Zygons search for significant religious and moral beliefs by the light of the sciences is seriously blocked for many who are near the forefront of twentieth-century cultural evolution. One barrier is the doubt that religion is any longer necessary for man; and this inhibits further search. A second barrier is the fear that religiously satisfactory beliefs cannot at the same time be true; and this also makes the effort seem futile. The seven papers in this issue wrestle implicitly and explicitly with these and related problems, pointing toward a clearer scientific view of human meaning and motivation.
Our psychosocial scientists are making some of the clearest, and even scientifically compelling, arguments why we must have religion. The first two papers, by anthropologists, help us understand the nature and necessity of religion in terms of human purpose or values. A third paper further stresses religions necessary function as a cultural guide for emotional control or motivation beyond what is genetically provided.
I suspect that, as men, we may be interested in the purpose of life in its cosmic or evolutionary setting because once we have found it and have put ourselves in tune with it, we believe we will have an answer to more burning questions: What is our purpose in life? Where are we going? What should we strive to become? But to ask what is the purpose of man, or the destiny of my race or my country—all questions on which much print is expended—is to take as object an external collectivity with which we readily and habitually identify ourselves and to project upon the resulting we what is the basic and crucial question: Where am I going? What should I strive to become? Whenever we ask What is the meaning of life? what we want to know is the meaning of our own individual life. As far as I know, this last is something to which all men everywhere feel either that they have an answer or that they are in need of one. We rarely find men content with no answer; and when we do, they no longer care much about anything, including life. They are men without purpose.
I submit that this concern is natural, that it arises inevitably in any creature, such as man, that has purposes and that is also capable of self-awareness. Since our purposes are an object of our own awareness, they are something in our experience of self in need of rational ordering. Social life, moreover, makes the purposes of each of us a matter of concern to our fellows, with the result that they feel impelled to make us concerned with our purposes and their social consequences as well. It inescapably follows that purpose should be an object of intense concern to every emotionally healthy human being. …
Ward H. Goodenough is professor of anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania. Among other duties and honors, he has served as president of the American Ethnological Society and the Society for Applied Anthropology.
The Scientific Study of Values and Contemporary Civilization by Clyde Kluckhohn
Philosophers tell us that there have been four main approaches to the problem of value: the Platonic view that values are eternal objects; the position of subjectivism or of radical ethical relativity; the assumption held in common by certain Marxists, logical positivists, and linguistic philosophers that judgments of value are merely emotional or verbal assertions altogether removed from the categories of truth and falsity; the naturalistic approach which holds that values are accessible to the same methods of enquiry and canons of validity applied to all forms of empirical knowledge.
This last view oriented the work of the Values Project of the Laboratory of Social Relations of Harvard University. Behavioral science may as well resign itself to shallow descriptivism unless it can create the concepts and the methods and techniques required for dealing with statements of value and with non-verbal acts influenced by such abstract standards. Otherwise explanation and prediction will be impossible except at the levels of reflexive behavior, reactions under conditions of extreme physiological stress, and sheer statistical conformance to cultural patterns. For human beings do not respond to stimuli or to a stimulus-field as machines respond to the pressing of a lever. In addition to the human organism and its environment (including other people), there is a third factor, an intervening variable which is not directly observable but is ever present. This is the total apperceptive mass which each of us develops both as a result of our strictly personal experiences and by virtue of our participation in a specific society and in particular sub-groups of that society. Only exceptionally do we react in any literal sense to stimuli as they might be correctly described in physical and physiological terms. Rather, we react to our interpretations of stimuli. These interpretations are derived in considerable part from our culture and from each persons specific experiences in that culture. …
The late Clyde Kluckhohn was professor of anthropology, Harvard University. This paper was read at a meeting of the American Philosophical Society, April 26, 1958. It appeared in the Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, Vol. 102, No. 5 (October, 1958). It is reprinted here with the permission of the Society and Mrs. Kluckhohn. He was a planner and adviser for many programs of the Institute on Religion in an Age of Science.
Feeling, Thinking, and the Free Mind by Arthur E. Morgan
My application of the term emotion does not fully conform to the most customary technical usage. In that usage the word refers to a quick, perhaps explosive, response to some stimulus. I have more in mind, to use technical language, a constellation or system of emotional dispositions, which is the psychologists definition of the term sentiment. However, in everyday usage, and increasingly in the language of psychology, the word emotion better fits the case, and I shall use it.
Some elements of our personalities may be much influenced in their development by the process of logical thinking. Other elements are emotionally, rather than logically, determined. For instance, a sense of fellowship or of brotherhood, though it may be approved and given greater status by reason, does not have reason for its source of origin. Whether its origin is in the cultural inheritance or is genetic, it usually comes through the channels of emotion rather than through those of logical processes. A very intelligent and learned man may lack a sense of brotherhood and an unlettered and simple-minded man may have it strongly developed.
In case of either high or low intelligence, whether a man has developed this trait usually will depend on whether he has experienced the emotional quality of fellowship in his associates and has responded to it with like emotion. In some degree that contact may be indirect, as through books, but unless there is a spark already present, a book probably will not start it. Once initiated, an emotional quality such as fellowship may grow by its exercise, by further experiencing the fellowship that others are feeling, or by the encouragement of logical thinking. But it is primarily an emotional, not a logical, phenomenon. …
Arthur E. Morgan was chairman of the Tennessee Valley Authority, 1933-38. He has also been president of Antioch College.
Science and Theology: From Orthodoxy to Neo-orthodoxy by Kenneth Cauthen
I. Analysis of the Warfare between Theology and the Sciences
The relationship between science and theology in recent centuries is a very complex one involving many dimensions and a variety of problems. At one level, the story is one of conflict between discoveries arising out of the empirical investigation of the world and the teachings of the Bible regarding such matters as the age of the earth, its location in the universe, and the origin of man. The long series of battles which make up this phase of the relations between science and theology do not need to be rehearsed here. However, a few observations may be pertinent. Sometimes this struggle has been interpreted by a picture which presents the scientists as honest, enlightened seekers after truth and the theologians as a group of blind and benighted dogmatists who oppose everything new under the sun.¹ This picture has a great deal of plausibility on the surface in that in case after case an original rejection by prominent theologians of some new scientific finding has been followed by accommodation on the part of later theologians and a reinterpretation of biblical teachings to fit newly established views. Moreover, the outcome has been a decisive demonstration that the Bible is not an authority in the natural sciences. The falsity of the world picture embodied in the Bible has been completely proven by a succession of scientists from Copernicus to Darwin. The Bible is a human book which reflects the categories of thought prevalent at the time of its writing. Whatever the proper role of theology may be and whatever its proper relationship to science, it is at least clear to us that theology has nothing to contribute directly to physics as physics, to astronomy as astronomy, to geology as geology, to biology as biology, or to any other science within the restricted scope of inquiry embraced by that discipline. In fact, modern science has been one of the decisive factors in recent centuries which has necessitated a fundamental rethinking of the meaning of revelation and of the authority of the Bible. The outcome of this revolution in theology has been the conclusion that revelation has its own proper subject matter which it is the task of theology to interpret, but it does not contain specific information about the nature and behavior of physical reality.² …
¹ The classic histories of this conflict are John William Draper, History of the Conflict between Religion and Science (New York: D. Appleton & Co., 1875); and Andrew Dickson White, A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom (New York: D. Appleton & Co., 1896). Draper sees the conflict between science and religion, the former being dogmatic and static and the latter open-minded and progressive (pp. vi-vii). White sees the battle not with religion as such but with theology, but he views the latter as having been reactionary and intolerant.
² See John Baillie, The Idea of Revelation in Recent Thought (New York: Columbia University Press, 1956).
Kenneth Cauthen is Professor of Christian Theology at Crozer Theological Seminary, Chester. Pennsylvania.
Life, Hope, and Cosmic Evolution by Harlow Shapley
Atoms of oxygen are sixteen times as heavy as the hydrogen atoms of which the material universe is largely built. Like all atoms, those of oxygen are very small—there are trillions in every breath we take. They are the fuel and fire of life. If we should cease taking in oxygen for a few minutes, we would be through. Composed of eight protons, eight neutrons, and eight electrons, the atom of oxygen is most sociable, forming chemical combinations with all sorts of atoms, such as carbon, sulfur, iron, titanium. We are two-thirds oxygen. The average adult embodies 100 pounds of this important constituent of oceans, rocks, and air. We eat oxygen, we drink it, and we breathe it. In lesser amounts, we contain atoms of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, calcium, and many others. They are the same kinds of chemical elements that make up the Rocky Mountains, the pine forests, and the seashores. We are indeed of the earth, earthy. Through chemical ties, we are kin of the glacial boulders and the thunderclouds, and close cousins of the fossil plants and beasts that in times past took a try, as also do we, at biological existence and persistence.
It is with this appreciation of our animate and inanimate brotherhood that I address you oxygen aggregates on the greatest theme I know—Cosmic Evolution. …
Harlow Shapley is an astronomer recognized for his pioneer exploration of the Milky Way and the other galaxies outside it. It was he who first discovered that our sun is far out from the center of our galaxy. For more than thirty years he was director of the Harvard College Observatory. But his bold imagination and scientific information have been mingled in a great humanitarian heart that has made him also a pioneer in many enterprises of science in the service of man, including the Institute on Religion in an Age of Science, of which he is a past president and perennial promoter. He edited and brought out a volume of its papers entitled Science Ponders Religion (New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1960).
Some Moral Problems Posed by Modern Science by Warren Weaver
This talk is necessarily very personal. Although science is largely a public activity there are strong personal differences of opinion concerning it; and certainly morals and religion are very personal matters. What I have to say, moreover, will not be intelligible unless I start by stating some aspects of my own views concerning first science and then morals and religion. I state these private views not because I think my own position is important nor even particularly interesting. But this is the position from which I must talk.
I have just used the two words morals and religion. I must make it clear that I used both words precisely because I do not consider that they are synonymous. Historically, organized religion has been the chief home of and defender of morals. And yet quite clearly a person can be moral without being religious, at least in any orthodox or institutional sense of the latter word. Indeed at the present time there are without doubt thousands of essentially moral persons who do not concede any interest whatsoever in formal religion. I number many such among my friends.
But since religion has a recognized obligation with respect to morality, because I am myself so old fashioned as to be deeply committed to organized religion, and because I think that religious leaders have an obligation to be concerned with morality, whether within or without the pale, I will be speaking a good deal about religion in the rather formal and institutional sense, as well as about morals. …
Warren Weaver is a mathematician who has contributed deeply and broadly to many areas of science. He left the chairmanship of the Department of Mathematics at the University of Wisconsin in 1932 to spend nearly three decades heading the Rockefeller Foundations Division of the Natural Sciences. There he was a prime formulator and executor of that foundations notable contribution to a major scientific wave of the future, the friendly and highly useful invasion of the biological by the physical sciences, This paper was given April 27, 1965, at the Washington Colloquium on Science and Society funded under a grant by the National Science Foundation, and is published in Zygon with the permission of the Colloquium.
The Convergence of Science and Religion by Charles H. Townes
The ever-increasing success of science has posed many challenges and conflicts for religion—conflicts which are resolved in individual lives in a variety of ways. Some accept both religion and science as dealing with quite different matters by different methods, and thus separate them so widely in their thinking that no direct confrontation is possible. Some repair rather completely to the camp of science or of religion and regard the other as ultimately of little importance, if not downright harmful. To me science and religion are both universal, and basically very similar. In fact, to make the argument clear, I should like to adopt the rather extreme point of view that their differences are largely superficial, and that the two become almost indistinguishable if we look at the real nature of each. It is perhaps science whose real nature is the less obvious, because of its blinding superficial successes. To explain this, and to give perspective to the non-scientists, we must consider a bit of the history and development of science. …
Charles H. Townes, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Provost and Institute Professor, presented his ideas on science and religion first to a Bible class in 1964, the year in which he won the Nobel Prize for physics.