Zygon: Journal of Religion & Science

March 1997 Editorial

[Zygon, vol. 32, no. 1 (March 1997).]
© 1997 by the Joint Publication Board of Zygon. ISSN: 0591-2385
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.1997.00066.x

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Mapping the terrain of what has been called “the wonderful world of religion and science” becomes more exciting—and more difficult—with each passing year. As we move into a new Zygon year, the thirty-second, the editors of this journal are increasingly caught up in this excitement. In the previous year, we focused significantly on one particular segment of the terrain, the neurosciences. Volume 32 will be much less specialized, as this first issue of the year bears out.

A few of the vital statistics pertaining to this issue reveal a good deal about the world this journal tries to cover. Ward Goodenough, anthropology, writes on moral outrage and territoriality in a way that cuts across the boundaries between humans and other primates, while David Harnden-Warwick, religious studies, analyzes the behavior of primates as a form of evolved morality. Understanding humans and other primates in their similarities and relatedness is one of the most prominent emerging features in the religion-science terrain. The mothering behavior last summer of the gorilla in Chicago’s Brookfield Zoo that saved the life of a little boy who had fallen into her pen attracted widespread public attention to this subject. Ecologist Allan Drew speaks of the “emerging paradigm” of how genes and behavior are related. Only twenty years ago, when Zygon began publishing the work of the sociobiologists, none but a prescient few considered that a paradigm shift would ever result from their hypotheses.

Over the past years, we have published a few articles on information theory and its usefulness as a conceptuality for religion and culture; Paul Nancarrow adds to this body of literature in his article. Kam-Lun Edwin Lee provides new reflection on a classic theme: the importance of mathematics as an evidence of the compatibility of human intelligence and the orderliness of the physical world. Also in a philosophical vein, the two articles in “The Teachers’ File” present marvelously lucid and comprehensive commentaries on two aspects of the Zygon terrain that one truly needs to know—William Grassie’s on postmodernism and Philip Clayton’s on the philosophy of science.

Equally helpful and comprehensive are the two review articles, each of which analyzes important thinking on the issues of religion and science. Donald Dayton provides a fundamental interpretation of creationism in the United States, while James Moore gives attention to two contemporary contributions by John Polkinghorne and Norbert Samuelson. We close with psychologist Frazer Watts’s insistence that science and religion are not in conflict.

The reader will note that scientists, philosophers, theologians, and scholars of religion figure prominently in the terrain we map here. Three of the articles originated in graduate school research papers—an exceedingly noteworthy development in our field. We are eager to give voice to the emerging younger generation of scholars, even as we continue to recognize the pioneers of the previous generations.

Philip Hefner



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