Zygon: Journal of Religion & Science
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Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science
38 (1), March 2003

Table of Contents


March 2003 Editorial by Philip Hefner

In recent editorials, I have observed that our explorations on the frontier of engagement between religion and science sometimes confront new issues and interpretations but more often result in new interpretations of perennial issues. The articles we present here reflect that observation—some attention to novel issues, more on issues that have been around for quite some time. Biologist Steven Peck starts us off in his Thinkpiece by exploring the contrast between materialist arguments for chance and contingency, which count against the existence of God, and the implications of subjectivity for both science and a belief in God. Robert Schaible, a professor of English literature, proposes that poetry, exemplified in the work of Walt Whitman, attempts to understand complex aspects of human experience in ways that parallel the attempts of physicists to understand complex aspects of the subatomic world.
DOI: 10.1111/0591-2385.661997066


Randomness, Contingency, and Faith: Is There a Science of Subjectivity? by Steven L. Peck

Materialists argue that there is no place for God in the universe. Chance and contingency are all that structure our world. However, the materialists’ dismissal of subjectivity manifests a flawed metaphysics that invalidates their arguments against God. In this essay I explore the following: (1) How does personal metaphysics affect one’s ability to do science? (2) Are the materialist arguments about contingency used to dismiss the importance of our place in the universe valid? (3) What are the implications of subjectivity on belief and science? To answer the first question, I examine the later years of Sir Alfred Russel Wallace, one of the cofounders of evolution through natural selection with Darwin. His belief in nineteenth-century spiritualism profoundly affected his standing in the scientific community. I describe the effect of spiritualism on Wallace’s science. To answer the second question, I use my own work in mathematical modeling of evolutionary processes to show that randomness, and contingency at one level, can actually be nearly deterministic at another. I demonstrate how arguments about chance and contingency do not imply anything relevant about whether there is a designer behind the universe. To answer the third question I begin by exploring a paradox of consciousness and show how the existence of subjective truths may provide a paradigm for sustaining a rational belief in God. These questions form the framework of a structured belief in a creator while yet embracing what science has to offer about the development of life on our planet.
consciousness • emergent property • evolution • God’s existence • Søren Kierkegaard • materialism • mind-body problem • subjectivity • supervenience • Alfred Russel Wallace
Steven L. Peck is Assistant Professor in the Department of Integrative Biology, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT 84602-5255; e-mail: steve_peck @ byu.edu.
DOI: 10.1111/1467-9744.00474


Quantum Mechanics and “Song of Myself”: Getting a Grip on Reality by Robert M. Schaible

Most recent writing linking science and literature has concerned itself with challenges to the epistemological status of scientific knowledge in an attempt to demonstrate its contingency, arguing in the more radical efforts that the structures of science are no more than useful fictions. This essay also includes an epistemological comparison between science and literature, but instead of making grand or meta-statements about the nature of knowing generally in the two fields, mine is a much narrower aim. My exploration entails two tasks. First, I provide a close-up look at a particular type of experiment, called the delayed-choice experiment, which clearly reveals the strangeness of the quantum world. In connection with this experiment, I discuss wave functions—mathematical expressions used by physicists to describe quantum behavior and predict the outcome of experiments involving quanta. Second, I look at Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself” focusing on the meaning of the “self” in the poem. My aim is to treat the object of study in each field as a “text” and to assert and demonstrate a parallel in the strategies of thought and response between physicists (“readers”) pondering the meaning and status of a wave function and poem readers pondering the meaning and status of the poem’s self. In Whitman’s “Song” we find an attempt to understand complex aspects of human experience that are said to transcend ordinary reality, an effort for which I believe there are parallels in the attempts of modern physicists to understand complex, nonintuitive aspects of the subatomic world. While not making the kind of broad claims eschewed above, I do suggest that this focused study has interesting implications since both the wave function and the poem’s self force their respective sets of “readers” to confront questions of ultimacy—to consider, that is, epistemological and ontological issues of more than passing interest to students of science as well as those of metaphysics and theology.
Copenhagen Interpretation • correspondential and instrumental notions of truth • delayed-choice experiment • mathematical formalism • metaphysics • mysticism • potentia • quantum facts • quantum reality • quantum wave function • sign • signified • signifier • thematic formalism • transcendent Self
Robert Schaible is Associate Professor of Arts and Humanities at Lewiston-Auburn College of the University of Southern Maine and the current occupant of the Walter E. Russell Chair in Philosophy and Education. His mailing address is 51-55 Westminster St., Lewiston, ME 04240; e-mail: schaible @ usm.maine.edu.
DOI: 10.1111/1467-9744.00475

Kantian Ethics: After Darwin by John Teehan

In this article I reevaluate Immanuel Kant’s moral philosophy from a post-Darwinian perspective. Taking an evolutionary approach to human reasoning and incorporating some recent work on the science of the emotions, I argue that the Kantian bifurcation of reason and emotion, which underlies his moral philosophy, is no longer tenable. Kant’s practical defense of his ethics as being the only option that can save morality from the dangers posed by naturalism is also considered and rejected. Instead, I argue that an evolutionary view of reason and emotion can provide an adequate ground for morality and explore the possibility and advantages of such an ethics.
emotions • ethics • evolution • Immanuel Kant • naturalism • rationality
John Teehan is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Hofstra University. His mailing address is Roosevelt Hall, School for University Studies, 130 Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY 11549; e-mail: SUSJPT @ Hofstra.edu.
DOI: 10.1111/1467-9744.00476

Some Comments on the Problem of Reductionism in Contemporary Physical Science by Frank E. Budenholzer

Is reductionism simply a methodology that has allowed science to progress to its current state (methodological reductionism), or does this methodology indicate something more, that the material universe is determined in full by its smallest components (ontological or causal reductionism)? Such questions lie at the heart of much of the contemporary religion-science dialogue. In this essay I suggest that the position articulated by philosopher-theologian Bernard Lonergan is particularly suitable for dealing with these questions. For Lonergan, the criterion of the real is simply its verified intelligibility and not its imaginability. Each of the various levels of reality, as studied in sciences such as physics, chemistry, biology, and sensitive and rational psychology, consists of an intelligible integration of what on the lower level would be simply random occurrences. The things studied by the various sciences (atoms, molecules, cellular organisms, animals, human persons, and so on) are intelligible unities, and no one level is somehow more real than any other. I argue that such a scheme, while seeming somewhat counterintuitive, is best able to deal with the multilayered reality of the contemporary physical and life sciences and provide an opening to the richness of the social sciences and the achievements of human culture.
cognitional analysis • critical realism • descriptive and explanatory science • intelligibility • Bernard Lonergan • reductionism
Frank E. Budenholzer is Professor of Chemistry and part-time lecturer in the Department of Philosophy at Fu Jen Catholic University. His mailing address is Department of Chemistry, Fu Jen Catholic University, Hsinchuang 242, Taiwan, ROC; e-mail: chem1003 @ mails.fju.edu.tw.
DOI: 10.1111/1467-9744.00477

Negotiating the Boundaries of Science and Religion: The Conversion of Allan Sandage by William A. Durbin

In the early 1950s, astronomer Allan Sandage inherited from Edwin Hubble the task of determining whether expansion was real. In the succeeding forty years, Sandage “established the discipline of observational cosmology” (Overbye 1991, 188). At the same time, he encountered the limits of science to address the full mystery of existence. In seeking an answer to the question of purpose, in particular, Sandage came to the “abyss of reason” and made the “leap of faith.” This conversion, however, involved, and continues to involve, an ongoing process of balancing two avenues to the truth, drawing upon resources from both scientific and religious traditions. Reason and faith seem reconcilable in life lived as an experiment and in “bowing before the mystery” (Sandage 1990). Ultimately, Sandage suggests that religious conversion comes not so much through reasoned pursuit as in the realization of being pursued.
conversion • existentialist • god of the philosophers • hound of heaven • John of the Cross • leap of faith • materialist-reductionist • mystery • natural theology • Blaise Pascal • purpose
William A. Durbin is Assistant Professor of Ecclesiastical History and Coordinator of the Science and Religion Program at the Washington Theological Union, 6896 Laurel St., NW, Washington, DC 20012; e-mail: durbin @ wtu.edu. Research for this paper was made possible through the Lilly Theological Research Grant Program.
DOI: 10.1111/1467-9744.00478

A Symposium—Naturalism: Varieties and Issues

Introduction by Jerome A. Stone

The papers in this section were given as a panel on Religious Naturalism at the American Academy of Religion in Denver in November 2001. The panelists included Jerome Stone, Gordon Kaufman, Ursula Goodenough, Charley Hardwick, and Donald Crosby. This introduction briefly describes the panelists, lists three questions the panelists were asked to consider, and names other current and past religious naturalists.
Samuel Alexander • American Academy of Religion • Donald Crosby • Charley Hardwick • Gordon Kaufman • religious naturalism • Spinoza • Jerome Stone • Ursula Goodenough
Jerome A. Stone is Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at William Rainey Harper College, Palatine, IL 60067, and on the adjunct faculty at Meadville Lombard Theological School; e-mail: Jersustone @ aol.com.
DOI: 10.1111/1467-9744.00479

Varieties of Religious Naturalism by Jerome A. Stone

This article opens with two generic definitions of religious naturalism in general: one by Jerome Stone and one by Rem Edwards used by Charley Hardwick. Two boundary issues, humanism and process theology, are discussed. A brief sketch of my own “minimalist” and pluralist version of religious naturalism follows. Finally, several issues that are, or should be, faced by religious naturalists are explored.
William Dean • Ursula Goodenough • Charley Hardwick • Bernard Loomer • Bernard Meland • minimalist vision of transcendence • religious naturalism • Henry Nelson Wieman
Jerome A. Stone is Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at William Rainey Harper College, Palatine, IL 60067, and on the adjunct faculty at Meadville Lombard Theological School; e-mail: Jersustone @ aol.com.
DOI: 10.1111/1467-9744.00480

Biohistorical Naturalism and the Symbol “God” by Gordon D. Kaufman

This article has two parts, as the title suggests. The first sketches what I call biohistorical naturalism, a naturalistic position in which it is emphasized that the historicocultural development of our humanity, particularly our becoming linguistic/symbolical beings, is as central to our humanness as the biological evolutionary development that preceded (and continues to accompany) it. Apart from such a biohistorical emphasis (or its equivalent), naturalistic positions cannot give adequate accounts of human religiousness. The second part suggests that, although it would not be consistent with biohistorical naturalism to continue thinking of God in the traditional supernaturalistic way as “the Creator,” it would be quite appropriate to understand God as the ongoing creativity (of truly novel realities) manifest in the long history of the universe, particularly in the evolution of life on Earth.
biohistorical • creativity • evolution • God • historical development • metaphysical • mystery • naturalism • nature • religious naturalism • supernatural • symbolism
Gordon D. Kaufman is Edward Mallinckrodt Jr. Professor of Divinity Emeritus at Harvard University Divinity School. His mailing address is 6 Longfellow Road, Cambridge, MA 02138; e-mail: gordon_kaufman @ harvard.edu.
DOI: 10.1111/1467-9744.00481

Religious Naturalism and Naturalizing Morality by Ursula Goodenough

I first offer some reflections on the term religious naturalism. I then outline how moral thought might be configured in the context of religious naturalism. It is proposed that the goal of morality is to generate a flourishing community and that humans negotiate their social interactions using moral capacities that are cultivated in the context of culture. Six such capacities are considered: strategic reciprocity, humaneness, fair-mindedness, courage, reverence, and mindfulness. Moral capacities are contrasted with moral susceptibilities, fueled by self-interest, and brought to the fore in times of stress and humiliation. The essay is in two parts. I first respond to Jerome Stone’s query as to the nature of religious naturalism. This is followed by the text of my presentation at the 2001 AAR meeting.
courage • empathy • fair-mindedness • humaneness • mindfulness • morality • religious naturalism • reverence • strategic reciprocity
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: 10.1111/1467-9744.00482

Religious Naturalism Today by Charley D. Hardwick

Three questions are addressed. First, concerning the definition of naturalism, I accept the characterization by Rem Edwards (1972) but insist on a materialist or physicalist interpretation of these features. Second, the distinctive characteristic of my religious naturalism is an argument that although a theological position based on a physicalist ontology is constrained by physicalism, the ontology itself does not dictate theological content. Theological content can break free of ontology if this content is valuational rather than ontological. Such a valuational theism becomes possible when Rudolf Bultmann’s and Fritz Buri’s method of existentialist interpretation is wedded to Henry Nelson Wieman’s naturalist conception of God. The knowledge of God in events of grace, therefore, is rooted in moments of creative transformation that are themselves always transformative. This approach makes possible a better approach to the problem of objectivity than Bultmann could achieve. Third, concerning the chief issues facing religious naturalism today, I argue that religious naturalists should more forthrightly confront the issue of ontological materialism and that the most pressing issue concerns thinking out more fully the religious or theological content to be ascribed to such a position after the nature of naturalism is resolved.
consent to being • conservation of value • creative transformation • existentialist interpretation • existential self-understanding • final causality • God • “God” • “God exists” • materialism • myth • naturalism • naturalistic theology • ontological inventory • ontology • openness to the future • physicalism • problem of objectivity • teleology • valuational theism
Charley D. Hardwick is Professor Emeritus of Philosophy and Religious Studies, Department of Philosophy and Religion, American University, Washington, DC 20016; e-mail: chardwi @ attglobal.net.
DOI: 10.1111/1467-9744.00483

Naturism as a Form of Religious Naturalism by Donald A. Crosby

The version of religious naturalism sketched here is called naturism to distinguish it from conceptions of religious naturalism that make fundamental appeal to some idea of deity, deities, or the divine, however immanental, functional, nonontological, or purely valuational or existential such notions may be claimed to be. The focus of naturism is on nature itself as both metaphysically and religiously ultimate. Nature is sacred in its own right, not because of its derivation from some more-ultimate religious principle, state, being, beings, or order of being. Humans, their cultures, and their histories are conceived as integral parts of nature, manifestations of potentialities that lie within it and have been actualized by biological evolution. While there is no purpose of nature, the natural order contains beings capable of purposive behavior. With this purposive behavior, and the goals and ideals implicit in it, humans have the capacity to give significant direction to their ongoing cultural evolution and to discover and maintain their appropriate place within the community of creatures.
biological evolution • chance • cosmic epochs • cultural evolution • freedom • God • gods • humans as integral parts of nature • natura naturansnatura naturata • natural sciences • nature • novelty • purpose • purposive behavior • religious ultimacy of nature
Donald A. Crosby is Professor of Philosophy Emeritus, Department of Philosophy, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523, and Adjunct Instructor in the Philosophy Department, Florida State University.
DOI: 10.1111/1467-9744.00484

A Symposium—Global Ethics on HIV/AIDS: Perspectives from the Religions and the Sciences

The Prospect of a Global Ethic on HIV/AIDS: The Religions and the Science-and-Religion Dialogue by James F. Moore

This article introduces essays from a 2001 symposium on a global ethic and the issue of the spread of HIV/AIDS. The symposium began with the assumption that we can determine the possibility for such a global ethic if we both explore the potential of an interreligious dialogue and do so in the context of a science-and-religion dialogue. I argue that while the possibilities for a global ethic, in particular addressing the issue of HIV/AIDS, may be debated, the results of this symposium suggest that the dialogue ought to be continued and that there is significant potential in the interfaith dialogue for creating models for both an ethic and specific strategies for action.
disease • global ethic • globalization • HIV/AIDS • interfaith dialogue
James F. Moore is Professor of Theology at Valparaiso University, Valparaiso, Indiana 46383; e-mail: James.Moore @ valpo.edu. He is director of the interfaith project at the Zygon Center for Religion and Science in Chicago.
DOI: 10.1111/1467-9744.00485

Ethics of Globalization and the AIDS Crisis from a Jewish Perspective by Norbert M. Samuelson

This essay explores what Jewish ethics has to say about globalization in relation to the AIDS crisis. Special attention is paid to the consequences in affirming current intellectual trends to transcend traditional limits in both society and thought for rethinking traditional Jewish values. The discussion proceeds from two presuppositions. The first is that there is an intimate connection between ethics, science, and politics. The second is that the history of Jewish ethics involves three distinct forms that are generally correlated but rarely identical in content and moral judgment. These three forms are law, wisdom or virtue, and covenant. The discussion considers related issues of accidental connections in time between the bubonic plague and Zionism and between AIDS and homosexuality in relation to moral-theological issues related to divine providence and distributive justice.
AIDS • aspirin • Martin Buber • bubonic plague • conversos • covenant • distributive justice • Joel Edelheit • ethics • family • globalization • homosexuality • Jewish • Jewbues • Karaites • Solomon Katz • Kishinev pogrom • Lemba • Mizos • Moses Maimonides • musar • nationality • penicillin • politics • religion • science • sex • sexual ethics • shaatnez • Torah-true • virtue • wisdom
Norbert M. Samuelson is Grossman Professor of Jewish Philosophy at Arizona State University in the Department of Religious Studies. He is the founder and secretary of the Academy of Jewish Philosophy.
DOI: 10.1111/1467-9744.00486

Some Hindu Insights on a Global Ethic in the Context of Diseases and Epidemics by Varadaraja V. Raman

As we develop a global ethic in the context of diseases, we need to reconsider the wisdom of the religious traditions, for there is more to ailments than their material causes. In the Hindu framework, aside from the Ayurvedic system, which is based on herbal medicines and a philosophical framework, there is the insight that much of what we experience is a direct consequence of our karma (consequential actions). Therefore, here one emphasizes self-restraint and self-discipline in contexts that are conducive to self-hurting behavior.
AyurvedaBrihadaranyaka Upanishad • disease • karmaniyama (self-discipline) • yama (self-restraint)
Varadaraja V. Raman is Emeritus Professor of Physics and Humanities at the Rochester Institute of Technology. His mailing address is 20 Sutton Point, Pittsford, NY 14534; e-mail: vvrsps @ rit.edu.
DOI: 10.1111/1467-9744.00487

The Theological Structure of Christian Faith and the Feasibility of a Global Ecological Ethic by Gordon D. Kaufman

Scientific evolutionary/ecological thinking is the basis for today’s understanding that we are now in an ecological crisis. Religions, however, often resist reordering their thinking in light of scientific ideas, and this presents difficulties in trying to develop a viable global ecological ethic. In both the West and Asia religio-moral ecological concerns continue to be formulated largely in terms of traditional concepts rather than in more global terms, as scientific thinking about ecological matters might encourage them to do. The majority of this article is devoted to the kind of reformulation of Western Christian conceptions of God, humanity, and the relation between them that is necessary to address this problem. The question is then raised whether similar critical thinking about religio-moral issues raised by today’s evolutionary/ecological scientific thinking is going on in Asian religions and whether it would be too presumptuous (in view of our colonial history) for us Westerners to ask for such rethinking. This leads to a final question: Without such transformations in religious traditions East and West, is the development of a truly global ecological ethic really feasible?
Abrahamic religions • anthropocentric • Asian religions • biohistorical • creativity • evolutionary thinking • faith • global ecological ethic • God • image of God • modern sciences • nature • traditional dualisms • traditional religious terms
Gordon D. Kaufman is Edward Mallinckrodt Jr. Professor of Divinity Emeritus at Harvard University Divinity School. His mailing address is 6 Longfellow Road, Cambridge, MA 02138; e-mail: gordon_kaufman @ harvard.edu.
DOI: 10.1111/1467-9744.00488

HIV: How Science Shaped the Ethics by Gayle E. Woloschak

AIDS is a debilitating and fatal disease that was first identified as an infectious disease syndrome in the 1970s. The discovery of a nearly universally fatal infectious and rapidly spreading disease in the post-antibiotics era created apprehension in the medical community and alarm in the general population. Questions about how patients should be handled in medical and nonmedical settings resulted in the ostracizing of many AIDS patients and inappropriate patient management. Scientific investigation into modes of disease transmission and control helped to shape the management of AIDS patient care in such a way that ethical and protective practices could be developed. In this article I discuss some of the ethical questions that were addressed by appropriate scientific inquiry.
Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) • AIDS and ethics • AIDS and scientific inquiry • ethics and decision-making in AIDS patients • Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
Gayle E. Woloschak is a professor in the Department of Radiology, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, 303 E. Chicago Ave., Chicago, IL 60611; e-mail: g-woloschak @ northwestern.edu.
DOI: 10.1111/1467-9744.00489

“The Plague of Blood”: HIV/AIDS and Ethics of the Global Health-Care Challenge by Barbara Ann Strassberg

In this essay I explore the heuristic value of the concept of ethics of complexity, chaos, and contingency by applying its framework to the analysis of the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Everyday human moral choices are outcomes of a moral impulse, and such an impulse is grounded in moral competence shaped by moral literacy. This literacy is constructed on the basis of a body of knowledge of culture, social context, environment, and the universe. It also includes the knowledge of religions and religious and secular ethical codes. I also distinguish between the social and cultural aspects of ethical systems. Both societies and cultures provide resources and constraints for the development of literacy and competence. An intentionally developed multifaith and multidisciplinary coalition may help us move away from various forms of social speciation and toward sociological mindfulness. This could help us remake the world into one that has more courage to care.
ethics • HIV/AIDS • moral competence • moral impulse • moral literacy • morality • pandemic • social speciation • sociological mindfulness
Barbara Ann Strassberg is Professor of Sociology at Aurora University, 327 S. Gladstone, Aurora, IL 60506; e-mail: bstrass @ aurora.edu.
DOI: 10.1111/1467-9744.00490

Religion in the Context of Culture, Theology, and Global Ethics by Philip Hefner

The theme of this symposium is distinctive and challenging, because it incorporates the dimensions of interreligious reflection, theology, science, and ethics. This article presents a palette of issues that are both challenge and resource for approaching the theme. Three sets of issues are considered: (1) the role of religion in culture, (2) theological interpretation of nature, disease, and evil, and (3) the fashioning of a global ethic.
culture • death • disease • evil • global ethic • metanarrative • organization of consciousness
Philip Hefner is professor emeritus of systematic theology, Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, 1100 East 55th Street, Chicago, IL 60615-5199; e-mail: p-n-hef @ worldnet.att.net.
DOI: 10.1111/1467-9744.00491


Natural and Divine Law: Reclaiming the Tradition for Christian Ethics by Jean Porter, reviewed by James T. Bretzke

James T. Bretzke, Associate Professor of Christian Ethics, Jesuit School of Theology/Graduate Theological Union, 1735 LeRoy Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94709-1193
DOI: 10.1111/1467-9744.00492

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