Zygon: Journal of Religion & Science
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Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science
40 (2), June 2005

Table of Contents


It’s All about Transforming Minds by Philip Hefner

Transformed ways of thinking. The issues that Zygon deals with, the issues it has been addressing for forty years, demand new ways of thinking. If we are to understand these issues and offer useful approaches to the challenges they pose, we must allow our minds and our methods to be caught up in the dynamic of today’s intellectual developments. Readers who come to our discussion in the course of their personal search for understanding and meaning know instinctively that new ways of thinking are necessary for relating religion and science. Those who come from the so-called “religion-and-science peer group” may find this demand for mental transformation more difficult than others, because, as in the case of any academic discipline, certain ideas and methods tend to attain the aura of preference and authority. The central mission of this journal fits comfortably in no single niche—academic or otherwise. This becomes clear in the pages of this issue.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.2005.00659.x


The Varieties and Revisions of Atheism by William Schweiker

The philosopher Antony Flew has argued for decades that theistic arguments cannot meet criteria of truth. In this essay I respond to Flew’s recent announcement that research into the emergence of DNA provides grounds for rational belief in an intelligent orderer, a “God.” Flew’s theistic turn is important for philosophers of religion and the wider science-and-religion dialogue. It becomes apparent, however, that Flew’s “conversion” is not as decisive as one might imagine. While he admits growth in scientific and philosophical understanding, he rejects the idea of growth in religious understanding. Further, he endorses a version of “theoretical theism” while denying the practical importance of belief. Such denial of practical conviction is part of a modernist mindset that separates freedom from the embeddedness of human beings in the natural world. I conclude by noting that the entanglement of human action and wider physical processes, an entanglement seen emblematically in the environmental crisis, requires not only considering the importance of intelligence and order in the emergence of life but also the significance of human agency in claims about the divine and the natural world.
deism • falsification • Antony Flew • intelligent design • moral proof for the existence of God • practical atheism • religious understanding • verification
William Schweiker is Professor of Theological Ethics at The University of Chicago, The Divinity School, 1025 East 58th Street, Chicago, IL 60637; e-mail: w-schweiker @ uchicago.edu.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.2005.00660.x

Can Science Promote Religion for the Benefit of Society?

How Can Science Help Religion toward Optimal Benefit for Society? by Bjørn Grinde

The dispute between theism and atheism has centered on whether there exists any entity that may be referred to as God and on how to explain life and the universe. As a consequence of this dispute and of the power of scientific explanations, religion may end up having less impact on society. The situation makes the following questions relevant: What are the advantages and disadvantages for society of downgrading religion? If the net effect of religion is considered to be positive, is it possible to counteract this trend? Moreover, examining the benefits of religion raises a further question: Is it possible to influence theology toward a stance with optimal utility for society? As a scientist writing from an atheist perspective, I argue that religion has a potential for serving society and that this advantage need not necessarily be sacrificed on the altar of science.
adaptive advantage • anthropic principle • benefits of religion • evolutionary theory • human nature • intelligent design • science
Bjørn Grinde is chief scientist at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, P.O. Box 4404 Nydalen, 0403 Oslo, Norway, and professor at the University of Oslo; e-mail: bjorn.grinde @ fhi.no.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.2005.00661.x

A Janus Face upon Religion from Scientific Materialism by John A. Teske

Bjørn Grinde’s article is a Janus face from a scientific insider looking out toward religion and from a religious outsider looking in. His scientific story of the evolutionary and present advantages of religion is laudable but incomplete, as the logic of commitment strategies might provide a fuller account of what produces the value of religious faith. His scientific presuppositions nevertheless might be taken as exhibiting some hubris, particularly in the limits of his instrumental ethics. Finally, the variety and potential incommensurability of both theistic and nontheistic religious views render his distinction between “minimal” and “elaborated” views of God problematic as a route to finding a scientifically credible view by which science might move to optimize the value of religion. Nevertheless, the goal of doing so might be supported by several structural features of religious views, of individual transformation and of hopes for the future, which may be supported by the evolutionary logic of commitment strategies at both individual and group levels.
commitment • empiricism • evolutionary adaptation • faith • human universals • irrationality • metaphysics • scientific materialism • supernatural • trust
John A. Teske is a professor of psychology at Elizabethtown College, Elizabethtown, PA 17022; e-mail: teskeja @ etown.edu.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.2005.00662.x

How Science Can Help Religion Benefit Society by P. Roger Gillette

Modern science has given us a revolutionary new understanding of the close interrelationship and interdependence of humans not only with all other humans but with all other living species and with the nonliving elements of the geosphere and the rest of the universe. This new understanding can provide a basis for new understandings of (1) the basic nature of religion, (2) the basic principles of major world religious traditions, and (3) the basic principles of religious ethics. The new understanding of religious ethics will involve a better understanding of our rights and responsibilities, as individuals and groups, with respect to other individuals and groups of humans, other living species, and the nonliving universe. This improved understanding will benefit not only human individuals and human societies, local and global, but also local and global ecosystems.
altruism • ecological ethics • environmental ethics • evolutionary psychobiology • evolutionary psychology • human rights and responsibilities • medical ethics • natural theology • religious naturalism
P. Roger Gillette is a retired physicist and system development engineer, and a student in philosophy and religious studies at Willamette University. His mailing address is 2385 Crestview Dr. S., Salem, OR 97302.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.2005.00663.x

Fortieth Anniversary Symposium: Science, Religion, and Secularity in a Technological Society

Magic, Religion, Science, Technology, and Ethics in the Postmodern World by Barbara A. Strassberg

In this essay I argue that magic, religion, science, technology, and ethics are components of cultures that coexist at every stage of the evolution of societies and cultures and are interconnected and intertwined with each other within the web of relationships with other components of social life and culture. They undergo changes under the influence of each other and of social and cultural factors that coevolve with them throughout the history of humanity in the direction of democratization. The religion-and-science discussion is embedded within the framework of the postmodern social scientific discourse to illustrate that the apparent contradictions or substitutions disappear and that in actual human experience there is cooperation and complementarity between these elements of culture.
culture • democratization • ethics • evolution • magic • postmodernity • religion • science • sociology • technology • trust
Barbara A. Strassberg is Professor of Sociology, Aurora University, 327 S. Gladstone, Aurora, IL 60506; e-mail: bstrass @ aurora.edu.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.2005.00664.x

Techno-secularism and “Revealed Religion”: Some Problems with Caiazza’s Analysis by Gordon D. Kaufman

Instead of focusing my remarks on John Caiazza’s interesting and important thesis about the way in which modern technology is drastically secularizing our culture today, I examine the frame within which he sets out his thesis, a frame I regard as seriously flawed. Caiazza’s argument is concerned with the broad range of religion/science/technology issues in today’s world, but the only religion that he seems to take seriously is what he calls “revealed religion” (Christianity). His consideration of religion is thus narrow and cramped, and this makes it difficult to assess properly the significance of what he calls techno-secularism. I suggest that employing a broader conception of religion would enable us to see more clearly what is really at stake in the rise of techno-secularism. Instead of defining the issues in the polarizing terms of revealed religion versus secularity, I argue for a more integrative approach in which concepts are developed that can bring together and hold together major religious insights and themes with modern scientific thinking. If, for example, we give up the anthropomorphism of the traditional idea of God as creator and think of God as simply creativity, it becomes possible to integrate theological insights with current scientific thinking and to formulate the issues posed by the rise of techno-secularism in a more illuminating way. This in turn should facilitate effective address of those issues.
anthropomorphism • bridge concepts • Christian religion • creativity • double-truth problem • evolutionary theory • God as creativity • God as creator • God as mystery • integrative thinking • revealed knowledge • revealed religion • science versus religion • scientific cosmology • techno-secularism
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/j.1467-9744.2005.00665.x

Culture and History: Essential Partners in the Conversation between Religion and Science by Norbert M. Samuelson

In this essay I respond to John Caiazza’s claim for the primacy of what he calls techno-secularism for understanding twentieth-century history. Using the examples of the Taiping Rebellion in nineteenth-century China and Zionism in twentieth-century Europe, I argue that the range of Caiazza’s schema is confined solely to the Protestant West with little applicability to other national histories. I argue further for the lack of clarity and therefore the uselessness of the dichotomy of the secular and the religious for understanding human history. I claim instead that, while the category of technology and the institutions of religion are important determiners in human history, they need to be subsumed, without special status, within a broader set of interrelated factors called “culture.” I appeal for the academic study of science and religion to give primacy for the near future to the history of science and religion over both theology and science.
John Caiazza • China • Christianity • conservative • culture • elite • Hong Xiu • Israel • liberal • Neo-Confucianism • Reform Judaism • religious • secular • Taiping • technology • techno-secularism • values • Zionism
Norbert M. Samuelson is the Harold and Jean Grossman Chair of Jewish Studies in the Religious Studies Department at Arizona State University, P.O. Box 873104, Tempe, AZ 85287-3104.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.2005.00666.x

Whom to Blame for the Charge of Secularization? by Lluís Oviedo

In the last century science and technology have been viewed as guilty of contributing to the modern secularization process and also to a crisis in religion. The extent of this influence is less clear today: while technology is stronger, and an easy target for any kind of social and cultural criticism, science seems weaker than it used to. The aim of this commentary is to examine in a critical way the arguments for and against scientific and technological involvement in the crisis religion faces today. In the end, a revision of the future of religion is called into question, especially in the light of a more “technological theology.”
cognitive science • cognitive theory of religion • hathayoga • religious studies • yoga
Lluís Oviedo is Professor of Theological Anthropology, Pontifical University Antonianum, Via Merulana 124, 00185 Roma, Italy, and invited Professor in The Gregorian University of Theology and Culture.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.2005.00667.x

Science and Scientism: The Importance of a Distinction by John F. Haught

John Caiazza’s interesting argument is an important one and deserves a close hearing. However, his article could be more forceful if he would distinguish more carefully between science on the one hand and “scientific secularism” and “materialism” on the other.
materialism • scientific naturalism • scientism
John F. Haught is Thomas Healey Professor of Theology at Georgetown University, Washington, D.C. 20057.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.2005.00668.x


Reductionism and Holism, Chance and Selection, Mechanism and Mind by Ursula Goodenough

Despite its rich and deepening panoply of empirical support, evolutionary theory continues to generate widespread concern. Some of this concern can be attributed to misunderstandings of the original concept, some to unfamiliarity with its current trajectories, and some to strongly held fears that it strips the human of cherished attributes. In this essay I seek to deconstruct such misunderstandings, lift up current concepts of what evolution entails, and address some of the existential issues it generates.
emergence • evolution • free will • Neo-Darwinism
Ursula Goodenough is Professor of Biology in the Department of Biology, Box 1229, Washington University, St. Louis, MO 63130; e-mail: ursula @ biosgi.wustl.edu.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.2005.00669.x

Interreligious Dialogue as an Evolutionary Process by James F. Moore

I explore the contributions of Ibrahim Moosa, a Muslim legal scholar, to a Muslim-Christian dialogue on religion and science. Moosa begins from the context of Shari’a, Islamic law, and not from the usual issues of the religion-science dialogue. Beginning as it does from a legal tradition, the approach suggests a perspective on science and religion that is particular to Islam and provides insight into how an authentic dialogue between Muslims and Christians would proceed—and thereby an alternative model for a religion-science dialogue.
ethics • Islam • law • Ibrahim Moosa • Shari’a
James F. Moore is Professor of Theology at Valparaiso University, Valparaiso, IN 46383; e-mail: James.Moore @ valpo.edu.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.2005.00670.x

Science Looks at Spirituality

Cultivating Loving Kindness: A Two-Stage Model of the Effects of Meditation on Empathy, Compassion, and Altruism by Jean L. Kristeller and Thomas Johnson

We explore the role of meditative practice in cultivating experiences of compassion, empathy, and altruism and address an apparent paradox: Meditation often is associated with solitary retreat, if not preoccupation with one’s own concerns. How, then, does such a practice promote compassion for others? We propose a two-stage model. The first stage involves disengagement from usual preoccupation with self-reinforcing, self-defeating, or self-indulgent behaviors and reactions; the second involves a focused engagement with a universal human capacity for altruistic experience, love, and compassion. Reference is made to the limited research literature and to clinical applications of loving kindness (metta) meditation in cultivating these processes.
altruism • Buddhist psychology • compassion • empathy • loving kindness • mindfulness meditation
Jean L. Kristeller is Professor of Psychology and Director of the Center for the Study of Health, Religion, and Spirituality at Indiana State University, Terre Haute, IN 47809; e-mail: pykris @ isugw.indstate.edu. Thomas Johnson is Associate Professor of Psychology and Associate Director of the Center for the Study of Health, Religion, and Spirituality at Indiana State University, Terre Haute, IN 47809.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.2005.00671.x

Spirit Healing, Mental Health, and Emotion Regulation by Joan D. Koss-Chioino

Spirit healing is widespread across societies in diverse world regions. Its ritual forms appear in local, popular religions as well as a variety of organized churches. Although aspects of ritual, such as the identification of spirits and use of symbols and paraphernalia, vary with culture and type of religion, there appear to be basic components of ritual healing process shared by its diverse forms. Using data on Spiritist healing in Puerto Rico as a case example, I first examine aspects of the interface between mental illness as defined by psychiatry and spirit healing. I then raise the question: If spirit healing is effective with some emotional disorders (as I have discussed in previous reports), how does it work? Emotional transactions could be considered foundational to most or all spirit healing rituals as they are to some psychotherapeutic and alternative-medicine modalities. One model of emotion regulation is proposed as a lens through which to view specific processes of change in feelings and emotions in the context of culturally specified ritual structures.
emotion regulation • psychiatric illness • Puerto Rico • ritual healing process • spirit healing • spirit mediums • Spiritism
Joan D. Koss-Chioino is Professor of Anthropology Emerita at Arizona State University and Research Professor of Psychology at George Washington University, Washington, D.C. Her mailing address is 2753 Bon Haven Lane, Annapolis, MD 21401.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.2005.00672.x

Reconnecting Science and Spirituality: Toward Overcoming a Taboo by Harald Walach and K. Helmut Reich

We argue that reconnecting science and spirituality yields the best rational understanding of the world. Spirituality is seen as the core of many religions. Distinctions are drawn between science and scientism and between spirituality and religion. A historical analysis provides a partial explanation of scientists’ aversion to religion. A thought experiment illustrates that spirituality could not only be a legitimate research topic of science but also inform science by offering certain insights. Specifically, science could and should more freely study spirituality in its beneficial impact on individuals’ attempts to attain personal wholeness, overcome substance abuse, achieve a more communal society, and safeguard the environment.
complementarity of science and spirituality • history of science and religion • methods in science and in religion • religion • science • spirituality
Harald Walach directs the Department of Evaluation Research in Complementary Medicine of the University of Freiburg, Germany. His mailing address is University Hospital Freiburg, Institute of Environmental Medicine and Hospital Epidemiology, Samueli Institute—European Office, Hugstetterstr. 55, D-79106 Freiburg, Germany; e-mail: harald.walach @ uniklinik-freiburg.de. K. Helmut Reich is Professor at the nonresident Rutherford International University in Evanston, Wyoming, U.S.A., and Richmond, British Columbia, Canada, School of Consciousness Studies and Sacred Traditions. He is also a Senior Research Fellow emeritus at the School of Education of the University of Fribourg. His mailing address is Route des Chemins de Fer 3, CH-1823 Glion, Switzerland; e-mail: helmut.reich @ tele2.ch.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.2005.00673.x

Religion and Health: A Review and Critical Analysis by Bruce Y. Lee and Andrew B. Newberg

The study of the relationship between religion and health has grown substantially in the past decade. There is little doubt that religion plays an important role in many people’s lives and that this has an impact on their health. The question is how researchers and clinicians can best evaluate the available information and how we can improve upon the current findings. In this essay we review the current knowledge regarding religion and health and also critically review issues pertaining to methodology, findings, and interpretation of these studies. It is important to maintain a rigorous perspective with regard to such studies and also to recognize inherent limitations and suggest constructive ways in which to advance this field of study. In the end, such an approach can provide new information that will improve our understanding of the overall relationship between religion and health.
health • methodology • religion • spirituality
Bruce Y. Lee, M.D., is a physician-scientist Fellow, Division of General Internal Medicine, University of Pennsylvania. Andrew B. Newberg, M.D., is assistant professor of radiology and psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania Health System, 110 Donner Building, H.U.P., 3400 Spruce Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104; e-mail: andrew.newberg @ uphs.upenn.edu.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.2005.00674.x

The Neuroscientific Study of Religious and Spiritual Phenomena: Or Why God Doesn’t Use Biostatistics by Andrew B. Newberg and Bruce Y. Lee

With the rapidly expanding field of neuroscience research exploring religious and spiritual phenomena, there have been many perspectives as to the validity, importance, relevance, and need for such research. In this essay we review the studies that have contributed to our current understanding of the neuropsychology of religious phenomena. We focus on methodological issues to determine which areas have been weaknesses and strengths in the current studies. This area of research also poses important theological and epistemological questions that require careful consideration if both the religious and scientific elements are to be appropriately respected. The best way to evaluate this field is to determine the methodological issues that currently affect the field and explore how best to address such issues so that future investigations can be as robust as possible and can become more mainstream in both the religious and the scientific arenas.
health • methodology • religion • spirituality
Andrew B. Newberg, M.D., is assistant professor of radiology and psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania Health System, 110 Donner Building, H.U.P., 3400 Spruce Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104; e-mail: andrew.newberg @ uphs.upenn.edu. Bruce Y. Lee, M.D., is a physician-scientist Fellow, Division of General Internal Medicine, University of Pennsylvania.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.2005.00675.x

Endmatter: Formative Moments in Zygon’s History

Theological Resources from the Sciences: A Symposium in March 1966

The major articles and their commentaries in this [March 1966] issue of Zygon were written for a conference on “A Reconsideration of the Relation of Theology to the Sciences.” Called to inaugurate the Committee on Theology and the Sciences of Meadville Theological School of Lombard College, the conferees met January 18-19, 1965, at the Center for Continuing Education of the University of Chicago.

The conference prospectus set the context for the papers and reflects the orientation of Zygon’s editors. We are therefore citing the relevant sections:

There is irony in the fact that the epoch of greatest scientific advances in human history—in scope as well as sophistication—should be the epoch of minimum theological utilization of scientific concepts and perspectives. Perhaps the most striking quality of the scientific enterprise has been the evolution of methods which require and generate great intellectual freedom yet which lead to surprisingly fruitful consensus in interpretations and results. From this alone, religion could learn. Despite the sharper restrictions of their intellectual freedom by institutionalism, theologians seem to multiply their diversities and disagreements. In an age where many of the sciences are learning to handle the complex, the unique, the individual, we can no longer view these as a special province of the theologians or an excuse for theological diversity.

By “theology,” we mean those critical, intellectual attempts to understand and reform the beliefs and practices of a given religious community. The hypotheses of our Committee on Theology and the Sciences can be simply stated. No religion can remain vital unless its beliefs and practices speak to men’s major concerns, and speak to them with credibility. The contemporary sciences provide a rich lode of reliable knowledge about man’s nature, destiny, and cosmic setting. Theologies which take this knowledge seriously might vitalize their religions and find themselves moving toward greater consensus. The function of the Committee on Theology and the Sciences is to assess the religious relevance of this increasingly interlinked network of interpretations of reality, open to appropriate testing by all inquirers. …
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.2005.00676.x

Can Physics Contribute to Theology? (1966) by Sanborn C. Brown

Perhaps the most spectacular development in recent history has been the truly amazing rise of the importance of science, and the effect it is having on every facet of human life. No less amazing, particularly to the scientist, is the equally spectacular lack of understanding of the scientific endeavor which the non-scientist not only exhibits but seems to revel in.

A present-day educated man would be disdainfully scornful of anyone who knew nothing of the writings of Dante or Homer, the paintings of El Greco or Renoir, or the music of Telemann or Verdi. Yet, this same man is heard to brag that he never could pass elementary physics and that high-school biology made him sick at his stomach.

The intellectual of the future not only will know something of science but will be so attuned to its intellectual discipline that he can use its relevant teachings to make progress in his own field of learning. We are gathered together here not to look backward or even at the present but forward to the future to try to plot a course for theology in the modern idiom—to search for the relevancy of all aspects of the modern world to the highest aspirations and goals toward which men strive. Specifically what I want to address my remarks to is the thesis that theologians have much to learn from the methodology and intellectual discipline of the scientist. In my opinion a knowledge of the intellectual procedures in common use by a research physicist in his search for the organization of the universe is far from irrelevant in developing a modern epistemology for theology. …
Sanborn C. Brown was professor of physics and associate dean of the Graduate School, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Primarily a plasma physicist, Brown also added to the history of science by his studies of Benjamin Thompson. In 1966, he was president of the Institute on Religion in an Age of Science and chairman of Meadville’s Scientific Advisory Board
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.2005.00677.x

Commentary on Theological Resources from the Physical Sciences (1966) by Ian G. Barbour

Let me first underscore Brown’s last point about the importance of analyzing wholes as well as parts. A statistical ensemble has relatively little unity but can usefully be treated as a unit. There are other cases in physics in which a more highly integrated system is analyzed as a whole. For example, one has to write the quantum wave functions for an atom as a whole; the separate electrons lose their identity, so one cannot even talk about electron A and electron B as if they were distinguishable. The Pauli Exclusion Principle which governs the addition of electrons to the total configuration of an atom could not be reduced to any kind of force acting on individual electrons. Or again, one calculates energy levels for a solid-state structure or crystal as a total system. …
At the time of writing, Ian G. Barbour was chairman of the Department of Religion and professor of physics, Carleton College.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.2005.00678.x

Theology and Physics Forty Years Later by Ian G. Barbour

Almost forty years later I look back on a 1966 article on theology and physics by Sanford Brown and my response published with it. I reflect on his hope that theological seminaries would give attention to the methods used in scientific inquiry. I compare our comments with subsequent thought on three issues: (1) the role of models in science and religion; (2) the relation of wholes to parts in physics and other sciences and the debate over reductionism and emergence; and (3) the implications of quantum physics for theology, including the possibility of divine action at the quantum level.
Sanford Brown • divine action • emergence • indeterminacy • levels • models • quantum theory • reductionism • wholes and parts
Ian Barbour has retired from Carleton College, Northfield, MN 55057, where at various times he has been Professor of Physics, Professor of Religion, and Bean Professor of Science, Technology and Society; e-mail: ibarbour @ carleton.edu.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.2005.00679.x

Comments on Sanborn Brown’s “Can Physics Contribute to Theology?” by John Polkinghorne

Sanborn Brown raised in a preliminary form issues relating to science and religion that have been subjects for increasingly more sophisticated discussion over the intervening forty years.
Sanborn Brown • models • truth
John Polkinghorne is the retired President of Queens’ College, Cambridge, CB3 9ET, UK, and a scientist-theologian.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.2005.00680.x

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