Zygon: Journal of Religion & Science
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Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science
44 (2), June 2009

Table of Contents


Public Intellectual or Disciplinary Journal? by Philip Hefner

A funny thing happened on Zygon’s way from its origins in 1966 to the present day, forty-four years later. The funny thing is that what began as a slim fledgling journal embodying a vision for dealing with a deep crisis of society has become a flagship journal of an academic discipline—with worldwide Internet availability through three thousand libraries. This unexpected transformation is the theme for this, my final piece as editor of this journal.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.2009.00998.x


Beauty in the Living World by Alejandro Garcia-Rivera, Mark Graves, and Carl Neumann

Almost all admit that there is beauty in the natural world. Many suspect that such beauty is more than an adornment of nature. Few in our contemporary world suggest that this beauty is an empirical principle of the natural world itself and instead relegate beauty to the eye and mind of the beholder. Guided by theological and scientific insight, the authors propose that such exclusion is no longer tenable, at least in the data of modern biology and in our view of the natural world in general. More important, we believe an empirical aesthetics exists that can help guide experimental design and development of computational models in biology. Moreover, because theology and science can both contribute toward and equally profit from such an aesthetics, we propose that this empirical aesthetics provides the foundation for a living synergy between theology and science.
aesthetics • Christopher Alexander • computational models • developmental biology • empirical aesthetics • experimental design • pattern formation in developing tissues • theological aesthetics
Alejandro Garcia-Rivera is Professor of Systematic Theology at the Jesuit School of Theology, 1735 Le Roy Ave., Berkeley, CA 94709; e-mail: agarcia @ jstb.edu. Mark Grave is Scholar in Residence at the Jesuit School of Theology, 1735 Le Roy Ave., Berkeley, CA 94709; e-mail: mgraves @ jstb.edu. Carl Neumann is Group Leader at European Molecular Biology Laboratory, Meyerhofstr. 1, Heidelberg, 69117, Germany; e-mail: carl.neumann @ embl-heidelberg.de.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.2009.00999.x

Quantum Reality and Ethos: A Thought Experiment regarding the Foundation of Ethics in Cosmic Order by Lothar Schäfer, Diogo Valadas Ponte, and Sisir Roy

The authors undertake a thought experiment the purpose of which is to explore possibilities for understanding moral principles in analogy with cosmic order. The experiment is based on three proposals, which are described in detail: an ontological, a neurological, and a moral proposal. The ontological proposal accepts from the phenomena of quantum physics that there is a nonempirical domain of physical reality that consists not of material things but of what is philosophically conceptualized as a realm of nonmaterial forms. This realm of forms is the realm of potentiality in physical reality that quantum physics posits as an indivisible Wholeness—the One. It is the ultimate reality because everything empirical is the actualization of its forms. The neurological proposal is the hypothesis that the brain is sensitive to the potentiality waves in the cosmic field, as ordinary measuring instruments in physics are sensitive to potentiality waves at the quantum level, so that the cosmic field can communicate with the human brain. The third proposal assumes that the communication with the cosmic field can translate into moral ideas and actions. Even though the three proposals underlying the thought experiment are highly speculative, they lead to definite implications that make sense in their own right and can be applied in a useful way. From the order of reality some simple rules of conduct follow that are identical with traditional moral rules but have the character of rules of wellness, leading to new aspects of Aristotle’s concept of eudaimonia and Kant’s concept of the highest good. In analogy with the structure of physical reality, where all empirical phenomena are actualizations of nonempirical forms, it is suggested that the structure of morality, too, is that of a tacit, nonempirical form that actualizes in explicit principles and moral acts through our consciousness. The tacit form is thought to exist in the realm of cosmic potentiality, together with all the other forms that the empirical world actualizes. It can appear spontaneously in our consciousness when needed, offering its guidance to our judgment and free will. Because it does not appear in the form of commandments accompanied by threats, the actions of the tacit moral form define a higher level of morality, similar to that offered by some aspects of the Christian teaching, where one acts not out of fear but on the desire to do things right.
Aristotelian potentia • Cosmic Consciousness • forms as metaphysical principle of being • Carl Gustav Jung’s collective unconscious • quantum reality
Lothar Schäfer is Edgar Wertheim Professor of Physical Chemistry at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR 72701; e-mail: schafer @ uark.edu. Diogo Valadas Ponte is Clinical psychologist whose practice is in Barcelos, Campo 5 Outubro, 190, 4750-274, Portugal; e-mail: diogovaladasponte @ hotmail.com. Sisir Roy is Professor of Theoretical Physics, Physics and Applied Mathematics Unit, Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata 700108 India; e-mail: sisir @ isical.ac.in.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.2009.01000.x

Altruism in Suicide Terror Organizations by Hector N. Qirko

In recent years, much has been learned about the strategic and organizational contexts of suicide attacks. However, motivations of the agents who commit them remain difficult to explain. In part this is because standard models of social learning as well as Durkheimian notions of sacrificial behavior are inadequate in the face of the actions of human bombers. In addition, the importance of organizational structures and practices in reinforcing commitment on the part of suicide recruits is an under-explored factor in many analyses. This essay examines the potential applicability of evolutionary models of altruism to the understanding of commitment to suicide on the part of terrorist organizational recruits. Three evolutionary models of sacrificial behavior in nonhuman species and many categories of human behavior are explored cross-organizationally: reciprocity, inclusive fitness theory, and induced altruism. Reciprocal altruism is unlikely to be a major motivator in suicide attacks because the costs exhibited by attackers are too high to be adequately compensated. However, the role of evolved self-deception in perceptions of personal death, and thus of rewards in the afterlife, is potentially illuminating. Inclusive fitness theory can help explain the motivations of attackers because rewards to kin often are offered by organizations to suicide recruits. However, suicide bombers also often act out of revenge for the loss of or injury to relatives, and inclusive fitness theory generally, as well as more specific theoretical models of retaliatory aggression, may not adequately account for the bombers’ actions. Predictions from induced altruism theory appear to be well supported because suicide terror organizations tend to be tightly structured around practices intended to maintain and reinforce commitment though the manipulation of kinship-recognition cues.
altruism • inclusive fitness • induced altruism • kinship recognition clues • reciprocal altruism • suicide terror
Hector N. Qirko is Lecturer in the Department of Anthropology, University of Tennessee, 250 South Stadium Hall, Knoxville, TN 37996; e-mail: hqirko @ utk.edu.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.2009.01001.x

The Magician in the World: Becoming, Creativity, and Transversal Communication by Inna Semetsky

This essay interprets the meaning of one of the cards in a Tarot deck, “The Magician,” in the context of process philosophy in the tradition of Alfred North Whitehead. It brings into the conversation the philosophical legacy of American semiotician Charles Sanders Peirce as well as French poststructuralist Gilles Deleuze. Some of their conceptualizations are explored herein for the purpose of explaining the symbolic function of the Magician in the world. From the perspective of the logic of explanation, the sign of the Magician is an index of nonmechanistic, mutualist or circular, causality that enables self-organization embedded in coordination dynamics. Its action is such as to establish an unorthodox connection crossing over the dualistic gap between mind and matter, science and magic, process and structure, the world without and the world within, subject and object, and human experience and the natural world, thereby overcoming what Whitehead called the paradox of the connectedness of things. The Magician represents a certain quality that acts as a catalytic agent capable of eliciting transmutations, that is, the emergence of novelty. I present a model for process~structure that uses mathematics on the complex plane and the rules of projective geometry. The corollary is such that the presence of the Magician in the world enables a particular organization of thought that makes pre-cognition possible.
action of signs • coordination dynamics • Gilles Deleuze • geometry on the complex plane • Hermetic philosophy • the included middle • Charles Sanders Peirce • process metaphysics • projection • relational ontology • self-cause and self-reference • Tarot • unconscious • Alfred North Whitehead
Inna Semetsky is Member of the Institute of Advanced Study for Humanity, The University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia. Her mailing address is P.O. Box 312, Hampton, VIC 3188, Australia; e-mail: inna.semetsky @ newcastle.edu.au.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.2009.01002.x

Genes and Cultures-Boyd and Richerson

Genes and Cultures—Boyd and Richerson The Intertwined Roles of Genes and Culture in Human Evolution by William Irons

This essay critiques dual-inheritance theory as presented in Peter Richerson and Robert Boyd’s book Not by Genes Alone: How Culture Transformed Human Evolution (2005). The theory states that culture became prominent in human evolution because it allowed relatively rapid adaptation to changing environments by means of imitation. Imitating the behavior of other members of one’s community produces adaptive behaviors more readily than either genetic evolution or individual learning. Imitation follows a number of patterns: imitating high-status individuals, imitating the most common forms of behavior, imitating behaviors perceived to be the most effective solutions to various problems relevant to survival. This process combined with occasional innovations in behavior lead to a process of cultural evolution involving populations of cultural variants. Different local human populations were associated with different local populations of cultural variants, and both the human and the cultural populations evolved over time. Human evolution cannot be understood without taking into account these parallel processes of genetic and cultural evolution. Not by Genes Alone traces the implication of dual-inheritance theory for understanding human evolution and refers to various bodies of evidence relevant to the theory.
adaptation and maladaptation • cultural evolution • cultural group selection • dual inheritance theory
William Irons is Professor of Anthropology at Northwestern University, 1810 Hinman Avenue, Evanston, IL 60208-1310; e-mail: w-irons @ northwestern.edu.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.2009.01003.x

Abundant Nature’s Long-term Openness to Humane Biocultural Designs by Robert B. Glassman

Not by Genes Alone excellently explains Peter J. Richerson and Robert Boyd’s important ideas about human gene-culture co-evolution to a broader audience but remains short of a larger vision of civilization. Several decades ago Ralph Burhoe had seen that fertile possibility in Richerson and Boyd’s work. I suggest getting past present reductionistic customs to a scientific perspective having an integral place for virtue. Subsystem agency is part of this view, as is the driving role of abundance, whose ultimate origins are in the mysterious, quintessentially energetic Big Bang. The free-rider problem may not impede higher social organization as inexorably as Richerson and Boyd believe; “the tragedy” of enervating leakage from “the commons” may often be less influential than an invigorating flow of externalities to the commons. Eukaryotic origins mark the origin of inevitable wider sharing as higher living systems evolve. I use a metaphor of flesh and spirit in drawing a parallel between that turning point and the wide sharing that occurs in civilization. This helps solve the enigma of the demographic transition. Why do so many productive participants in first-world societies severely restrict their selfish-gene reproduction to below replacement birth rate? It is not because culture is maladaptive but because civilization’s brain and womb have become partially differentiated in distinct populations. Considerations of social boundaries, myths of sacrifice, and human creativity help in understanding how human social evolution taps potentials present in reality. Human beings’ diverse vigorous activities—the organized ones and the inadvertent ones, the wise and the foolish, the good and the bad, the carefully thoughtful and the merely playful—provide the ground of being, or primordial soup, for cultural entities that transcend our intentions. If we have it right for the most part and are fortunate, we will continue to emerge at higher levels.
affluence • altruism • America • demographic transition • ethology • evolution • externalities • globalization • hierarchy • history • immigration • information • moral • perception • philosophy of science • sacrifice • self-organization • subsystem • symbiosis
Robert B. Glassman is Professor in the Department of Psychology, Box E1, Lake Forest College, 555 N. Sheridan Road, Lake Forest, IL 60045; e-mail: glassman @ lakeforest.edu.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.2009.01004.x

The Third Way of Religious Studies: Beyond Sui Generis Religious Studies and the Postmodernists by Donald M. Braxton

This essay advocates dual-inheritance theory for the renewal of Religious Studies. Not by Genes Alone, by Peter J. Richerson and Robert Boyd (2005), presents this approach in an admirably clear manner. To make my case, I survey the development of Religious Studies since the Enlightenment, with special attention to the American context. The historical survey brings us to the dawn of the twenty-first century, where Religious Studies is often unnecessarily limited to sui generis Religious Studies and its postmodern critics. Neither approach engages regnant Darwinian theoretical frameworks of gene-culture coevolution productively. In this context, I situate the contributions of dual-inheritance theory as presented by Richerson and Boyd and offer examples of its utility for progress in Religious Studies, its ability to open cooperation across disciplinary boundaries, and its salutary demystification of religion as a culturally unique and coherent phenomenon. I conclude by addressing concerns scholars of religion might entertain regarding the issue of reductionism and how an emergent science of religion might contribute to the traditional concerns of religion-and-science dialogue as it has evolved in the English-speaking context.
Robert Boyd • cultural evolution • cultural selectionism • dual-inheritance theory • Religious Studies • Peter J. Richerson • science of religion
Donald M. Braxton is J. Omar Good Professor of Religious Studies and Chair of the Department of Religious Studies at Juniata College, 1700 Moore Street, Huntingdon, PA 16652; e-mail: braxton @ juniata.edu.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.2009.01005.x

William James Revisited

Rereading The Varieties of Religious Experience in Transatlantic Perspective by Ann Taves

William James’s The Varieties of Religious Experience is one of the world’s most popular attempts to meld science and religion. Academic reviews of the book were mixed in Europe and America, however, and prominent contemporaries, unsure whether it was science or theology, struggled to interpret it. James’s reliance on an inherently ambiguous understanding of the subconscious as a means of bridging between religion and science accounts for some of the interpretive difficulties, but it does not explain why his overarching question was so obscure, why psychopathology and unusual experiences figured so prominently, or why he gave us so many examples and so little argument. To understand these persistent puzzles we need to do more than acknowledge James’s indebtedness to Frederic Myers’s conception of the subconscious. We need to read VRE in the context of the transatlantic network of experimental psychologists and psychical researchers who provided the primary intellectual inspiration for the book. Doing so not only locates and clarifies the underlying question that animated the work but also illuminates the structural and rhetorical similarities between VRE and Myers’s Human Personality and Its Survival of Bodily Death. In contrast to the individual case studies of hysterics, mediums, and mystics produced by others in this network, both Myers and James adopted a natural-history approach in which they arranged examples of automatisms to produce a rhetorical effect, thus invoking science in order to evoke a religious response. Where Myers organized his examples to make a case for human survival of death, James organized his to make a case for the involvement of higher powers in the transformation of the self. Read in this way, VRE marks a dramatic shift from a religious preoccupation with life after death to a religious preoccupation with this-worldly self-transformation.
automatisms • experimental psychology • William James: Frederic Myers • psychical research • religious experience
Ann Taves is Professor of Religious Studies, University of California at Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA 93106-3130; e-mail: taves @ religion.ucsb.edu.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.2009.01006.x

Getting Under My Skin: William James on the Emotions, Sociality, and Transcendence by John Kaag

“You are really getting under my skin!” This exclamation suggests a series of psychological, philosophical, and metaphysical questions: What is the nature and development of human emotion? How does emotion arise in social interaction? To what extent can interactive situations shape our embodied selves and intensify particular affective states? With these questions in mind, William James begins to investigate the character of emotions and to develop a model of what he terms the social self. James’s studies of mimicry and his interest in phenomena now often investigated using biofeedback begin to explain how affective states develop and how it might be possible for something to “get under one’s skin.” I situate these studies in the history of psychology between the psychological schools of structuralism and behaviorism. More important, I suggest continuity between James’s Psychology and recent research on mirror neurons, reentrant mapping, and emotional mimicry in the fields of clinical psychology and cognitive neuroscience. This research supports and extends James’s initial claims in regard to the creation of emotions and the life of the social self. I propose that James’s work in the empirical sciences should be read as a prelude to his metaphysical works that speak of a coordination between embodied selves and wider environmental situations, and his psychological studies should be read as a prelude to his reflections on spiritual transcendence.
behaviorism • embodied cognition • homeostatic regulation • mimicry • mirror neurons • pragmatism • social psychology • social self • transcendence
John Kaag Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of Massachusetts, 102 Olney Hall, Dept. of Philosophy, University of Massachusetts, Lowell, MA 01854; e-mail: John_Kaag @ uml.edu.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.2009.01007.x

Physics and Mind

Minding Quanta and Cosmology by Karl H. Pribram

The revolution in science inaugurated by quantum physics has made us aware of the role of observation in the construction of data. Eugene Wigner remarked that in quantum physics we no longer have observables (invariants), only observations. Tongue in cheek, I asked him whether that meant that quantum physics is really psychology, expecting a gruff reply to my sassiness. Instead, Wigner beamed understanding and replied “Yes, yes, that’s exactly correct.” David Bohm pointed out that were we to look at the cosmos without the lenses of our telescopes we would see a hologram. I extend Bohm’s insight to the lens in the optics of the eye. The receptor processes of the ear and skin work in a similar fashion. Without these lenses and lenslike operations all of our perceptions would be entangled as in a hologram. Furthermore, the retina absorbs quanta of radiation so that quantum physics uses the very perceptions that become formed by it. In turn, higher-order brain systems send signals to the sensory receptors so that what we perceive is often as much a result of earlier rather than just immediate experience. This influence from inside out becomes especially relevant to our interpretation of how we experience the contents and bounds of cosmology that come to us by way of radiation.
Big Bang theory • brain systems • central control of receptors • conformal rescaling • cosmology • efficient and formal causation • Fourier transformation • holography • observation • perception • quantum physics • radiation • sensory receptors • wavelets • windowed Fourier transformations
Karl H. Pribram is Distinguished Professor of Psychology at Georgetown University, where he also serves as a researcher and faculty member in the Interdisciplinary Program in Cognitive Neuroscience. His mailing address is P.O. Box 679, Warrenton, VA 20188; e-mail: pribramk @ georgetown.edu.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.2009.01008.x

The Role of Consciousness as Meaning Maker in Science, Culture, and Religion by Patrick A. Heelan

Two hundred years ago, Friedrich Schleiermacher took critical issue with Immanuel Kant’s intellectual notion of intuition as applied to human nature (Wellmon 2006). He found it necessary to modify—“hermeneutically,” as he said—Kant’s notion of anthropology by enabling it to include as human the new and strange human tribes Captain Cook found in the Pacific South Seas. A similar hermeneutic move is necessary if physics is to include the local contextual empirical syntheses of relativity and quantum physics. In this hermeneutical revision the synthesis is formed around the notion of a Hilbert Vector Space as the universal grammar of physics, adding to it the dynamic of the Schrödinger equation, and representing empirical “observables” by projection operators that map the subspaces of definite measurable values. Among the set of observable projection operators, some pairs share the same subspace, commute with one another, and share a common laboratory setting. Other pairs do not share this property and are described as being mutually complementary. Complementary symmetries introduce into the discursive language of physics the commonsense notion of contextuality. The new synthesis, proposed by Eugene Wigner, John von Neumann, and (in his own way) Paul Dirac, brought physics into the community of common language and established it as a work of general human achievement.¹
¹ For further relevant glosses, see “Quantum Reality and the Consciousness of the Universe” 2006 for Zygon articles by Lothar Schäfer, Henry Stapp, and others related to this essay; see also Penrose 1994.

concepts • consciousness • context • Albert Einstein • experiment • geometry • grammar • Martin Heidegger • Werner Heisenberg • hermeneutical • Hilbert Space • Edmund Husserl • Bernard Lonergan • perception • philosophy • physics • quantum • religion • Space • symmetry • synthesis • theology • theory • Time • transcendental • Eugene Wigner
Patrick A. Heelan is William A. Gaston Professor of Philosophy, Georgetown University, Washington, D.C. 20057-1133; e-mail: heelanp @ georgetown.edu.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.2009.01009.x

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