Zygon: Journal of Religion & Science

September 1995 Editorial

[Zygon, vol. 30, no. 3 (September 1995).]
© 1995 by the Joint Publication Board of Zygon. ISSN: 0591-2385
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.1995.tb00077.x

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This journal is a programmatic enterprise, in that it espouses a point of view—namely, that religious and scientific thought can be integrated, and ought to be, in the interest of fashioning worldviews that will sustain more adequate ways of living for human beings at this critical juncture in our history. We work under the assumption that, over the long haul, the articles that we publish should contribute directly or indirectly to this program. Thirty years of editorial and publishing experience have been informed by this program and have been accountable to it. This third issue of our thirtieth year attests to the almost bewildering range of different fields and points of view that are relevant to the basic Zygon program. The breadth and depth of this range is a testimony to the fundamental accuracy of the founding editor, Ralph Wendell Burhoe, and the team of persons who joined him in establishing the journal. To be accountable to our original programmatic emphasis today requires that we represent this broad swath of fields and perspectives.

No single issue in our thirty years has typified more clearly the breadth of the religion-and-science interface than this present one. The diversity and depth of the articles, matching the diversity of their authors, testify that this interface runs through the societal geography of our time as a massive artery that carries intellectual, sociological, psychological, and spiritual traffic of great import for our lives and for the policy making that structures our societies. Consider the facets of this traffic that are touched upon by our authors: (1) the increasingly significant and influential studies of the interrelations between our biological heritage and moral behavior (J. Wesley Robbins), (2) the new understandings of how we gain and apply scientific knowledge, proposed by feminist thinker Sandra Harding (Ann Milliken Pederson), (3) conceptual resources in classical Christian thought for interpreting the relationship between theology and science (K. Helmut Reich), (4) Skinnerian psychology and human values (William Rottschaefer), (5) proposals for a theological interpretation of modern science from a great twentieth-century naturalistic theologian, Bernard Meland (Jerome Stone), (6) insights into how Islamic thought deals with the environmental crisis (Lisa Wersal), (7) consideration of research methodologies, particularly as they apply to the social sciences and religious studies (T. L. Brink).

To these articles, we add the final installment in our symposium on cosmologist Frank Tipler’s engrossing project, The Physics of Immortality. The first two contributions to this conversation, in the June issue, by a theologian and a mathematician, were largely appreciative of Tipler’s daring hypotheses. The concluding commentaries appearing in this issue, by a philosopher and an astronomer, are more critical. The final piece is Margaret Wertheim’s report on how the issues that shape this journal’s program are being dealt with in courses that are offered in colleges, universities, and theological seminaries across the United States, as well as in Canada and New Zealand.

Some of the issues discussed here have absorbed our attention for three decades, while others are comparatively new and are harbingers of fuller treatment in the future. In this latter group, certainly the impact of feminist thought and perspectives from the world’s religions are themes that Zygon will focus upon more fully in the years ahead.

What all of these articles have in common is their attention to the highway that comprises the interface of religion, science, technology, and ethics. We cannot hope to cover this highway exhaustively, but we do aim to provide a reliable guide to the traffic it bears and a map that will help our readers to discern where that traffic is heading.

Philip Hefner



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