Reflecting once again on the character and mission of this journal as it marks the end of its fortieth year of publication, I recognize that Zygon wears a three-cornered hat, so to speak, corresponding to a threefold mandate forged by our founders and elaborated through our forty-year history. First, we are committed to dialogue: exploring the intellectual and theoretical issues that arise when religion and science engage each other. Just as important is interaction, the yoking of science and religion so as to create a coherence between the two; this is the zygon function. Finally, our vision considers the overall aim of contributing to the welfare of the human community and the world in which we live. Dialogue, yoking, and the common good—these are the three corners of the hat we wear.
Spirituality emerges in the function of culture to reinforce and yet redirect our genetic heritage. Our genes urge us to be concerned only for our own welfare, which can turn us to evil behaviors. Our religious traditions urge us to engage in behaviors of transkin altruism. These religious traditions have been selected for in the processes of natural selection. The challenge to spirituality is to discern the fundamental dynamics of the evolutionary processes, both genetic and cultural, that have created us and to direct our behaviors in ways that can be beneficial to the entire natural system. Reason is not enough; we must also cultivate spiritual discernment in order to perceive the true nature of our situation and the best responses that are called for. The religious communities have the major responsibility for cultivating the spirituality that can achieve the most adequate discernment.
Donald Campbell • culturetype • genotype • selfishness • spirit • spirituality • E. O. Wilson
Ralph Wendell Burhoe (1911-1997) was the founding editor of Zygon.
Fortieth Anniversary Symposium: Science, Religion, and Secularity in a Technological Society
Rethinking the Secular: Science, Technology, and Religion Today by Bronislaw Szerszynski
Contemporary tensions between science and religion cannot simply be seen as a manifestation of an eternal tension between reason and revelation. Instead, the modern secular, including science and technology, needs to be seen as a distinctive historical phenomenon, produced and still radically conditioned by the religious history of the West. Clashes between religion and science thus ought to be seen fundamentally as part of a dialogue that is internal to Western religious history. While largely agreeing with Caiazzas account of the magical understanding of technology, I suggest that this needs to be seen as part of a more fundamental drift in religion and culture away from canonical meanings to more indexical, pragmatic ones—but also that technology is still inflected by soteriological meanings that were coded into modern technology at its very inception in the early modern period. I conclude by arguing that a recognition of science and technologys grounding in Western religious history can make possible a more fundamental encounter with religion.
John Caiazza • religion • the sacred • science • the secular • technology • Western religious history
Bronislaw Szerszynski is Senior Lecturer in Environment and Culture at the Institute for Environment, Philosophy and Public Policy, Furness College, Lancaster University, Lancaster LA1 3YG, U.K.; e-mail: bron @ lancaster.ac.uk.
Techno-Secularism: Comments and Reflections by Varadaraja V. Raman
I comment on some of the points made in John Caiazzas thesis on techno-secularism and offer some of my own further reflections on the subject. Tertullians rhetorical question about Athens and Jerusalem has universal relevance, not just for Western culture, and, notwithstanding the many positive contributions of science and technology to human culture and civilization, they may not take the place of religion of one kind or another in the foreseeable future. What is needed is to transform religions in ways that meet the challenges of a world drastically transformed by science and technology.
Keywords: aparâ • Gnosticism • magic • NOMA • parâ • pratyaksha • proksha • techno-secularism • Vedic framework
Varadaraja V. Raman is Emeritus Professor of Physics and Humanities at the Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, NY 14623; e-mail: vvrsps @ ritvax.isc.rit.edu.
Scientism and Technology as Religions by Rustum Roy
Jacques Ellul, by far the most significant author in the serious discussions on the interface between religion and technology, is apparently not known to the science-and-religion field. The reason is the imprecise use of the terminology. In scientific formulation the relationship can be summarized as technology /religion:: science /theology. The first pair are robust three-dimensional templates of most human experience; the second pair are linear, abstract concerns of a minority of citizens. In the parallel community—now well developed throughout academia—of science, technology, and society, where the technology/religion matters have been discussed more than the science/religion pair, John Caiazzas point that techno-secularism is the real problem has been front and center for some decades. Among the theologians most aware of this, Raimundo Panikkar, Langdon Gilkey, and Huston Smith, Smith is the one who has taken the case much further than Caiazza, recognizing the danger of the real theological challenge from the religion of scientism and actively working against it. I write from a unique background among those involved in this debate—that of being deeply embedded simultaneously both in the modern science and technology establishment and in the reform of the religious enterprise for fifty years. I make the case that matters are worse than even Smith posits. He shows that scientism as a fundamentalist modern secularism serves the exact function of the theology behind the practiced religion of America and the West, that is, technology. An unexpected ray of hope has appeared in the sudden emergence of whole-person healing (also known as complementary and alternative medicine), which is used regularly by well over half the population. This reintroduction of the spiritual dimension into this key technology of health will certainly be a major turning point.
Jacques Ellul • incommensurability of science and religion • science, the theology of secularism • scientism, the fundamentalist wing of science • Huston Smith • technology as Americas religion • whole-person healing
Rustum Roy (www.rustumroy.com) is Evan Pugh Professor of the Solid State Emeritus, Professor of Geochemistry Emeritus, and Professor of Science, Technology, and Society Emeritus at The Pennsylvania State University; Visiting Professor of Medicine at the University of Arizona; and Visiting Distinguished Professor of Materials at Arizona State University. His mailing address is 102 Materials Research Laboratory, University Park, PA 16802; e-mail: rroy @ psu.edu.
Techno-Secularism, Religion, and the Created Co-Creator by Ted Peters
I take up the challenge posed by John Caiazza (2005) to face down the religiously vacuous ethics of techno-secularism. Techno-secularism is not enough for human fulfillment let alone human flowering. Yet, communities of faith based on the Bible have a positive responsibility to employ science and technology toward divinely appointed ends. We should study Gods world through science and press technology into the service of transforming our world and our selves in light of our vision of Gods promised new creation. This warrants invocation of the concept of the human being as the created co-creator developed in the theology of Philip Hefner.
John Caiazza • created co-creator • Langdon Gilkey • Philip Hefner • Leon Kass • Robert John Russell • science • secularism • Paul Tillich
Ted Peters is Professor of Systematic Theology at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary and the Graduate Theological Union, 2770 Marin Ave., Berkeley, CA 94708. He serves as editor of Dialog, A Journal of Theology and as co-editor of the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences journal, Theology and Science.
What is Secular? Techno-Secularism and Spirituality by Antje Jackelén
I argue that there is no roaring reality of rampant secularism with technological application as its chief agent, as claimed by John Caiazza (2005). Two phenomena, techno-religion and a spirituality of technology, suggest a different picture of reality: Technology may be an alternative spirituality rather than an ally of a secularism that makes nutcrackers of the soul out of people who should be dancers (Nietzsche). An analysis of secularism and its manifold causes indicates that secularism is a fruit of both science and religion. The secular is a companion of religion rather than its enemy. Hence, I recommend a heuristic instead of an ontological use of the concept of secularism. In a technological age, religion is changing rather than being displaced. These changes are illustrated by the increase of private religiosity, megachurches, and cyber-spirituality. Energized by the tension between finitude and creativity, technology shares in the marks of spirituality (Philip Hefner) and in the potential for good and evil. In this situation, fundamentalism and dogmatism in religion, science, and technology are a greater threat than secularism.
Philip Hefner • humanism • Friedrich Nietzsche • scientific secularism • secularization • spirituality and technology • technology and religion • techno-religion • techno-secularism • theology and secularism
Antje Jackelén is Associate Professor of Systematic Theology/Religion and Science at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, 1100 E. 55th Street, Chicago, IL 60615, and director of the Zygon Center for Religion and Science; e-mail: ajackele @ lstc.edu.
Forty Years Later: What Have We Accomplished? by Gregory R. Peterson
Abstract. I examine the responses to John Caiazzas Athens, Jerusalem, and the Arrival of Techno-Secularism as part of Zygons forty-year anniversary symposium. The responses reveal that issues of modernism and postmodernism are central to understanding the dynamic of the current science-religion/theology dialogue and that the resistance of many of the participants to the influences of postmodernism is a sign not of its backwardness but rather of some of the weaknesses inherent in the postmodern project. This does not mean that the many insights of postmodernism should be rejected. Rather, the science-religion/theology dialogue may be in an intellectually opportune place to construct successors to the worn label of postmodernism.
John Caiazza • modernism • postmodernism • science and religion • science and theology • technology
Gregory R. Peterson is Associate Professor of Philosophy and Religion at South Dakota State University, Scobey 336, Box 504, Brookings, SD 57007; e-mail: greg_peterson @ sdstate.edu.
The Phenomenon of Faust
The Faust Challenge: Science as Diabolic or Divine by Ingrid H. Shafer
The Faust motif provides an opportunity to explore the spectrum of attitudes among Christians toward science and technology by placing them into a historic context. Depending on ones understanding of the relationship of God and the world, the accomplishments of a Leonardo, a Paracelsus, a Faust, an Oppenheimer, or some future scientist credited with the production of the first successfully cloned human being can be interpreted as divine or diabolic in origin. I use the example of Faust to demonstrate that the Christian assessment of the scientific enterprise is closely correlated to the level of doctrinaire dualism informing the particular version of Christianity that inspires the assessment. I show that, contrary to what seems obvious, Fausts damnation originated not in medieval times but in early modern northern Europe, reflecting a dualistic obsession with human sinfulness more characteristic of Reformation Germany than of Renaissance Italy. Encouraged by hellfire-and-brimstone preachers, the common folk saw demons, devils, and witches in every dark corner, while humanist scholars sought to recapture the brilliant past of the Greeks and the Romans. Goethes interpretation represents a return to earlier versions of the story, while some continue to accuse contemporary Faustians of Satanic connections for seeking forbidden knowledge and daring to play God by manipulating the stuff of life.
biotechnology • Catholic • Christianity • dualism • Faust • Goethe • humanism • Leonardo da Vinci • Lutheran • nanotechnology • Nicolas of Cusa • nondualism • Reformation • Renaissance • science
Ingrid H. Shafer is Professor of Philosophy, Religion, and Interdisciplinary Studies at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma, Chickasha, OK 73018, and Adjunct Professor of Human Relations, University of Oklahoma, Norman; e-mail: ihs @ ionet.net or facshaferi @ usao.edu.
The End of Faust, the Secular Humanist: A Poem by Alan Nordstrom
Scholars of religion and science have generated remarkable scholarship in recent years in their explorations of love. Exactly how scholars involved in this budding field believe that love and science should relate and/or be integrated varies greatly. What they share in common is the belief that issues of love are of paramount importance and that the various scientific disciplines—whether natural, social, or religious—must be brought to bear upon how best to understand love. I briefly introduce the emergence of the love-and-science research program and note that scholars have not done well defining what they mean by love. I suggest that the present surge in love scholarship will fail to produce the positive results that it otherwise might if love is not defined well. I provide and defend a definition of love adequate for those doing love-and-science research: To love is to act intentionally, in sympathetic response to others (including God), to promote well-being. To explain better what this simple definition entails, I explore its three main phrases. Love is said to have many forms, but agape is the form to which the love-and-science literature most commonly refers. I comment briefly on the debates about how to best understand agape, noting sixteen different definitions proposed by major scholars. I identify weaknesses in many of them and then offer what I argue is a more adequate definition of agape as intentional response to promote well-being when confronted by that which generates ill-being. In short, agape repays evil with good. While research on love and science requires much more than adequate definitions, I believe that the definitions I proffer can prove useful in furthering the love-and-science research program.
Keywords: agape • altruism • definition • empathy • eros • ethics • God • hòesed • John E. Fetzer Institute • Institute for Research on Unlimited Love • intentionality • love • love and science • morality • mutuality • Anders Nygren • philia • Stephen Post • relatedness • religion • science • self-sacrifice • Pitirim Sorokin • symbiosis • sympathy • John Templeton Foundation • theology • unlimited love • Edward Collins Vacek • virtue • well-being
Thomas Jay Oord is Professor of Theology and Philosophy at Northwest Nazarene University, 623 Holly St., Nampa, ID 83686. He serves as theologian for the Institute for Research on Unlimited Love and Academic Correspondent and Contributing Editor of Science and Theology News.
Genetic Engineering and the Sacred by Bernard E. Rollin
Genetic engineering of life forms could well have a profound effect upon our sense of the sacred. Integrating the experience of the sacred as George Bataille does, we can characterize it as a phenomenological encounter with prelinguistic, noncategoreal experience. This view of the sacred is similar to Friedrich Nietzsches Dionysian experience or Rudolf Ottos mysterium tremendum and diminishes ones sense of self. It seems similar to the eighteenth-century aesthetic categorization of the sublime. Despite the dominant rational approach to religiosity in the United States, intimations of this experience persist in popular culture. What possible relationship does genetic engineering have to this allegedly inevitable and profound experience? If certain modifications of life occur, they are likely to create such an experience of the sacred in us. In principle, we can now resurrect the mammoth or even create beings designed to directly potentiate our experience of the numinous such as satyrs or centaurs. The creation of such beings could become an art form associated with awaking the sacred, in turn appropriated by religion, as art has always been. Such experimentation, though morally questionable, is probably inevitable.
biotechnology • genetic engineering • mysterium tremendum • numinous • the sacred • the sublime
Bernard E. Rollin is University Distinguished Professor, Professor of Philosophy, Professor of Biomedical Sciences, Professor of Animal Sciences, and University Bioethicist at Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523-1781; e-mail: Bernard.Rollin @ ColoState.edu.
Signaling Static: Artistic, Religious, and Scientific Truths in a Relational Ontology by Robert Matthew Geraci
In this essay I point toward the difficulties inherent in ontological objectivity and seek to restore our truth claims to validity through a relational ontology and the dynamic of coimplication in signals and noise. Theological examination of art and science points toward similarities between art, religion, and science. All three have often focused upon a metaphysics of presence, the desire for absolute presence of the object (the signified, the divine, the natural object). If we accept a relational ontology, however, we must accept that the revelation of presence is always simultaneously a concealment. This helps explain technoscientific achievement without recourse to a philosophically flawed objectivity. Twentieth-century information theory shows the impossibility of a pure signal. By accepting that signal and noise are permanently interconnected, we begin to see how noise makes signal possible and even how noise becomes signal (allowing the discovery of novel facts). Information theory thus underscores important similarities and leads toward new approaches in aesthetics, Christian theology, and scientific research. By comparing art, religion, and science, I argue that rejecting a metaphysics of presence without rejecting presence itself allows human beings to know the world. Although religion, science, and art often seek the absolute presence of their objects, they function better without.
aesthetics • art • epistemology • iconophilia • information theory • Bruno Latour • metaphysics of presence • noise • objectivity • ontology • philosophy • relationality • religion • science • Michel Serres • signal • subject • subjectivity • Mark C. Taylor • theology
Robert Matthew Geraci is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Manhattan College, Riverdale, NY 10471; e-mail: robert.geraci @ manhattan.edu.
George Murphys Chiasmic Cosmology: As If God Were Not Given by Leonard M. Hummel
In his work The Cosmos in Light of the Cross physicist and Lutheran pastor George L. Murphy extends the religious rationales of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Eberhard Jüngel to argue specifically for a nonreligious, scientific study of and appreciation for the world. In doing so, Murphy offers a clear and coherent theology of the cosmos within the bounds of piety alone. Like Calvin and Schleiermacher before him who strove to stay within these bounds, Murphy shares their endpoint of a practical theology—that is, faithful reflections that will encourage wise and faithful existence. In doing so, Murphy has written a brilliant and extraordinarily readable account of a chiasmic cosmos. He also quite practically and indeed pastorally offers suggestions for how the God of that cosmos may be not only understood but also worshiped and adored.
cross • evolution • Lutheran • religion • science
Leonard Hummel is Associate Professor of Pastoral Theology and Care at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg, 61 Seminary Ridge, Gettysburg, PA 17325; e-mail: lhumrnel @ ltsg.edu.
This brief piece summarizes the authors lifelong personal credo, particularly his attempt to translate traditional religious wisdom into modern scientific concepts. Contemporary science reveals to us the vast system of natural processes that has brought the universe, our planet, and our species into existence. This natural system is in fact a more-than-human Lord of History, corresponding to traditional ideas of God. This Lord of History not only has created us but also sustains us—not just externally but also our interior psychic and spiritual nature. We are challenged to discern the requirements that this system of natural processes places upon us; if we conform to these requirements, we shall be blessed, and we will be enabled as co-creators of our future evolution.
adaptations • Lord of History • religious wisdom • translations of theology
Ralph Wendell Burhoe (1911-1997) was the founding editor of Zygon.