meditation • Eugene dAquili • neuroscience • Andrew Newberg • V. S. Ramachandran • religious experience • SPECT scan
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.
Miles within Millimeters and Other Awe-Inspiring Facts about Our Mortarboard Human Cortex by Robert B. Glassman
Consideration of the amazing organized intricacy of human cortical anatomy entails a deeper appreciation of nature that is fully consistent with a mature religious spirit. A brain seems at first glance to be a mere lump of grayish claylike stuff, but facts of basic neuroanatomy compel us to consider that this particular kind of stuff may really contain all the richly tangible and richly ghostly inner essences of emotion, thought, and behavior. Humans are the college graduates of evolution. The human cortex is 3,400 times the volume of, yet only slightly thicker (about 3 millimeters) than, that of the mouse. This remarkable sheet is as thin as a graduation-day mortarboard cap, but its 2,600 square centimeter area is four times as large (about 20 × 20 inches if a square; both metric and English units used deliberately). Zooming in, there are about 50 billion cortical neurons; though named after pyramids, they are more like tiny magic trees, with branches and roots so long and fine that there are 1 or 2 miles of these electrically scintillating fibers within each cubic millimeter of cortex. Cortical neurons communicate intimately: viewed from above, beneath a single square millimeter 100,000 nerve cells intertwine; each such neuron makes 5,000 or more connections with others. These and many additional amazing facts about brain tissue, together with some conjectures about dense connectedness in the mathematics of graph theory, help to bear out the groundwork prepared by such pioneers as Ralph Wendell Burhoe that the spirit and knowledge of science might rejoin that of religion. If it takes enchanted matter to contain consciousness, this is a kind of enchantment that science may well be able to penetrate for eventual thoroughgoing understanding. Inevitable by-products will be greater reverence for nature and greater awe at the mystery of natures origin.
brain • Ralph Wendell Burhoe • cerebrum • comparative neuroanatomy • connectedness • evolution • neuroscience
Robert B. Glassman is chair of the Department of Psychology at Lake Forest College, 555 N. Sheridan Road, Lake Forest, IL 60045; e-mail: Glassman @ lfc.edu.
Symposium on Technology
Speaking Cyborg: Technoculture and Technonature by Anne Kull
Two ways of self-interpretation merged in Western thought: the Hebrew and the Greek. What is unique, if anything, about the human species? The reinterpretation of this problem has been a constant process; here I am referring to Philip Hefner and the term created co-creator, and particularly to Donna Haraway and the term cyborg. Simultaneously, humans have been fascinated by the thought of transgressing the boundaries that seem to separate them from the rest of nature. Any culture reflects the ways it relates to nature. Our nature is technonature, and our culture is technoculture. Our reality can be best approached by the metaphor and symbol cyborg. Donna Haraways cyborg is not just an interesting figure of speech, it is also a description—of ourselves and our culture. Also, contemporary fiction reflects the return of ontological questions: What is a world? What is the self? The cyborg acknowledges our mode of existence and destabilizes the traditional procedures of identity construction.
created co-creator • cyborg • Donna Haraway • Philip Hefner • human being • Bruce Mazlish • technoscience
Anne Kull is a lecturer in Systematic Theology at the University of Tartu, Ülikooli 18 Tartu 50090 Estonia.
The Image of God as Techno Sapiens by Antje Jackelén
Suppose there comes a day when Homo sapiens has evolved into or been overtaken by techno sapiens. Will it then still make sense to speak of human beings as created in the image of God? What is the relevance of asking such a question today? I offer a sketch of the present state of development and discussion in artificial intelligence (AI) and artificial life (AL) and discuss some implications for the human condition. Taking into account both reality and fiction in AI and AL, I hold that, regardless of the degree of realization, issues related to technological evolution inform the cultural agenda—at least the European-American one. I comment on antireductionist arguments and on arguments from philosophy and (history of) culture. I argue in favor of a consonance between neurotechnology and the Christian gospel in terms of realizing the marks of messianic life. However, issues of justice, reason versus nature, and perfection and finitude versus imperfection and immortality call for further illumination. Even though no principal opposition seems to exist between technological evolution and possible interpretations of the concept of the image of God (imago dei), a number of significant dissimilarities need to be addressed, such as the differences between technical improvement and forgiveness or transformation and between immortality and resurrection. The role of irregularity, disturbance, and error for creative processes in nature and culture is an exciting topic in science and technology as well as in theology.
artificial intelligence (AI) • artificial life (AL) • culture • death • evolution • image of God • information • neuroprosthesis • neurotechnology • technonature • techno sapiens
Antje Jackelén is Assistant Professor of Systematic Theology/Religion and Science at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, 1100 E. 55th Street, Chicago, IL 60615; e-mail: ajackele @ lstc.edu.
Creating in Our Own Image: Artificial Intelligence and the Image of God by Noreen Herzfeld
There is remarkable convergence between twentieth-century interpretations of the image of God (imago Dei), what it means for human beings to be created in Gods image, and approaches toward creating in our own image in the field of artificial intelligence (AI). Both fields have viewed the intersection between God and humanity or humanity and computers in terms of either (1) a property or set of properties such as intelligence, (2) the functions we engage in or are capable of, or (3) the relationships we establish and maintain. Each of these three approaches reflects a different understanding of what stands at the core of our humanity. Functional and relational approaches were common in the late twentieth century, with a functional understanding the one most accepted by society at large. A relational view, however, gives new insights into human dignity in a computer age as well as new approaches to AI research.
artificial intelligence • Karl Barth • creation • image of God • imago Dei • robots • Gerhard von Rad
Noreen Herzfeld is Associate Professor of Computer Science, St. Johns University, Collegeville, MN 56321.
Protecting God from Science and Technology: How Religious Criticisms of Biotechnologies Backfire by Patrick D. Hopkins
Many religious critics argue that biotechnology (such as cloning and genetic engineering) intrudes on Gods domain, or plays God, or revolts against God. While some of these criticisms are standard complaints about human hubris, I argue that some of the recent criticism represents a Promethean concern, in which believers unreflectively seem to fear that science and technology are actually replicating or stealing Gods special deity-defining powers. These criticisms backfire theologically, because they diminish God, portraying God as an anthropomorphic superbeing whose relevance and special nature are increasingly rivaled by human power.
Babel • biotechnology • cloning • genetic engineering • God • God of the Gaps • hubris • Prometheus • religion and science • religion and technology • religious criticism • theology
Patrick D. Hopkins is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Millsaps College, 1701 North State Street, Jackson, MS 39210.
Response: Ian Barbour on Typologies
On Typologies for Relating Science and Religion by Ian G. Barbour
Geoffrey Cantor and Chris Kenny have criticized attempts to classify various ways of relating science and religion. They hold that all typologies are too simple and too static to illuminate the complex and changing historical interactions of science and religion. I argue that typologies serve a useful pedagogical function even though every particular interaction must be seen in its historical context. I acknowledge the problems in making distinctions between categories of classification and examine some alternative typologies that have been proposed. I leave as an open question whether my fourfold typology is applicable to differing religious traditions. Finally I consider some parallels between typologies for science-religion interactions and typologies for relationships between religions. Can our discussions be both interdisciplinary and interreligious without the danger of imposing the conceptual framework of one discipline or religious tradition on another discipline or tradition?
Geoffrey Cantor • Chris Kenny • religious pluralism • Science and the Spiritual Quest (SSQ) • typologies
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.
Naturalism: Scientific and Religious
Scientific Naturalism, the Mind-Body Relation, and Religious Experience by David Ray Griffin
Although attempts to explain religious experience in terms of brain processes usually presuppose the identification of scientific naturalism with the sensationist, atheistic, materialist version of naturalism (naturalismsam), this version is inadequate for science, and human experience more generally, for numerous reasons. An alternative version, based on panexperientialism, panentheism, and a prehensive doctrine of perception (naturalismppp), not only avoids those problems but also allows for religious experience understood as the souls direct experience of a Holy Reality.
atheism • interactionism • materialism • naturalistic theism • neuroscience • panentheism • panexperientialism • prehension • Hilary Putnam • Willard Quine • religious experience • scientific naturalism • sensationism • Alfred North Whitehead
David Ray Griffin is professor of philosophy of religion at Claremont School of Theology and Claremont Graduate University and one of the co-directors of the Center for Process Studies. His mailing address is 6891 Del Playa, Isla Vista, CA 93117; e-mail: Davraygrif @ aol.com.
Religious Naturalism and the Religion-Science Dialogue: A Minimalist View by Jerome A. Stone
Although its roots go back at least to Spinoza, religious naturalism is once again becoming a self-conscious option in religious thinking. This article seeks to (1) provide a generic notion of religious naturalism, (2) sketch my own minimalist variety of religious naturalism, and (3) view the science-religion dialogue from both of these perspectives. This last will include reflection on the nature of scientific practices, the contributions of religious traditions to moral reflection, and Ursula Goodenoughs religiopoiesis.
Willem Drees • Ursula Goodenough • Sandra Harding • Charley Hardwick • humanism • Bernard Meland • minimalist vision of transcendence • Lynn Hankinson Nelson • religiopoiesis • religious naturalism • religious traditions • J. Wentzel van Huyssteen • Henry Nelson Wieman
Jerome A. Stone is Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at William Rainey Harper College, Palatine, IL 60067; e-mail: Jersustone @ aol.com.
Engaging James E. Huchingsons Pandemonium Tremendum: Chaos and Mystery in the Life of God
Chaos, Communications Theory, and Gods Abundance by James E. Huchingson
As the creator, God is the source of the abundance for immense variety manifest in creation. The reservoir for this abundance is the primordial chaos, identified as the Pandemonium Tremendum. God manages this inexhaustible storehouse of the snow through decisions or willings, giving rise to constraints that result in the ordered array of creation. Without this active and decisive vigilance, the Pandemonium Tremendum would scour and ravage the creation. Also, as an omniscient, unobtrusive, and impartial witness, God manages the primordial chaos without compromising its unfettered variety. What is the role of chaos as the Ungrund? All creatures are the consequence of acts of decision. God alone is self-decisive and, hence, the uniquely sovereign creator. That is, God arises spontaneously through an aboriginal act of in-speaking. Otherwise, and in utter contradiction to its radically unprincipled character, the primordial chaos would provide the arche or sufficient reason for divine causation. This mythic and metaphysical account falls in the tradition of Meister Eckhart and Nicolas Berdyaev and is expressed in the rubric of communication theory.
Nicolas Berdyaev • communication theory • cosmological question • divine sovereignty • Meister Eckhart • Pandemonium Tremendum • primordial chaos • tsimtsum • Ungrund • variety
James E. Huchingson is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Florida International University, Miami FL 33199; e-mail: Huchings @ fiu.edu.
A Computer Scientists Perspective on Chaos and Mystery by Stuart A. Kurtz
James E. Huchingsons Pandemonium Tremendum draws on a surprisingly fruitful analogy between metaphysics and thermodynamics, with the latter motivated through the more accessible language of communication theory. In Huchingsons model, God nurtures creation by the selective communication of bits of order that arise spontaneously in chaos.
algorithmic information theory • communication theory • finite • James E. Huchingson • infinite • Maxwells demon • thermodynamics
Stuart A. Kurtz is Professor and Chairman in the Department of Computer Science, The University of Chicago, 1100 East 58th Street, Chicago, IL 60637.
James Huchingsons Constructive Theology by Ann Milliken Pederson
James Huchingsons book, Pandemonium Tremendum: Chaos and Mystery in the Life of God, is an artistic improvisation on recurrent themes in the dialogue between religion and science. Around the cantus firmus of the Pandemonium Tremendum Huchingson composes a grand metaphysical composition that is glorious in its detail, magnificent in its overarching themes, and careful in its attention to context. Much like a suspended chord between two different harmonies, Huchingsons theological composition dangles the reader in the tensions of religion and science, modernity and postmodernity, particulars and universals, God and the world. Although this book is surely a cutting-edge development in the ongoing corpus of religion and science, I am most excited about its constructive theological provocations. This is a work in progress, a composition in the making.
chaos • complexity • improvisation • metaphor • metaphysics • particularities • universals
Ann Milliken Pederson is an Associate Professor of Religion at Augustana College, 2001 S. Summit Avenue, Sioux Falls, SD 59197.
Response to Stuart Kurtz and Ann Pederson by James E. Huchingson
I respond herein to reviews of my recent book by Ann Pederson and Stuart Kurtz. With respect to Pedersons concerns, a constructive theology formulated from the ideas of communication theory need not necessarily neglect pressing historical issues of the poor and powerless. The potential for such relevance remains strong. This is true as well for the application of the system to particular myths and rituals. Also, while I speak positively of computers as instruments of disclosure and the theories upon with they are based as resources for theological construction, this should not be construed as an endorsement of just any application of information technology in a world that tends to distort all good things. With respect to Kurtzs concerns, while thermodynamics plays a role in discussions of the primordial chaos, notions from communication theory are far more central. Also, the use of the language of the theory for theology does not necessarily require theological relevance for all of Claude Shannons technical conclusions. My uses of infinity are taken from traditional theology and analytic geometry rather than from pure mathematics, although fruitful development along those lines is entirely possible. Pederson and Kurtz are generous with both their praise and concerns. The praise will encourage me to further this project along lines provided by the concerns.
chaos • communication theory • cosmology • creatio ex nihilo • infinity • Liberation theology • Maxwells demon • metaphysics • Claude Shannon • thermodynamics
James E. Huchingson is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Florida International University, Miami FL 33199; e-mail: Huchings @ fiu.edu.
A Symposium on a Work in Progress: Michael Ruses Darwin and Design
A Summary of Michael Ruses Darwin and Design by William S. Stone Jr.
Michael Ruses Darwin and Design: Science, Philosophy, Religion explains the history and philosophical arguments of the design metaphor of evolution. It recounts the historical uses of the metaphor from Plato to twentieth-century American science. Ruse explores the criticisms of the design metaphor and ultimately concludes that it is a beneficial term. The chief contribution of Darwin and Design is that it offers a clear understanding and comparison of the argument from design and the argument to design.
Charles Darwin • evolution • evolutionary design • intelligent design • natural theology • William Paley • teleological argument
William S. Stone Jr. is speech and philosophy instructor at Northeast Mississippi Community College in Booneville. His mailing address is 310 Windham Drive, Booneville, MSĘ 38829; e-mail: bstone @ necc.cc.ms.us.
Natural Selection and Design: Comments on Michael Ruses New Book by Ward H. Goodenough
Is the adaptive complexity of living organisms the result of evolutionary processes alone? or does it give evidence of intentional design? Michael Ruse appears to argue that we can have it either way. As a scientist I find the argument from design unnecessary. Yet it has great appeal to humans, whose behavior is largely intentional and who look for patterns in events and for the intentions that may have produced them.
design • evolution • intention
Ward H. Goodenough, a cultural anthropologist, is University Professor Emeritus at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6398; e-mail: whgooden @ sas.upenn.edu.
Ruses Darwin and Design: Does It Go Far Enough? by Michael Cavanaugh
Michael Ruses forthcoming book gives an enjoyable history of teleology in biology, philosophy, and theology. It argues that concepts of cause, final cause, purpose, teleology, function, design, adaptation, contrivance, progress, ends, and value have all been telescoped by most writers in those three disciplines but that these concepts (and especially the concept of design) are nonetheless valid, provided only that we recognize their metaphorical nature. I agree with this basic argument, and Ruses critiques and historical summaries of these concepts are both useful and delightful. However, I also explore one major and three minor reservations. The minor reservations are that Ruse overdoes the allegation of telescoping, does not adequately explore ways to express teleology more accurately, and erroneously denies the existence of biology-based theologians who make the same point he is making. The major reservation is that, despite all the groundwork he lays, Ruse comes to a conclusion other than the one clearly suggested by his first fourteen chapters. If he followed the evolutionary story just a bit further, to include the evolution of the human brain, he would be in a position to articulate a theologically sophisticated understanding of teleology and avoid an ending that is uncharacteristically tame.
anthropic principle • design • ends • final cause • intelligent design • Gordon Kaufman • metaphorical accuracy • progress • Michael Ruse • teleology • teleonomy
Michael Cavanaugh is a lawyer. His address is 744 Dubois, Baton Rouge, LA 70808; e-mail: MichaelCav @ aol.com.
My critics make serious and sensible points, all of which are undoubtedly true but not all of which I feel that I can accept.
Darwin • design • natural selection • teleology
Michael Ruse is Lucyle T. Werkmeister Professor of Philosophy at Florida State University, 151 Dodd Hall, Tallahassee, FL 32306-1500; e-mail: mruse @ mailer.fsu.edu.
A Religion for an Age of Science by P. Roger Gillette
The period 800-200 B.C.E. has been called an axial period or age because it was a period of major technological and cultural change that led to the development of new worldviews, which in turn called for and led to the emergence of the current major world religious traditions. The world is now in the midst of another period of major global scientific, technological, and cultural change that is leading to the development of a new global worldview. In this worldview, the cosmos is taken to be more like an activity than a thing—more like an emergent complex of interrelated and interactive doing in space-time than a created complex of beings in space and time—and its complexity and space-time scale are understood to be enormously greater than heretofore supposed.
These changes in worldview call for changes in theology, religion, and ethics. Most workers in the field of science and religion are heeding this call by attempting to reconcile traditional religious concepts with the new scientific concepts. Others, however, have become convinced that the new worldview differs so radically from the previous ones as to mark a new axial age, which calls for a new, post-traditional theology, religion, and ethics, with a theos that is more like an activator of doing than a ground of being, and with meaning and purpose achieved more by a quality of doing than a quantity or quality of being.
age of science • axial age • axial period • cosmic theology • global ecosystem • post-traditional theology • process theology • theos
P. Roger Gillette is retired from a position as a Senior Research Physicist in the Systems Development Division of SRI International. His mailing address is 2385 Crestview Drive South, Salem, OR 97302.
Sacred Indwelling and the Electromagnetic Undercurrent in Nature: A Physicists Perspective by Lawrence W. Fagg
Wolfhart Pannenberg has related the concept of the physical field to the idea of Gods divine cosmic field in all of creation. In this article I proffer a physicists viewpoint by treating the subject from a more specific and focused perspective. In particular, I describe how electromagnetic interactions underlie the operation of all earthly nature, including human beings and their brains. I argue that this ubiquity constitutes a compelling physical analogy for the ubiquity of Gods indwelling. The discussion includes the role of electromagnetism in quantum theory, concepts of time, and the evolution of life. I suggest the value of such analogical thought as an area of study to be exploited in the development of a theology of nature as well as a significant datum in the pursuit of a tenable natural theology. This article is intended to clarify, refine, and considerably expand upon an earlier article published in Zygon (Fagg 1996). Included also are discussions on the role of electromagnetism in our sense of evil and eternity.
analogy • electromagnetism • evil • eternity • evolution • field theory • James Clerk Maxwell • natural theology • Wolfhart Pannenberg • quantum theory • theology of nature • time
Lawrence W. Fagg is Research Professor, retired, at Catholic University of America, Washington, DC 20064. His mailing address is 905 Canterburg Road, Stephens City, VA 22655; e-mail: fagg @ cua.edu.
Metaphysics, Reductivism, and Spiritual Discourse by David Carr
Although significant revival of talk of the spiritual and spirituality has been a striking feature of recent public debate about wider social and moral values in contemporary Western liberal-democratic polities, it seems worth asking whether there might be any substantial philosophical basis for such renewal. On the face of it, any meaningful discourse about spirituality seems caught between the rock of an antiquated mind-body dualism—now widely regarded (some notable contemporary pockets of resistance aside) as implausible—and the hard place of a scientific physicalism that offers little harbor for irreducible spiritual entities. The present essay explores two possibilities of escape from this dilemma in the shape of eliminative dualism and noneliminative monism and argues for the conceptual advantages of the second over the first of these possibilities.
eliminative dualism • eliminative monism • metaphysics • noneliminative dualism • noneliminative monism • soul • spirituality
David Carr is Professor of Philosophy of Education in the Faculty of Education of the University of Edinburgh, Holyrood Road, Edinburgh EH8 8AQ, Scotland, U.K.
Monotheism and the Spirituality of Reason by James Blachowicz
In this paper I propose a cognitive interpretation of the emergence of monotheism. I first distinguish between two fundamentally different conceptions of representation: one intuitive, which favors an analog model of rational cognition, and one discursive, which favors a digital model. While both Hellenism and Judaism may have been instrumental in setting civilization on the path to reason and law, it is the discursive or digital conception of God as a single universal Judge, I argue, that provides the foundational axiom of the moral logic of the Hebrew Scriptures. That is, in monotheism, God came to be represented differently.
analog representation • digital representation • Hellenism • Judaism • monotheism
James Blachowicz is Professor of Philosophy at Loyola University, Chicago, IL 60626; e-mail: jblacho @ luc.edu.