Who speaks for Christianity? Who speaks for Muslims? Who represents the scientific consensus? These are important questions, even for all those readers of Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science who are primarily interested in questions of truth and genuine value.
We need not choose one side a priori. But then, how long are various voices equally deserving of our attention? Teach the Controversy is a phrase that has been used in the United States to argue for the inclusion of Intelligent Design in the biology curriculum. The expression may confuse liberals who have no sympathy for the antievolution movement but who do believe strongly in academic freedom and freedom of expression. My hypothesis is that this ambivalence of open-minded persons who accept science but also value freedom of expression explains some of the discrepancy between the percentage of those who do not accept evolution and the higher number of those who hold that alternative points of view ought to be taught. However, science is not only about openness to alternative views, it also is about testing ideas and discarding those that lack precision, are not fruitful, or do not pass empirical tests. Academic freedom, freedom of speech, and freedom of religion do not require that every idea has similar standing. Rather, academic freedom is the freedom from interference for the sake of nonacademic interests—and, thus, to let the scientists speak for science.
In the wake of the February 1997 announcement that Dolly the sheep had been cloned, Muslim religious scholars together with Muslim scientists held two conferences to discuss cloning from an Islamic perspective. They were organized by two influential Islamic international religioscientific institutions: the Islamic Organization of Medical Sciences (IOMS) and the International Islamic Fiqh Academy (IIFA). Both institutions comprise a large number of prominent religious scholars and well-known scientists who participated in the discussions at the conferences. This article gives a comprehensive analysis of these conferences, the relation between science and religion as reflected in the discussions there, and the further influence of these discussions on Muslims living in the West. Modern discussions on Islamic bioethics show that formulating an Islamic perspective on these issues is not the exclusive prerogative of religious scholars. Formulating such perspectives has become a collective process in which scientists play an essential role. Such a collective approach strengthens the religious authority of Muslim scholars and makes it more influential rather than undermining it.
cloning • collective interpretation (ijtihâd jamâî) • Islamic bioethics • Muslims in the West • science and religion
Mohammed Ghaly (www.hum.leiden.edu/religion/organisation/institute-staff/ghaly.html) is an assistant professor of Islamic Studies at Leiden University, Faculty of Humanities, Leiden Institute for Religious Studies, Matthias de Vrieshof 1, Postbox 9515, 2300 RA Leiden, The Netherlands; e-mail: m.ghaly @ hum.leidenuniv.nl.
A Critique of Islamic Arguments on Human Cloning by Farrokh B. Sekaleshfar
Sunnism constitutes eighty percent of the Islamic world. The most academic and renowned religious seminary in the Sunni world is Al-Azhar University in Egypt, and it is from here that most verdicts on novel issues such as human cloning are decreed and disseminated throughout the Islamic and non-Islamic worlds. The perspective of this seminary and of other significant Sunni jurisprudential councils and figures are alluded to throughout this essay. I lay out the method of legal derivation employed by the Sunni clergy and scholars and then illustrate how they have arrived at their prohibition on human cloning. I demonstrate weaknesses of methodology employed by the major Sunni Muftis within the domain of jurisprudence.
analogical deduction • ethics • human cloning • Islam • jurisprudence • slippery slope arguments • Sunnism
Farrokh B. Sekaleshfar is a medical doctor and a bioethics student at the University of Manchester School of Law. His mailing address is 6, Leycester Road, Knutsford, Cheshire WA16 8QS, U.K.; e-mail: Farrokh.Sekaleshfar @ postgrad.manchester.ac.uk.
Psychology and Religion
Theistic Psychology and Psychotherapy: A Theological and Scientific Critique by Daniel A. Helminiak
I take the APA publication A Spiritual Strategy for Counseling and Psychotherapy (Richards and Bergin 2005), along with a devoted issue of Journal of Psychology and Theology (Nelson and Slife 2006), as a paradigmatic example of a trend. Other instances include the uncritical use of Eastern philosophy in Humanistic and Transpersonal Psychology, almost normative appeal to the Sacred within the psychology of spirituality, talk of God in the brain within neurological research, the neologism entheogen referring to psychedelic drugs, and calls for new specializations such as neurotheology and theobiology. In response to the legitimate ethical requirements of respect and openness regarding clients religious worldviews, the trend is to make God an essential component in psychological theory. The argument is that God is active in the universe and especially in human affairs to such an extent that any accurate account of strictly psychological matters, not just a comprehensive, interdisciplinary purview that could include a distinct theological dimension, must include God as an explanatory factor. Less nuanced than standard theological thought about divine intervention—including a range of opinions from supernaturalism, to occasionalism, to providential and deistic naturalism—this trend would blur the epistemological differences between religion and science by appeal to claimed knowledge sources such as inspiration and revelation and thus undermine the achievements of evidence-based science and establish particularistic religious beliefs as standard explanatory accounts. The concern to include a spiritual, in contrast to a religious or theist, dimension in psychological theory is welcome; but elaborated approaches, such as my own and those of Roberto Assagioli, Viktor Frankl, and Ken Wilber, open to varied theological applications, already exist.
agnosticism • Roberto Assagioli • atheism • creation • deism • divine intervention • divine providence • epistemology • fideism • Viktor Frankl • fundamentalism • insight • inspiration • Bernard J. F. Lonergan • miracles • Mormon theology • occasionalism • pastoral counseling • psychological theory • reductionism • revelation • secular psychotherapy • spirituality • supernaturalism • theism • theist psychology • theistic psychotherapy • Ken Wilber
Daniel A. Helminiak (www.visionsofdaniel.net) is a professor in the humanistic and transpersonal Department of Psychology, University of West Georgia, 1601 Maple Street, Carrollton, GA 30118; e-mail: dhelmini @ westga.edu.
Varieties of Religious Cognition: A Computational Approach to Self-understanding in Three Monotheist Contexts by Kevin S. Reimer, Alvin C. Dueck, Garth Neufeld, Sherry Steenwyk, and Tracy Sidesinger
This study considered representations of divine and human others in the self-understanding of monotheists from three religions. Self-understanding was conceptualized on the basis of semantic and episodic knowledge in narrative response data. Given the importance of social context in the formation of cognitive schemas, the project emphasized self-understanding in a comparative religious design. The sample included sixty nominated religious exemplars who responded to a structured interview. Schemas were subsequently mapped for Jews, Muslims, and Christians by comparison of self and other representations in a computational model known as latent semantic analysis (LSA). Findings indicated that representation of the divine is far removed from parents in cognitive schemas for all participants. Unlike Jews and Christians, Muslims appear to represent human others on the basis of self-understanding which principally references the divine. When considered in a computational semantic space, exemplars generally represent the self in a manner corresponding with divine and peer figures.
cognition • monotheist • representation • schema • self-understanding • semantic space
Kevin S. Reimer is Professor of Psychology in the Department of Graduate Psychology, Azusa Pacific University, 901 East Alosta Avenue, P.O. Box 7000, Azusa, CA 91702; e-mail: kreimer @ apu.edu. Alvin C. Dueck is Frank and Evelyn Freed Professor of Psychology at Fuller Graduate School of Psychology, Pasadena, California. Garth Neufeld is clinical intern at Alliant International University, Fresno, California. Sherry Steenwyk and Tracy Sidesinger are doctoral students at Fuller Graduate School of Psychology, Pasadena, California.
Narrative and Meaning in Science and Religion by John A. Teske
Differences of understanding in science and in religion can be explored via the distinction between paradigmatic and narrative modes of explanation. Although science is inclusive of the paradigmatic, I propose that in explaining the behavior of complex adaptive systems, and in the human sciences in particular, narratives may well constitute the best scientific explanations. Causal relationships may be embedded within, and expressions of higher-order constraints provided by, complex system dynamics, best understood via the temporal organization of intentionalities that constitute narrative. Complex adaptive systems, out of which intentions emerge, have behavioral trajectories that are in principle unique, contingent, and nondeterministic even in stable states and unpredictable across phase transitions. Given such unpredictability, the only explanation can be an interpretive story that retrospectively retraces the actual changes in dynamics. Without narrative, personality traits and human actions are incomprehensible. Such phenomena do not permit a reduction of purposive acts to nonpurposive elements or of reasons to the causes they constrain. Causality does not exhaust meaning. Given the role of narratives in human lives, religion and mythology provide larger stories within which individual stories make sense. Differences between narrative and historical truth suggest how we can be constituted by what we imagine ourselves to be.
causality • complex adaptive system • context-sensitive constraint • explanation • hermeneutic • history • intentionality • meaning • narrative
John A. Teske is a professor of psychology at Elizabethtown College, Elizabethtown, PA 17022; e-mail: teskeja @ etown.edu.
God as a Communicative System Sui Generis: Beyond the Psychic, Social, Process Models of the Trinity by Young Bin Moon
With an aim to develop a public theology for an age of information media (or media theology), this article proposes a new God-concept: God is a communicative system sui generis that autopoietically processes meaning/information in the supratemporal realm via perfect divine media ad intra (Word/Spirit). For this task, Niklas Luhmanns systems theory is critically appropriated in dialogue with theology. First, my working postmetaphysical/epistemological stance is articulated as realistic operational constructivism and functionalism. Second, a series of arguments are advanced to substantiate the thesis: (1) God is an observing system sui generis; (2) self-referential communication is divine operation; (3) unsurpassable complexity is divine mystery; (4) supratemporal autopoiesis of meaning is divine processing; (5) agape is the symbolic medium of divine communication. Third, this communicative model of God is developed into a trinitarian theology, with a claim that this model offers a viable alternative beyond the standard (psychic, social, process) models. Finally, some implications of this model are explored for constructive theology (conceiving creation as divine mediatization) and for science-and-religion in terms of derivative models: (1) God as a living system sui generis and (2) God as a meaning system sui generis.
biology • communication • communicative model • creation • divine media • God • information • life • Niklas Luhmann • meaning • media • public theology • religious studies • science-and-religion • systems theory • Trinity
Young Bin Moon is Professor of Christian Studies, Seoul Womens University, 126 Gongneung-2dong, Nowon-gu, Seoul, Korea; e-mail: ybmoon @ swu.ac.kr.
Martin Luthers Experiential Theology as a Model for Faith-Science Relationships by Klaus Nürnberger
The approach of experiential realism could indicate where science and faith deal with the same reality, where science questions faith assumptions, and where faith goes beyond the mandate and method of science. Although prescientific, Martin Luthers theology is the classical prototype of an experiential theology. We experience Gods creative power in all of reality. We discern its regularities through observation and reason. So faith opens up all the space needed by science. However, experienced reality is highly ambiguous. It obscures Gods intentions. Gods intentions are revealed in the proclamation of the gospel: God is unconditionally for us and with us and not against us. This proclamation is a promise, appropriated in faith, and geared to a vision of what ought to become. It is based on the interpretation of a catastrophe—the cross of Christ—as Gods pivotal redemptive act in human history. It goes beyond the mandate and method of science, yet it is capable of giving the latter a sense of purpose, criteria of acceptability, and authority to act in the interests of humanity and the earth. Theology challenges science to acknowledge the necessity of a transcendent frame of reference and moral accountability. Scientific insight challenges theology to reconceptualize its assumptions on God, creation, and eschatology to integrate best science.
experiential realism • experiential theology • faith as protest • natural law and intentionality • science and Luthers theology • scientific exploration and transcendent vision
Klaus Nürnberger (www.klaus-nurnberger.com) is Professor emeritus, Fellow and Senior Research Associate at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. His address is 21 Farmers Folly, Lynnwood/Pretoria, 0084, South Africa; e-mail: nurnberger @ telkomsa.net.
Kenosis and Emergence: A Theological Synthesis by Bradford McCall
Emergence, a hot topic of discussion for the last several years, has implications not only for the study of science but also for theology. I survey Philip Claytons book Mind & Emergence, drawing from it and applying some of its philosophical principles to a theological interpretation of emergence. This theological interpretation is supplemented by a brief examination of relevant biblical usages of the term kenosis. From this exploration of kenosis, I assert that the Spirit is kenotically poured into creation, which onsets the long and laborious process of prebiotic evolution, leading to biological evolution toward increasing complexity. The complexification of matter, then, has its ontological origin in and through the agency of the Spirit of God. As such, the concept of creatio continua, continuing creation, is defended. The Spirit enables emergence by endowing creation and creatures with the ability to unfold by apparent natural processes according to their own inherent potentialities and possibilities. This essay contributes to a systematic theology of creation by constructing a theological synthesis between kenosis and emergence.
chaos • development • emergence • immanence • kenosis • pneumatology • potentialities • primary and secondary causation • reductive physicalism • substance dualism
Bradford McCall has degrees in biology and divinity and is currently a Ph.D. student at Regent University School of Divinity, 1000 Regent University Dr., Virginia Beach, VA 23464; e-mail: bradmcc @ regent.edu.
Reflecting on Kevin Sharpe, Taede Smedes, and the Dialogue
Science and Serious Theology: Two Paths for Science and Religions Future? by Nathan J. Hallanger
Although they take different approaches, both Taede A. Smedes and Kevin Sharpe have challenged the theology-and-science enterprise and raised important questions about theological and scientific assumptions behind this work. Smedes argues that theology should be taken more seriously, and Sharpe believes that theology should be more scientific. A proposed middle way involves engaging in the dialogue itself and exploring the questions and methodological implications that arise in the context of problem-focused interactions.
divine action • rationality • Kevin Sharpe • Taede A. Smedes • theology and science
Nathan J. Hallanger is Special Assistant to the Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean of the College, Augsburg College, C.B. 136, 2211 Riverside Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55454; e-mail: hallange @ augsburg.edu.
Changing Landscape in Science-Religion Dialogues by Varadaraja V. Raman
One peculiarity of the broad theme of science-religion dialogues is that while it has been growing significantly, it seems to be moving farther and farther away from its goal of establishing bridges and understandings between the two enterprises. This essay explores this unhappy situation, with particular reference to the works of two scholars who have been critical of some of the pioneer theologians and have suggested some radically new approaches to the issues.
exopotent and endopotent truths • key-theology • NOMA • ratio-alatry • science-religion dialogues • scientism • secularization of theology • Templeton Foundation
Varadaraja V. Raman is Emeritus Professor of Physics and Humanities at the Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, NY 14623; e-mail: vvrsps @ rit.edu.
Engaging Robert J. Russells Alpha and Omega
Robert John Russell versus the New Atheists by Nancey Murphy
This essay compares Robert John Russells work in his recent book Cosmology from Alpha to Omega: The Creative Mutual Interaction of Theology and Science (2008) to that of the authors known collectively as the new atheists. I treat the latter as recent contributors to the modern tradition of scientific naturalism. This tradition makes claims to legitimacy on the basis of its close relations to the natural sciences. The purpose of this essay is to show up the poverty of the naturalist traditions scientific credentials by contrasting it with Russells careful account of positive relations between science and Christian theology.
atheism • Richard Dawkins • Daniel Dennett • divine action • Sam Harris • Christopher Hitchens • Alasdair MacIntyre • naturalism • Robert John Russell • tradition
Nancey Murphy is Professor of Christian Philosophy at Fuller Seminary, 135 N. Oakland Ave., Pasadena, CA 91182.
Is Physics Fundamental? Robert Russell on Divine Action by John F. Haught
Robert Russells theological work has been a helpful stimulus to the task of understanding the meaning of divine action and providence in the age of science. He relates Gods direct action fundamentally to the hidden domain of quantum events, and his theology of nature deserves careful attention. It is questionable, however, whether the term fundamental as applied to quantum events by physical science may be taken over by theology without more careful qualification than Russell offers.
abstraction • divine action • fundamental • metaphysics • ontology • quantum mechanics
John F. Haught is Senior Fellow, Woodstock Theological Center, Georgetown University, Washington, DC 20057.
Gaps in the Argument: A Discussion of Certain Aspects of Cosmology by Michael Ruse
In this discussion review of Robert John Russells collection of essays I agree with him about the necessity of human existence given the claims of Christian theology. I look in detail at his suggestions for speaking to this issue, especially his thesis of NIODA—noninterventionist objective divine action. I end up disagreeing with the suggestion and argue that in respects Russell is tackling the science-religion relationship in the wrong way.
Simon Conway Morris • Richard Dawkins • Stephen Jay Gould • human nature • NIODA (noninterventionist objective divine action) • Robert John Russell
Michael Ruse is Lucyle T. Werkmeister Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Program in the History and Philosophy of Science at Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL 32306; e-mail: mruse @ fsu.edu.
Robert J. Russells Eschatological Theology in the Context of Cosmology by Willem B. Drees
The main title of Robert J. Russells Cosmology from Alpha to Omega: The Creative Mutual Interaction of Theology and Science catches the substance of the essays; the subtitle his methodological vision. The mutual is modest as far as the influence from theology on science goes; in no way is Russell curtailing the pursuit of science. Driven by intellectual honesty, he holds that in the end religious convictions will have to stand the test of compatibility with scientific knowledge. And as a Christian he believes core beliefs of Christianity, reformulated as needed, will be able to stand this test. The essays address the origin and contingency of our universe in relation to belief in creation, and his proposal for noninterventionist objective divine action. For him a stumbling block is natural evil; the evolutionary intelligibility of evil falls short of what would be desirable theologically. As steps toward an adequate eschatology Russell seeks to develop a more complex understanding of temporality, and proposes to understand the resurrection of Jesus as the First Instantiation of a New Law of the New Creation. This area is more in tension with current science, but that could be expected when one moves from creation to redemption. Within his self-imposed boundaries, these essays are well informed and well argued, and together they provide a sincere and sustained research program.
bridge metaphor • contingency • cosmology • eschatology • mutual interaction of religion and science • Robert J. Russell
Willem B. Drees is professor of philosophy of religion and ethics at Leiden University, Faculty of Humanities, P.O. Box 9515, 2300 RA Leiden, the Netherlands, and editor of Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science; e-mail: w.b.drees @ religion.leidenuniv.nl.
Cosmology from Alpha to Omega: Response to Reviews by Robert John Russell
I gratefully acknowledge and respond here to four reviews of my recent book, Cosmology from Alpha to Omega. Nancey Murphy stresses the importance of showing consistency between Christian theology and natural science through a detailed examination of my recent model of their creative interaction. She suggests how this model can be enhanced by adopting Alasdair MacIntyres understanding of tradition in order to adjudicate between competing ways of incorporating science into a wider worldview. She urges the inclusion of ethics in my model and predicts that this would successfully challenge the competing naturalist tradition in contemporary society. John F. Haught weighs the alternatives of viewing divine action as objective versus subjective and of divine action at one level in nature or at all levels. He asks whether physics is fundamental to nature, arguing instead that metaphysics should be considered as fundamental. Michael Ruse assesses occasional versus universal divine action, the problems raised to divine action when it is related to quantum mechanics, and the way these relations exacerbate the challenge of natural theodicy. As an alternative he suggests viewing God as outside time and acting through unbroken natural law. Willem B. Drees discusses my use of the bridge metaphor for the relation between theology and science, the implications when science is inspired by theology, the role of contingency and necessity in the anthropic principle/many-worlds debate, and the challenge of cosmology to eschatology with the ensuing problem of theodicy.
anthropic principle • Christian eschatology • contingency • cosmology • ethics • interaction of theology and science • many worlds • natural theodicy • objective divine action • quantum mechanics
Robert John Russell is the Ian G. Barbour Professor of Theology and Science in Residence, the Graduate Theological Union (GTU), Berkeley, California, and the Founder and Director of The Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences (CTNS). His mailing address is 111 Sea View Avenue, Piedmont, CA 94610, U.S.A.; e-mail: rrussell @ ctns.org.
Embodied Religion and Science
Embodied Science: Recentering Religion-and-Science by Philip Hefner
Neither religion nor science is first of all a realm of pure ideas, even though religion-and-science discussions often assume that they are. I propose that a concept of embodied science is more adequate and that religion-and-science should center its attention on science as enabler for improving the world (SEIW). This idea of science is rooted in Jerome Ravetzs concept of industrialized science and Donna Haraways technoscience. SEIW describes the sociocultural context of science in commercial, government, and university settings. The chief focus of religion-and-science consequently takes into account five basic issues: (1) the kind of world we want, (2) liberating science, (3) human action and ethics, (4) religion and the worlds possibilities, and (5) recovering myth. An underlying presupposition of the discussion is that understanding the world always involves as well an understanding of our being-in-the-world.
embodied science • Donna Haraway • possibility • Jerome Ravetz • religion-and-science • SEIW • technology
Philip Hefner is Professor of Systematic Theology emeritus, Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, 1100 East 55th St., Chicago, IL 60615; e-mail: pnhefner @ sbcglobal.net.
The Nature of Embodiment: Religion and Science in Dialogue by Ann Milliken Pederson
What is embodiment? And how does this notion apply not only to science qua science but also to the conversation between religion and science? I offer a descriptive analysis of an embodied conversation between religion, science, ethics, and technology. The domain of embodiment is one in which the participants practice humility in the face of others, become aware of their own limitations and finitude, bear witness to the others finiteness and limitations, take account of the sociocultural atmosphere, and acknowledge the ethical weight of the conversation for all involved. I offer examples of how this tangled knot of emergent practices is put into play, examples that expand upon some notions of what conversations between religion and science should be like.
bearing witness • embodiment • finitude • objectivity • practice
Ann Milliken Pederson is Professor of Religion at Augustana College, 2001 S. Summit, Sioux Falls, SD 57197, and Adjunct Associate Professor in the Section of Ethics and Humanities at the University of South Dakota School of Medicine.
The Hefnerian Legacy: Rethinking the Nature of Naturalism by James W. Haag
Philip Hefner calls for religion-and-science to shift attention from pure ideas to embodied ideas. He urges scholars to get back to the Baconian idea that science is intended to enhance life; in Hefners wording, we must give attention to science-as-enabler-for-changing/improving-the-world. I believe that this is the realm of overlap between all academic disciplines—what I call the pragmatic overlap. To make his argument Hefner mentions two forms of conventional wisdom that need to be rethought. First, he is worried that a pressure toward naturalism prevents certain words (such as teleological and transcendence) from having instructive meaning. Second, with this move toward naturalism Hefner believes we dismiss as archaic all valuable implications of traditional religious myths and symbols. He rightly highlights these exceedingly significant concerns. However, narrowing our focus to the implications of naturalism alone misses the root crisis. That crisis can be articulated as: conventional wisdom regarding nature is too unsophisticated to account for the phenomenon it depicts, and furthermore, this understanding of nature controls the methodological, metaphysical, and practical versions of naturalism acquiring societal acceptance. Accordingly, an alternative vision of nature is needed to transform our current conventional wisdom such that Hefners worries are addressed.
Terrence Deacon • emergence • Philip Hefner • morality • naturalism • nature
James W. Haag is Senior Lecturer of Philosophy at Suffolk University in Boston. His address is 400 Marlborough St. #2, Boston, MA 02115; e-mail: jameshaag @ hotmail.com.
Entropic Creation: Religious Contexts of Thermodynamics and Cosmology by Helge S. Kragh, reviewed by Robert J. Deltete