Zygon: Journal of Religion & Science

December 1997 Editorial

[Zygon, vol. 32, no. 4 (December 1997).]
© 1997 by the Joint Publication Board of Zygon. ISSN: 0591-2385
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.1997.00106.x

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The fare served up in this final issue of Zygon’s thirty-second year stretches to the breaking point the attempt to summarize its parts or to place it under a single theme. In defying any ordering within easy categories, these articles are a strong witness to what is happening within the field of religion-and-science studies: a kaleidoscopic expansion into intellectual, scientific, and religious spaces that were scarcely imagined even a few years ago.

There are offerings that take their starting point from the neurological and cognitive sciences: Karl Peters understands that the human brain functions for storytelling, with the provocative consequence that both scientists and religious thinkers convey their sense of reality in the telling of stories. Greg Peterson sees in the cognitive sciences a new paradigm that challenges religious thinking but also opens up new possibilities. Information theory (as one of the panoply of cognitive sciences) figures in the article by Peterson; in James Huchingson’s reflections, it elicits a new model of thinking about the holy—pandemonium tremendum.

Several of the articles present substantial philosophical analyses of the religion/science conversation. In particular, Mikael Stenmark calls attention to the fact that even now, after decades of reflection, there is little consensus on how we should understand the relationship between religion and science; he offers some explanations as to why this is the case. Postmodernism receives extended discussion from Willem Drees, John Haught and D. M. Yeager, and Wentzel van Huyssteen. Drees elaborates a form of nonreductive naturalism for the dialogue between religion and science, while Haught and Yeager urge a renewed consideration of Michael Polanyi’s thought. Van Huyssteen responds to these authors with his postfoundationalist proposal, which, he writes, “will not get us that one, maximally ideal modernist knowledge system,” but rather, may provide us with “a ‘collage’ of knowledge that aims to be the most reliable, the most useful, and the most meaningful.”

In extended book discussions, Haught’s and Drees’s work in turn becomes the focus of discussion by Wesley Robbins, David Griffin, and Zachary Hayes, while Gregory Peterson provides a discussion of one of the most important books to appear in our field within the past year, On the Moral Nature of the Universe, by Nancey Murphy and George Ellis. The next few issues of our journal will feature a number of such in-depth discussions of current literature in the field of religion and science.

In presenting this issue to the reader, we offer, not a map of the terrain of our field, but a section of its land. While we hope that the reader finds a path through this territory, we also believe that getting lost in it for a time will have its own rewards, as well.

Philip Hefner



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