Zygon: Journal of Religion & Science
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Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science
49 (1), March 2014

Table of Contents


Zygon @ 49: Almost Half a Century by Willem B. Drees

The first issue of Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science was published in 1966. Thus, we now enter our 49th year of publication. Four issues a year, without interruption. Steady, engaged with science, its implications for our understanding of the world and of ourselves, and science’s place in society, with religion and human values. Articles have addressed the coexistence of these two important human pursuits, and their interactions. Fascinating material. Next year, our 50th anniversary, is an even bigger reason for celebration. But why should next year be more important than this year? In the spirit of many Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science readers and authors, we might look to biology to justify such a claim: we have five fingers on each hand. If we would have had seven digits, 49 might have been far more prominent!
DOI: 10.1111/Zygo.12071


Geoengineering, Theology, and the Meaning of Being Human by Forrest Clingerman

Because of the lack of a meaningful international response to global warming, geoengineering has emerged as a potential technological response to climate change. But, thus far, little attention has been given to how religion impacts our understanding of geoengineering. I defend the need to incorporate theological reflection in the conversation of geoengineering by investigating how geoengineering proposals contain an implicit anthropology. A significant framework for our assessment of geoengineering is the balance of human capability and fallibility—a balance that is at the center of theological and religious interpretations of the meaning of the human condition. Similarly, geoengineering challenges our past understandings of theological anthropology.
anthropocene • climate change • ecotheology • geoengineering • hermeneutics • technology • theological anthropology
Forrest Clingerman is associate professor in the Department of Philosophy and Religion at Ohio Northern University, 525 South Main Street, Ada, OH 45810, USA; e-mail: f-clingerman @ onu.edu.
DOI: 10.1111/Zygo.12072

Naturalized Sacredness? A Realist, Panentheist and Perennialist Alternative to Kauffman’s Constructivism by Itay Shani

In his recent book Reinventing the Sacred, renowned biologist and systems theorist Stuart Kauffman offers an avenue for the revival of the sacred and for reconciling sacredness with a robust scientific outlook. According to Kauffman, God is a human cultural invention, and he urges us to reinvent the sacred as the ceaseless creativity in nature. I argue that Kauffman’s proposal suffers from a major shortcoming, namely, being at odds with the nature, and content, of authentic experiences of the sacred, experiences which point invariably in the direction of a reality which transcends human imagination and capacity for cultural innovation. Correspondingly, I point in the direction of an alternative approach to the revival of the sacred rooted in what I call the path of direct spiritual awareness. I argue that, while being in better accord with the phenomenology of religious experience, this realist alternative to Kauffman’s constructivism also avoids the unpleasant symptoms which often accompany traditional theism, namely, dogmatism, irrationalism, and incompatibility with a scientifically minded metaphysics.
complexity • direct spiritual awareness • evolution • Stuart Kauffman • naturalism • panentheism • perennial philosophy • sacred • spirituality
Itay Shani is a research professor of philosophy at Kyung Hee University in Seoul, 1Hoegidong, Dongdaemun-gu, 130-701, Seoul, South Korea; email: ishani479 @ hotmail.com.
DOI: 10.1111/Zygo.12061

An Algorithmic Information Theory Challenge to Intelligent Design by Sean Devine

William Dembski claims to have established a decision process to determine when highly unlikely events observed in the natural world are due to Intelligent Design. This article argues that, as no implementable randomness test is superior to a universal Martin-Löf test, this test should be used to replace Dembski’s decision process. Furthermore, Dembski’s decision process is flawed, as natural explanations are eliminated before chance. Dembski also introduces a fourth law of thermodynamics, his “law of conservation of information,” to argue that information cannot increase by natural processes. However, this article, using algorithmic information theory, shows that this law is no more than the second law of thermodynamics. The article concludes that any discussions on the possibilities of design interventions in nature should be articulated in terms of the algorithmic information theory approach to randomness and its robust decision process.
algorithmic entropy • algorithmic information theory • fourth law of thermodynamics • Intelligent Design • randomness test
Sean Devine is a research physicist who holds the position of Research Fellow at the School of Management, Victoria University of Wellington, Rutherford House, 23 Lambton Quay, Pipitea Campus, Wellington 6140, New Zealand; e-mail: sean.devine @ vuw.ac.nz.
DOI: 10.1111/Zygo.12059

Who’s Afraid of Theoscientography? An Interpretative Hypothesis on Harun Yahya by Stefano Bigliardi

I scrutinize the ideas and works of the Turkish religious leader and author Adnan Oktar/Harun Yahya. I argue for a new definition of Yahya as the representative of what I call theoscientography, proposing to study his work according to such a model rather than in the light of his “Islamic creationism”
Darwinism • Islam • technology • Harun Yahya
Stefano Bigliardi is a postdoctoral researcher at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Lund University (CMES), Finngatan 16, Lund 22362, Sweden; e-mail: stefano.bigliardi @ cme.lu.se.
DOI: 10.1111/Zygo.12077

Zygon @ 49

Zygon’s Dual Mission by Ian Barbour

The first mission of Zygon has been the exploration of the relation between Religion and Science. The second, I suggest, has been consideration of the relation between Ethics and Technology. Some articles have given attention to the relation of Religion to Ethics, or that of Science to Technology. The interaction of Ethics and Science, and that of Religion and Technology, are also significant. I give examples of articles or symposia in each of these categories and close with great hope for Zygon’s future.
ethics • religion • science • technology • Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science
Ian G. Barbour (1923-2013) was professor of physics, professor of religion, and Winifred and Atherton Bean Professor of Science, Technology and Society at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota, MN.
DOI: 10.1111/Zygo.12060

Human Nature as Imago Dei

The Imago Dei: Evolutionary and Theological Perspectives by Helen De Cruz and Yves De Maeseneer

This short article provides an introduction to a special section, consisting of six papers on human evolution and the imago Dei. These papers are the result of dialogue between theologians and philosophers of religion at the University of Oxford and the Catholic University of Leuven. All contributors focus on the imago Dei, and consider how this theological notion can be understood from an evolutionary perspective, looking at a variety of disciplines, including the psychology of reasoning, cognitive science of religion, paleoanthropology, evolutionary psychology, and evolutionary ethics.
evolutionary theory • human evolution • imago Dei • theological anthropology
Helen De Cruz is a postdoctoral fellow of the British Academy at the University of Oxford. She may be contacted at Woodstock Road, Radcliffe Humanities, Oxford, OX2 6GG, United Kingdom; e-mail: helen.decruz @ philosophy.ox.ac.uk. Yves De Maeseneer teaches fundamental theological ethics at the KU Leuven. He may be contacted at KU Leuven Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies, Sint-Michielsstraat 4 bus 3101, B-3000 Leuven, Belgium; e-mail: Yves.Demaeseneer @ theo.kuleuven.be.
DOI: 10.1111/Zygo.12064

Imago Dei, Dualism and Evolution: A Philosophical Defense of the Structural Image of God by Aku Visala

Most contemporary theologians have distanced themselves from views that identify the image of God with a capacity or a set of capacities that humans have. This article examines three arguments against the structural view and finds them wanting. The first argument is that the structural view entails mind/body dualism and dualism is no longer viable given neuroscience and contemporary philosophy. Against this, I argue that contemporary forms of dualism are able to circumvent such worries and are at least prima facie plausible. The second claim is that structural views end up disvaluing the human body and our relatedness. Here, I argue that neither the structural view nor dualism has such consequences. The third issue consists of various evolutionary worries that have to do with the lack of a clear-cut boundary between human capacities and the capacities of nonhuman animals. As a response, the article argues that although there might not be a clear-cut set of capacities that all humans share, we could still have a notion of human distinctiveness that is sufficient for the structural image of God.
evolution • evolutionary psychology • image of God (imago Dei) • mind • philosophy • physicalism • theological anthropology
Aku Visala is a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Anthropology, University of Notre Dame, 611 Flanner Hall, Notre Dame, IN 46556, USA; e-mail: aku.visala @ helsinki.fi.
DOI: 10.1111/Zygo.12063

Imago Dei and Human Rationality by Olli-Pekka Vainio

There is a pervasive trend in Western theology to identify imago Dei with human intellectual and cognitive capacities. However, several contemporary theologians have criticized this view because, according to the critics, it leads to a truncated view of humanity. In this article, I shall concentrate on the question of rationality, first, through theologies of Thomas Aquinas and contemporary Lutheran Robert Jenson, and second, in some branches of recent cognitive psychology. I will argue that there is a significant overlap between contemporary scientific interpretations of rationality and both a traditional Thomistic view and a contemporary ecumenical interpretation of imago Dei. Consequently, it is possible to give an account of imago Dei which takes structural features as central and which is in accord with contemporary science, without falling prey to the dangers that the critics of structuralism point out.
Thomas Aquinas • cognitive psychology • Gerd Gigerenzer • holism • imago Dei • Robert W. Jenson • Daniel Kahneman • Ian McGilchrist • rationality • theological anthropology
Olli-Pekka Vainio is a theologian and Research Fellow of Philosophical Psychology, Morality and Politics Research Unit of the Academy of Finland. He may be contacted at University of Helsinki - Systematic Theology, Vuorikatu 3, Helsinki 00014, Finland; e-mail: olli-pekka.vainio @ helsinki.fi.
DOI: 10.1111/Zygo.12065

The Imago Dei as a Work in Progress: A Perspective from Paleoanthropology by Johan De Smedt and Helen De Cruz

This article considers the imago Dei from the perspective of paleoanthropology. We identify structural, functional, and relational elements of the imago Dei that emerged mosaically during human evolution. Humans are unique in their ability to relate to each other and to God, and in their membership of cultural communities where shared attention, the transmission of moral norms, and symbolic behavior are important elements. We discuss similarities between our approach and the concept of theosis adopted in the Eastern Orthodox Church.
imago Dei • Irenaeus • Maximus Confessor • moral awareness • paleoanthropology • shared attention • theosis
Johan De Smedt is a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Philosophy and Ethics, Ghent University, Blandijnberg 2, 9000 Ghent, Belgium; e-mail johan.desmedt @ ugent.be. Helen De Cruz is a postdoctoral fellow of the British Academy at the Faculty of Philosophy, Woodstock Road, Radcliffe Humanities, University of Oxford, Oxford, OX2 6GG, United Kingdom; e-mail: helen.decruz @ philosophy.ox.ac.uk.
DOI: 10.1111/Zygo.12066

Co-Creating Co-Creators? “The Human Factor” in Education by Tom Uytterhoeven

This article presents an example of the contributions the field of science and religion could offer to educational theory. Building on a narrative analysis of Philip Hefner’s proposal to use “created co-creator” as central metaphor for theological anthropology, the importance of culture is brought to the fore. Education should support a needed revitalization of our cultural heritage, and thus enable humanity to (re-)connect with the global ecological network and with the divine as grounding source of this network. In the concluding reflections of this article, the possibility of a secular interpretation of “created co-creator,” in which “God” is reduced to “evolution,” is assessed.
created co-creator • culture • education • Philip Hefner • imago Dei
Tom Uytterhoeven is lecturer in religious education and in philosophical and theological perspectives on education at Thomas More Mechelen University College, and doctoral student at the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies, KU Leuven. He may be contacted at Boshuislei 3 - 2861 O.L.V.-Waver, Belgium; e-mail: tom.uytterhoeven @ thomasmore.be.
DOI: 10.1111/Zygo.12068

Morality and Nature: Evolutionary Challenges to Christian Ethics by Johan De Tavernier

Christian ethics accentuates in manifold ways the unique character of human nature. Personalists believe that the mind is never reducible to material and physical substance. The human person is presented as the supreme principle, based on arguments referring to free-willed actions, the immateriality of both the divine spirit and the reflexive capacity, intersubjectivity and self-consciousness. But since Darwin, evolutionary biology slowly instructs us that morality roots in dispositions that are programmed by evolution into our nature. Historically, Thomas Huxley, “Darwin’s bulldog,” agreed with Darwin on almost everything, except for his gradualist position on moral behavior. Huxley’s “saltationism” has recently been characterized by Frans de Waal as “a veneer theory of morality.” Does this mark the end of a period of presenting morality as only the fruit of socialization processes (nurture) and as having nothing in common with nature? Does it necessarily imply a corrosion of personalist views on the human being or do Christian ethics have to become familiar again with their ancient roots?
anthropology • Thomas Aquinas • Christianity • emotions • evolutionary biology • morality • personhood
Johan De Tavernier is a professor in theological ethics at the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies, Sint-Michielsstraat 6 - Box 3101, B-3000 Leuven, Belgium; email: johan.detavernier @ theo.kuleuven.be.
DOI: 10.1111/Zygo.12076

Emil Brunner Revisited: On the Cognitive Science of Religion, the Imago Dei, and Revelation by Taede Smedes

This article aims at a constructive and argumentative engagement between the cognitive science of religion (CSR) and philosophical and theological reflection on the imago Dei. The Swiss theologian Emil Brunner argued that the theological notion that humans were created in the image of God entails that there is a “point of contact” for revelation to occur. This article argues that Brunner’s notion resonates quite strongly with the findings of the CSR. The first part will give a short overview of the CSR. The second part deals with Brunner’s idea of the imago Dei and the “point of contact.” The third and final part of the article outlines a model of revelation that is in line with Brunner’s thought and the CSR. The aim of this article is to show how the naturalistic methodology of the CSR provides a fertile new perspective on several theological issues and thereby enriches theological reflection.
Emil Brunner • cognitive science of religion • imago Dei • naturalism • religion naturalized • revelation
Taede A. Smedes is a philosopher of religion and a theologian. He may be contacted at De Gildekamp 3069, 6545 KR, Nijmegen, the Netherlands; e-mail: tasmedes @ tasmedes.nl.
DOI: 10.1111/Zygo.12079

The Boddhisatva’s Brain: Owen Flanagan Meets Critics

Buddhism, Comparative Neurophilosophy, and Human Flourishing by Christian Coseru

Owen Flanagan’s The Bodhisattva’s Brain represents an ambitious foray into cross-cultural neurophilosophy, making a compelling, though not entirely unproblematic, case for naturalizing Buddhist philosophy. While the naturalist account of mental causation challenges certain Buddhist views about the mind, the Buddhist analysis of mind and mental phenomena is far more complex than the book suggests. Flanagan is right to criticize the Buddhist claim that there could be mental states that are not reducible to their neural correlates; however, when the mental states in question reflect the embodied patterns of moral conduct that characterize the Buddhist way of being-in-the-world, an account of their intentional and normative status becomes indispensable. It is precisely this synthesis of normativity and causal explanation that makes Buddhism special, and opens new avenues for enhancing, refining, and expanding the range of arguments and possibilities that comparative neurophilosophy can entertain.
affective neuroscience • Buddhism • comparative neurophilosophy • consciousness • cross-cultural philosophy • eudaimonia • Owen Flanagan • moral psychology • phenomenology
Christian Coseru is associate professor of philosophy in the Department of Philosophy at the College of Charleston, 66 George Street, Charleston, SC 29424, USA; e-mail: coseruc @ cofc.edu.
DOI: 10.1111/Zygo.12067

Buddhism, Naturalism, and the Pursuit of Happiness by Charles Goodman

Owen Flanagan’s important book The Bodhisattva’s Brain presents a naturalized interpretation of Buddhist philosophy. Although the overall approach of the book is very promising, certain aspects of its presentation could benefit from further reflection. Traditional teachings about reincarnation do not contradict the doctrine of no self, as Flanagan seems to suggest; however, they are empirically rather implausible. Flanagan’s proposed “tame” interpretation of karma is too thin; we can do better at fitting karma into a scientific worldview. The relationship between eudaimonist and utilitarian strands in Buddhist ethics is more complex than the book suggests. Flanagan is right to criticize incautious and imprecise claims that Buddhism will make practitioners happy. We can make progress by distinguishing between happiness in the sense of a Buddhist version of eudaimonia, and happiness in the sense of attitudinal pleasure. Doing so might result in an interpretation of Buddhist views about happiness that was simultaneously philosophically interesting, historically credible, and psychologically testable.
Buddhism • Owen Flanagan • meditation • methodological naturalism • naturalism
Charles Goodman is associate professor in the Philosophy Department and the Department of Asian and Asian American Studies at Binghamton University. He can be reached at Department of Philosophy, Box 6000, Binghamton University, Binghamton, NY 13902-6000, USA; e-mail: cgoodman @ binghamton.edu.
DOI: 10.1111/Zygo.12081

Examining the Boddhisatva’s Brain by Bronwyn Finnigan

Owen Flanagan’s The Bodhisattva’s Brain aims to introduce secular-minded thinkers to Buddhist thought and motivate its acceptance by analytic philosophers. I argue that Flanagan provides a compelling caution against the hasty generalizations of recent “science of happiness” literature, which correlates happiness with Buddhism on the basis of certain neurological studies. I contend, however, that his positive account of Buddhist ethics is less persuasive. I question the level of engagement with Buddhist philosophical literature and challenge Flanagan’s central claim, that a Buddhist version of eudaimonia is a common core conception shared by all Buddhists. I argue that this view is not only a rational reconstruction in need of argumentation but is in tension with competing Buddhist metaphysical theories of self, including the one Flanagan himself endorses.
Buddhism • ethics • eudaimonism • Owen Flanagan • naturalism • neuroscience • reductionism • virtue ethics
Bronwyn Finnigan is assistant professor, Department of Philosophy, Marquette University, Coughlin Hall 132, P.O. Box 1881, Milwaukee, WI 53201-1881, USA; e-mail: bronwyn.finnigan @ marquette.edu.
DOI: 10.1111/Zygo.12078

Buddhism and the Scientific Image: Reply to Critics by Owen Flanagan

I provide a précis of The Bodhisattva’s Brain: Buddhism Naturalized (2011), and then respond to three critics, Christian Coseru, Charles Goodman, and Bronwyn Finnigan.
Buddhism • consequentialism • contemplative science • eudaimonism • naturalism • no-self • phenomenology • physicalism • subjective realism
Owen Flanagan is James B. Duke Professor and professor of psychology and neuroscience, Department of Philosophy, Duke University, Box 90743, Durham, NC 27708, USA; e-mail: ojf @ duke.edu.
DOI: 10.1111/Zygo.12080


Religion, Intolerance, and Conflict: A Scientific and Conceptual Investigation edited by Steve Clarke, Russell Powel, and Julian Savulescu, reviewed by Christoffer H. Grundmann

Christoffer H. Grundmann; John R. Eckrich University Professor in Religion and the Healing Arts, Valparaiso University, Valparaiso, IN, USA, Christoffer.Grundmann @ valpo.edu.
DOI: 10.1111/Zygo.12069

Darwin and Lady Hope: The Untold Story by L. R. Croft, reviewed by Grzegorz Malec

Grzegorz Malec; University of Zielona Góra, Institute of Philosophy al. Wojska, Polskiego 71A 65-762, Zielona Góra, Poland; malecgrzegorz @ yahoo.pl.
DOI: 10.1111/Zygo.12070

The Faith of Biology and the Biology of Faith: Order, Meaning, and Free Will in Modern Medical Science by Robert Pollack, reviewed by Paul Heltne

Paul Heltne; Director, the Ethopoiesis Project; President Emeritus of the Chicago Academy of Sciences; 4001 N. Ravenswood, #401; Chicago, IL 60613-2576; heltne@chias.org.
DOI: 10.1111/Zygo.12075

From Big Bang to Big Mystery: Human Origins in the Light of Creation and Evolution by Brendan Purcell, reviewed by Paul Flaman

Paul Flaman; St. Joseph’s College, University of Alberta, 11325-89 Ave. NW, Edmonton, AB, Canada, T6G 2J5; pflaman@ualberta.ca.
DOI: 10.1111/Zygo.12074

Altruism in Cross-cultural Perspectives edited by Douglas Vakoch, reviewed by Christoffer H. Grundmann

Christoffer H. Grundmann; John R. Eckrich University Professor in Religion and the Healing Arts, Valparaiso University, Valparaiso, IN, USA, Christoffer.Grundmann @ valpo.edu.
DOI: 10.1111/Zygo.12073

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