Zygon: Journal of Religion & Science

September 2013 Editorial

[Zygon, vol. 48, no. 3 (September 2013).]
© 2013 by the Joint Publication Board of Zygon. ISSN: 0591-2385
DOI: 10.1111/zygo.12028

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Constructive Theology, Bioethics, and Bodily Existence

“Imaginative construction” captured the methodological orientation of Gordon D. Kaufman (1925-2011), who in later work used the word “mystery” when speaking of the ultimate. Among his books are An Essay on Theological Method (1975) and In Face of Mystery: A Constructive Theology (1993). He published in Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science (1992, 2001, 2003a, b, 2005, 2007), and has been remembered here before (Drees 2012). In this issue of Zygon, Myriam Renaud considers the earlier work of Kaufman. Jerome Soneson and Patrick Woolley pay attention to method and epistemology. Thomas James analyzes his work as an “ecological theocentrism,” while Karl Peters takes Kaufman as a partner for his articulation of Christian naturalism. These papers come from a symposium at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Religion in November 2012 in Chicago.

Islam and Biomedical Ethics was the topic of a conference in Doha, Qatar, in June 2012, organized by Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service in Qatar, along with the Qatar National Research Fund and its Faculty of Islamic Studies, and Leiden University. The importance of family and genealogy shows in articles on paternity (Ayman Shabana) and womb transplants (Amel Alghrani). Mohammed Ghaly analyzes the role of experts in the response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Efficacy in the community requires more than conveying information, as shown here using the examples of organ donation (Shoaib Rasheed and Aasim Padela) and vaccines (Padela). Henk ten Have places Islamic bioethics in the context of global bioethics, alongside issues of social justice and economic power. I discuss Islamic bioethics as “religion and science.” To my surprise, Zygon had more contributions relating Islam to bioethics than on another facet of “Islam and science,” though we have covered this broader topic too, for example, with responses to Islam’s Quantum Question (Bagir 2012; Brooke 2012; Dajani 2012; Guessoum 2011, 2012; Hameed 2012). In Ghaly’s opening paper for this section, he explores and explains the rise of Islamic bioethics in recent years.

“Religion and Embodied Cognition” is the topic of the third section in this issue, with papers from a meeting of the International Society for Science and Religion (ISSR) in Loccum, Germany, in September 2012. I could say “we are bodies, and we have minds” but it would be equally true to say “we are minds, and have bodies.”¹ The priority of the mental corresponds to our experiences as selves. Bodily existence has primacy in our actions. The coexistence of these perspectives brings with it a reductionist-holist view of human nature (see Allen 2013; McMullin 2013). The opening paper by Fraser Watts argues that such a holistic understanding of human nature can be appreciated within religious perspectives. John Teske brings the reader up to date on the science. Daniel Weiss shows nondualism in rabbinic texts in Judaism, thereby arguing for a resonance between these views and science. Léon Turner considers ideas on the concrete individual, as all personhood is shaped by relations and contexts. Warren Brown and Kevin Reimer explore character formation (and virtue) as shaped by engagement with real, bodily others—his example being the work of the communities of l’Arche (the Ark).

The three thematic sections in this issue represent broader issues of method, ethics, and anthropology. In the December issue, we will continue with a rich offering of individual papers.

Willem B. Drees


¹ The expressions were inspired by a discussion on IRAS-net, a forum of members of the Institute on Religion in an Age of Science; the discussion on the forum was triggered by a contribution in the New York Times of May 6, 2013, “I Am Not My Body,” by Brian Jay Stanley.


Allen, Paul. 2013. “An Augustinian Philosopher between Dualism and Materialism: Ernan McMullin on Human Emergence.” Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 48:294-304.

Bagir, Zainal Abidin. 2012. “Practice and the Agenda of ‘Islam and Science’.” Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 47:354-66.

Brooke, John Hedley. 2012. “Reconciling Religious Tradition and Modern Science.” Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 47:322-36.

Dajani, Rana. 2012. “Evolution and Islam’s Quantum Question.” Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 47:343-53.

Drees, Willem B. 2012. “Mystery?” Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 47:3-6.

Guessoum, Nidhal. 2011. Islam’s Quantum Question: Reconciling Muslim Tradition and Modern Science. London: I. B. Taurus.

———. 2012. “Issues and Agendas of Islam and Science.” Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 47:367-87.

Hameed, Salman. 2012. “Walking the Tightrope of the Science and Religion Boundary.” Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 47:337-42.

Kaufman, Gordon D. 1975. An Essay on Theological Method. Missoula, MT: Scholars Press.

———. 1992. “Nature, History, and God: Toward an Integrated Conceptualization.” Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 27:379-401.

———. 1993. In Face of Mystery: A Constructive Theology. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

———. 2001. “Re-Conceiving God and Humanity in the Light of Today’s ‘Evolutionary-Ecological Consciousness’.” Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 36:335-48.

———. 2003a. “Biohistorical Naturalism and the Symbol of ‘God’.” Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 38:95-100.

———. 2003b. “The Theological Structure of Christian Faith and the Feasibility of a Global Ecological Ethic.” Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 38:147-61.

———. 2005. “Techno-Secularism and ‘Revealed Religion’: Some Problems with Caiazza’s Analysis.” Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 40:323-33.

———. 2007. “A Religious Interpretation of Emergence: Creativity as God.” Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 42:915-28.

McMullin, Ernan. 2013. “Biology and the Theology of the Human.” Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 48:305-28; originally in Controlling Our Destinies: Historical, Philosophical, Ethical, and Theological Perspectives on the Human Genome Project, ed. Phillip R. Sloan, 367-93. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2000.

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