Zygon: Journal of Religion & Science
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Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science
41 (3), September 2006

Table of Contents


What Is Religion to Do? by Philip Hefner

What is religion’s role in the engagement between science and religion? “Religion and science” has become a cliche—at times scarcely more than an empty cipher—loosely referring to a wide range of activities, including any organizational activity, research, and writing, that in some way qualify as attempts to relate religion and science. There is by no means a consensus, however, on just what “religion” means and how it should function in this pairing with “science.”
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.2005.00754.x

Quantum Reality and the Consciousness of the Universe

Quantum Reality, the Emergence of Complex Order from Virtual States, and the Importance of Consciousness in the Universe by Lothar Schäfer

I review some characteristic aspects of quantum reality and make the connection to Pierre Teilhard de Chardin’s vision and a generally new quantum perspective of biological evolution. The quantum phenomena make it possible to conclude that the basis of the material world is nonmaterial; that the nature of reality is that of an indivisible wholeness; and that elementary particles possess aspects of consciousness in a rudimentary way. The quantum perspective of evolution makes it possible to conclude that the emergence of complex order in the biosphere is not from nothing (ex nihilo) but by the actualization of virtual quantum states—that is, by actualizing empty states which are part of the mathematical structure of material systems, representing a logical order that is not real in a material sense but, predetermined by system conditions, has the potential to become real in quantum jumps. I show how the existence of virtual states makes it possible to suggest that a transcendent reality underlies the visible order of the world and is immanent to it; and constantly new forms evolve from it.
cosmic consciousness • emergence of complexity • quantum perspective of evolution • quantum reality • Pierre Teilhard de Chardin • transcendent order • virtual state actualization • virtual states
Lothar Schäfer is Edgar Wertheim Distinguished Professor of Physical Chemistry at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR 72701; e-mail: schafer @ uark.edu.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.2005.00755.x

Quantum and Consciousness: In Search of a New Paradigm by Ervin Laszlo

Two fundamental issues raised by Lothar Schäfer are considered: (1) the question of a suitable paradigm within which the findings of quantum physics can be optimally interpreted and (2) the question of the assessment of the presence and importance of mind and consciousness in the universe. In regard to the former, I contend that the ideal of science is to interpret its findings in an optimally consistent and minimally speculative framework. In this context Schäfer’s assertion that certain findings in quantum physics (those that relate to virtual states) indicate the presence of mind at the quantum level implies a dualistic and hence unnecessarily speculative assumption. In regard to the assessment of mind and consciousness, a consistent and parsimonious paradigm suggests that mind and consciousness are not part of a chain of events consisting of an admixture of physical and mental events but that physical events form a single, coherent set of events, and mental events another set, with the two sets related, as Teilhard (and a number of other philosophers, including Whitehead) affirmed, as the “within” and the “without” (or the “mental pole” and the “physical pole”) of one and the same fundamental reality. This panpsychist as contrasted with Schäfer’s dualist paradigm provides a single self-consistent framework for the interpretation of quantum (and all natural) events while recognizing the presence of mind in the universe as the least speculative realist implication of our immediate experience of consciousness.
panpsychism • paradigm for physics • potential versus actual states • quantum events • virtual states
Ervin Laszlo is president of The Club of Budapest, founder of the General Evolution Research Group, and co-Chair of the World Wisdom Council. His mailing address is Villa Frantoni, 56040 Montescudaio, Italy.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.2005.00756.x

On the Limitations and Promise of Quantum Theory for Comprehension of Human Knowledge and Consciousness by Carl S. Helrich

I present a partially historical discussion of the basis of the quantum theory in nonmathematical terms using human knowledge and consciousness as an underlying theme. I show that the philosophical position in both classical and quantum theory is the experimental and mathematical philosophy of Isaac Newton. Because almost all the systems we deal with are multicomponent, we must consider the limitations and openness imposed by thermodynamics on our claims in both classical and quantum treatments. Here the reality of measurement stands in the way of any simple picture but also provides the basis for considerations of free will. Particular care is taken with the concepts of quantum measurement, entanglement, and decoherence because of their importance in the discussion.
classical and quantum theory • consciousness • experiment • human knowledge • information theory • measurement
Carl S. Helrich is Professor of Physics at Goshen College, 1700 South Main Street, Goshen, IN 46526; e-mail: carlsh @ goshen.edu.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.2005.00757.x

Order from Virtual States: A Dialogue on the Relevance of Quantum Theory to Religion by Stanley A. Klein

Lothar Schäfer has written a poetic tribute pointing out the relevance of quantum theory to religious beliefs. Two items in his article trouble me greatly. First are the excessive claims about the relevance of quantum mechanisms for the creation and evolution of life. Schäfer’s claim that “everything that can happen must happen” can be dangerously misleading. The quantum rules predict that most outcomes have a near-zero chance of occurring. Although “anything can happen” can be a wonderful metaphor for living life, it can be dangerous if taken literally. It can also be misleading when applied to Darwinian mechanisms. My second trouble was with Schäfer’s desire to extract moral values from quantum principles in a literalist manner. Extracting ethics from science has always been problematic. Luckily, Schäfer provides balance to these objections by including many wonderful passages that in my opinion correctly point out how quantum theory should change the way we conceive of our place in the universe. I list twelve points in which the quantum ontology differs from our normal Newtonian ontology. Awareness of these aspects is typically missing from our usual appreciation of nature, so Schäfer’s poetry on a number of these points is well appreciated.
evolution • paranormal • quantum theory • science-religion bridge • Sokal hoax
Stanley A. Klein is a professor at the School of Optometry, Vision Science and Neuroscience, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720-2020; e-mail: sklein @ berkeley.edu.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.2005.00758.x

A Response to Ervin Laszlo: Quantum and Consciousness by Lothar Schäfer

I respond to Ervin Laszlo’s suggestions and criticism regarding my essay in this issue of Zygon. Virtual atomic orbitals are used as a model to illustrate the existence of a general realm of potentiality in physical reality from which the actual world emanates. Laszlo’s suggestions for “paradigm repair” are supported and accepted as essentially being in agreement with my intentions and as offering highly useful clarifications. I compare virtual states to historic ideas of forms as metaphysical principles of being that inspire thoughts regarding the actions of a Cosmic Consciousness in the processes of the universe. Metaphysical and theological interpretations of the results of scientific research are defended, provided that they are not used to interfere a priori with the technical program of scientific research.
Aristotle’s potentia • Cosmic Consciousness • emergence of complexity • historic ideas of forms • Plotinic concept of emanation • quantum reality • reality as potentiality and actuality • rejection of materialism • transcendent order • virtual states
Lothar Schäfer is Edgar Wertheim Distinguished Professor of Physical Chemistry at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR 72701; e-mail: schafer @ uark.edu.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.2005.00759.x

A Response to Carl Helrich: The Limitations and Promise of Quantum Theory by Lothar Schäfer

I respond to Carl Helrich’s criticism of my proposition that the emergence of complex order in the universe is from Virtual State Actualization (VSA). The question is discussed as to whether quantum theory is able to afford any kind of quantum ontology or whether it merely allows an epistemological view. I point out that, even though many contradictory interpretations of quantum theory are currently possible, the concept of VSA is based on molecular properties that are so simple and factual that they are beyond interpretation. Helrich’s appeal for caution in proceeding from physical reality to Divine Reality is wholeheartedly supported and a detailed discussion is given.
electron diffraction • emergence of complex order • immanent order • quantum ontology • quantum perspective of evolution • quantum state transitions • transcendent order • virtual state actualization • wave functions
Lothar Schäfer is Edgar Wertheim Distinguished Professor of Physical Chemistry at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR 72701; e-mail: schafer @ uark.edu.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.2005.00760.x

A Response to Stanley Klein: A Dialogue on the Relevance of Quantum Theory to Religion by Lothar Schäfer

I respond to Stanley Klein’s critique of my essay “Quantum Reality, the Emergence of Complex Order from Virtual States, and the Importance of Consciousness in the Universe,” arguing in support of the necessity to derive a quantum perspective of evolution rather than adhering to an essentially classical view. In response to Klein’s criticism of my concept of a cosmic morality, the origins of that concept are traced back to Zeno of Citium. I wholeheartedly embrace Klein’s suggestion that the new science inspires views of the human condition that can help us make the world a better place.
cosmic morality • punctuated equilibrium and quantum transitions • quantum perspective of evolution • Zeno of Citium
Lothar Schäfer is Edgar Wertheim Distinguished Professor of Physical Chemistry at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR 72701; e-mail: schafer @ uark.edu.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.2005.00761.x

Henry Stapp on Quantum Mechanics, Spirit, Mind, and Morality

Quantum Interactive Dualism: An Alternative to Materialism by Henry P. Stapp

René Descartes proposed an interactive dualism that posits an interaction between the mind of a human being and some of the matter in his or her brain. However, the classical physical theories that reigned during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries are based exclusively on the material/physical part of Descartes’ ontology, and they purport to give, in principle, a completely deterministic account of the physically described properties of nature, expressed exclusively in terms of these physically described properties themselves. Orthodox contemporary physical theory violates this condition in two separate ways. First, it injects random elements into the dynamics. Second, it requires psychophysical events, called Process 1 interventions by John von Neumann. Neither the content nor the timing of these events is determined, even statistically, by any known law. Orthodox quantum mechanics considers these events to be instigated by choices made by conscious agents. This quantum conception of the mind-brain connection allows many psychological and neuropsychological findings associated with the apparent physical effectiveness of our conscious volitional efforts to be explained in a causal and practically useful way. According to this quantum approach, conscious human beings are invested with degrees of freedom denied to the mechanistic automatons to which classical physics reduced us.
consciousness • dualism • free choice • mind-brain • quantum mechanics
Henry P. Stapp is in the theoretical physics group of the University of California’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, CA 94720; e-mail: hpstapp @ lbl.gov.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.2005.00762.x

Science’s Conception of Human Beings as a Basis for Moral Theory by Henry P. Stapp

Niels Bohr stated, and Werner Heisenberg reiterated, that “in the great drama of existence we ourselves are both actors and spectators.” Their emphasis stems from the fact that the entry of human beings into physics as actors constitutes the most fundamental philosophical departure of twentieth-century basic physics from its eighteenth- and nineteenth-century forerunners. Those earlier theories claimed that our human conscious thoughts are mere witnesses to, or by-products of, essentially mechanically determined brain processes. In stark contrast, certain conscious decisions that are made by human beings, but that are not determined by any known law, statistical or otherwise, enter irreducibly into orthodox contemporary physical theory. These actions are required to counteract effects of Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle, which ordains that the physically described process of nature, acting alone, produces not a physical world of the kind we experience but rather a continuous smear of potential possible worlds of the kind we know. This contradiction between theory and experience is resolved in orthodox contemporary physical theory by bringing certain effects of our conscious human choices into the dynamics in essentially the way that we intuitively feel that our conscious intentions affect the physical world, namely, via the effects of our intentional efforts on our physically described bodies. The moral implications of this profound change in physics are discussed.
foundations of quantum mechanics • human values • philosophy of quantum mechanics • science and religion
Henry P. Stapp is in the theoretical physics group of the University of California’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, CA 94720; e-mail: hpstapp @ lbl.gov.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.2005.00763.x

Emergence Theory—What Is Its Promise?

Emergence Everywhere?! Reflections on Philip Clayton’s Mind and Emergence by Antje Jackelén

Emergence is a powerful concept marked by great emotional, aesthetic, and intellectual appeal. It makes inroads into the understanding of the most diverse phenomena. Emergence appears to have the potential of explaining anything from the behavior of atoms, ant colonies, and traffic jams to insurance risks, human consciousness, and divine action. Philip Clayton’s book Mind and Emergence (2004) offers much-needed clarification of the philosophical grounding of emergence theory. To a large extent, emergence hinges on the concept of levels and hierarchies in nature. The preferred metaphor is that of a ladder. Given the tendency of concepts like emergence to build ideology, a careful analysis of language and metaphor is called for, however. I argue that the preference for the ladder metaphor does not do justice to the differentiated relationality that is a distinct mark of emergence. This oversight may have detrimental consequences when emergence theory is transferred from natural to social and cultural processes. A hermeneutical analysis suggests that better metaphors and visualizations need to be found. As an invitation to consider alternatives, some examples of complex regular polytopes are offered.
Philip Clayton • complex regular polytope • complexity • differentiated relationality • emergence • hermeneutics • hierarchy • metaphor • religious naturalism • theism
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.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.2005.00764.x

Between Physicalism and Mentalism: Philip Clayton on Mind and Emergence by James W. Haag

Philip Clayton’s work on emergence is a valuable contribution to the fields of religion, science, and philosophy. I focus on three narrow but extremely important areas of Clayton’s work. First, Clayton deems that Terrence Deacon’s emergence theory is difficult to accept because it is constructed from thermodynamics, thereby rendering it unable to address phenomenological issues. I examine Deacon’s theory and show that development from a physics base is warranted. Furthermore, Clayton does not convincingly demonstrate that such a constructive approach is necessarily incapable of attending to mental phenomena or offer an alternative that explains the causal power of a physically nonconstructible mental realm. Second, I argue that Clayton’s notion of emergentist supervenience for comprehending the mental/physical relation is unnecessarily redundant and problematic in relation to causal power. Third, I explore Clayton’s alternative use of agent causation to make sense of mental properties having causal power in the world. His effort to resolve emergence difficulties by appealing to phenomenology receives primary attention. Clayton’s use of emergence theory is an important contribution to the religion-and-science community, and I encourage further dialogue on the exchange that Clayton commences.
agent causation • emergence • emergentist supervenience • morphodynamics • phenomenology • strong supervenience • teleodynamics • thermodynamics • weak supervenience
James W. Haag is a Ph.D. candidate, Graduate Theological Union, 5824 College Ave #4, Oakland, CA 94618; e-mail: jameshaag @ hotmail.com.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.2005.00765.x

Emergence and Human Uniqueness: Limiting or Delimiting Evolutionary Explanation? by J. Wentzel van Huyssteen

Philip Clayton’s book Mind and Emergence presents a highly sophisticated argument against any kind of uncritical theology that might want to follow science into a world of overly narrow, compartmentalized disciplines that do not sufficiently communicate between themselves. Clayton argues persuasively that the basic structure of the phenomenal world is multileveled, with emergent properties and degrees of freedom that cannot be adequately described, predicted, or explained in terms of lower-level phenomena only. Moreover, the various levels of organization are linked to one another by interfaces of mutual constraint in terms of upward and downward causation. The most valuable part of Clayton’s argument, however, is that in a philosophy of emergence one must also, if not especially, account for the role of the biological sciences and especially for the influence of human thoughts and skills, human choices and actions, and—one of the most important causes of all—human purposes. Clayton’s biggest challenge is that the level of human personhood offers us the only appropriate level to introduce the question of God and the possibility of divine agency. I critically evaluate this central claim and its implications not only for the extent of divine influence on the world but also for the scope and limitations of the interdisciplinary dialogue between theology and the sciences.
aesthetic sensibility • emergence • emergence of life, convergence, and intelligence • evolution of culture • evolutionary epistemology • human uniqueness • interdisciplinary dialogue • levels of complexity • the limits of interdisciplinarity • mental causation • moral sensibilities • personhood • physical causation • Polanyi’s Principle • religious sensibility
J. Wentzel van Huyssteen is the James I. McCord Professor of Theology and Science at Princeton Theological Seminary, 65 Mercer Street, Princeton, NJ 08542-0803; e-mail: wentzel.vanhuyssteen @ ptsem.edu.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.2005.00766.x

God Embodied in, God Bodying Forth the World: Emergence and Christian Theology by Steven D. Crain

I expand on Philip Clayton’s application of emergence—in the context of a metaphysical position he calls emergent monism—to conceiving God’s relationship to the world. Like Clayton, I adopt a panentheistic perspective, but in a way that I argue is consistent with classical philosophical theism and its grammatical analysis of Christian discourse about divine transcendence. In order to exploit further the analogical potential of an emergentist account of human mentality and agency, I argue that the standard panentheistic metaphor The world is the body of God should be complemented by the metaphor God is the body of the world.
divine transcendence • emergence • emergent monism • panentheism
Steven D. Crain is Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Theology, University of Saint Francis, 2701 Spring Street, Fort Wayne, IN 46808; e-mail: scrain @ sf.edu.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.2005.00767.x

Emergence from Physics to Theology: Toward a Panoramic View by Philip Clayton

At its best, the emergence debate provides a helpful model of what religion-science scholarship can and should involve. (At its worst it represents the faddishness and bandwagon effects to which our field is also prone.) Those involved in the debate must pay close attention to concrete theories and results in the natural sciences. They rely on the careful conceptual distinctions that philosophers of science draw concerning complexity, novelty, and organization. The resulting views about human mentality and consciousness are tested against these results and checked for their adequacy to the phenomena of human experience. Emergentist theories of nature and personhood have entailments for one’s theory of religion and for theological reflection; conversely, theological accounts may constrain one’s interpretation of emergent phenomena. In my response to the four symposiasts I draw out these deeper dimensions of the emergence debate.
Terrence Deacon • divine action • emergence • God-world relation • Stuart Kauffman • neuroscience • phenomenology • philosophy of science • physicalism • theological anthropology • theory of evolution • transcendence versus immanence
Philip Clayton is Ingraham Professor at the Claremont School of Theology and Professor of Philosophy and Religion at the Claremont Graduate University, Claremont, California. During the 2006-2007 academic year, he is visiting professor at Harvard Divinity School, 42 Francis Street, Cambridge, MA 02138.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.2005.00768.x

Species of Emergence by Gregory R. Peterson

The category of emergence has come to be of considerable importance to the science-and-religion dialogue. It has become clear that the term is used in different ways by different authors, with important implications. In this article I examine the criteria used to state that something is emergent and the different interpretations of those criteria. In particular, I argue similarly to Philip Clayton that there are three broad ranges of interpretation of emergence: reductive, nonreductive, and radical. Although all three criteria have their place, I suggest that the category of radical emergence is important both for science and theology.
emergence • nonreductive physicalism • reductionism • supervenience • top-down causation
Gregory R. Peterson is Associate Professor of Philosophy and Religion and Program Coordinator of the Philosophy and Religion Department at South Dakota State University, Box 504 Scobey 336, Brookings, SD 57007; e-mail: greg.peterson @ sdstate.edu.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.2005.00769.x


Spirit and Creation by Sjoerd L. Bonting

The theology of the Third Person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, is not only a rather neglected but also a very diffuse subject. The neglect stems from the priority that was given in the early centuries to Christology. The diffuseness of pneumatology may well be a result of the bewildering variety of ways in which “spirit” or “Spirit” (Hebrew ruach, Greek pneuma) appears in the Bible. I attempt to bring the various activities ascribed to the Spirit under one heading, transmission of information, and then to see what can be learned from modern science about the role of the Spirit in creation. I suggest a distinct role of the Spirit in creation, jointly with but different from that of the Logos. Other occasions of a concerted action of Spirit and Logos are seen in the birth of Christ and the eschatological event. All of this leads to a trinitarian definition of creation.
creation • creative agent • eschatology • information • Logos • pneumatology • Spirit • Trinity
Sjoerd L. Bonting is Professor Emeritus of Biochemistry, Radboud University, Nijmegen, and an Anglican priest-theologian in the Diocese in Europe. His address is Specreyse 12, 7471 TH Goor, the Netherlands; e-mail: s.l.bonting @ wxs.nl.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.2005.00770.x

Kant on Religion and Science: Independence or Integration? by Douglas R. McGaughey

Immanuel Kant’s theoretical knowledge and practical knowledge tempt conclusion that natural science and religion are two independent discourses of a dualistic system. To be sure, knowledge is anchored in two kinds of causality. Theoretical knowledge is governed by physical causality. Practical knowledge is concerned with the human capacity to initiate a sequence of events that nature could not accomplish on its own—although in conformity with, not independent of, natural causality. Furthermore, the two realms presuppose a common totality of order not of humanity’s creation. Without these presuppositions, we could not experience the world as we do, and it would never occur to us to engage in a scientific investigation of the natural world. Hence, we should first exhaust our attempts at explanation on the basis of physical causality before turning to the aid of teleology. The anomalous becomes an occasion to seek a physical law not yet known whereas the miraculous hinders search for a natural law. However, higher than knowledge of “what is” is our capacity to discern “what should be.” This is an inclusive moral capacity that establishes what it means to be human and unites all moral agents in an invisible kingdom of ends that constitutes a moral culture in the physical world uniting religion and science.
aesthetics • artificial intelligence • autonomy • Barbour’s models of religion and science • beauty as a symbol of the moral • deontological ethics • heteronomy • intelligent design • Kant’s monism • Kant’s practical knowledge • Kant’s theoretical knowledge • process theology • self-legislation • teleology • Whitehead’s aesthetics
Douglas R. McGaughey is professor and chair of the department of religious studies at Willamette University, Salem, OR 97301; e-mail: dmcgaugh @ willamette.edu.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.2005.00771.x

The Evolutionary Basis of Religious Ethics by John Teehan

I propose that religious ethical traditions can be understood as cultural expressions of underlying evolutionary processes. I begin with a discussion of evolutionary theories of morality, specifically kin selection and reciprocal altruism, and then discuss some recent work on the evolution of religion, setting out those features of religion that prepare it to take on a moral function in society. Having established the theoretical framework for the thesis, I turn to a close reading of early Jewish and Christian ethical teachings, as found in the Bible, in order to set out preliminary support for the proposal. My goal is to argue for the plausibility of the thesis and to indicate how, if correct, it provides new insight into Judeo-Christian moral traditions and into the phenomenon of religious violence. Such an approach to religious ethics has important metaethical implications. In the last section I consider issues such as the foundation of ethics and the possibilities and limitations of a secular ethics.
Christian ethics • costly signals • evolutionary ethics • Judaism • kin selection • reciprocal altruism • religious violence
John Teehan is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Hofstra University, 104A Roosevelt Hall, Hempstead, NY 11549; e-mail: SUSJPT @ Hofstra.edu.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.2005.00772.x

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