Zygon: Journal of Religion & Science
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Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science
47 (2), June 2012

Table of Contents


Practices, Approaches, and Agendas in Plural by Willem B. Drees

In this issue of Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science, Zainal Abidin Bagir argues for an understanding of “religion and science” that considers the practical context in which people and religious and scientific claims to authority may run into each other. He heads the Center for Religious and Cross-cultural Studies in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. This ancient city is close to a volcano, the Merapi, in a country prone to earthquakes. Bagir studies human responses to such natural disasters. Religion is not only involved in positive experiences, as in arguments from the appearance of design and beauty. Again and again, experiences with natural evil have triggered people to ask questions about God, nature, and our responsibility (Drees 2003). Bagir (2012, 360) writes: “Natural disasters become an epistemological window to understand the society, nature, people’s religious understanding, as well as the interaction of science (as today’s best empirical knowledge about the natural world), religion, and culture (from which most Indonesians draw as sources for giving meanings to events) in understanding and responding to the natural world.” When it comes to policy, there may be a clash between some religious leaders and certain scientific authorities (and behind these the government).

“Religion and science” is enriched by new voices, bringing other religions as well as other social and cultural contexts into play. Bagir’s contribution is part of a larger section on a recent book on Islam and science by Nidhal Guessoum (2011), an Algerian physicist who works in the United Arab Emirates. Zygon has previously published articles by him (Guessoum 2008, 2010). The Jordanian biochemist Rana Dajani concentrates on the resistance to evolution among Muslims, the historical dimension of which was recently treated in Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science by Marwa Eshakry (2011). Salman Hameed, an astronomer and professor who studies the relations between humanities and the sciences and who is the driving force behind the blog Irtiqa (http://sciencereligionnews.blogspot.com/), challenges the overarching concept of theistic science (science interpreted in a theistic way), although finding much to praise in Guessoum’s analysis and proposals. These four essays by Hameed, Dajani, Bagir, and Guessoum show that among Muslims who all are knowledgeable about science (even if they are not scientists themselves), and who all seek a moderate course, there is diversity, just as in other traditions. Even more diversity is evident when one considers the positions they reject, such as the claim that modern scientific insights can be found in the Qur’an (Bigliardi 2011).The opening article of this section is by John Brooke, who considers the parallels between discourses on religion and science in Christian and Islamic environments, as well as the particular features of Guessoum’s contributions.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.2012.01252.x


Quantum Physics and Theology: John Polkinghorne on Thought Experiments by Yiftach J. H. Fehige

Thought experimentation is part of accepted scientific practice, and this makes it surprising that philosophers of science did not seriously engage with it for a very long time. The situation changed in the 1990s, resulting in a highly intriguing debate over thought experiments. Initially, the discussion focused mostly on thought experiments in physics, philosophy, and mathematics. Other disciplines have since become the subject of interest. Yet, nothing substantial has been said about the role of thought experiments in nonphilosophical theology. This paper discusses the role of thought experiments in Christian theology in comparison to their role in quantum physics, as mentioned by John Polkinghorne in Quantum Physics and Theology. We first look briefly at the history of the inquiry into thought experiments and then at Polkinghorne’s remarks about the role of thought experimentation in quantum physics and Christian eschatology. To determine the actual importance of thought experiments in Christian theology a number of new examples are introduced in a third step. In the light of these examples, in a fourth step, we address the question of what it is that explains the cognitive efficacy of thought experiments in quantum physics and Christian theology.
Augustine on human sexuality • James R. Brown • crucifixion • Einstein-Bohr debate • incarnation • intuition • ontological argument • John Polkinghorne • thought experiments
Yiftach Fehige is Professor for Christianity and Science in the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology (IHPST), University of Toronto, Victoria College, Toronto, ON M5S 1K7, Canada; e-mail: yiftach.fehige@utoronto.ca.

DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.2012.01253.x

Ad Hominem Arguments and Intelligent Design: Reply to Koperski by Christopher Pynes

Jeffrey Koperski claims in Zygon (2008) that critics of Intelligent Design engage in fallacious ad hominem attacks on ID proponents and that this is a “bad way” to engage them. I show that Koperski has made several errors in his evaluation of the ID critics. He does not distinguish legitimate, relevant ad hominem arguments from fallacious ad hominem attacks. He conflates (or equates) the logical use of valid with the colloquial use of valid. Moreover, Koperski doesn’t take seriously the legitimate concerns of the ID critics, and in doing so, commits the straw man fallacy. In the end, I show that no one disagrees with the criticism of improper use of fallacies as methods of evaluation. But what constitutes proper, relevant evaluation of the ID theorists and their motivation is a matter of dispute. And sometimes attacking a person as a method of evaluation is justified, and thus is not fallacious. The definition of ad hominem arguments as either a “good way” or a “bad way” rests on justification, which I argue ID opponents have. The basis for these good objections relies on the motivation many Christians have to share their faith with non-Christians, which they call the “great commission.”
ad hominem • conservatism • Darwinism • evolution • explanation • intelligent design • Jeffrey Koperski
Christopher A. Pynes is an Associate Professor of Philosophy in the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, Western Illinois University, 1 University Circle, 456 Morgan Hall, Macomb, IL 61455, USA; e-mail: CA-Pynes@wiu.edu.

DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.2012.01254.x

Think Pieces

A Fuller Concept of Evolution—Big Bang to Spirit by Philip Hefner

The concept of evolution challenges us to an ongoing effort to interpret its significance. The challenge has several dimensions: (1) to calm the debate that divides Americans in arguing whether evolution is at odds with biblical traditions; (2) to integrate evolution into one’s personal philosophy of life or religious faith; (3) to note the importance of the story form for rendering evolution; and (4) to evaluate evolution as a creation story. Evolution is portrayed as a drama in five acts: cosmic, biological, cultural, moral, and spiritual. The discussion concludes with reflection on humans as co-creators whose task is to become the storytellers of evolution. The author presents this interpretation as a fuller concept of evolution.
co-creator • culture • evolution • faith • morality • spirituality • story
Philip Hefner is Professor of Systematic Theology emeritus, Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, 5550 S. Shore Drive, Chicago, IL 60637; e-mail: philnevahefner@gmail.com.

DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.2012.01255.x

How Could We Get to a More Peaceful and Sustainable Human world Society? The Role of Science and Religion by K. Helmut Reich

This call to think, to feel, to read about the title subject and to act first lists five hurdles on the way to a more peaceful and sustainable human society. A number of successful solutions are then presented, such as the UN Convention of the Law of the Sea. There follow sections on potential contributions by religion and by collaboration between science and religion. My plea is for a widespread participation at all levels of society and an attitude of cautious, critical yet determined and creative advancement toward said society.
actors • humanity’s future • religion • science and religion collaboration
K. Helmut Reich is Professor emeritus, Senior Research Fellow emeritus, University of Fribourg, private address Route des Chemins de Fer 3, CH-1823 GLION, Switzerland; e-mail: helmut.reich@gmx.ch.

DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.2012.01256.x

Nidhal Guessoum’s Agenda for Islam and Science

Reconciling Religious Tradition and Modern Science by John Hedley Brooke

The primary purpose of this essay is to review Nidhal Guessoum’s Islam’s Quantum Question from a perspective outside Muslim tradition. Having outlined the main contours and contentions of the book, general issues are raised concerning the reconciliation of religious belief with the sciences. Comparisons are drawn between the resources available to Christian and Muslim cultures for achieving reconciliation, with particular reference to scriptural exegesis and natural theology. Speculative questions are then raised concerning possible differences between the Christian and Islamic experience and whether these may shed any light on the facilitation in Europe of an enduring scientific movement.
accommodation principle • design • evolution • Nidhal Guessoum • hermeneutics • I’jaz • Islamic science • natural theology • Qur’anic exegesis • unity of nature
John Hedley Brooke is the Andreas Idreos Professor of Science and Religion emeritus, Harris Manchester College, University of Oxford, Mansfield Road, Oxford OX1 3 TD, UK; e-mail: john.brooke@theology.ox.ac.uk.

DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.2012.01257.x

Walking the Tightrope of the Science and Religion Boundary by Salman Hameed

Islam’s Quantum Question by Nidhal Guessoum offers a sophisticated approach to reconciling the results of modern science with Islamic tradition. The book provides a valuable critique of existing literature on Islam and science and advocates the promotion of good science and science education in the Muslim world. A central tension in the book revolves around Guessoum’s efforts to promote a version of theistic science, while at the same establishing a clear boundary for science and scientific methodology. Although the latter works very well, the project of theistic science presented in the book is, at the very least, contentious. However, Islam’s Quantum Question is a milestone in the literature on Islam and science and should be valuable for anyone interested in the search for meaning in both science and religion.
cosmology • Nidhal Guessoum • Islam • Islamic science • science and religion • theistic science
Salman Hameed is Assistant Professor of Integrated Science and Humanities, Adele Simmons Hall ASH218, Mail Code CS, Hampshire College, 893 West Street, Amherst, MA 01002, USA; e-mail: shameed@hampshire.edu.

DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.2012.01258.x

Evolution and Islam’s Quantum Question by Rana Dajani

The apparent contradictory relationship between Islam and evolution is important because it has been cited as an example of contradiction between religion and science by both thinkers in the West and Muslims. Muslim scholars and scientists mainly disagree with evolution’s legitimacy. Islam’s Quantum Question by Nidhal Guessoum is a unique narrative providing in one of its first chapters an overview of evolution from neo-Darwinists to creationists, including the views of scholars throughout Islamic history. Guessoum then proceeds to advocate for evolution. Drawing from Nidhal Guessoum’s work, I highlight the reasons why there is an apparent contradiction between Islam and science-and, in particular, Islam and evolution-which include lack of freedom of thought and misinterpretation of the Qur’an. In doing so, I suggest setting the stage for a new Einsteinian theory of evolution, which involves the dimension of time and human cognition.
evolution • freedom of thought • Nidhal Guessoum • history • human cognition • Islam • misinterpretation • science • time
Rana Dajani is Assistant Professor in the Department of Biology and Biotechnology, Hashemite University, P.O. Box 150459, Zarqa 13115 Jordan; e-mail: rdajani@hu.edu.jo.

DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.2012.01259.x

Practice and the Agenda of “Islam and Science” by Zainal Abidin Bagir

When speaking about Islam and contemporary issues in science, Guessoum’s Islam’s Quantum Question shares many characterizations with Barbourian science and religion discourse. The focus is on theological responses to particular scientific theories. In this article I suggest an expansion of the discourse by looking at how science meets religion (as well as other local system of knowledge) in practice, in particular events such as natural disaster, when they are called upon as sources of meaning making. The encounter takes place not only at the cognitive level, but may take the form of competition, collaboration, or negotiation over the authority to provide explanation. In practice the authority is supported not only by objective knowledge but involves many other factors, including politics. Thus, part of my proposal for expansion suggests the broadening of how we understand science and religion to include how assertions of authority are made in practice.
authority • Ian Barbour • Nidhal Guessoum • Islam • local culture • science and religion in practice
Zainal Abidin Bagir is director of the Center for Religious and Cross-cultural Studies, Graduate School, Gadjah Mada University, Jl. Teknika Utara, Pogung, Yogyakarta 55281, Indonesia; e-mail: zainbagir@gmail.com.

DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.2012.01260.x

Issues and Agendas of Islam and Science by Nidhal Guessoum

The publication of Islam’s Quantum Question coincided with a burst of interest in the subject of Islam and science. This article first places the book in context (academic and cultural); in particular, an update is given on the two strong current trends of I’jaz, the “miraculous scientific content in the Qur’an” and Muslim creationism, and a note is made of the “Arab Spring” and its potential effect on science in the Arab-Muslim world. The second part is devoted to a discussion of the views presented by the four reviewers (Brooke, Hameed, Dajani, and Bagir): my “theistic science” approach, the similarities and contrasts between Christian and Islamic approaches to the scientific exploration of the world, the importance of relating religion and science in practice, not just in theory, the need for a theology of nature versus natural theology in Islam, and so on. The article concludes with an outlook on the issues that still need to be addressed in the field of Islam and Science.
cosmology and Islam • creationism • environment and Islam • evolution and Islam • Islam • Islamic science • Islamization of science • modern science • natural theology • Qur’an • theology of nature
Nidhal Guessoum is an astrophysicist, currently heading the Physics Department, College of Arts and Sciences, American University of Sharjah, PO Box 26666, Sharjah, UAE; e-mail nguessoum@aus.edu.

DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.2012.01261.x

Pragmatism, Existentialism, and Media Theory as Approaches

The Serpent’s Trail: William James, Object-Oriented Programming, and Critical Realism by Larry J. Crockett

Pragmatism has played only a small role in the half century and more of the science-and-religion dialogue, in part because pragmatism was at a low ebb in the 1950s. Even though Jamesean pragmatism in particular is experiencing a resurgence, owing partly to the work of Rorty and Putnam, it remains inconspicuous in the dialogue. Excepting artificial intelligence and artificial life, computer science also has not played a large role in the dialogue. Recent research into the foundations of object-oriented programming, however, shows this increasingly pervasive practice possesses an implicit pragmatist epistemology. Although science will have to become more computational, it will have to come to terms with both object-oriented computing and its implicit pragmatism, which in turn supports the conclusion that we have fresh warrant for recasting the science-and-religion dialogue in Jamesean pragmatist terms. Some preliminary consequences of such a recasting of the dialogue are explored.
Charles Darwin • epistemology • William James • Alan Kay • logic • Alister McGrath • philosophy of computing • Hilary Putnam • Brian Cantwell Smith • software crisis • underdetermination
Larry J. Crockett is Professor of Computer Science, Campus Box 90, Augsburg College, 2211 Riverside Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55454, USA. He is a priest in the Episcopal Diocese of Minnesota; e-mail: crockett@augsburg.edu.

DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.2012.01262.x

Science of Religion and Theology: An Existentialism Approach by George Karuvelil

Stephen Jay Gould’s NOMA (nonoverlapping magisteria) theory was meant to be an alternative to the traditional “conflict model” regarding the relationship between science and religion. But NOMA has been plagued with problems from the beginning. The problem most acutely felt was that of demarcating the disciplines of science and theology. This paper is an attempt to retain the insights of NOMA and the conflict model, while eliminating their shortcomings. It acknowledges with the conflict model that the conflict is real, but not necessarily a fight unto death. It agrees with the NOMA that the two are different kinds of disciplines, and it goes on to spell out the difference in some detail. They turn out to be so radically different that the two cannot be reconciled by keeping one away from the other’s turf, as NOMA suggests, but may be reconciled through a fusion of horizons in the Gadamerian sense.
conflict theory • existentialism • Hans-Georg Gadamer • Stephen Jay Gould • Søren Kierkegaard • philosophy • religious studies • secularism • theology and science • Ludwig Wittgenstein
George Karuvelil is Associate Professor in the Faculty of Philosophy, Jnana-Deepa Vidyapeeth, the Pontifical Institute of Philosophy and Religion, Papal Seminary, Ramwadi, Nagar Road, Pune 411 014, India; e-mail: gkaruvelil@hotmail.com.

DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.2012.01263.x

The Mediatized Co-Mediatizer: Anthropology in Niklas Luhmann’s Universe by Young Bin Moon

This essay explores what it means to be human in an age of infomedia. Appropriating Niklas Luhmann’s systems theory/media theory in dialogue with other resources, I propose a post-Luhmannian paradigm of (1) extended media/meaning that conceives the world as world multimedia systems processing variegated meanings, and (2) an embodied, contextualized soft posthumanist anthropology that conceives the human as emergent collective phenomena of distinct meaning making by body-mind-society-technology media couplings. I argue: (1) Homo sapiens is Homo medialis distinct with mediatic communication that emerged to cope with contingencies. (2) Evolution is the mediatization/codification of the world that culminated with the outcome of Homo medialis uniquely equipped to process transcendent meanings and to mediatize the world via diverse media-Mediatized Co-Mediatizer or Codified Co-Codifier. (3) This anthropic universe is possibly the most “meaningful” (full of meaning possibilities) of all possible worlds. (4) Social fragmentation could be an optimization; science-and-religion is an infomedium optimizing religion’s manifest and science’s latent observation of divine manifestations.
anthropic • anthropology • Codified Co-Codifier • evolution • extended media paradigm • Philip Hefner • Homo medialis • information • Niklas Luhmann • meaning • media • mediatization • media theory • posthuman • systems theory • theology • world multimedia
Young Bin Moon is Professor of Christian Studies, Seoul Women’s University, 126 Gongneung-2dong, Nowon-gu, Seoul, Korea; e-mail: ybmoon@swu.ac.kr.

DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.2012.01264.x


Science and the Eastern Orthodox Church by Daniel Buxhoeveden and Gayle Woloschak, reviewed by George Tsakiridis

George Tsakiridis; Instructor in Philosophy and Religion; South Dakota State University; 103 West Hall; Brookings, SD 57007; george.tsakiridis@sdstate.edu
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.2012.01265.x

Indic Visions in an Age of Science by Varadaraja V. Raman, reviewed by Jonathan Duquette

Jonathan Duquette; Visiting Researcher; University of Hamburg; Department of Indian and Tibetan Studies; Alsterterrasse 1; Hamburg, D-20354 Germany; jonathan.duquette@uni-hamburg.de
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.2012.01266.x

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