Zygon: Journal of Religion & Science

March 2014 Editorial

[Zygon, vol. 49, no. 1 (March 2014).]
© 2014 by the Joint Publication Board of Zygon. ISSN: 0591-2385
DOI: 10.1111/Zygo.12071

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Zygon @ 49: Almost Half a Century

The first issue of Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science was published in 1966. Thus, we now enter our 49th year of publication. Four issues a year, without interruption. Steady, engaged with science, its implications for our understanding of the world and of ourselves, and science’s place in society, with religion and human values. Articles have addressed the coexistence of these two important human pursuits, and their interactions. Fascinating material. Next year, our 50th anniversary, is an even bigger reason for celebration. But why should next year be more important than this year? In the spirit of many Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science readers and authors, we might look to biology to justify such a claim: we have five fingers on each hand. If we would have had seven digits, 49 might have been far more prominent!

This year we will offer reflections on our first half-century and discuss ideas about the years to come. This self-reflective series opens in this issue with a contribution by Ian Barbour. In the year Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science saw the light, Barbour published his Issues in Science and Theology, a book that had a major influence on the modern Anglo-Saxon religion and science discourse, especially in its dialogue-oriented form. Barbour has been on the Editorial Advisory Board for all those years, from 1966 up to now. In the summer of 2013, Barbour spoke at the conference of IRAS, the Institute on Religion in an Age of Science. He turned 90 in October 2013. In honor of his 90th birthday, all his contributions to Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science have been made available as a virtual issue, freely accessible via the Online Library of Wiley. On December 24, 2013, Ian Barbour died. Thus, the article in this issue will be one of his last articles. On behalf of Zygon, I want to express my deep gratitude for the contributions of this fine scholar.

IRAS itself was founded in 1954, and thus is turning 60 this year. The 60th IRAS summer conference is titled “What Is the Future of Religion and Science in a Globalizing World?” (For more details, see the announcement in the back of this issue). You are all welcome to participate in these discussions. We, humans reading and reflecting on religion and science, like to celebrate and engage in self-reflection!

As for the “globalizing world”: With this issue, Zygon’s list of the Editorial Advisory Board has become more global, with three new colleagues from China, one working in Japan, one from Indonesia, one from India (and Denmark), one working in Qatar, one from New Zealand, one from Argentina, one from Germany, and one from England. We are grateful to all the American and other colleagues who have served on the board, and to all those who continue to do so, but we also enjoy the greater diversity of perspectives that comes with intellectual globalization.

The issue starts with a topic that is truly global—geoengineering. We humans might “engineer” the climate? Or is that hubris? What does this possibility mean for the meaning of being human? Forrest Clingerman will help us think about these awesome powers. The next article, by Itay Shani, analyzes in some detail Stuart Kauffman’s work on complexity, arguing for a slightly different panentheist and perennialist approach. Sean Devine offers a challenge to Intelligent Design (ID) by a very well-informed discussion of algorithmic information theory—the mathematics that in ID theory is supposed to help us to distinguish chance, lawfulness, and design. Stefano Bigliardo discusses Harun Yahya, who is often considered a Turkish creationist. Bigliardi argues that it is better to consider him as an example of “theoscientography.”

The Christian theological understanding of humans as being made in the image of God is the topic of a major section. Contributions are by Helen De Cruz and Yves De Maeseneer, Aku Visala, Olli-Pekka Vainio, Johan De Smedt and Helen De Cruz, Tom Uytterhoeven, Johan De Tavernier, and Taede Smedes. This set, mostly by Belgian and Finnish authors, is different from the series on human nature we published last year, with contributions by Deane-Drummond and Wason (2012), Pope (2013), Spezio (2013), Fergusson (2013), and various others. Those were mostly from the United Kingdom and the United States. It might be an interesting challenge to compare those earlier papers with the set in this issue, looking for similarities and new elements.

Owen Flanagan’s The Bodhisattva’s Brain: Buddhism Naturalized (2011) is the topic of a book symposium. A few years ago, Donald Lopez’s Buddhism and Science: A Guide for the Perplexed (2008) was discussed, with contributions by Harrison (2010), Jinpa (2010), and Lopez (2010). These two engagements with Buddhism are different in interesting ways. Whereas the historian of religion Lopez observes and deplores that in the engagement with science, Buddhism loses characteristic features, Flanagan as a philosopher explores the adequacy of Buddhist ideas for a contemporary, science-informed understanding of human life. In this issue, Christian Coseru, Charles Goodman, and Bronwyn Finnigan offer their comments, followed by Flanagan’s response.

Last but not least, we offer a hand full with five book reviews—we seem unable to escape our biology, it may seem. I wish you many enjoyable and challenging hours of reading with this issue.

Willem B. Drees

Faculty of Humanities, Leiden University, the Netherlands


Barbour, Ian. 1966. Issues in Science and Religion. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Deane-Drummond, Celia, and Paul Wason. 2012. “Becoming Human in Theistic Perspective.” Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 47:870-74.

Fergusson, David. 2013. “Humans Created According to the Imago Dei: An Alternative Proposal.” Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 48:439-53.

Flanagan, Owen. 2011. The Bodhisattva’s Brain: Buddhism Naturalized. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Harrison, Peter. 2010. “A Scientific Buddhism?” Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 45:861-69.

Jinpa, Thupten. 2010. “Buddhism and Science: How Far Can the Dialogue Proceed?” Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 45:871-82.

Lopez Jr., Donald S. 2008. Buddhism and Science: A Guide for the Perplexed. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

———. 2010. “The Future of the Buddhist Past: A Response to the Readers.” Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 45:883-96.

Pope, Stephen J. 2013. “Scientific and Religious Approaches to Morality: An Alternative to Mutual Anathemas.” Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 48:20-34.

Spezio, Michael. 2013. “Social Neuroscience and Theistic Evolution: Intersubjectivity, Love, and the Social Sphere.” Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 48:428-38.

Tables of Contents, Articles & Abstracts