Zygon: Journal of Religion & Science
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Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science
37 (4), December 2002

Table of Contents


December 2002 Editorial by Philip Hefner

“Theology Coming to Terms with Evolution”—the lead section in this issue—counts in an important way as contrarian. These five articles go against the widely held view that theologians do not struggle to come to terms with evolutionary thought in constructive ways, or even that they dismiss evolution altogether. Many articles in the media represent what must be a common opinion even in intellectual circles, that evolutionary thinking is bete noire or absent partner in theological discussion. This stereotyped opinion has never reflected the actual breadth of theological thinking, and the articles in this issue render some of the detail in theological grappling with evolution.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.2002.00456.x

Theology Coming to Terms with Evolution

Evolutionary Theology and God-Memes: Explaining Everything or Nothing by Joseph Poulshock

It is not uncommon for Darwinists and memeticists to speculate not only that god-memes (cultural units for belief in a god) evolved as maladaptive traits but also that these memes do not correspond to anything real. However, a counter-Darwinian argument exists that some god-memes evolved as adaptive traits and did so with a metaphysical correspondence to reality. Memeticists cannot disallow these positive claims, because the rules they would use to disallow them would also disallow their negative claims. One must either accept that positive Darwinian theological claims can fall within the bounds of science (and therefore be judged on their explanatory merits alone) or must disallow both sets of arguments, including any claims that god-memes fail to correspond to reality. Given that many Darwinists do not appear to accept a modest version of science that avoids negative metaphysical claims, precedence exists in memetic and Darwinian discourse for making positive metaphysical claims as well.
atheism • Susan Blackmore • Richard Dawkins • faith-memes • god-memes • memeplex • memes • memetics • metaphysics • methodological naturalism • noncorrespondence to reality (NCR) • positive correspondence to reality (PCR) • religion • science • science-meme • theism • theology
Joseph Poulshock is Associate Professor of English Language Education at Tokyo Christian University, 3-301-5 Uchino, Inzai-City, Chiba 270-1347, Japan; e-mail: naphtali @ ling.ed.ac.uk.
DOI: 10.1111/1467-9744.00457

Theism, Evolutionary Epistemology, and Two Theories of Truth by John Lemos

In Michael Ruse’s recent publications, such as Taking Darwin Seriously (1998) and Evolutionary Naturalism (1995), he has advocated a certain sort of evolutionary epistemology and has argued that it implies a rejection of metaphysical realism (MR) in favor of a position that he calls “internal realism” (IR). Additionally, he has maintained that, insofar as his evolutionary epistemology implies a rejection of MR in favor of IR, it escapes the kind of argument against naturalism that Alvin Plantinga makes in his Warrant and Proper Function (1993). In this article I explain the relevant views and arguments of Ruse and Plantinga, and I critically engage with Ruse’s views, arguing that (1) his case for rejecting MR has no essential connection to evolutionary considerations; (2) his case for rejecting MR depends upon internalist assumptions about the nature of knowledge that are in need of some kind of defense; and (3) given his implicit internalism and his commitment to IR, his argument for rejecting MR can be used against his IR.
epistemically ideal conditions • epistemology • evolution • internal realism (IR) • metaphysical realism (MR) • naturalism • Alvin Plantinga • Michael Ruse • theism • truth
John Lemos is Associate Professor of Philosophy in the Department of Philosophy and Religion, Coe College, Cedar Rapids, IA 52402; e-mail: jlemos @ coe.edu.
DOI: 10.1111/1467-9744.00458

God and Evolutionary Evil: Theodicy in the Light of Darwinism by Christopher Southgate

Pain, suffering, death, and extinction have been intrinsic to the process of evolution by natural selection. This leads to a real problem of evolutionary theodicy, little addressed up to now in Christian theologies of creation. The problem has ontological, teleological, and soteriological aspects. The recent literature contains efforts to dismiss, disregard, or reframe the problem. The radical proposal that God has no long-term goals for creation, but merely keeps company with its unfolding, is one way forward. An alternative strategy to tackle the problem of evolutionary theodicy is outlined, with an implication for environmental ethics and suggestions for further work.
co-creators • creation • evolution • extinction • intrinsic value • natural selection • process theology • Sabbath • soteriology • status of humanity • teleology • theodicy • theology of eschatology
Christopher Southgate is Honorary University Fellow in Theology at the University of Exeter, Exeter, U.K. His mailing address is School of Classics, Ancient History and Theology, Queen’s Building, University of Exeter, Exeter EX4 4QH, Devon, U.K.; e-mail: c.c.b.southgate @ ex.ac.uk.
DOI: 10.1111/1467-9744.00459

From Noosphere to Theosphere: Cyclotrons, Cyberspace, and Teilhard’s Vision of Cosmic Love by Ingrid H. Shafer

Two theme-setting quotations introduce this essay—that of Yeats’s falcon, deaf to the falconer’s call, adrift in space above the blood-dimmed tide, counterpoised to Pierre Teilhard de Chardin’s call to abandon old nationalistic prejudices and build the earth. With primary references to the thought of Teilhard, along with, among others, to Ewert Cousins, Andrew M. Greeley, Karl Jaspers, Marshall McLuhan, Ilya Prigogine, Karl Rahner, Leonard Swidler, David Tracy, and Alfred North Whitehead, I argue that the most crucial intellectual paradigm shift of the twenty-first century will challenge humanity to take the turn from uncritical attachment to rigid absolutism or atomistic fragmentation toward a sense of open-ended, off-centered centeredness and fluid connections—from a static to a dynamic model of reality. Central to my argument is the Teilhardian reinterpretation of the Christian metaphors of creation, fall, incarnation, salvation, and the eschaton in the evolutionary terms of the emergence of cosmic consciousness from the chrysalis of the world of the past—from chaos to order, from biosphere via noosphere to theosphere. Facilitated by the exponential growth of populations, collaborative research, science, technology, and global communication (most dramatically manifested by the Internet), this emergent understanding of what it means to be human can, first, foster the awareness that in humanity evolution has become conscious of itself, and then, gradually, precipitate the formation of “the global village” (the mystical body of Christ), as respectful dialogue replaces diatribe and the dualistic pugilism of Samuel Huntington’s “Clash of Civilizations” is gradually transformed into a nonadversarial mentality that values shared humanity and a common purpose. Thus, eons hence, empowered by love-energy, the transmutation of the human into the ultra-human can take the ultimate quantum leap into a yet higher dimension where spirit/energy is no longer in need of flesh/mass, and Earth can be safely left behind.
Christianity • co-creation • communication as coherence • Confucianism and Taoism • creative unions • cyberspace • dialogue • evolutionary Christology • global agora • global ethic • global village • holographic structure of the Logos • information age • insight through mystic vision • Internet • love-energy • noosphere • problem of evil • process theology • reinterpretation of original sin • sacramentality of the world • Second Axial Period • Pierre Teilhard de Chardin • transmutation and incarnation
Ingrid H. Shafer is Professor of Philosophy and Religion as well as Mary Jo Ragan Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma, Chickasha, OK 73018; e-mail: ihs @ ionet.net.
DOI: 10.1111/1467-9744.00460

Evolution as Revelation of a Triune God by James F. Salmon, S.J., and Nicole Schmitz-Moormann

In 1917 Pierre Teilhard de Chardin wrote an essay that proposes union as a way to observe how the process of evolution takes place. He spent the remainder of his life broadening and sharpening the vision, which was based on union in nature. We propose that this vision and the historical development of thermodynamics and classical statistical mechanics offer insight into union and even into the divine life that many Christians believe to be triadic. We briefly situate union in the triune divine life in early Christian tradition as it was believed and practiced. We then interpret three stages of development in the sciences of thermodynamics and statistical mechanics that support the theme of union in nature. Next we describe the development of Teilhard’s thought during his scientific career and his tests of the theme of union, principally in his private journals, now being edited. We offer examples of Teilhard’s application of union to his own spiritual life and compare his understanding of union with those of Paul the Apostle and John of the Cross. Finally, although the Christian God’s triadic life was not a particular concern of Teilhard, we propose union in nature as a vestige of the divine life.
self-organization • Pierre Teilhard de Chardin • union • union in divine life • vestiges of the Trinity
James F. Salmon, S.J., is a member of the chemistry department at Loyola College in Maryland, 4501 N. Charles St., Baltimore, MD 21210, and a Senior Fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center in Washington, D.C.; e-mail: jsalmon @ loyola.edu. Nicole Schmitz-Moormann is Research Associate at the Woodstock Theological Center, Georgetown University, Box 571137, Washington, DC 20057-1137.
DOI: 10.1111/1467-9744.00461


Albert Einstein and Bernard Lonergan on Empirical Method by Donna Teevan

In the science-and-theology dialogue, it becomes imperative that theologians develop sophistication in empirical method. Albert Einstein stated that to understand what physicists do we should not listen to what they say but watch what they do. Still, he wrote incisively about method in physics. Theologian and philosopher Bernard Lonergan developed a methodical approach to theology that was influenced by the natural sciences. I present Einstein’s thought on epistemology and the relationship between sense experience and theory. I then turn to Lonergan’s understanding of empirical method in the natural sciences, generalized empirical method, and his treatment of Einstein’s work.
Albert Einstein • empirical • epistemology • Bernard Lonergan • scientific method • theological method
Donna Teevan is Assistant Professor of Theology and Religious Studies at Seattle University, 900 Broadway, Seattle, WA 98122. Research for this paper originated in the interdisciplinary faculty seminar “Einstein and the Revolutions in 20th-Century Physics” led by Professor of Physics Reed Guy. Funding for this seminar and the author’s participation in it was provided by the Core education program of Seattle University.
DOI: 10.1111/1467-9744.00462

Laboratory Ritual: Experimentation and the Advancement of Science by Robert M. Geraci

Technical achievement in laboratories requires millennia-old ritual formulations; the methodological expectations and presuppositions of scientists stem not only from investigations of the last three centuries but also from the ritual knowledge making that has governed human religion. Laboratory research is a form of human ritual open to interpretation in the manner of religious ritual. The experiments of the laboratory are fact-gathering ventures, but the integration of that knowledge into our general understanding of a universe of information networks is the process of knowledge making, and it is the highest achievement of all rituals, be they religious or scientific. Ritual theory offers insight into the nature of scientific experimentation.
constructivism • experimental science • experimentation • knowledge making • information networks • internal realism • laboratory • pragmatic realism • quasi objects • realism • ritual theory • scientific advancement
Robert M. Geraci is a graduate student in religious studies at the University of California-Santa Barbara. His mailing address is 770D Cypress Walk, Goleta, CA 93117; e-mail: rgeraci @ yahoo.com.
DOI: 10.1111/1467-9744.00463

Schrödinger’s Cat and Divine Action: Some Comments on the Use of Quantum Uncertainty to Allow for God’s Action in the World by Robert J. Brecha

I present results of recent work in the field of quantum optics and relate this work to discussions about the theory of quantum mechanics and God’s divine action in the world. Experiments involving atomic decay, relevant to event uncertainty in quantum mechanics, as well as experiments aimed at elucidating the so-called Schrödinger’s-cat paradox, help clarify apparent ambiguities or paradoxes that I believe are at the heart of renewed attempts to locate God within our constructed physical theories and tend to narrow the gaps proposed as an opening for divine action. Some problems arise because of imprecise use of nonmathematical language to force quantum mechanics into an intuitive “classical” framework.
determinism • divine action • measurement • quantum chaos • quantum mechanics • realism • Schrödinger’s cat
Robert J. Brecha is Associate Professor of Physics, University of Dayton, 300 College Park, Dayton, OH 45469-2314. Work on this article was supported in part through the Religion and Science Faculty Seminar at the University of Dayton, Spring 2000.
DOI: 10.1111/1467-9744.00464

The Anthropic Principle: Life in the Universe by Kevin Sharpe and Jonathan Walgate

The anthropic principle, that the universe exists in some sense for life, has persisted in recent religious and scientific thought because it derives from cosmological fact. It has been unsuccessful in furthering our understanding of the world because its advocates tend to impose final metaphysical solutions onto what is a physical problem. We begin by outlining the weak and strong versions of the anthropic principle and reviewing the discoveries that have led to their formulation. We present the reasons some have given for ignoring the anthropic implications of these discoveries and find these reasons wanting—a real phenomenon demands real investigation. Theological and scientific solutions of the problem are then considered and criticized; these solutions provide dead ends for explanation. Finally, we pursue the path that explanation must follow and look at the physical details of the problem. It seems clear that the anthropic principle has been poorly framed. Removing the ambiguities surrounding the meaning of “life” may lead to more profitable investigations.
anthropic principle • existence of God • many-universe theory • meaning of life • self-organized criticality
Kevin Sharpe is Core Professor in the Graduate College, Union Institute and University, Cincinnati, and a member of Harris Manchester College, Oxford University. His address is 10 Shirelake Close, Oxford OX1 1SN, United Kingdom; e-mail: kevin.sharpe @ tui.edu. Jonathan Walgate is a graduate student in physics at Oxford University. His address is 31 Littlemore Road, Oxford, OX4 3SS, United Kingdom; e-mail: jon.walgate @ qubit.org.
DOI: 10.1111/1467-9744.00465

The Body as the Ground of Religion, Science, and Self by Judith Kovach

The human body is both religious subject and scientific object, the manifest locus of both religious gnosis and secular cognition. Embodiment provides the basis for a rich cross-fertilization between cognitive science and comparative religion, but cognitive studies must return to their empiricist scientific roots by reembodying subjectivity, thus spanning the natural bridge between the two fields. Referencing the ritual centrality and cognitive content of the body, I suggest a materialist but nonreductionist construct of the self as a substantial cognitive embodiment that embraces not just perception and cognition, mind and spirit, but the forceful physicality of the moving body. Proprioception of the body’s moving mass constitutes a mode of knowing that resonates strongly with the experience of self, not only across religious traditions but also within the physical sciences. By way of illustration, two directions are suggested in which a construct of the self as a substantial cognitive embodiment might lead us: first, a body-based interpretation of the Islamic myth of Adam and Iblis that reveals an internal substantiality as constitutive of the divinely imaged Self, and second, a new, religious direction for human evolutionary theory based on the implications of an embodied intentionality.
Adam • anthropology of religion • anthropology and the body • bipedalism • cognition • cognitive content of the body • cognitive science • embodied cognition • embodiment • human evolution • Homo religious • Iblis • Islamic myth • liminality • phenomenology • preconceptual experience • proprioception • reflexivity • religion • religious experience • ritual • selfhood
Judith Kovach is a doctoral student in the Division of Religious and Theological Studies at Boston University. She lives in St. Croix, P.O. Box 3023, Frederiksted, VI 00841.
DOI: 10.1111/1467-9744.00466

Worlds within Worlds: Kabbalah and the New Scientific Paradigm by Kerry Gordon

Beginning with relativity and quantum theory, the deterministic view that has dominated and shaped Western culture for more than 2,500 years has begun to unravel, leading to the emergence of a new paradigm. This new paradigm effectively reformulates the project of science, conceiving of existence as an interpenetrating web of coevolving, cocreative relationships. By exploring Kabbalah and the new scientific paradigm within the context of shared evolutionary principles, I seek to demonstrate a viable alternative to the prevailing deterministic worldview. By going beyond the limits of determinism and re-visioning existence as an evolutionary, emergent phenomenon, we can establish a new basis for an authentic dialogue between science and religion.
attractor • autopoiesis • cocreative • complexity • cosmological natural selection • creation • determinism • emergence • evolution • existence • holomovement • implicate order • Kabbalah • Keter • macrocosm • microcosm • new scientific paradigm • open system • paradigm • sefirot • self-organization • structural coupling • transformation • tree of life • whole and part
Kerry Gordon is a psychotherapist in private practice and director of the Program for New Paradigm Studies, 10 Cloverlawn Ave., Toronto, ON M6E 1H3, Canada.
DOI: 10.1111/1467-9744.00467


Religion and Scientific Naturalism: Overcoming the Conflicts by David Ray Griffin, reviewed by David A. Pailin

David A. Pailin, Emeritus Professor of the Philosophy of Religion, University of Manchester, 1, Horsham Avenue, Hazel Grove, Stockport SK7 5HW, Cheshire, England; e-mail: davida @ pailin.fsnet.co.uk
DOI: 10.1111/1467-9744.00468

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