Zygon: Journal of Religion & Science

December 2014 Editorial

[Zygon, vol. 49, no. 4 (December 2014).]
© 2014 by the Joint Publication Board of Zygon. ISSN: 0591-2385
DOI: 10.1111/zygo.12140

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Zygon: Almost 50 and Healthy

At the threshold of our 50th year of publication, Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science is healthy. We are present in over 10,000 libraries worldwide, with 3,703 libraries having a subscription or license, another 5,217 institutions having free or very low-cost access through Wiley’s philanthropic initiatives, and 4,609 libraries having access to articles published a year ago (EBSCO). In 2013, there were 113,749 full-text downloads from our page at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com. The presentation in the online library has been improved - in addition to the pdf there now is the “anywhere article,” an enhanced form of html that allows one to follow many links to other articles more easily. Our impact factor (counting articles from 2011 and 2012 cited in 2013) went up from 0.274 (2011) to 0.488 (in 2012) to 0.833 (in 2013).

However, not everything is perfect. Most references to Zygon articles are found in Zygon. One might argue that Zygon serves a particular niche, and thus self-citations are to be expected. However, we also aspire to be an interdisciplinary endeavor. One would hope that some articles might be cited in relevant disciplinary publications as well.

Our review process runs smoothly, thanks to many colleagues who are willing to review articles; for 2014, see the Acknowledgments in the back of this issue. Over 90% of the articles receive a decision within two months. Successful revisions included, our acceptance rate is 45%. For individual submissions not part of a thematic section, the acceptance rate is 30%. Though I am acutely aware that each rejection is a disappointment to a colleague, this shows a healthy flow of manuscripts that allows us to offer our readers a good selection of articles on a diversity of topics.

The current issue is no exception. We have two interesting thematic sections. One on the Earth Charter, and especially the notion of “biodemocracy,” draws on a panel at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Religion in November 2013. Mary Evelyn Tucker, one of the leading figures of the religion and ecology movement, relates the Earth Charter to the movie Journey of the Universe which she and Brian Swimme produced. Heather Eaton takes a global perspective. Personally I found the contribution by Matthew Riley on Lynn White, Jr. most informative. Lynn White, Jr. is known for a brief article from 1967, “The Historical Roots of our Ecological Crisis.” The article was not even five pages long. Too often, this article is summarized as if Christianity is to be blamed, given the legitimization it gives to human dominance. Not only is White’s article far more nuanced, but the man and his motives are far more interesting too, as Riley shows in his contribution.

A second thematic section is also “practical” in nature, focusing on the world food crisis. This was the topic of the summer conference organized in 2013 by the Institute on Religion in an Age of Science, IRAS. As an initial reflex, one might ask what religion has to do with food and the emerging food crisis. However, human attitudes towards “our daily bread,” the ways we celebrate and ways we live with limitations show that food is an issue that deserves attention via the lenses of science, of religion, and of “religion and science.” Pat Bennett, Varadaraja V. Raman, Whitney Sanford, and Steven Finn make contributions to this section.

The issue opens with a classic thema, theology in relation to an evolutionary understanding of life on Earth. However, Christopher Southgate offers an original voice in his “Divine Glory in a Darwinian World,” extending the reflections that he offered in his The Groaning of Creation (2008). Arthur Petersen is a scientist and philosopher who served on the International Panel on Climate Change, and was recently appointed at University College London as professor of Science, Technology, and Public Policy. In his philosophical dissertation he analyzed the role of uncertainties in climate science and policy advice (Petersen 2006). In the article in this issue, he offers a more fundamental, theological reflection on the way we live with uncertainty and ignorance.

Another article of interest in this issue is by Georgi K. Marinov, who argues that recent biology (including an enhanced understanding of nonadaptive evolutionary forces) narrows the options for models of theistic evolution. Jan-Olav Henriksen argues that Christian theology needs to expand its understanding of history, including its perspective on salvation. In this context, he discusses the proposal by Niels Henrik Gregersen on “deep incarnation” (Gregersen 2010)—a view that takes seriously that God has become part of the material world in a way that make the two experientially inseparable from each other. Jonathan Jong returns to another classic, Ernest Becker’s psychology of religion, in relation to more recent developments in social cognitive psychology. And Stefano Bigliardi examines Bruno Latour’s (2010) understanding of science and religion by considering this in relation to the ways in which Ian Barbour (2000, 2002) and Mikael Stenmark (2004) have mapped the relationship of religion and science, and a previous discussion in Zygon on religion in a technological world by John C. Caiazza (2005) and Antje Jackelén (2005).

Our fiftieth year of publication, 2015, would not have been within reach without our previous editors: Ralph Wendell Burhoe as founding editor, Karl E. Peters who succeeded him and consolidated the journal, and Philip Hefner, twenty years the editor, who expanded the journal and made sure Zygon would offer a good mix of science and religion but also be a podium for original theological reflection. Contributions by each of these editors have been collected in three virtual issues, accessible online via the website http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/journal/10.1111/(ISSN)1467-9744. You are wholeheartedly invited to consider our legacy. At the same time, don’t miss the interesting contributions offered in the current issue!

Willem B. Drees


Barbour, Ian G. 2000. When Science Meets Religion: Enemies, Strangers, or Partners? New York: HarperOne.

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

Caiazza, JohnC. 2005. “Athens, Jerusalem, and the Arrival of Techno-Secularism.” Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 40: 9-21.

Gregersen, Niels Henrik. 2010. “Deep Incarnation: Why Evolutionary Continuity Matters in Christology.” Toronto Journal of Theology 26 (2): 173-88.

Jackelén, Antje. 2005. “What is ‘Secular’? Techno-Secularism and Spirituality.” Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 40: 863-73.

Latour, Bruno. 2010. “‘Thou Shalt Not Freeze Frame’ OR How Not to Misunderstand the Science and Religion Debate.” In Bruno Latour, On the Modern Cult of Factish Gods (Durham, NC: Duke University Press), 99-123.

Petersen, Arthur C. 2006. Simulating Nature: A Philosophical Study of Computer-Simulation Uncertainties and their Role in Climate Science and Policy Advice. Apeldoorn, The Netherlands: Het Spinhuis.

Southgate, Christopher. 2008. The Groaning of Creation: God, Evolution, and the Problem of Evil. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press.

Stenmark, Mikael. 2004. How to Relate Science and Religion: A Multidimensional Model. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans.

White, Lynn, Jr. 1967. “The Historical Roots of Our Ecological Crisis.” Science 155 (3767, 10 March): 1203-07.

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