Zygon: Journal of Religion & Science

Karl E. Peters, Zygon’s Second Editor: An introduction

by
Willem B. Drees

As Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science is in its 49th year of publication, we may look back upon our first half century. The first three editors – Ralph W. Burhoe, Karl E. Peters, Philip Hefner – helped define the multifacetted agenda for reflections on religion and science. As thinkers in their own right, they also contributed to the journal and the field. This year, three virtual issues honor them by pointing anew to their contributions, which may help us understand our past and prepare for the future.

Karl Peters (b. 1939) was Zygon’s second editor, taking over responsibility from founding editor Ralph W. Burhoe with the June issue of 1979 (Burhoe and Peters 1979). Peters was professor of philosophy and religion at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida, USA, from 1973 until 2001. In 1989 Philip Hefner became the third editor. Karl Peters remained co-editor until 2009. He dealt with development and fundraising. Peters also serves on the Joint Publication Board of the journal, since 2010 as one of its co-chairs, continuing his major service to the development of the journal. Perhaps this role reflects his position in the series of editors: whereas a founder pushes a particular vision, the next in line often needs to consolidate the project. Though less visible to the outside world, Peters contribution to the journal as a financially healthy and well-organized entity has been of great importance, and continues to be so.

Karl Peters has contributed editorials, book reviews, and a variety of articles to Zygon. In this virtual issue, eleven articles have been brought together in three groups. Some seek to develop religious naturalism, in one title calling himself a naturalistic theist, while the more recent ones speak of ‘Christian naturalism’. Others focus on morality, and especially on human evil. Two papers are more methodological in character, on empirical theology and on storytelling. In September 2005, Zygon’s 40th year of publication, a thematic section was dedicated to a book by Peters, Dancing with the Sacred (2002), with a substantial excerpt (Peters 2005a), reflections by Charley Hardwick, Ann Pederson, and Gregory Peterson, and a response by Peters (2008b; also included in this virtual issue). A more personal and pastoral book by Peters, Spiritual Transformations: Science, Religion, and Human Becoming (2008) has been reviewed in Zygon by James F. Moore (2010).

Peters has recently offered his reflections on the history of IRAS (founded in 1954) and Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science (since 1966), thinking about the changing context, in an article which will appear in Zygon in September 2014; a precursor can be found on his own website, www.karlpeters.net. In this essay Peters quotes from letters exchanged beween Burhoe and University of Chicago theologian Henry Nelson Wieman on plans for a journal – letters exchanged already in 1952, fourteen years before the first issue of Zygon appeared! Thus, as Peters uncovered, our history extends well beyond the almost fifty years of publication. Zygon’s existence will continue to profit greatly from the skills and commitment Karl Peters has brought to the journal.

References (Those references in bold type were brought together for the virtual issue on Karl E. Peters and may be found here.)

Burhoe, Ralph W., and Karl E. Peters. 1979. “Editorial.” Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 14: 99-102.

Hardwick, Charley D. 2005. “The Power of Religious Naturlism in Karl Peters’s Dancing with the Sacred.” Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 40: 667-681.

Moore, James F. “Review of Spiritual Transformations: Science, Religion, and Human Becoming by Karl Peters.” Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 45: 283-284.

Pederson, Ann. 2005. “Karl Peters: Theology as a Confessing Discipline.” Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 40: 683-689.

Peters, Karl E. 2002. Dancing with the Sacred: Evolution, Ecology, and God. Harrisburg, PA: Trinity Press International.

———. 2005a. “Dancing with the Sacred: Excerpts.” Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 40: 631-666.

———. 2005b. “Confessions of a Practicing Naturalistic Theist: A Response to Hardwick, Pederson, and Peterson.” Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 40: 701-720.

———. 2008. Spiritual Transformations: Science, Religion, and Human Becoming. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, Facets.

———. 2014. “The Changing Cultural Context of the Institute on Religion in an Age of Science and Zygon.” Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 49 (September, in press).

Peterson, Gregory R. 2005. “Dancing with Karl Peters.” Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 40: 691-699.


(You may click on the “Access Free Sample & Back Issues” button, above, for ways of obtaining copies of these articles or visit the Wiley Online Library website for access to these articles through our publishing agent, Wiley-Blackwell.)

initially prepared July 2013

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