Zygon: Journal of Religion & Science

December 1991 Editorial

[Zygon, vol. 26, no. 4 (December 1991).]
© 1991 by the Joint Publication Board of Zygon. ISSN: 0591-2385
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.1991.tb00899.x

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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 living.” These words have appeared in what publishers call the journal’s “boilerplate” for many years. They have guided the editors since the beginning in 1966. In a new occasional series that is inaugurated in this issue, the focus is upon a single thinker, Arthur Peacocke, who has devoted more than a quarter century to the yoking enterprise that Zygon considers central.

The new series, “Profile,” aims to present the work of a thinker whose work is relevant to the concerns of the journal and who is very much working in medias res, that is, who is energetically probing on the cutting edge of research and writing. Some of these thinkers will be well known to many readers, others will be relatively unfamiliar to most. The series is not conceived as a Festschrift. It does not seek to honor the thinker under discussion so much as to provide a readable presentation of his/her basic ideas, accompanied by interdisciplinary commentary and a final response. Typically, an already published piece by the subject will appear alongside a newly written piece that responds to the question, Just what are you trying to accomplish in your work? Our hope is that the Profile subject will benefit from the critique offered, and that the reader will be brought abreast of a thinker whose work has made a fundamental contribution to the dialogue between religion and the sciences.

Arthur Peacocke states the goal of his work on the interface quite clearly in his most recent work, Theology for a Scientific Age (1990): “The aim of this work is to rethink our ‘religious’ conceptualizations in the light of the perspective on the world afforded by the sciences” (p. 3). He speaks from his own Anglican theological tradition, a tradition that has in this century produced Canon Charles Raven and Archbishop William Temple. The new piece by Peacocke in this issue, “From DNA to Dean,” is a distinctive piece of writing, in that its form is narrative and autobiographical, thereby affording a glimpse into how one human life has been shaped by the yoking of several elements, including religious faith, theological reflection, and the impacts of science. The reader will note that this narrative contribution has elicited a comparable form of response from more than one of the commentators.

The editors intend to present one or two Profiles each year. We will select thinkers from any field, provided the subject fits into the rationale suggested above. We welcome readers’ nominations.

Ervin Laszlo’s personal statement to an important Moscow conference in 1990 speaks of “yoking” in the context of reflections upon human survival: “The alliance between science and religion is now a historical imperative.” His concerns parallel those that formed the basis of the recent “Human Viability and World Theology” symposium that was sponsored by the Templeton Foundation and organized by this journal and the Chicago Center for Religion and Science.

The concluding piece, by Arvind Sharma, carries on the discussion of the relationship between the disciplines that we initiated in September 1990, with special attention to Robert Segal’s discussion of the misconceptions that religious studies scholars harbor concerning the social sciences. Several authors responded to our invitation for dialogue on that theme, and their contributions will appear in the next few issues.

Philip Hefner



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