Zygon: Journal of Religion & Science

June 1967 Editorial

[Zygon, vol. 2, no. 2 (June 1967).]
© 1967 by the Joint Publication Board of Zygon. ISSN: 0591-2385
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.1967.tb00103.x

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“Peace cannot be kept by force. It can only be achieved by understanding,” This quotation from Albert Einstein was used by James Reston in his New York Times column on June 7, 1967, commenting on the irony of Israel’s military success over the Arabs and reflecting on the difficulty of long-range stability in the Middle East. It is not easy to create and maintain the understanding or attitude that generates peaceful co-operation within or among human societies. Psychosocial scientists, as well as historians and religious partisans, have recognized that one of the functions of the religious cores of human cultures has been to motivate some agreeable social conscience in this genetically not overly programmed social primate.

But, before any common moral and value beliefs, whose coherence and acceptance may be facilitated by a universally accepted science, can provide the necessary motivation to bind into one co-operating world society all men from Arabs to Zionists, these beliefs have to be so credible as to commit men in actual behavior to beating their swords into plowshares. Zygon has pointed to the potential power to commit that lies in tying the already credible concepts of the sciences to the basic belief system that engenders the fears and enthusiasms in each religious or value culture. Perhaps the prime test case of this possibility is the culture that produced modern science but then began to split into two cultures because its institutions of religion and value could not live with the idea products of its sciences.

Fortunately, in recent years a few men have begun to take seriously again the possibility of integrating science and Western theology. In this issue of Zygon we present four exploratory efforts of theologians and scientists. It is significant that sophisticated scientists here caution as much against a shallow scientism as do theologians and that sophisticated theologians see as much need or hope for incorporating scientific understanding within theology as do the scientists. We welcome these new thrusts and considered cautions.

R. W. B.



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