Welcome to a new year of Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science with great articles on religious beliefs, practices and traditions in their intellectual and social interactions with the sciences. In this issue we continue our series of reprints of major articles by Ernan McMullin. In December 2012, we republished McMullins Values in Science, together with an essay by Michael Ruse detailing its significance in his own academic career—focusing on the differences between epistemic and non-epistemic values, and between scientific research itself and its cultural meanings and interpretations (McMullin 2012; Ruse 2012). In this issue, we republish the Thomas Aquinas Lecture delivered by Ernan McMullin, titled The Inference that Makes Science. It provides a great overview of the history of reflection on scientific inference, with an emphasis on certainty and uncertainty, from Aristotle to the present. While the philosopher of science Bas van Fraassen praises the historical overview, he challenges the cautious scientific realist claims McMullin makes on behalf of science. His is a more agnostic empiricism. We also republish one of McMullins papers on the archetypal conflict between science and theology, the Galileo affair. The focus is Galileos reflections on the Bible and its interpretations. George Coyne, former director of the Specola Vaticana, the astronomical research institute of the Vatican, and himself an expert on Galileo, sets the discussion in a much larger context of responses to scientific insights and the potential clash between different authorities.
Since its very first editorial in 1966, Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science has been about values and knowledge … for a viable dynamics of human culture. The interplay of religion and science regards not merely ideas, our understanding of the world, but also our existence and actions in the world—a world that is shaped by technology, from the beginning of agriculture to the present. The present time is, at least in the West, one in which religious commitments seem to have become optional. This intellectual and social freedom may be a reason to understand our time as a secular age (Taylor 2007; Peterson 2010). This form of secularity is possible due to our technological abilities, to urbanization, individualization, and globalization that make us less dependent upon a particular community and tradition.
In the past decade, the cognitive science of religion has worked to find an evolutionary explanation for supernatural belief. The explanations are convincing, but have created the stereotype that atheism is unnatural. In a similar way studies linking religious belief and health have vilified atheism as unhealthy. But belief is to complex, health is too nuanced, and the data are too varied to draw such a generalization. Catherine Caldwell-Harris has developed a psychological profile to understand nonbelief as an expected outcome of individual difference and therefore natural. In a similar manner I argue that we should study the relationship between belief and health through the lens of individual differences. This approach is especially promising given recent research which indicates personality fully accounts for the relationship with well-being previously attributed to belief. This approach has the added benefit of neutralizing the conversation by understanding atheism as the healthy expression of a natural personality.
atheism • cognitive science of religion • evolutionary psychology • health; individual differences • nonbelief • personality • religious belief • well-being • worldview
Jonathan Morgan is a masters of theological studies (MTS) student specializing in psychology and theology at Boston Universitys School of Theology, Box 128, 745 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, MA 02215, USA; email: jrmorgan @ bu.edu.
Scientific and Religious Approaches to Morality: An Alternative to Mutual Anathemas by Stephen J. Pope
Many people today believe that scientific and religious approaches to morality are mutually incompatible. Militant secularists claim scientific backing for their claim that the evolution of morality discredits religious conceptions of ethics. Some of their opponents respond with unhelpful apologetics based on fundamentalist views of revelation. This article attempts to provide an alternative option. It argues that public discussion has been excessively influenced by polemics generated by the new atheists. Religious writers have too often resorted to overly simplistic arguments rooted in literalist approaches to the Bible and the religious traditions. More historically conscious methods can avoid implausible claims about both religion and science.
Biblical literalism • church • evolution • faith • historical consciousness • morality • religion • secularism
Stephen J. Pope is a Professor in the Theology Department at Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA 02467, USA; e-mail: stephen.pope.1 @ bc.edu.
Sexual Diversity and Divine Creation: A Tightrope Walk between Christianity and Science by Yiftach Fehige
Although modern societies have come to recognize diversity in human sexuality as simply part of nature, many Christian communities and thinkers still have considerable difficulties with related developments in politics, legislation, and science. In fact, homosexuality is a recurrent topic in the transdisciplinary encounter between Christianity and the sciences, an encounter that is otherwise rather asexual. I propose that the recent emergence of Christianity and Science as an academic field in its own right is an important part of the larger context of the difficulties related to attempts to reconcile Christianity and a recognition of diversity in human sexuality as a norm. Through a critical discussion of arguments which are upheld most disturbingly on a global scale by the Roman Catholic Church and supported with much sophistry by important stakeholders of an influential stream in analytic philosophy of religion, this paper aims to contextualize and defend the legitimacy of the question why God would create homosexuals as such if it is true that every homosexual act is prohibited by God. While recently advanced nonheterosexist scientific models of sexuality in nature inform the discussion, I reject the simplistic view that religions suppress and the sciences liberate in matters sexual.
analytic philosophy • biblical fundamentalism • chastity • Christianity • creation • homosexuality • modern science • Roman Catholicism • Joan Roughgarden • Richard Swinburne • theistic Darwinism
Yiftach Fehige is professor of Christianity and Science at the Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology (IHPST) at the University of Toronto. He may be contacted at IHPST, Victoria College, 91 Charles Street West, Toronto, Ontario M5S1K7, Canada; e-mail: yiftach.fehige @ utoronto.ca
Quantum Aspects of Life: Relating Evolutionary Biology with Theology via Modern Physics by Anna Ijjas
In the present paper, I shall argue that quantum theory can contribute to reconciling evolutionary biology with the creation hypothesis. After giving a careful definition of the theological problem, I will, in a first step, formulate necessary conditions for the compatibility of evolutionary theory and the creation hypothesis. In a second step, I will show how quantum theory can contribute to fulfilling these conditions. More precisely, I claim that (1) quantum probabilities are best understood in terms of ontological indeterminism, but (2) reflect nevertheless causal openness rather than divine indifference or arbitrariness, and (3) such a genuinely creative universe can be considered as the work of a loving Creator. I ask subsequently whether these necessary conditions are also sufficient for the compatibility of evolutionary theory and the creation hypothesis. Finally, I will show that relating evolutionary biology with theology via quantum theory could also shed some light on the nature of life.
creation • evolution • indeterminism • probability theory • problem of evil • quantum physics
Anna Ijjas is a Fritz Thyssen Research Fellow in the Astrophysics Department at Harvard University during the 2012-2013 academic year. She may be contacted at Harvard College Observatory, 60 Garden Street, MS-51, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA; e-mail: aijjas @ cfa.harvard.edu.
Physicalism holds that the laws of physics are inviolable and ubiquitous and thereby account for all of reality. Laws leave no wiggle room or gaps for action by numinous agents. They cannot be invoked, however, without boundary stipulations that perforce are contingent and which drive the laws. Driving contingencies are not limited to instances of blind chance, but rather span a continuum of amalgamations with regularities, up to and including nearly determinate propensities. Most examples manifest directionality, and their very definition encompasses intentionality. Contingencies, via their interactions with laws, can reinforce and maintain one another, thereby giving rise to enduring, ordered configurations of constraints. All of ordered nature thus results from ongoing transactions between mutualistic contingencies that constrain possibilities and entropic chance events that degrade order but diversify opportunities. Laws do not of themselves determine reality; interactions among contingencies do. For believers, the robust abundance of indeterminacies provides ample latitude for divine intervention, free will, and prayer. The priority of contingency also affords some insight into the meaning of suffering and evil.
autocatalysis • centripetality • contingency • divine action • evolution • free will • metaphysics • mutualism • prayer • theodicy
Robert E. Ulanowicz is Professor Emeritus at University of Maryland, Center for Environmental Science, Chesapeake Biological Laboratory, Solomons, MD 20688-0038, USA. 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.
The Inspiration of God and Wolfhart Pannenbergs Field Theory of Information by George Medley, III
This paper will examine the implications of an extended field theory of information, suggested by Wolfhart Pannenberg, specifically in the Christian understanding of creation. The paper argues that the Holy Spirit created the world as field, a concept from physics, and the creation is directed by the logos utilizing information. Taking into accountmore recent developments of information theory, the essay further suggests that present creation has a causal impact upon the information utilized in creation. In order to adequately address Pannenbergs hypothesis that the logos utilizes information at creation the essay will also include an introductory examination of Pannenbergs Christology which shifts from a strict from below Christology, to a more open third way of doing Christology beyond above and below. The essay concludes with a brief section relating the implications of an extended field theory of information to creative inspiration, as well as parallels with human inspiration.
creation • divine action • field theory • Holy Spirit • information • Wolfhart Pannenberg • Arthur Peacocke • philosophy of science • John Polkinghorne • Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
George Medley, III is an ordained minister and a PhD student in philosophical theology at Kings College, London, Department of Theology and Religious Studies, Kings College London Strand, London WC2R 2LS, United Kingdom; e-mail: george.medley_iii @ kcl.ac.uk.
Saintly Sacrifice: The Traditional Transmission of Moral Elevation by Craig T. Palmer, Ryan O. Begley and Kathryn Coe
This paper combines the social psychology concept of moral elevation with the evolutionary concept of traditions as descendant-leaving strategies to produce a new explanation of the role of saints in Christianity. Moral elevation refers to the ability of prosocial acts to inspire people to engage in their own acts of charity and kindness. When morally elevating stories and visual depictions become traditional by being passed from one generation to the next, they can produce prosocial behavior advantageous to survival and reproduction among many generations of descendants. Traditions that increase the number of descendants in future generations can be seen as descendant-leaving strategies. Stories and visual depictions of the sacrifices of saints appear to be designed to produce states of moral elevation, and they have been transmitted from one generation to the next for many centuries. We propose that this ability of sacrificing saints to inspire future generations to engage in prosocial acts has contributed to the continuation and spread of Christianity.
Christianity • evolution • moral elevation • sacrifice • saints • stories • traditions • visual arts
Craig T. Palmer is associate professor of anthropology at the University of Missouri, 107 Swallow Hall, Columbia, MO 65211-1440, USA; e-mail: PalmerCT @ missouri.edu. Ryan O. Begley is a masters candidate in Anthropology at the University of Missouri. He may be contacted at 107 Swallow Hall, Columbia, MO 65211-1440, USA; e-mail: robqk7 @ mail.missouri.edu. Kathryn Coe is a professor and Lilly scholar in the Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health, IUPUI. She may be contacted at the Indiana University Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health, IUPUI, 714 Senate Avenue, Indianapolis, IN 46202, USA; e-mail: coek @ iupui.edu.
Clarifying the Eutopia Argument: A Response to John Caiazza by Manussos Marangudakis
The eutopia vision of the future, promulgated by technoscientists and libertarian thinkers, could herald the coming of a third axial age that could reshape and reformulate the legacy of the Great Religions and their transcendental moral imperatives, and of Modernity and the democratic imperative of equality of social conditions. A sociological diagnosis of a third, technosomatic, morality, is not a matter of supporting or rejecting such a possibility, but a matter of detecting its rise and regulating its impact.
bioethics • biotechnology • Christianity • cultural evolution • self
Manussos Marangudakis is an associate professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of the Aegean. He can be reached at the University of the Aegean, University Hill, Mytilene, Greece; e-mail: m.marangudakis @ soc.aegean.gr.
McMullins Inference: A Case for Realism?
Scientific Realism and the Empiricist Challenge: An Introduction to Ernan McMullins Aquinas Lectue by Bas C. van Fraassen
In The Inference That Makes Science, Ernan McMullin recounts the clear historical progress he saw toward a vision of the sciences as conclusions reached rationally on the basis of empirical evidence. Distinctive of this vision was his view of science as driven by a specific form of inference, retroduction. To understand this properly, we need to disentangle the description of retroductive inference from the claims made on its behalf. To end I will suggest that the real rival to McMullins vision of science is not the methodologies he criticizes so successfully but a more radical empiricist alternative in epistemology.
abduction • empiricism • induction • Ernan McMullin • retroduction • scientific realism
Bas C. van Fraassen is a professor of philosophy at San Francisco State University and may be contacted at the Department of Philosophy, San Francisco State University, 1600 Holloway Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94132, USA; e-mail: fraassen @ sfsu.edu.
The Inference that Makes Science by Ernan McMullin
In his Aquinas Lecture 1992 at Marquette University, Ernan McMullin discusses whether there is a pattern of inference that particularly characterizes the sciences of nature. He pursues this theme both on a historical and a systematic level. There is a continuity of concern across the ages that separate the Greek inquiry into nature from our own vastly more complex scientific enterprise. But there is also discontinuity, the abandonment of earlier ideals as unworkable. The natural sciences involve many types of inference; three of these interlock in a special way to produce retroductive inference, the kind of complex inference that supports causal theory.
abduction • Thomas Aquinas • Aristotle • causality • demonstration • Galileo Galilei • inference • realism • science • theory
Ernan McMullin (1924-2011) held the John Cardinal OHara Chair of Philosophy, and was director of the program in history and philosophy of science at the University of Notre Dame, South Bend, IN, USA. The text is reproduced from Ernan McMullin, The Inference that Makes Science (Milwaukee: Marquette University Press, 1992, 1-112). Copyright Marquette University Press, 1992. Reprinted with permission.
In this essay, I will lay out first in some detail the exegetical principles implicit in Augustines treatment of an early apparent conflict between Scripture and the findings of sense or reason. Then I will analyze Galileos two major discussions of the issue, first in his Letter to Castelli, and then in his Letter to the Grand Duchess, touching on Foscarinis ill-fated Letter in between. I will turn then to an internal tension that many commentators have perceived within the exegetic principles that Galileo deploys in meeting the theological challenge to Copernicanism. The tension was, broadly speaking, between two rather different strategies for dealing with that challenge. According to the more radical choice, the strategy would be to deny the relevance of Scripture to our knowledge of the natural world. The more conservative strategy would be to allow that the authority of divine revelation extended to passages in Scripture describing features of the natural world but also to admit that where this description clashed with something that could be demonstrated through sense or reason, an alternative to the literal, everyday, meaning of the Scripture passage should be sought. This latter proviso would imply that even in this, the most conservative, approach, theology is not being given absolute priority over natural philosophy.
Augustine • Copernicus • Galileo Galilei • heliocentrism • Letter to the Grand Duchess Christina
Ernan McMullin (1924-2011) held the John Cardinal OHara Chair of Philosophy, and was director of the program in history and philosophy of science at the University of Notre Dame, South Bend, IN, USA. The text is reproduced from Ernan McMullin, The Church and Galileo (Studies in Science and the Humanities from the Reilly Center for Science, Technology, and Values). Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2005, 88-116. Copyright University of Notre Dame Press. Reprinted with permission.
Science Meets Biblical Exegesis in the Galileo Affair by George V. Coyne, SJ
Although Galileos venture into theology, as discussed by McMullin, is limited to Galileos exegesis of Scripture, it can be seen as an important element in a broader role in theology, namely in ecclesiology and in the development of doctrine. From the Council of Trent, the Reformation Council, until today there has been a development in the Church concerning the manner in which Sacred Scripture should be interpreted and as to whether it can be said to be in conflict with our scientific knowledge of nature. Galileo made a significant contribution to this development. With his telescopic observations he was, in fact, undermining the prevailing Aristotelian natural philosophy of his day and was defending the birth of modern science against a mistaken view of Scripture. The Church of his time was not prepared to accept his contribution to this theological development. What does this history have to contribute to the challenges we face today in the interactions between science and religious belief?
Aristotle • Augustine • authority • cosmology • evolution • exegesis • Galileo • Scripture • tradition
George V. Coyne, SJ is Director Emeritus of the Vatican Observatory and currently holds the McDevitt Chair in Religious Philosophy at Le Moyne College, Syracuse, NY 13214, USA; e-mail: coynegv @ lemoyne.edu.
Genesis, Evolution, and the Search for a Reasoned Faith by Mary Katherine Birge, SSJ, Brian G. Henning, Rodica M. Stoicoiu, and Ryan Taylor, reviewed by Paul G. Heltne