What does religion contribute in the dialogue with science? It often has been lamented that the dialogue encourages one-way traffic: Science makes a great impact on religion, so the comments go, but there is little or no discernible reciprocity; religion makes no impact on science. There is truth in this assessment. In much of the discussion, religion is challenged to conform to the standards set by science—standards of method and language as well as standards for defining truth. Perhaps most of all, religion is pressed to adapt to a naturalistic worldview. It is proper to ask for an accommodation to scientific portrayals of the natural world, since religion focuses on the nature and destiny of the world and our lives in it. Today, the most fruitful and authoritative description of the world are those of science. Because all of the worlds religions formulated their visions in prescientific times, it is clear that if those visions mean to engage us today, they require reformulating.
The disciplines of religion and science are often considered to be at cross-purposes with each other, and yet increasingly there has been recognition that more dialogue is needed between the two. Nowhere is this more clear than with regard to the ethical treatment of animals. Although science has been studying animals and experimentation on animals for a long time, serious religious and ethical concerns about our attitudes toward and treatment of animals has become widespread only in the last thirty years or so. Zygon attempts to bridge the gap between religion and science, and thus it is fitting that it should give attention to the work of Marc Bekoff, a very successful cognitive ethologist (one who studies animal behavior in an animals natural habitat) who also has concerned himself with the implications of his work for the ethical treatment of animals.
Versions of the articles in this section were presented at the 2004 American Academy of Religion conference as part of the session Religion and Animals: Minding the Work of Marc Bekoff. The intention of the session, cosponsored by the Animals and Religion Consultation and the Religion and Science Group, was to tease out the implications of Bekoffs work for religious studies. Bekoff was present at this session and provided a response at the end. …
Donna Yarri is Assistant Professor of Theology, Alvernia College, 400 St. Bernardine Street, Reading, PA 19607; e-mail: donna.yarri @ alvernia.edu.
Abstract: Animism is the label given to worldviews in which the world is understood to be a community of living persons, only some of whom are human. (An older use of the term to label a putative belief in spirits is less useful.) Animists inculcate locally meaningful means of communicating with other-than-human persons, especially in order to express respect. Ethnographic accounts of particular animist ways of engaging with animal persons are noted. I argue that ethologists interested in engaging respectfully with animals while researching cognition, behavior, and other critical issues may find their research methods and results enhanced by learning from animists about tested methods of communicating with animals. The mediation of animists in this communicative engagement between animals and those who research among them is proposed not as a romantic gloss on modernist culture but in full recognition that the challenge offered by dialogue with marginalized and excluded others may result in a reconfiguration of academic protocols. Nonetheless, this entry into full relationality is seriously posed as an improved means of achieving established goals of understanding animals, humans, and the world we coinhabit.
animals • animism • Marc Bekoff • ethnography • ethology • methods • nature • other-than-human persons • personalism • persons • relationality • respect • totemism
Graham Harvey (http://www.grahamharvey.org) is Lecturer in Religious Studies at the Open University, Walton Hall, Milton Keynes MK7 6AA, U.K.; e-mail: g.harvey @ open.ac.uk.
Animals as Kin: The Religious Significance of Marc Bekoffs Work by Donna Yarri
Although the disciplines of religion and science often may seem to be at cross purposes with each other, some individuals are attempting to bridge the gap, particularly with regard to animals. Cognitive ethologist Marc Bekoff, who studies animals in their natural habitat, has addressed in his work the implications of the findings of animal study for religion and ethics. I provide here an overview of some of his most important ideas for the study of religion and animals. Bekoff argues that the differences between humans and animals are primarily ones of degree rather than kind and that our similarities are greater than our differences-and that this reality should influence our actions. I explore three issues in particular. First, Bekoffs work, with his view of evolution, challenges the traditional Christian hierarchy of beings. Second, this evolutionary connection needs to move us in the direction of modifying our treatment of animals to make it more ethical. Third, our understanding of and relationship with animals can deepen our own spirituality. Applying some of Bekoffs findings to our religious and ethical understandings of and treatment of animals can move us closer to the peaceable kingdom toward which we all strive.
animal behavior • animal cognition • animal emotions • animal minds • animal morality • animal play • animal rights • animals and spirituality • animals as kin • cognitive ethology • evolution • hierarchy • human superiority • spirituality and animals • treatment of animals
Donna Yarri is Assistant Professor of Theology, Alvernia College, 400 St. Bernardine Street, Reading, PA 19607; e-mail: donna.yarri @ alvernia.edu.
All Animals Matter: Marc Bekoffs Contribution to Constructive Christian Theology by Jay McDaniel
Along with Jane Goodall, Mark Bekoff proposes that religion can join science in recognizing that animals have minds of their own; that humans can humbly imagine themselves inside these minds, all the while recognizing their independent integrity; and that, as creatures with psyches, animals deserve respect and care. In his various writings Bekoff offers many hints of what a theology of animal minds might look like and how it might be part of a more comprehensive theology of respect and care for the community of life. Process or Whiteheadian theology offers a way of appreciating Bekoffs insights, linking them with the ecojustice movement, showing how they can be linked with various themes in evolutionary biology, and developing a threefold approach to animal well-being: cosmological, ethical, and spiritual. In so doing, process thought shows how the practice of science, particularly as expressed in cognitive theology, involves a marriage of empathy and observation, which represents science and spirituality at their best.
animal minds • animal protection • Marc Bekoff • cognitive ethology • consciousness of animals • Earth Charter • ecojustice • ethology • Jane Goodall • process philosophy • process theology • spirituality and animals • theology of animals • Alfred North Whitehead
Jay McDaniel is Director of the Marshall T. Steel Center for the Study of Religion and Philosophy and Professor of Religion at Hendrix College, 1600 Washington Ave., Conway, AR 72032; e-mail: mcdaniel @ hendrix.edu.
Going to the Dogs: Canid Ethology and Theological Reflection by Nancy R. Howell
Theological reflection often treats animals in the very broadest terms and establishes a dramatic difference between humans and animals. Empirical observations, however, describe animals and their relationship to humans in more nuanced ways. Marc Bekoffs science, which integrates ethology and ecology, generates a view of the complex social behaviors of animals and entails observations about difference. Dialogue with Bekoffs sensitive awareness of animal behavior is the occasion to construct a theology of nature that is better informed about diversity among animals and differences within and among species.
animals • attention epistemology • comparison • continuity • difference • diversity • ethology • intensity • justice • panentheism • personhood • soul • speciesism • theology of nature • uniqueness • variation
Nancy R. Howell is Professor of Theology and Philosophy of Religion at Saint Paul School of Theology, 5123 Truman Road, Kansas City, MO 64127; e-mail: howellnr @ spst.edu.
Animal Passions and Beastly Virtues: Cognitive Ethology as the Unifying Science for Understanding the Subjective, Emotional, Empathic, and Moral Lives of Animals by Marc Bekoff
In this essay, my response to four papers that were presented at the 2004 annual meeting of the American Academy of Religion in a session devoted to my research on animal behavior and cognitive ethology, I stress the importance of interdisciplinary research and collaboration for coming to terms with various aspects of animal behavior and animal cognition. I argue that we have much to learn from other animals concerning a set of big questions including who we are in the grand scheme of things, the role science (science sense) plays in our understanding of the world in which we live, what it means to know something, what some other ways of knowing are and how they compare to what we call science, and the use of anecdotes and anthropomorphism to inform studies of animal behavior. I ask, Are other minds really all that private and inaccessible? Can a nonhuman animal be called a person? What does the future hold if we continue to dismantle the only planet we live on and persecute the other animal beings with whom we are supposed to coexist? I argue that cognitive ethology is the unifying science for understanding the subjective, emotional, empathic, and moral lives of animals, because it is essential to know what animals do, think, and feel as they go about their daily routines in the company of their friends and when they are alone. It is also important to learn why both the similarities and differences between humans and other animals have evolved. The more we come to understand other animals, the more we will appreciate them as the amazing beings they are, and the more we will come to understand ourselves.
animal behavior • animal cognition • animal emotions • animal sentience • cognitive ethology • ethology
Marc Bekoff (http://literati.net/Bekoff; http://www.ethologicalethics.org) is Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80309-0334; e-mail: marc.bekoff @ colorado.edu.
Problems between Science and Theology in the Course of their Modern History by Wolfhart Pannenberg
It is misleading to speak of warfare between science and Christian theology, as Andrew White did in 1896. White also was mistaken in exaggerating the conflict between the church and Galileo and Copernicus. The more important issue between science and theology has to do with the mechanistic interpretation of nature. When he introduced the principle of inertia in his natural philosophy, René Descartes insisted that Gods immutability renders it impossible for God to intervene in the creation. He reduced the idea of God to a deistic notion by speaking of motion exclusively as a property of bodies. Even though Isaac Newton offered a different view, the Cartesian view dominated subsequent thinking. This made dialogue with theology difficult. Michael Faraday, followed by Albert Einstein, introduced the idea of field; bodily phenomena were subordinated as manifestations of fields. The precursor of the idea of field is the Stoic idea of spirit, which is close to the biblical concept of spirit. Thomas Torrance and I have taken this concept of field as an occasion to reopen dialogue. Mechanistic thinking accounts for the tension between Darwinian thought and theology. In principle the tension can be resolved, because the Bible itself asserts that all living things were brought from the earth—that is, organic life emerged from inorganic matter. Thus, emergence, contingency, and novelty are consistent with Darwinian evolutionary thinking. Contingency can be related conceptually to the activity of God in creation.
contingency • Charles Darwin • René Descartes • Albert Einstein • evolution • Michael Faraday • field • inertia
Wolfhart Pannenberg is Professor of systematic theology Emeritus at the Protestant Theological Faculty of the University of Munich. His mailing address is Sudetenstr. 8, 82166 Gräfelfing, Germany.
Overview of the Structure of a Scientific Worldview by John J. Carvalho IV
Understanding the structure of a scientific world view is important for the dialogue between science and religion. In this essay, I define comprehensive worldview and distinguish it from the more focused noncomprehensive worldview. I explain that scientists and the public at large agree that modern research works in a scientific as opposed to nonscientific worldview. I give some of the essential elements of any scientific worldview that differentiate it from nonscientific ones. These elements are the general pre suppositions of science, the methods of science, and the articles of justification for the conclusions science puts forward. I question whether a scientific worldview can allow philosophical and theological tenets, which might appear to stand opposed to scientific paradigms, and conclude that the answer lies in the scope of its comprehensiveness.
comprehensive worldviews • contingent truth • critical realism • evolutionary biology • hypothetico-deductive method • inductivism • justification in science • methods of science • noncomprehensive worldviews • philosophy and theology • presuppositions of science • science and religion • scientific worldview • statistical-relevance method • theological worldview
John J. Carvalho IV is a postdoctoral fellow and winner of the National Research Service Award in the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics at Harvard Medical School. His mailing address is 423 Brookline Ave. #117, Boston, MA 02215; e-mail: john_carvalho @ hms.harvard.edu.
Altruism in Nature as Manifestation of Divine Energeia by Charlene P. E. Burns
Christian theological attempts to integrate scientific claims about altruism in nature have not been completely successful largely because Western theologies—particularly some Protestant versions—lack a theologically grounded ontological basis for speech about altruism, agape, and other forms of love. Patristic theologies of divine essence, energeia and logoi, most fully developed in Eastern Orthodox thought, provide just such an ontological basis upon which Christian thought can stand in order to demonstrate that altruism in nature does not challenge religious claims that moral behavior has transcendent meaning but rather suggests that it is itself a manifestation of the divine will.
agape • altruism • deification • divine energies • participation
Charlene P. E. Burns is Associate Professor of Religious Studies in the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, 105 Garfield Ave., Eau Claire, WI 54702; e-mail: burnscp @ uwec.edu.
Animals, Homo, and the Kingdom of God by Russell H. Tuttle
I selectively and critically review the state of knowledge about human evolution and the place of humans vis-à-vis living apes, with emphasis on bipedal posture and locomotion, expansion of the brain and associated cognitive capacities, speech, tool behavior, culture, and society. I end with a personal perspective on God and Heaven.
ancient footprints • ape rights • apes • art • brain and behavior • conservation • culture • ethics • evolutionary scenarios • fossils • God • Heaven • human evolution • language • numerical competence • phylogenic models • society • speech mechanisms • symbol
Russell H. Tuttle is Professor in the Department of Anthropology, the Committee on Evolutionary Biology, the Morris Fishbein Center for the History of Science and Medicine, and the College, The University of Chicago, 1126 East 59th St., Chicago, IL 60637-1587; e-mail: r-tuttle @ uchicago.edu.
Neuromythology: Brains and Stories by John A. Teske
I sketch a synthetic integration of several levels of explanation in addressing how myths, narratives, and stories engage human beings, produce their sense of identity and self-understanding, and shape their intellectual, emotional, and embodied lives. Ultimately it is our engagement with the metanarratives of religious imagination by which we address a set of existentially necessary but ontologically unanswerable metaphysical questions that form the basis of religious belief. I show how a multileveled understanding of evolutionary biology, history, neuroscience, psychology, narrative, and mythology may form a coherent picture of the human spirit. Neuropsychological functions involved in constructing and responding to the narratives by which we form our identities and build meaningful lives include memory, attention, emotional marking, and temporal sequencing. It is the neural substrate, the emotional shaping, and the narrative structuring of higher cognitive function that provide the sine qua non for the construction of meaning, relationship, morality, and purpose that extend beyond our personal boundaries, both spatial and temporal. This includes a neural affect system shaped by our developmental dependency, the dynamic narratives of self formed in the development of identity and reconstructed over the life span, drawing on culturally available mythic and storied forms. Narrative constitutes our movement in moral space and may have the potential both for healing and for disruption for us as individuals and as a species, providing a contingent solution to the alienation and fragmentation of personhood, relationship, and community.
development • embodiment • emotion • identity • meaning • memory • myth • narrative • neuropsychology • religious naturalism • social construction • spirituality
John A. Teske is professor of psychology at Elizabethtown College, Elizabethtown, PA 17022; e-mail: teskeja @ etown.edu.
The Role of Spirituality in Formulating a Theory of the Psychology of Religion by Daniel A. Helminiak
I challenge the psychology of religion to move beyond its merely descriptive status and, by focusing on spirituality as the essential dimension of religion, to approach the traditional ideal of science as explanation: a delineation of the necessary and sufficient to account for a phenomenon such as to articulate a general law relevant to every instance of the phenomenon. An explanatory psychology of spirituality would elucidate the scientific underpinnings of the psychology of religion as well as that of the social sciences in general, all of which grapple with the issues of human meaning making. Three prevalent and debilitating errors preclude that achievement: (1) the confounding of the spiritual and the divine and the importation of God into psychology, (2) the uncritical association of any spiritual phenomenon with spirituality, and (3) the attempt to eschew value judgments from the study of religion and spirituality. To confirm the possibility of avoiding these errors in the face of radical postmodernism, I build on Bernard Lonergans analyses of intentional consciousness, or human spirit, and thus intimate a psychology of spirituality that is fully nontheological and potentially explanatory.
consciousness • definition of spirituality • God and social science • Bernard Lonergan • nature of spirit • psychology of religion • psychology of spirituality • sui generis nature of religion • value-free and value-laden science
Daniel A. Helminiak is Associate Professor of Psychology at the State University of West Georgia, Carrollton, GA 30018; e-mail: dhelmini @ westgate.edu.