Zygon: Journal of Religion & Science

June 2002 Editorial

[Zygon, vol. 37, no. 2 (June 2002).]
© 2002 by the Joint Publication Board of Zygon. ISSN: 0591-2385
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.2002.00425.x

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The religion-and-science discussion moves constantly between the old and the new, between familiar themes that are freshly interpreted and unexplored issues that are novel both for their fascination and their challenge. The very fact that we are continually revisiting the familiar, to give it a fresh look, just as we are regularly surprised by new phenomena, reminds us that the discussion is far from static and far from finished, because religion and science both exist in a dynamic, evolving world. In an evolutionary framework, we say that both religion and science have emerged in an ambient terrain and persist as they adapt to it and also change it. I often picture those of us who work in the field of religion-and-science as searchers in their territory, discovering new features at every step, shining our torches into caverns as yet unknown and uninvestigated. Or, alternatively, sometimes we cross territory that we have explored many times, and yet we see things we have missed before or find that with the passage of seasons new emergents are making themselves known. In my editorial for the March 2002 issue I spoke of the terrain in terms of its multilocationality; now I call attention to the presence of the familiar and the novel.

Zygon lives in this territory, as explorer, observer, and interpreter of what is there, and in this issue—which, incidentally, contains more material than any previous issue in our thirty-six and one-half years—we deal with both the new and the familiar. The two Thinkpieces, by Gregory Peterson (religious studies) and Robert Glassman (psychology) start us off with discussions—from quite different angles—of religion and the brain. Readers for whom this is new territory will find that these two articles go a long way toward providing a primer of basic information for this portion of the terrain.

In the first major section, Anne Kull (theology), Antje Jackelén (theology), Noreen Herzfeld (computer science), and Patrick Hopkins (philosophy) give their attention to technology, which is clearly emerging as an increasingly important feature of the terrain we cover. The September 2002 issue will present a section of six articles on technology, thereby giving notice of our intention to explore this phenomenon more fully in the years ahead.

Ian Barbour’s article on typologies for relating religion and science responds to the discussion that Geoffrey Cantor and Chris Kenny presented in the December 2001 issue, in which they challenged the widely accepted set of typologies that Barbour has fashioned over many years. This exchange provides an example of how terrain that is much traversed is yet never exhaustively charted; new considerations emerge on a regular basis.

Another such example is seen in the third section that follows, on naturalism in science and religion, with discussions by philosophers David Ray Griffin and Jerome Stone. Zygon has established itself over the years as a major explorer of naturalistic modes of thought, and it will continue (also in the December issue of this year) to give a high priority to this element of our territory.

Information sciences, including those that deal with computers, constitute another relatively new area of the religion-science field. In a fourth section, we present a symposium on James Huchingson’s full-length study of the religious-theological dimensions of this area. Computer scientist Stuart Kurtz and theologian Ann Pederson provide commentaries on this book, to which Huchingson responds.

“Design and Darwinism” is a theme that offers both old and new, and it is very much in prominence in religion-science discussions. The fifth section of articles offers a preview of Michael Ruse’s yet-to-be-published new work on this topic, in a symposium that occurred at Star Island last summer, with participants William Stone (religion and philosophy), Ward Goodenough (anthropology), Michael Cavanaugh (law), and Ruse himself. This book will appear in the next year, from Harvard University Press.

The concluding section of articles presents the work of two physicists, Roger Gillette and Lawrence Fagg, who explore the implications of their scientific work for understanding religion. David Carr (philosophy of education) offers proposals for a spirituality that seeks to negotiate the Scylla of body-mind dualism on the one hand and the Charybdis of materialist reductionism on the other. In our final piece, philosopher James Blachowicz reflects on spirituality as a dimension of reason that is grounded in Jewish monotheism.

Every reader will find that some segment of the terrain is of special interest. With this, Zygon’s one hundred forty-sixth issue, we invite readers to take up the task of exploring at least one region that may be unfamiliar to them, perhaps even uninteresting at first glance. Several of those regions are accessible herein.

Philip Hefner



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