Zygon: Journal of Religion & Science
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Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science
46 (4), December 2011

Table of Contents


Worlds of Ideas in a Single World by Willem B. Drees

There are different worlds of ideas, and hence, ideas of the world. Some are concerned about the coexistence of religious views and evolutionary theory as a sufficient explanation of biodiversity and of the way organisms are adapted to their niche in the environment. Is there also some influence from religious views on science? Adam Pryor draws on Robert Russell’s method of Creative Mutual Interaction (see Murphy 2010, 209; Russell 2001, 270-280) to correlate Terrence Deacon’s work on emergence with Paul Tillich’s “multidimensional unity of life.” Another classic in the sphere of ideas is the relationship between ideas about creation and Big Bang cosmology and its competitor of the 1950s, the Steady State Theory. Adolf Grünbaum had written on this issue some decades ago. In this issue, his work is analyzed in detail by Mirsaeid Mousavi Karimi.

A complete tradition is at stake in the article by Stefano Bigliardi on the French doctor Maurice Bucaille. Bucaille promoted the claim that various passages in the Qur’an were prescient with respect to modern science. His book has since become a key text of the movement that seeks an “Islamization of science.” Analyzing such a world of ideas, as Bigliardi does, is part of the academic responsibility, even if the contribution analyzed is considered nonsense. There are other views within “the Islamic world” (see for instance Elshakry 2011). In June 2011, I had the pleasure to participate in a conference in the United Arab Emirates, organized by the American University of Sharjah, the British Council, and the International Society for Religion and Science (ISSR), titled Belief in Dialogue: Science, Culture and Modernity (British Council 2011). Quite a few presentations by Muslims dealt with Islam and science, but at the conference there was no defense of strong claims a la Bucaille. A remarkable contribution on the interpretation of Islam in the light of science came from the main organizer, physicist Nidhal Guessoum (see also Guessoum 2008, 2010a). To his book Islam’s Quantum Question: Reconciling Muslim Tradition and Modern Science (2010b), we will return in one of the issues in 2012.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.2011.01229.x


Religion, Science, and Nature: Shifts in Meaning on a Changing Planet by Whitney Bauman

This article explores how religion and science, as worlding practices, are changed by the processes of globalization and global climate change. In the face of these processes, two primary methods of meaning making are emerging: the logic of globalization and planetary assemblages. The former operates out of the same logic as extant axial age religions, the Enlightenment, and Modernity. It is caught up in the process of universalizing meanings, objective truth, and a single reality. The latter suggests that the processes of globalization and climate change break open any universalizing attempt at meaning onto a proliferation of different, evolving planetary contexts. Both science and religion are affected by these changes, and the ways in which they shape our understandings of and relationship to the rest of the natural world are changed.
assemblages • cosmology • globalatinization • human exceptionalism • methods in science and religion • planetarity • postmodern science • Ptolemaic
Whitney Bauman is affiliated with the Center for Civilizational Dialogue, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies, Florida International University, Miami, FL, USA; e-mail: wbauman@fiu.edu.

DOI: 10.1111/J.1467-9744.2011.01217.x

Snakes from Staves? Science, Scriptures, and the Supernatural in Maurice Bucaille by Stefano Bigliardi

The aim of this paper is to attain a philosophical evaluation of the ideas of the French author Maurice Bucaille. Bucaille formulated an influential discourse regarding the divinity of the Qur’an, which he tried to demonstrate through a comparison of some of its verses with what he defined as scientific data. With his works, which encompass a criticism of the Bible and a defense of creationism, Bucaille furthered the idea that Islam is in harmony with natural sciences, and ensured himself long-lasting fame in the Muslim world. Such ideas have found numerous followers and the description of the “scientific miracles” of the Qur’an has turned into a popular genre. Several attempts have been made to criticize Bucaille about specific positions he holds. The thesis I develop here is that, even if Bucaille’s work cannot be easily dismissed, a severe methodological shortcoming emerges through the analysis of the logic behind his claims regarding miraculous and supernatural events. Current attempts at defending the harmony between Islam and science should therefore credit Bucaille, but at the same time, be aware of the risk of inheriting his methodological flaws. In the first section, I briefly recall the works of Bucaille and his contribution to the debate on the harmony between Islam and science. In the second section, I reconstruct Bucaille’s view of science and his analysis of the sacred scriptures. In the third section, I investigate how Bucaille characterizes the concept of supernatural. In the fourth section, I put forth a general evaluation of his reasoning.
Maurice Bucaille • miracles • Qur’an and science
Stefano Bigliardi is a researcher at the Centre for Middle Eastern Studies (CMES), Lund University, Finngatan, 16, 223 62 Lund, Sweden; e-mail: stefano.bigliardi @ cme.lu.se.

DOI: 10.1111/J.1467-9744.2011.01218.x

Becoming Believers: Studying the Conversion Process from Within by Aaron C.T. Smith and Bob Stewart

Employing an extended case method ethnography (Burawoy 1998), the researcher joined five new members forming a spiritualist’s group under the leadership of an experienced advocate. Over a period of eighteen months, the researcher attended all the group’s activities and events. Data were collected to reflexively interrogate the process theory of conversion proposed by Lewis Rambo (1993). The data revealed conversion to be a multifaceted and dynamic process of cognitive change, mediated by structural, and contextual forces. The results provide a reconceptualization of Rambo’s theory, presenting a theoretical expansion of the model emphasizing its mechanisms of action. The paper details the composition of the “Interaction-Commitment” mechanism, operationalized within four submechanisms emanating from Rambo’s roles, rituals, rhetoric, and relationships. This longitudinal study shows that most of the hard work toward conversion occurs before any formal interaction with a conversion advocate. Conversion operates most effectively under conditions of cognitive economy wherein the belief path follows a path of least cognitive expenditure.
psychology of religion • religious studies • spiritual transformation
Aaron C.T. Smith is Professor and Deputy Pro-Vice Chancellor at Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT University), 239 Bourke St., Melbourne, VIC, 3000, Australia. Bob Stewart is Associate Professor in Sport Studies, and chair of the Sport Management and Policy Group, within the School of Sport and Exercise Science at Victoria University, PO Box 14428, Melbourne, VIC, 3000, Australia.

DOI: 10.1111/J.1467-9744.2011.01226.x

Tillichian Teleodynamics: An Examination of the Multidimensional Unity of Emergent Life by Adam Pryor

Emergence theory has generated many significant new questions for dialogue between theology and science. My work will examine the models of one emergence theorist, Terrence Deacon, and consider the constructive potential of Tillich’s multidimensional unity of life for responding to the theological ramifications of this account of emergence theory. Such a Tillich-inspired constructive process will rely upon Robert Russell’s method of “Creative Mutual Interaction.” Building on the interactive quality of Russell’s method, I will also begin to offer suggestions for how Tillich’s theological themes might influence scientific research programs using Deacon’s emergence theory by contributing to the process of defining life. Finally, I will conclude by identifying three facets of continued research that stem from this analysis, focusing primarily on its implications for theological anthropology and what it means to be in the image of God.
autocell • Terrence Deacon • emergence • image of God (imago Dei) • multidimensional unity of life • Robert John Russell • Paul Tillich
Adam Pryor is a PhD candidate at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, CA, USA; e-mail: apryor@ses.gtu.edu; contact 566 Main St., Royersford, PA 19468.

DOI: 10.1111/J.1467-9744.2011.01223.x

Adolf Grünbaum on the Steady-State Theory and Creatio Continua of Matter Out of Nothing by Mirsaeid Mousavi Karimi

The ideas of creatio ex nihilo of the universe and creatio continua of new matter out of nothing entered the arena of natural science with the advent of the Big Bang and the steady-state theories in the mid-twentieth century. Adolf Grünbaum has tried to interpret the steady-state theory in such a way, to show that the continuous formation of newmatter out of nothing in this theory can be explained purely physically. In this paper, however, it will be shown that Grünbaum’s interpretation encounters at least three problems: not distinguishing between material and efficient causes, inconsistency, and misconceiving the law of density conservation.
creatio continuacreatio ex nihilo • density-conservation • Grünbaum • steady-state theory
Mirsaeid Mousavi Karimi is Associate Professor in the Department of Philosophy of Science at the Sharif University of Technology, P.O. Box 11155-11365, 2010 Tehran, Iran; e-mail: mmkarimi@sharif.edu.

DOI: 10.1111/J.1467-9744.2011.01221.x

The Energy Transition: Religious and Cultural Perspectives

Introduction to “The Energy Transition: Religious and Cultural Perspectives” by Larry L. Rasmussen, Normand M. Laurendeau and Dan Solomon

Energy typically is discussed in terms of science, technology, economics, and politics. Little attention has been given to fundamental religious and ethical questions surrounding the upcoming transition to renewable energy. The essays in this thematic section seek to redress that deficiency. This introductory essay raises some key questions and summarizes various presentations on energy and religion, as these were held at the 2010 conference of the Institute on Religion in an Age of Science (IRAS). Some presentations described the energy landscape and provided data and perspectives needed for sound policy. Others raised ethical and religious considerations for energy decisions as the transition from nonrenewable to renewable sources is faced. Some posed the challenges of the energy transition to religion itself. Yet others offered examples of sustainable energy use and/or promising sources for meeting future needs sustainably. At the conclusion of the conference, presenters crafted a common “Statement on Energy and Climate Change” that includes a “Call to Action.” The “Energy Statement” follows as an appendix.
belief to action • biofuels • climate change • desire • energy • ethics • religion • statement on energy and climate change • transportation • zero net-energy
Larry L. Rasmussen is Reinhold Niebuhr Professor Emeritus of Social Ethics, Union Theological Seminary in New York City. He may be contacted at 605 Calle de Marcos, Santa Fe, NM 87505, USA; e-mail: lrryrasmussen@yahoo.com. Normand M. Laurendeau is the Bailey Professor Emeritus of Combustion. School of Mechanical Engineering, Purdue University, and Research Associate of the Department of Chemistry, 606 College Station, Bowdoin College, Brunswick, ME 040118466, USA; e-mail: nlaurend@bowdoin.edu. Dan Solomon is a software developer in Chicago, 6434 N. Mozart St., Chicago, IL 60645, USA; e-mail: dan.solomon@comcast.net.

DOI: 10.1111/J.1467-9744.2011.01230.x

An Energy Primer: From Thermodynamics to Theology Normand M. Laurendeau

Scientific, technological, ethical, and religious issues confronting the human prospect are emerging as we encounter the inevitable shift from fossil to renewable fuels. In particular, we are entering a period of monumental transition with respect to both the forms and use of energy. As for any technological transition of this magnitude, ultimate success will require good ethics and religion, as well as good science and technology. Economic and political issues associated with energy conservation and renewable energies are arising in the context of climate change, sustainability, and human purpose. Specifically, we must consider (1) ethical and religious perspectives which might guide future energy choices and (2) energy choices which, in turn, might challenge ethical and religious perspectives. In this paper, I set the stage for subsequent articles by introducing thermodynamic and theological considerations relevant to our energy future. Scientific and technological aspects are covered within the context of the first and second laws of thermodynamics. Ethical and religious aspects are covered within the context of basic philosophical and theological motifs within our secular culture. My intention is to provide the necessary background, motivation, and perspectives for a fuller discussion of pertinent issues in the remainder of the conference papers.
climate change • common good • energy policy • oil depletion • religion • sustainability • thermodynamics
Normand M. Laurendeau is the Bailey Professor Emeritus of Combustion, School of Mechanical Engineering, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907, and Research Associate in the Department of Chemistry, 6600 College Station, Bowdoin College, Brunswick, ME 04011-8466, USA; e-mail: nlaurend@bowdoin.edu.

DOI: 10.1111/J.1467-9744.2011.01222.x

Overcoming Energy Gluttony: A Philosophical Perspective by William B. Irvine

As there are food gluttons, so there are energy gluttons. One difference is that energy gluttons are typically oblivious to how much energy they consume and the source of that energy. Their energy gluttony is a side effect of insatiable desire for material goods, which themselves are often associated with social status. Nonetheless, steps taken to deal with energy gluttony parallel those taken with food gluttony. Typically these fall into three categories: educational, political, and technological. I will examine a fourth, however, best characterized as philosophical. I will show how, by following the advice of the ancient Stoics and training ourselves to care less what others think of us, we can help overcome our desire for social status, resulting in a reduction in our desire for material things and a significant reduction in our personal energy bill. The pessimistic conclusion, however, is that most people are probably unwilling to undergo the self-analysis and self-transformation that this philosophical approach requires.
energy conservation • gluttony • philosophy • Stoicism
William B. Irvine is Professor of Philosophy, Wright State University, 370 Millett Hall, Dayton, OH 45435, USA; e-mail: william.irvine@wright.edu.

DOI: 10.1111/J.1467-9744.2011.01232.x

Conservation: Zero Net Energy Homes for Low-Income Families by Anne Perkins

The Wisdom Way Solar Village in Greenfield, Massachusetts is a zero net energy mixed-income, mixed-ability subdivision/condominium of 20 solar homes. It stands as an ethical response to climate change in that it demonstrates that homes in the northern United States can be built to use almost no fossil fuel for heat or electricity and to use very little water. It also demonstrates that small groups of people can learn to work together and to enjoy the benefits of living in a small community.
affordable housing • community • deep energy retrofit • funding • HERS • homeowner education • LEED • zero net energy
Anne Perkins is the former director of Homeownership Programs, Rural Development, Inc.; e-mail: aperkie@comcast.net.

DOI: 10.1111/J.1467-9744.2011.01233.x

Sustainable Energy for Rural India by R. V. Ravikrishna

This paper begins with an introduction to the ancient spiritual tradition of India. The focus is upon aspects of ancient Indian philosophy relevant to modern society. In the Indian context, science and spirituality are complementary. The application of ethical and religious motivations derived from these ideas is delineated with respect to the practical implementation of energy projects. The efforts of religious and social groups in promoting renewable energy in India are included. A few bioenergy technologies relevant to rural communities in developing nations are then described. The paper argues that though scientific research, technology development, community-based efforts, environmental activism, and renewable energy policy making are important elements in dealing with the energy crisis, they are not sufficient to solve the crisis. The paper closes with the premise that the main wisdom to be drawn from the religious, spiritual, and philosophical traditions concerns the inner transformation that is key to meeting today’s energy and environmental crisis.
bioenergy • Indian philosophy • rural communities • solar energy • sustainable energy
R.V. Ravikrishna is Associate Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore-560012, India; e-mail: ravikris@mecheng.iisc.ernet.in.

DOI: 10.1111/J.1467-9744.2011.01225.x

Greening Faith: Turning Belief into Action for the Earth by Fletcher Harper

As religious-environmental awareness in the United States becomes more widespread, many faith-based institutions find themselves unaware of the range of environmental actions that they can take, and methods for organizing their efforts for greatest impact. This essay conceptualizes Spirit, Stewardship, and Justice as organizing values for understanding religious-environmental efforts. The essay then reviews environmental action steps that faith-based institutions can take, including the integration of environmental focus into worship, religious education, spiritual practices, energy and water conservation, food practices, waste management, toxics reduction, environmental justice education, alliance building, advocacy, and community organizing. The essay concludes with a review of research on community-based social marketing and organizational transformation, offering these as methods for increasing the impact of religious efforts to address energy and protect the environment.
certification • community-based social marketing • congregation • eco-spirituality • environmental • environmental justice • faith-based • GreenFaith • interfaith • organizational transformation • religious-environmental • spirit • stewardship
The Rev. Fletcher Harper is an Episcopal priest and Executive Director of GreenFaith, an interfaith environmental organization. He may be contacted at GreenFaith, 101 South 3rd Ave., #12, Highland Park, NJ 08904, USA; e-mail: revfharper@greenfaith.org.

DOI: 10.1111/J.1467-9744.2011.01231.x

Church Teaching, Public Advocacy, and Environmental Action by Drew Christiansen, S.J.

Adapted from the six 2010 Star Island Chapel Talks, the paper introduces the readers to contemporary Catholic Social Teaching and its application and implementation, particularly in the fields of environmental justice and human rights. An opening vignette explains how ideas about the common good contributed to the defeat of “Takings” legislation aimed at undoing environmental regulation in the 104th Congress (1995-1996). The teaching is presented as a vision of society centered on the communion of persons and creation rather than a discrete set of principles, with human rights and charity being the twin pillars of an evolving tradition. The interaction among ideas, historic events, and social movements is stressed throughout.
Bishops’ Conference (USCC, USCCB) • Catholic social movements • Catholic social teaching • charity • environmental justice • global community • human rights • option for the poor • private property • public advocacy • social mortgage • takings • tradition • unity of the human family • universal common good
Drew Christiansen is a Jesuit priest and editor of America, a weekly journal of opinion. For fourteen years he worked for the United States Catholic Conference, and for eight of those years (1991-1998), he was director of the Office of International Justice and Peace, where he supervised the conference’s environmental justice program. This paper, based on that experience, is adapted from three of six chapel talks he prepared on Catholic Social Teaching for the 2010 Star Island Conference. His mailing address is America Press, 106 W. 56th St., New York, NY 10019, USA; e-mail: drewc33299@aol.com.

DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.2011.01228.x

Energy: The Challenges To and From Religion by Larry L. Rasmussen

Exiting the fossil-fuel interlude of human history means a long, hard transition, not only for energy sources, uses, and policies, but for religious values as well. How do religious values account with integrity for the primal elements upon which all life depends and by which all energy is conveyed—earth, air, fire, water, light? What challenges do energy policies pose to religious values so that the latter might be judged to be truly Earth-oriented and Earth-honoring? Reciprocally, how do shared cross-cultural, interfaith religious values challenge present and prospective energy policies? How might value orientations, such as asceticism, sacramentalism, mysticism, prophetic and liberative practices, together with wisdom traditions, influence energy practices and policies? The intention of this essay is to surface these two-way challenges in present debates on energy.
asceticism • death and renewal • global economy • industrialism • mysticism • population • prophetic and liberative practices • sacramentalism • transitions • wisdom traditions
Larry L. Rasmussen is Reinhold Niebuhr Professor Emeritus of Social Ethics, Union Theological Seminary in New York City. He may be contacted at 605 Calle de Marcos, Santa Fe, NM 87505, USA; e-mail: lrryrasmussen@yahoo.com.

DOI: 10.1111/J.1467-9744.2011.01224.x


Supercooperators: Altruism, Evolution, and Why We Need Each Other to Succeed by Martin A. Nowak, with Roger Highfield, reviewed by Holmes Rolston III

Holmes Rolston III; Professor of Philosophy Emeritus; Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523; rolston@lamar.colostate.edu
DOI: 10.1111/J.1467-9744.2011.01219.x

Journey of the Universe by Brian Swimme and Mary Evelyn Tucker, reviewed by James F. Moore

James F. Moore; Book Review Editor, Zygon; Valparaiso University; Valparaiso, IN 46383; jamesfmoore@sbcglobal.net
DOI: 10.1111/J.1467-9744.2011.01220.x

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