Zygon: Journal of Religion & Science
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Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science
45 (4), December 2010

Table of Contents

Editorial

Change and Continuity by Willem B. Drees

In order to remain the same, one has to keep changing. Science changes in order to remain true to its ambitions. Organisms have immune systems that are flexible so as to be able to counter new pathogens. Religious traditions emphasize their roots in past wisdom, but need to relate old wisdom to new challenges. A case study of how this latter process might be organized was the analysis by Mohammed Ghaly earlier this year on the way new Islamic organizations have become places where theological leaders, medical doctors and scientists engage in conversation on cloning (Ghaly 2010).
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.2010.01133.x

Articles

Creationism in the Netherlands by Stefaan Blancke

Abstract:
Recent events indicate that creationists are becoming increasingly active in the Netherlands. This article offers an overview of these events. First, I discuss the introduction of intelligent-design (ID) creationism into the Dutch public sphere by a renowned physicist, Cees Dekker. Later, Dekker himself shifted toward a more evolution-friendly position, theistic evolution. Second, we see how Dekker was followed in this shift by Andries Knevel, an important figure within the Dutch evangelical broadcasting group, the Evangelische Omroep (EO). His conversion to ID, and subsequently to theistic evolution, brought him into conflict with young-Earth creationists who still strongly identify themselves with the EO. Third, provoked by the dissidence of prominent orthodox believers and the celebrations surrounding the Darwin year, young-Earth creationists became very visible. After three decades of relative silence, they started a project to make sure that the Dutch people would hear of the “alternatives” to evolutionary theory. This article (1) adds to the growing number of reports on creationists’ increased activity in Europe and (2) suggests that ID, in a context different from the United States, did not unite but rather divided the Dutch orthodox Protestant community.
Keywords:
antievolutionism • creationism • Cees Dekker • Europe • intelligent design • Andries Knevel • the Netherlands • wedge • young-Earth creationism
Stefaan Blancke is a doctoral student at Ghent University, Department of Philosophy and Moral Sciences, Blandijnberg 2, 9000 Ghent, Belgium; email: stefaan.blancke @ ugent.be.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.2010.01134.x

Religious Literalism and Science-related Issues in Contemporary Islam by Nidhal Guessoum

Abstract:
The complex relations between Islam and modern science have so far mostly been examined by thinkers at the conceptual level. The wider interaction of religious scholars and preachers with the general public on science issues is an unexplored area that is worthy of examination, for it often is characterized by a literalistic approach. I first briefly review literalism in its various forms. The classical Islamic jurisprudential school of Zahirism, widely regarded as bearing the flag of juristic literalism, is also briefly presented. I then address specific science-related issues currently being discussed in literalistic ways by many religious scholars and preachers in their general-public discourse. I focus on the practical case of the determination of crescent-based Islamic months and holy occasions, the conceptual issue of evolution (biological and human), and the rule for the consumption of meat by slaughter of animals. In the last part of the essay I propose a constructive alternative to the literalistic mode: the Maqasidi (objectives-based) approach. This rather old method has seen some revival lately, mainly among Islamic jurists concerned with solving the new issues of modern times, especially for Muslims living in the West, but this approach has not yet been applied to science-related issues. I present the main ideas of this method and show their relevance and usefulness to science-related topics.
Keywords:
evolution • Islam • (scriptural) literalism • science
Nidhal Guessoum is Professor of Physics and Astronomy at the American University of Sharjah, P.O. Box 2666, United Arab Emirates; email: nguessoum @ aus.edu.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.2010.01135.x

Cognitive and Evolutionary Factors in the Emergence of Human Altruism by James A. Van Slyke

Abstract:
One of the central tenets of Christian theology is the denial of self for the benefit of another. However, many views on the evolution of altruism presume that natural selection inevitably leads to a self-seeking human nature and that altruism is merely a façade to cover underlying selfish motives. I argue that human altruism is an emergent characteristic that cannot be reduced to any one particular evolutionary explanation. The evolutionary processes at work in the formation of human nature are not necessarily in conflict with the possibility of altruism; rather, aspects of human nature are uniquely directed toward the care and concern of others. The relationship between altruism, human nature, and evolution can be reimagined by adopting an emergent view of the hierarchy of science and a theological worldview that emphasizes self-renunciation. The investigation of altruism necessitates an approach that analyzes several aspects of altruistic behavior at different levels in the hierarchy of sciences. This research includes the study of evolutionary adaptations, neurological systems, cognitive functions, behavioral traits, and cultural influences. No one level is able to offer a full explanation, but each piece adds a unique dimension to a much larger puzzle.
Keywords:
altruism • cognition • compassion • emergence • empathy • evolution • human nature • reduction • theological anthropology
James A. Van Slyke is a research assistant professor at the Travis Research Institute in the Graduate School of Psychology at Fuller Theological Seminary, 953 South Marengo Ave., Pasadena, CA 91106, and an adjunct lecturer at Azusa Pacific University; e-mail: james_van @ fuller.edu.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.2010.01136.x

Donald S. Lopez Jr.’s Buddhism and Science: A Guide for the Perplexed

A Scientific Buddhism? by Peter Harrison

Abstract:
This essay endorses the argument of Donald Lopez’s Buddhism and Science and shows how the general thesis of the book is consonant with other historical work on the “discovery” of Buddhism and on the emergence of Western conceptions of religion. It asks whether one of the key claims of Buddhism and Science—that Buddhism pays a price for its flirtation with the modern sciences—might be applicable to science-and-religion discussions more generally.
Keywords:
Buddhism • Donald Lopez Jr. • religion • science
Peter Harrison (http://users.ox.ac.uk/~theo0038/biographies/bioharrison.htm) is the Andreas Idreos Professor of Science and Religion at the University of Oxford, Harris Manchester College, Mansfield Road, Oxford OX1 3TD, U.K.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.2010.01137.x

Buddhism and Science: How Far Can the Dialogue Proceed? by Thupten Jinpa

Abstract:
On the stage of the religion-and-science dialogue, Buddhism, especially Tibetan Buddhism, is a late arrival. However, thanks primarily to the long-standing personal interest of the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan tradition he represents has come to engage deeply with various disciplines of modern science. This essay follows the active engagement that has occurred particularly in the form of the biannual Mind and Life dialogues between the Dalai Lama and scientists. From the perspective of an active participant, I present the careful deliberations that ensure constructive parameters for these dialogues so that no one side can exert a hegemonic voice. I explore the challenges that are likely to confront the Buddhist side from its encounter with science, particularly with respect to its worldview. I identify specific areas where the two sides can and do engage in concrete collaboration, especially with respect to investigating healthy qualities of the mind and the effects of conscious mental training for attention and emotion regulation. Finally, I explore the question of the possible impact of this dialogue on modern science.
Keywords:
Abhidharma psychology • contemplative science • the Dalai Lama • dependent origination • Dharmakirtian epistemology • Gendün Chöphel • Mind and Life dialogues • Nagarjuna • nonessentialist ontology • philosophy of emptiness • principles of nature • science of meditation • Tibetan Buddhism
Thupten Jinpa is the president of the Institute of Tibetan Classics, Montreal, an adjunct professor at the Faculty of Religious Studies, McGill University, and a visiting scholar at Stanford University, where he is on the executive committee of the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE). His mailing address is Institute of Tibetan Classics, 304 Aberdare Road, Montreal, QC H3P 3K3, Canada.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.2010.01138.x

The Future of the Buddhist Past: A Response to the Readers by Donald S. Lopez Jr.

Abstract:
I respond to comments offered by Peter Harrison and Thupten Jinpa on my book Buddhism and Science: A Guide for the Perplexed (2008). I report briefly on the reception of the book thus far and provide a summary of its contents before responding individually to the essays of Harrison and Jinpa.
Keywords:
Buddhism • Peter Harrison • Thupten Jinpa • Donald Lopez Jr. • religion • science
Donald S. Lopez Jr. is the Arthur E. Link Distinguished University Professor of Buddhist and Tibetan Studies at the University of Michigan. His mailing address is Department of Asian Languages and Cultures, 202 South Thayer Street, Suite 6111, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48104-1608, USA; e-mail: dlopez @ umich.edu.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.2010.01139.x

John F. Haught’s Theological Contributions

An Evolving Vision of God: The Theology of John F. Haught by Gloria L. Schaab

Abstract:
The theology of God in the scholarship of John Haught exemplifies rigor, resourcefulness, and creativity in response to ever-evolving worldviews. Haught presents insightful and plausible ways in which to speak about the mystery of God in a variety of contexts while remaining steadfastly grounded in the Christian tradition. This essay explores Haught’s proposals through three of his selected lenses—human experience, the informed universe, and evolutionary cosmology—and highlights two areas for further theological development.
Keywords:
creation • evolution • future • John F. Haught • hope • incarnation • information • kenosis • mystery • theology of God
Gloria L. Schaab is Assistant Professor of Theology in the Department of Theology and Philosophy and Associate Dean for General Education in the College of Arts and Sciences, O’Laughlin Hall 220, Barry University, 11300 NE 2nd Avenue, Miami Shores, FL 33161; e-mail: gschaab @ mail.barry.edu. She is a Sister of St. Joseph of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.2010.01140.x

John Haught—Finding Consonance between Religion and Science by Ann M. Michaud

Abstract:
John Haught has awarded the debates between religion (Christianity in particular) and science a central place in his ongoing corpus of work. Seeking to encourage and enhance the conversation, Haught both critiques current positions and offers his own perspective as a potential ground for continuing the discussion in a fruitful manner. This essay considers Haught’s primary criticisms of the voices on both sides of the debate which his work connotes as polarizing or conflating the debate. It also extrudes from Haught’s work themes that provide alternative visions. The essay concludes with two questions for further consideration.
Keywords:
cosmic pessimism • creationism • critical intelligence •ecology • eschatology • evolution • John F. Haught • hope • intelligent •design theory • naturalism • new atheism • panentheism • pantheism • personal God • promise • purpose • scientific materialism • scientific • naturalism • value
Ann M. Michaud is a doctoral candidate in Theology at Fordham University, 441 East Fordham Road, Bronx, NY 10458; e-mail: michaud @ fordham.edu.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.2010.01141.x

Constructing a Theology of Evolution: Building on John Haught by Ted Peters

Abstract:
The construction of a distinctively Christian “theology of evolution” or “theistic evolution” requires the incorporation of the science of evolutionary biology while building a more comprehensive worldview within which all things are understood in relation to our creating and redeeming God. In the form of theses, this article brings four support pillars to the constructive work: (1) orienting evolutionary history to the God of grace; (2) affirming purpose for nature even if we cannot see purpose in nature; (3) employing the theology of the cross to discern divine compassion in the natural world; and (4) relying on the divine promise of new creation. Among other things, John Haught’s blueprint has located the pedestals on which these pillars will stand. For this groundwork, Haught deserves thanks.
Keywords:
eschatology • evolution • God • John Haught • purpose • suffering • theistic evolution • theology of the cross
Ted Peters is the co-editor with Robert John Russell of the journal Theology and Science, published by the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences at the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, California. His mailing address is Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary, 2770 Marin Avenue, Berkeley CA 94708 U.S.A.; e-mail: tpeters2ct @ aol.com.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.2010.01142.x

From Pessimism to Hope: A Natural Progression by Robert E. Ulanowicz

Abstract:
Mutual critique by scientists and religious believers mostly entails the pruning of untenable religious beliefs by scientists and warnings against scientific minimalism on the part of believers. John F. Haught has been prominent in formulating religious apologetics in response to the challenges posed by evolutionary theory. Haught’s work also resonates with a parallel criticism of the conventional scientific metaphysics undergirding neo-Darwinian theory. Contemporary systems ecology seems to indicate that nothing short of a complete reversal of the Enlightenment assumptions about nature is capable of repositioning science to deal adequately with the origin and dynamics of living systems. A process-based alternative metaphysics substantially mitigates several ostensible conflicts between science and religion.
Keywords:
autocatalysis • chance • cosmology • dialectic • evolutionary theory • history • metaphysics • process ecology
Robert E. Ulanowicz is Professor Emeritus, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, Chesapeake Biological Laboratory, Solomons, MD 20688-0038. His current mailing address is Arthur R. Marshall Laboratory, Department of Biology, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611-8525 USA; e-mail: ulan @ umces.edu.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.2010.01143.x

Artificial Intelligence, Networks, and Spirituality

The Spirit in the Network: Models for Spirituality in a Technological Culture by Mark Coeckelbergh

Abstract:
Can a technological culture accommodate spiritual experience and spiritual thinking? If so, what kind of spirituality? I explore the relation between technology and spirituality by constructing and discussing several models for spirituality in a technological culture. I show that although gnostic and animistic interpretations and responses to technology are popular challenges to secularization and disenchantment claims, both the Christian tradition and contemporary posthumanist theory provide interesting alternatives to guide our spiritual experiences and thinking in a technological culture. I analyze how creational, network, and cyborg metaphors defy suggestions of (individual) animation or alienation and instead offer different ways of conceptualizing and experiencing communion between the material and the spiritual.
Keywords:
animism • creation • cyborg • Gnosticism • network • spirituality • technology
Mark Coeckelbergh is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the Universityof Twente, P.O. Box 217, 7500 AE Enschede, The Netherlands; e-mail: m.j.k.coeckelbergh @ utwente.nl.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.2010.01144.x

Online Buddhist and Christian Responses to Artificial Intelligence by Laurence Tamatea

Abstract:
I report the findings of a comparative analysis of online Christian and Buddhist responses to artificial intelligence. I review the Buddhist response and compare it with the Christian response outlined in an earlier essay (Tamatea 2008). The discussion seeks to answer two questions: Which approach to imago Dei informs the online Buddhist response to artificial intelligence? And to what extent does the preference for a particular approach emerge from a desire to construct the Self? The conclusion is that, like the Christian response, the Buddhist response is grounded not so much in the reality of AI as it is in the discursive constructions of AI made available through Buddhist cosmology, which (paradoxically), like the Christian response, are deployed in defense of the Self, despite claimed adherence to the notion of anatta, or non-Self.
Keywords:
androids • artificial intelligence • Buddhism • Christianity • GRN technologies • imago Dei • Internet • robots • singularity
Laurence Tamatea is a lecturer in the sociology of education at the University of New England, Armidale, NSW, Australia 2351; e-mail: ltamatea @ une.edu.au.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.2010.01145.x

The Popular Appeal of Apocalyptic AI by Robert M. Geraci

Abstract:
The belief that computers will soon become transcendently intelligent and that human beings will “upload” their minds into machines has become ubiquitous in public discussions of robotics and artificial intelligence in Western cultures. Such beliefs are the result of pervasive Judaeo-Christian apocalyptic beliefs, and they have rapidly spread through modern pop and technological culture, including such varied and influential sources as Rolling Stone, the IEEE Spectrum, and official United States government reports. They have gained sufficient credibility to enable the construction of Singularity University in California. While different approaches are possible (and, indeed, are common in Japan and possibly elsewhere), this particular vision of artificial intelligence and robotics has gained ground in the West through the influence of figures such as Hans Moravec and Ray Kurzweil. Because pop-science books help frame public discussion of new sciences and technologies for individuals, corporations, and governments alike, the integration of religious and technoscientific claims made by their authors should be clear and open for public and scientific debate. As we move forward into an increasingly robotic future, we should do so aware of the ways in which a group’s religious environment can help set the tone for public acceptance and use of robotic technologies.
Keywords:
artificial intelligence • Ray Kurzweil • Hans Moravec • religion • robotics • science • Singularity University • transhumanism
Robert M. Geraci is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Manhattan College, Bronx, NY 10471; e-mail: robert.geraci @ manhattan.edu.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.2010.01146.x

Reviews

The New Sciences of Religion: Exploring Spirituality from the Outside In and Bottom Up by William Grassie, reviewed by Philip Hefner

Philip Hefner, Professor of Theology Emeritus, Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, Chicago, IL 60615-5785; e-mail: pnhefner @ sbcglobal.net
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.2010.01147.x

Science and Spirituality: Making Room for Faith in the Age of Science by Michael Ruse, reviewed by James F. Moore

James F. Moore, Zygon Book Review Editor, Valparaiso University, Valparaiso, IN 46383; e-mail: james.fmoore @ sbcglobal.net
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.2010.01148.x

Evagrius Ponticus and Cognitive Science: a Look at Moral Evil and the Thoughts by George Tsakiridis, reviewed by James F. Moore

James F. Moore, Zygon Book Review Editor, Valparaiso University, Valparaiso, IN 46383; e-mail: james.fmoore @ sbcglobal.net
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.2010.01149.x



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