Zygon: Journal of Religion & Science
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Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science
53 (1), March 2018

Table of Contents


Focus and Flexibility: Zygon’s Profile and Practice by Willem B. Drees

Zygon’s statement of perspective was written by the founding editor Ralph Burhoe and his successor Karl E. Peters in 1979 (Peters 2015, 351). It explains the name and reflects the substantial orientation of the founding editor and his successors. It has been published in almost every issue since then. The word zygon means the yoking of two entities or processes that must work together. It is related to zygote—meaning the union of genetic heritage from sperm and egg, a union that is vital in higher species for the continuation of advancement of life. The journal Zygon provides a forum for exploring ways to unite what in modern times has been disconnected—values from knowledge, goodness from truth, religion from science. Traditional religions, which have transmitted wisdom about what is of essential value and ultimate meaning as a guide for human living, were expressed in terms of the best understandings of their times about human nature, society, and the world. Religious expression in our time, however, has not drawn similarly on modern science, which has superseded the ancient forms of understanding. As a result religions have lost credibility in the modern mind. Nevertheless some recent scientific studies of human evolution and development have indicated how long-standing religions have evolved well-winnowed wisdom, still essential for the best life. Zygon’s hypothesis is that, when long-evolved religious wisdom is yoked with significant, recent scientific discoveries about the world and human nature, there results credible expression of basic meaning, values, and moral convictions that provides valid and effective guidance for enhancing human life.
DOI: 10.1111/zygo.12385


An Absolute Distinction between Faith and Science: Contrast without Compartmentalization by Hermen Kroesbergen

This article argues for acknowledging the existence of an absolute distinction between faith and science. It is often assumed in the science and religion debate that such a distinction would be ahistorical and uncontextual. After discussing this critique, the analogy with love and facts will be used to explain how an absolute distinction between faith and science may exist nonetheless. This contrast, however, does not imply compartmentalization. It is shown that the absolute distinction between faith and science is of crucial importance to understand the historical contexts that so many contributors to the science and religion debate refer to in their argument against the approaches of Independence or Contrast. The article concludes that within our messy and complex practices there is an absolute distinction between faith and science—our historical contexts cannot be understood without it.
absolute • compartmentalization • contrast • independence • science and religion • taxonomies
Hermen Kroesbergen is Senior Postdoctoral Fellow for Systematic Theology at the University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa; e-mail: hermen.kroesbergen @ gmail.com.
DOI: 10.1111/zygo.12396

The Mysterianism of Owen Flanagan’s Normative Mind Science by Mikael Leidenhag

This article critically analyzes Owen Flanagan’s physicalism and attempt at deriving ethical normativity from current neuroscience. It is argued that neurophysicalism, despite Flanagan’s harsh critique of “the new mysterians,” entails a form of mysterianism and that it fails to appropriately ground human mentality within physicalism. Flanagan seeks to bring spirituality and a physicalist ontology together by showing how it is possible to derive an account of the good life from science. This attempt is critiqued and it is shown that Flanagan fails to establish the consistency between ethical normativity and physicalism. Hence, another form of mysterianism seems to emerge within this normative mind science.
consciousness • eudaimonia • Owen Flanagan • hard problem of consciousness • mysterianism • neurophysicalism
Mikael Leidenhag is postdoctoral fellow in Theology and Science, School of Divinity, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh. UK; e-mail: mleidenh @ ed.ac.uk.
DOI: 10.1111/zygo.12381

Hinduism, Buddhism, and Science

“The New Science of Health and Happiness”: Investigating Buddhist Engagements with the Scientific Study of Meditation by Jeff Wilson

Clinical and neuroscientific studies of Buddhist meditation practices are frequent topics in the news media, and have helped certain practices (such as mindfulness) achieve mainstream cultural status. Buddhists have reacted by using these studies in a number of ways. Some deploy the studies to show the compatibility of science and Buddhism, often using the authority of science to lend credence to Buddhism. Other Buddhists use meditation studies to demonstrate the superiority of Buddhism over science. Within inter-Buddhist debates, meditation studies are used to argue for changes in practice or belief, but also sometimes to reinforce certain traditional practices. Benjamin Zeller’s threefold categorization of religious groups’ attitudes toward science (guide, replace, absorb) and José Ignacio Cabezón’s three ideal types of relationships between Buddhism and science (conflict/ambivalence, compatibility/identity, complementarity) contribute to analysis of Buddhist uses of scientific studies of meditation.
Buddhism • cognitive science • meditation • mindfulness • psychology • scientism
Jeff Wilson is Professor of Religious Studies and East Asian Studies at Renison University College, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada; e-mail: jeff.wilson @ uwaterloo.ca.
DOI: 10.1111/zygo.12391

Vaishnavism, Antievolutionism, and Ambiguities: Revisiting ISKCON’s Darwin Skepticism by Oliver Zambon and Thomas Aechtner

The International Society of Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), commonly known as the Hare Krishna Movement, has disseminated a flurry of antievolutionist media since its inception in 1966. Such communications frequently co-opt arguments employed by Christian creationists and Intelligent Design theorists. At the same time, however, there are indications that a scattering of ISKCON publications have articulated relatively ambiguous, less oppositional statements about evolutionary theory. This article reconsiders ISKCON’s Darwin-skepticism by appraising recent, largely unexamined Hare Krishna publications, as well as responses to evolutionary theory expressed by ISKCON’s founder, A. C. Bhaktivedanta, and his immediate Vaishnava forerunners. The analysis reveals that, although the majority of contemporary ISKCON materials are vehemently opposed to evolution, some leading voices demonstrate less combative, cautiously accommodating stances. These cases are suggestive of complexities in ISKCON’s responses to evolution, both past and present, which are not necessarily encapsulated in the terms Vedic creationism or antievolutionism.
antievolutionism • Bhaktivedanta • creationism • Hare Krishnas • ISKCON • Vaishnavism • Vedic
Oliver Zambon is a PhD Candidate at the University of Queensland, School of Historical and Philosophical Inquiry, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, St. Lucia, Australia; e-mail: oliver.zambon @ uqconnect.edu.au. Thomas Aechtner is Lecturer in Religion and Science, University of Queensland, School of Historical and Philosophical Inquiry, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, St. Lucia, Australia; e-mail: t.aechtner @ uq.edu.au.
DOI: 10.1111/zygo.12395

Religious Rites and Scientific Communities: Ayudha Puja as ”Culture” at the Indian Institute of Science by Renny Thomas and Robert M. Geraci

Ayudha Puja, a South Indian festival translated as “worship of the machines,” is a dramatic example of how religion and science intertwine in political life. Across South India, but especially in the state of Karnataka, scientists and engineers celebrate the festival in offices, laboratories, and workshops by attending a puja led by a priest. Although the festival is noteworthy in many ways, one of its most immediate valences is political. In this article, we argue that Ayudha Puja normalizes Brahminical Hinduism within scientific culture through the inclusion of non-Hindus and through scientists’ description of the festival as “cultural” rather than “religious.”
culturalization • ethnography • Hinduism • India • ritual • science • technology
Renny Thomas is Assistant Professor of Sociology at Jesus and Mary College, University of Delhi, New Delhi, India; e-mail: rennyjnu @ gmail.com. Robert M. Geraci is a professor of religious studies at Manhattan College, Riverdale, NY, USA; e-mail: robert.geraci @ manhattan.edu.
DOI: 10.1111/zygo.12380

Evolution of Religious Capacity in the Genus Homo

Evolution of Religious Capacity in the Genus Homo: Origins and Building Blocks by Margaret Boone Rapppaport and Christopher J. Corbally

The large, ancient ape population of the Miocene reached across Eurasia and down into Africa. From this genetically diverse group, the chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas, and humans evolved from populations of successively reduced size. Using the findings of genomics, population genetics, cognitive science, neuroscience, and archaeology, the authors construct a theoretical framework of evolutionary innovations without which religious capacity could not have emerged as it did. They begin with primate sociality and strength from a basic ape model, and then explore how the human line came to be the most adaptive and flexible of all, while coming from populations with reduced genetic variability. Their analysis then delves into the importance of neurological plasticity and a lengthening developmental trajectory, and points to their following article and the last building block: the expansion of the parietal areas, which allowed visuospatial reckoning, and imagined spaces and beings essential to human theologies. Approximate times for the major cognitive building blocks of religious capacity are given.
ape • bottleneck • cognitive evolution • effective population size • founder effect • genetic drift • natural selection • plasticity • population genetics • sociality
Margaret Boone Rappaport is an anthropologist, biologist, and co-founder of the Human Sentience Project, Tucson, AZ, USA; email: msbrappaport @ aol.com. Christopher J. Corbally, SJ, is an astronomer with the Vatican Observatory and Department of Astronomy, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, USA and co-founder, the Human Sentience Project; email: corbally @ as.arizona.edu.
DOI: 10.1111/zygo.12386

Evolution of Religious Capacity in the Genus Homo: Cognitive Time Sequence by Margaret Boone Rapppaport and Christopher J. Corbally

Intrigued by the possible paths that the evolution of religious capacity may have taken, the authors identify a series of six major building blocks that form a foundation for religious capacity in genus Homo. Homo neanderthalensis and Homo sapiens idaltu are examined for early signs of religious capacity. Then, after an exploration of human plasticity and why it is so important, the analysis leads to a final building block that characterizes only Homo sapiens sapiens, beginning 200,000-400,000 years ago, when all the other cognitive and neurological underpinnings gradually came together. Because the timing of cognitive evolution has become an issue, the authors identify the time periods for these building blocks based on findings from modern cognitive science, neuroscience, genomic science, the new cognitive archaeology, and traditional stones-and-bones archaeology. The result is a logical, and even a likely story 55-65 million years long, which leads to the evolution of religious capacity in modern human beings.
aggression • ape • cognitive evolution • Homo neanderthalensis • HSP (highly sensitive person) • moral capacity • parietal lobes • religious capacity • social tolerance • visuospatial reckoning
Margaret Boone Rappaport is an anthropologist, biologist, and co-founder of the Human Sentience Project, Tucson, AZ, USA; email: msbrappaport @ aol.com. Christopher J. Corbally, SJ, is an astronomer with the Vatican Observatory and Department of Astronomy, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, USA and co-founder, the Human Sentience Project; email: corbally @ as.arizona.edu.
DOI: 10.1111/zygo.12387

Evolution of Religious Capacity in the Genus Homo: Trait Complexity in Action through Compassion by Margaret Boone Rapppaport and Christopher J. Corbally

In this third and last article on the evolution of religious capacity, the authors focus on compassion, one of religious expression’s common companions. They explore the various meanings of compassion, using Biblical and early related documents, and derive general cognitive components before an evolutionary analysis of compassion using their model. Then, in taking on neural reuse theory, they adapt a model from linguistics theory to understand how neural reuse could have operated to fix religious capacity in the human genome. They present a teaching tool on “Religious Capacity in Action, ” and develop an example of compassionate decision making in very early Homo sapiens in North Africa. They round out their analysis of compassion by exploring theory in neuroscience on a standard decision-making model, and investigate what goes on in the human brain when a values-based decision is made.
anthropology • cognitive science • compassion • cultural evolution • decision making • evolutionary biology • genetics • neural reuse • neuroscience
Margaret Boone Rappaport is an anthropologist, biologist, and co-founder of the Human Sentience Project, Tucson, AZ, USA; email: msbrappaport @ aol.com. Christopher J. Corbally, SJ, is an astronomer with the Vatican Observatory and Department of Astronomy, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, USA and co-founder, the Human Sentience Project; email: corbally @ as.arizona.edu.
DOI: 10.1111/zygo.12388

Emergence and Pentecostal Theology

Making Sense of Emergence: A Critical Engagement with Leidenhag, Leidenhag, and Yong by David Bradnick and Bradford McCall

A number of theologians engaged in the theology and science dialogue—particularly Pentecostal theologian Amos Yong—employ emergence as a framework to discuss special divine action as well as causation initiated by other spiritual realities, such as angels and demons. Mikael and Joanna Leidenhag, however, have issued concerns about its application. They argue that Yong employs supernaturalistic themes with implications that render the concept of emergence obsolete. Further, they claim that Yong’s use of emergence theory is inconsistent because he highlights the ontological independence of various spirits in the world concurrently with his advocation of supervenience theory. In view of these concerns, Leidenhag and Leidenhag urge Yong to depart from his application of emergence theory. In what follows, we plan to address each of these criticisms and demonstrate that they are tenuous, if not unwarranted, especially in light of a kenotic-relational pneumatology.
emergence • kenosis • Joanna Leidenhag • Mikael Leidenhag • panentheism • pneumatology • substance dualism • supernaturalism • Amos Yong
David Bradnick is Adjunct Professor of Philosophy, Stevenson University, 1525 Greenspring Valley Road, Stevenson,MD21153, USA; e-mail: dbradnick @ stevenson.edu. Bradford McCall is a PhD student at Claremont School of Theology, 1325 N. College Ave., Claremont, CA 91711; e-mail: bradfordlmccall @ gmail.com.
DOI: 10.1111/zygo.12392

The Unsuitability of Emergence Theory for Pentecostal Theology: A Response to Bradnick and McCall by Mikael Leidenhag and Joanna Leidenhag

In this response to David Bradnick’s and Bradford McCall’s defense of Amos Yong’s usage of emergence theory, we defend our previous argument regarding the tension between Yong’s Pentecostal commitments and the philosophical entailments of emergence theory. We clarify and extend our previous concerns in three ways. First, we explore the difficulties of construing divine action naturalistically (i.e. natural divine causation). Second, we clarify the problems of employing supervenience in theology. Third, we show why Bradnick’s and McCall’s advice to Yong to adopt weak emergence is theologically costly. In conclusion, it is suggested that theologians within the science and religion dialogue should not fear, but recover, the language of supernaturalism and dualism.
David Bradnick • divine action • emergence theory • Bradford McCall • supernaturalism • supervenience • Amos Yong
Mikael Leidenhag is a postdoctoral research fellow, New College, University of Edinburgh. Edinburgh, Scotland; email: mleidenh @ ed.ac.uk. Joanna Leidenhag is a PhD student, New College, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Scotland; email: jleidenh @ ed.ac.uk.
DOI: 10.1111/zygo.12393

Review Article on Islam and Science

Islamic Modernity and the Challenges for Secular Liberalism by Stefaan Blancke

In his recent book Islam Evolving: Radicalism, Reformation, and the Uneasy Relationship with the Secular West, Taner Edis discusses Islamic responses to the modern world and how the West deals and should deal with them. He argues convincingly that the biggest threat to secular liberalism is not fundamentalism but an Islamic form of modernity. He attributes some of the latter’s success to Western neoliberalism and to the failure of secular liberals to come up with persuasive arguments. He thus puts part of the blame on the West. However, although self-criticism is an essential aspect of a well-functioning democracy, we should not take it too far. Instead, there exist convincing reasons why a secular liberal society is strongly preferable to a religious conservative one.
accommodation • Islam • modernity • norms and values • religion • science and religion • secular liberalism
Stefaan Blancke is a Postdoctoral student in the Department of Philosophy and Moral Science at Ghent University, Sint-Pietersnieuwstraat 49, 9000 Ghent, Belgium; e-mail: st.blancke @ gmail.com.
DOI: 10.1111/zygo.12394


Sacred Knowledge: Psychedics and Religious Experience by William A. Richards reviewed by Stefano Bigliardi

Stefano Bigliardi is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Al Akhawayn University, Ifrane, Morocco; e-mail: S.Bigliardi @ aui.ma.
DOI: 10.1111/zygo.12389

Sacred Nature: The Environmental Potential of Religious Naturalism by Jerome A. Stone reviewed by Kristel Clayville

Kristel Clayville is Visiting Assistant Professor of Religion at Eureka College, Eureka, IL; e-mail: kclayville @ eureka.edu.
DOI: 10.1111/zygo.12390

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