Zygon: Journal of Religion & Science

December 2013 Editorial

[Zygon, vol. 48, no. 4 (December 2013).]
© 2013 by the Joint Publication Board of Zygon. ISSN: 0591-2385
DOI: 10.1111/zygo.12043

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Rich Religion and Science: Asian Religions, Ian Barbour, and Much Else

“Religion and science” is a rich field. Among the aspects of religion covered in this issue of Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science, we have articles dealing with design (“The Metaphor of the Architect in Darwin” by Ricardo Noguera-Solano), virtue ethics grounded in nature by Nin Kirkham, and our dealing with guilt by George Tsakiridis and with rebirth by David Gosling. Eduardo Cruz considers transhumanism and the impact on ideas and values about natality. If the transhumanist program with its extension of the human life span were successful, we would have to limit new births to avoid overpopulation. The utopian dream borders on a dystopian one, it seems. Transhumanism was addressed in this journal a year ago (Cole-Turner 2012; Geraci 2012; Hughes 2012; Tirosh-Samuelson 2012), and was also a central subject of our first virtual issue (see Drees 2013a). Paul Martin considers one of our conceptual and linguistic tools, the use of metaphors—a classic of “religion and science,” with works such as those of Mary Gerhart and Allan Russell (1984) and Janet Soskice (1985); see also Masson 2013. Martin uses it to reflect upon the comparison of different religious schemas.

Three articles on emergence and agency have been placed together in a thematic section. Mikael Leidenhag discusses the (ir)relevance of emergence in the science-religion dialogue. Some, also in this journal, have stressed emergence as crucial for a religiously significant understanding of reality (e.g., see the discussion by Zachary Simpson 2013 of the positions of Terrence Deacon and Philip Clayton), whereas in an editorial I called reduction and emergence two sides of the same coin (Drees 2013b). In the same issue an article by Ernan McMullin considered carefully the meaning of reduction—as a term that has shifted over time (Allen 2013; McMullin 2013). Steven Peck speaks of life as emergent agential system, and the emergence of tendencies without teleology. He finds it useful to refer to Henri Bergson, a French philosopher of the early twentieth century, and so does the next author in this issue, Joseph Bracken. However, Bracken’s analysis of agency and of the possibility of interpreting something as due to supernatural agency, even though empirically also purely natural, owes more to the process metaphysics of Alfred North Whitehead.

Beyond the rich repertoire of articles, there are reviews and announcements. For those who would like to have an individual subscription, read carefully the information on IRAS, the Institute on Religion in an Age of print or online only.

Asian Religions and the Sciences: A Virtual Issue

“Asian Religions and the Sciences” was the topic of the second virtual issue of Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science. Eighteen articles that have appeared in Zygon in the past few years are now presented together with a new editorial, and accessible for free in the Online Library of Wiley Blackwell (). Zygon has published over the years in particular on Hinduism (e.g., Raman 2002, 2003a, 2003b, 2012; Sharma 2004; Dorman 2011; Brown 2012; Edelmann 2012; Ellis 2012; Gosling 2012) and Buddhism (Andresen 2000; Ratanakul 2002; Yong 2007), including a section on Donald Lopez’s Buddhism and Science: A Guide for the Perplexed (2008; Harrison 2010; Jinpa 2010; Lopez 2010). Some address these religions in a moral context, such as papers on organ donation in Japan (LaFleur 2002) and India (Cohen 2003), and another offers responses to natural disasters such as volcanic eruptions in Indonesia (Bagir 2012).

The articles collected are not merely about religion in Asia, as the traditions considered also have their Western presence, both in fairly traditional forms and re-invented in Western forms, as discussed in Colin Campbell’s The Easternization of the West (2008). One example is the practice of yoga, and the question how such practices and associated claims about chakras may be understood in the context of contemporary science (Maxwell 2009). Some of the issues are shaped by colonial interactions and contemporary confrontations in the West, such as papers on Hindu creationism and avataric evolutionism (Brown 2002, 2007; Gosling 2011). Among the topics that have attracted special attention in the West has been the interpretation of quantum physics, since the bestsellers of Fritjof Capra (1976) and Gary Zukav (1979). For a critical discussion, see Restivo 1984, Jones 1986, and Jones 2010; the latter was reviewed in Zygon (Drees 2012). On this theme see also Duquette 2011 and Ijjas 2013. Another theme, perhaps with greater academic credibility, is the discourse on consciousness and the brain (e.g., Sharma 2004; Yong 2005; Vieten et al. 2006; Colzato and Silk 2010; Deleanu 2010; Hommel and Colzato 2010; Raffone et al. 2010; Tamatea 2010; De Prycker 2011). No doubt, more studies on science and religion in Asia and the global presence of the Asian religions are to come. Submissions welcome!

Ian Barbour in Zygon: Honored with a Virtual Issue

In October 2013, Ian Barbour celebrated his 90th birthday. At the conference of IRAS in the summer of 2013, there was a special session with Barbour focusing on his contributions to the field. Ian Graeme Barbour (born 1923) has been a founder of the modern American and global “science and religion” discussion. His Issues in Science and Religion from 1966 set an example and agenda. It was highly appreciated for its four historical chapters (17th-20th century), its four chapters on “Religion and the Methods of Science,” and its four chapters on “Religion and the Theories of Science.” This structure shows a love of a clear didactic rhythm that marks also Barbour’s later writings.

The year 1966 was also when Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science first appeared. Barbour contributed to the journal’s first issue with a reflection on theological resources from the physical sciences. He was a member of the editorial advisory board from the beginning, and has remained so until today. Though there was some difference in agenda between the theologically interested Barbour and the more anthropological bio-cultural emphasis of Ralph Burhoe, the founder and first editor of Zygon, these two winners of Templeton prizes (Burhoe in 1980, Barbour in 1999) have recognized each other’s importance to the material and intellectual development of the field. Barbour wrote, in the first volume of his Gifford Lectures, Religion in an Age of Science (1990, 199), and in the expanded edition Religion and Science: Historical and Contemporary Issues (1997, 263):

No one has contributed more to the discussion of religion and science during the last twenty-five years than Ralph Burhoe as founder and for many years editor of Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science.

Ian Barbour has contributed fourteen articles to Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science. In March 1966, a whole issue was dedicated to a symposium on Ian Barbour’s Gifford Lectures. And, as is to be expected for such a key figure in the field, Ian Barbour’s writings have attracted fire from other contributors to Zygon, triggering in turn responses by Barbour (Cantor and Kenny 2001; Barbour 2002, 2008b; Smedes 2008).

His work has been the subject of much discussion. In Zygon one finds his name among the keywords of twenty articles, but references to him appear much more regularly. A dissertation in German was written by Christian Berg (2002). Almost ten years ago, a festschrift appeared titled Fifty Years in Science and Religion: Ian G. Barbour and His Legacy (2004), edited by Robert J. Russell, a close collaborator who went on to develop the field through his own writings and initiatives, which include founding the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences (CTNS) at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley and its journal Theology and Science. It is also intellectually very appropriate that the endowed chair on religion and science that was created at the Graduate Theological Union, thanks to the work of Russell and currently filled by him, is named after Ian Barbour. Fifty Years included an autobiographical essay, “A Personal Odyssey” (Barbour 2004), as well as a bibliography of Barbour’s published works (Berg 2004). Barbour is chronologically the first of three “scientist-theologians” (Polkinghorne 1996), with Arthur Peacocke and John Polkinghorne, also winners of Templeton prizes (in 2001 and 2002, respectively). In a symposium in Zygon to honor and commemorate Peacocke, Barbour wrote his personal appreciation, while reflecting on similarities and differences (2008a).

On the occasion of the 90th birthday of this key figure in “religion and science,” Zygon makes freely available Barbour’s contributions as they have appeared in Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science, beginning with its first issue almost fifty years ago, as a virtual issue in the Wiley Online Library.

A further virtual issue, “Intelligent Discourse on Intelligent Design,” is scheduled for this fall, also in the Wiley Online Library, available for free. The virtual issues provide an additional opportunity to see what Zygon has on offer, to introduce others to the journal, and to refer students and colleagues to it. Enjoy this issue and explore our rich repertoire of earlier articles. And for those who like to know what is going on, I invite you to follow us on twitter, @Zygonjournal.

Willem B. Drees

REFERENCES

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Bagir, Zainal Abidin. 2012. “Practice and the Agenda of ‘Islam and Science’.” Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 47:354-66.———. 1993. In Face of Mystery: A Constructive Theology. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

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———. 1990. Religion in an Age of Science. San Francisco, CA: Harper & Row.

———. 1997. Religion and Science: Historical and Contemporary Issues. New York: Harper.

———. 2002. “On Typologies for Relating Science and Religion.” Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 37:345-59.

———. 2004. “A Personal Odyssey.” In Fifty Years in Science and Religion: Ian G. Barbour and His Legacy, ed. Robert J. Russell, 17-28. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate.

———. 2008a. “Remembering Arthur Peacocke: A Personal Reflection.” Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 43:89-102.

———. 2008b. “Taking Science Seriously without Scientism: A Response to Taede Smedes.” Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 43:259-69.

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———. 2004. “Published Works of Ian Graeme Barbour.” In Fifty Years in Science and Religion: Ian G. Barbour and His Legacy, ed. Robert J. Russell, 341-45. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate.

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———. 2007. “The Western Roots of Avataric Evolutionism in Colonial India.” Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 42:423-47.

———. 2012. “Conciliation, Conflict, or Complementarity: Responses to Three Voices in the Hinduism and Science Discourse.” Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 47:608-23.

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———. 2013b. “Emergence and Reduction: The Same Coin?” Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 48:247-50.

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Edelmann, Jonathan B. 2012. “The Role of Hindu Theology in the Religion and Science Dialogue.” Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 47:624-42.

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Hommel, Bernhard, and Lorenza S. Colzato. 2010. “Religion as a Control Guide: On the Impact of Religion and Cognition.” Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 45:596-604.

Hughes, James J. 2012. “The Politics of Transhumanism and the Techno-millennial Imagination, 1626-2030.” Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 47:757-76.

Ijjas, Anna. 2013. “Quantum Aspects of Life: Relating Evolutionary Biology with Theology via Modern Physics.” Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 48:60-76.

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———. 2010. “The Future of the Buddhist Past: A Response to the Readers.” Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 45:883-896.

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———. 2003a. “Some Hindu Insights on the Global Ethics in the Context of Diseases and Epidemics.” Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 38:141-46.

———. 2003b. “Hindu Perspectives on the Thirst for Transcendence.” Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 38:821-39.

———.2012. “Hinduism and Science: Some Reflections.” Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 47:549-74.

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