This issue of Zygon on Human Values, Mind, and God in the Evolving Universe has developed to become two and will be continued in the June issue with other papers previously advertised and additional ones by outstanding old and new contributors to Zygon. In a century of increasing confusion and falling faith and confidence concerning mans place in the scheme of things—a confusion and falling often blamed on too much science and scholarship—Zygon was founded by scientists and scholars who recognized the problem before the second disastrous war in this century enveloped the whole world. The leaders of religious institutions also recognized the problem. Even as far back as the First World War such percipient figures as Karl Barth and Father Pierre Teilhard de Chardin were writing suggested revisions to make religion more meaningful in a world whose mind was becoming secular as it was increasingly dominated by the sciences.
While Barth chose the strategy of restoring religion to its power by going back to its origins and seemingly making modern science irrelevant, Teilhard chose the path of finding an interpretation of the traditional faith in the very light of what the scientists were revealing. The neoorthodox movement stimulated by Barth rose to dominance in the Protestant faiths but then fell as it was felt not to be successful in the context of a scientific and technological world. Teilhard was a quiet innovator who for the most part has been suppressed or shunned and was accused of being unscientific by some scientists and a dangerous interpreter of religion by authorities in that field.
General acceptance of the inadequacy of science in the realm of ethical and moral judgment is reflected in the old adage that science deals with facts, not with values and its corollary that value judgments lie outside the realm of science. In other versions it is stated that science may show us how but not why, or how to achieve defined goals but not which right goals to aim for. A further pronouncement holds that science can tell us what is but not what ought to be, or that science describes but cannot prescribe.
Although this time-honored dichotomy between science and value judgment has not gone unchallenged, the great majority in science, philosophy, and related fields continue today to accept in principle the tradition that science as a discipline must deal with objective fact by its very nature and that science, either as a method or as a body of knowledge, can neither prescribe values nor resolve issues in the realm of subjective value.¹ When it comes to value conflicts, we are told that we must seek our answers elsewhere—in the humanities, in ethics and philosophy, and particularly in religion, long held to be the prime custodian of human value systems. The basic validity of this traditional separation of science and values and the related limitations it has imposed on the role of science are open to question in the context of current mind-brain theory. …
¹ A. J. Bahm, Ethics as a Behavioral Science (Springfield, Ill.: Charles C. Thomas, 1974); Ralph Wendell Burhoe, Values via Science, Zygon 4 (1969): 65-99; R. B. Cattell, A New Morality from Science: Beyondism (New York: Pergamon Press, 1972); Clyde Kluckhahn, The Scientific Study of Values and Contemporary Civilization, Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 102 (1959): 469-76 (reprinted in Zygon 1 : 230-43); R. W. Sperry, Science and the Problem of Values, Perspectives in Biology and Medicine 16 (1972): 115-30 (reprinted in Zygon 9 : 7-21).
R. W. Sperry is Hixon Professor of Psychobiology, Division of Biology. California Institute of Technology, Pasadena. California 91125.
Cosmic Evolution: A Synthesis of Matter and Life by Eric J. Chaisson
Since the dawn of civilization men and women have wondered about and even feared the mysteries of the skies. At first they approached their world subjectively, believing Earth to be the stable hub of the universe, with sun, moon, and stars revolving about it. Stability led to a feeling of security or at least contentment—a belief that the origin and destiny of the cosmos were governed by the supernatural.
With the advent of recorded history, however, human beings became aware of another mystery-themselves. Indeed the origin and the destiny of man are as enigmatic as anything in the depths of space.
Later, but only as recently as a few hundred years ago, man began to adopt a more critical stance toward himself and his universe, seeking to view the world objectively. With it modern science was born, the first product of which was the Copernican crisis. The idea of the centrality of Earth was demolished forever. Human beings came to feel that they were marooned on a tiny particle of dust drifting aimlessly through a hostile universe. This loss nevertheless was coupled with the emergence of the scientific method, in which observations generate a hypothesis to be followed by experimental testing, providing a new way of probing the most fundamental questions of our origin, our nature, and our future. …
Eric J. Chaisson is associate professor of astronomy, Center for Astrophysics, Harvard University, 60 Garden Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138.
Contributions of Science to the Unitarian Universalist Tradition: A Physicists View of Religious Belief by Sanborn C. Brown
Just twenty years ago I was a member of a group which attempted very hard to formulate statements of theological beliefs for modern liberal religion. The effort Hew like a lead balloon. Our American Unitarian Association Commission on Theology and the Frontiers of Learning worked long and assiduously over a period of about three years to develop a methodology for formulating an empirical, liberal, natural theology based on modern science. We reported to the general assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association five years later, and it took no notice of our report at all. Social problems of the United Nations, womens rights, and the Black Caucus occupied everybodys attention. No one appeared to be interested in theology, and clearly we were talking to the wrong organization. The U.U.A. has other foci than theology. Witness the agenda for this meeting. Delegates come here to discuss bylaws and rules, Esperanto, smoking, bicycle paths, and the rights of whales. There is no agenda for theology or religion. But clearly the Unitarian Universalist Advance is trying to change that.
One of the main tenets of our liberal denomination is a lack of creed. Weare proud of our lack of creed; we glory in emphasizing that every person is free to make up his or her own theology and believe whatever he or she chooses; and no one will try to persuade each one differently.
I think that this attitude is wrong. I believe that Unitarians and Universalists need a creed—formalized, adopted, and advertised—if the denomination is to survive and flourish. I am encouraged greatly by Robert Hemstreets scholarly review, Creeds and Creedlessness in Unitarianism and Universalism. In it he said: At the present time, our movement has no recognizable theological shape. Our liberalism is formless. … After two centuries on the American scene, we are seen as a kind of synthetic sponge, soaking up whatever happens to be the latest fad: encounter groups, yoga, meditation, parapsychology, and even astrology.¹ …
¹ Robert Hemstreet, Creeds and Creedlessness in Unitarianism and Universalism (paper delivered at a conference on theology, Unitarian Universalist Advance, Chicago, November 1978).
Sanborn C. Brown, emeritus professor of physics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, lives in Henniker, New Hampshire 03242.
Editors Note: This paper by Sanborn C. Brown on the contributions of science to the tradition of a particular religious denomination is published in Zygon not because it is a tract in a denominational debate—although it surely is that. It is published because the editor sees in this tract a significant reflection of a widespread, interfaith cry on the part of persons who often are among the most intelligent and informed leaders of religious laity, a cry against what they perceive as a neglect of the fundamentals of religion by some of their clergy and religious leaders. It is a call to the leaders of religious institutions to give up their diversions of church functions into the functions of other institutions (e.g., assorted pressure groups for political, social, and economic causes) and to return to focus upon their own proper function selected by history: providing sound creeds or beliefs about a persons proper responses not merely to other persons but primarily to the ultimate system of power that creates, sustains, and controls all—including human destiny. It is published also because Brown is a distinguished physicist who from a long study of this problem provides a view of how such a creed can be stated as fully credible on scientific grounds. His view may be helpful to those religious leaders who for decades have supposed either that God talk was unable to stand in the face of the scientific world view and hence God was dead or that God had to be talked about as existing in a different realm of reality from that described by the sciences and hence for all practical purposes was dead to those who could not honestly be persuaded of another realm. It is true also that the particular denominational background may serve to accent the effect of this paper because it argues for creed and God from a denomination whose history has manifested an earlier and stronger movement against creedalism and God talk than have most other religious groups.—R. W. B.
Values and the Theory of Motivation by George Edgin Pugh
Despite rapid progress in sociobiology and related areas of behavioral science there are still some very serious gaps in our theoretical understanding. The central premise of sociobiology is that each species is endowed with certain innate behavioral tendencies that are genetically inherited. But the theories do not offer any specific behavioral mechanisms to explain how such innate tendencies can influence conscious rational behavior in human beings or other advanced vertebrate species. When we attempt to apply the present concepts of sociobiology either to practical human problems or to the traditional, human-study disciplines such as psychology, sociology, jurisprudence, or social planning we find that the failure to deal explicitly with the mechanisms of human decision making is particularly serious. The major purpose of this paper is to show how a modernized theory of motivation can be exploited to correct this basic deficiency in the existing behavioral models. The new approach is based on some new insights concerning the theory of values that have developed in the fields of automation and decision science. …
George Edgin Pugh is president of Decision-Science Applications, Inc., 1500 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, Virginia 22209.
On the Commonalities among Religious and Moral Codes: Proximate Analysis from a Sociobiological-Behavioristic Integration by Harold L. Miller, Jr. and Steven Faux
The person who espouses a belief in deity or in other ways manifests the trappings of religion is no more curious than the person devoid of such practices. Both reflect an intersection of the processes of biological and sociocultural evolution. Recently the intersection has received fresh focus in the ambitious synthesis known as sociobiology.¹ Among the ramifications of its appearance has been a revival of attention to religion and moral tradition.
We have been struck by the intensity of recent efforts to reassess the relationship between the twin processes of evolution.² Such efforts have been catalyzed by sociobiological theory and share a common approach which seems to be to assent to the underlying identity of the evolutionary processes (both yield adaptation through continuous variation and selective retention), then to draw distinctions between the fundamental units of the systems (e.g., genes vs. memes),³ and finally to characterize the nature of the linkage between the two evolutions.
Each issue has proven problematic. The matter of the basic unit of cultural evolution has produced several contenders, for example, the recipes of Donald T. Campbell and F. T. Cloak and the neological memes of Richard Dawkins and idenes and culturetypes of Ralph Wendell Burhoe.⁴ The gamut of possible relationships between the two types of evolution runs from antagonistic (Campbell) to complementary (W. H. Durham) to symbiotic (Burhoe) to parasitic (Cloak) and by now may contain even further variants.⁵ …
¹ E. O. Wilson, Sociobiology: The New Synthesis (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1975).
² E.g., D. P. Barash, Sociobiology and Behavior (New York: Elsevier-North Holland Publishing Co., 1977); Robert Boyd and Peter J. Richerson, A Simple Dual Inheritance Model of the Conflict between Social and Biological Evolution, Zygon 11 (1976): 254-62; Ralph Wendell Burhoe, The Concept of God and Soul in a Scientific View of Human Purpose, ibid. 8 (1973): 412-42; idem, The Human Prospect and the Lord of History, ibid. 10 (1975): 299-375; Donald T. Campbell, On the Conflicts between Biological and Social Evolution and between Psychology and Moral Tradition, American Psychologist 30 (1975): 1103-26 (reprinted in Zygon 11 : 167-208); idem, Social Morality Norms as Evidence of Conflict between Biological and Human Nature and Social System Requirements, in Morality as a Biological Phenomenon, ed. G. S. Stent (Berlin: Dahlem Knoferenzen, in press); M. Daly and M. Wilson, Sex, Evolution, and Behavior (North Scituate, Mass.: Duxbury Press, 1978); Richard Dawkins, The Selfish Gene (London: Oxford University Press, 1976); W. H. Durham, The Adaptive Significance of Cultural Behavior, Human Ecology 4 (1976): 89-121; M. T. Ghiselin, The Economy of Nature and the Evolution of Sex (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1974); George Edgin Pugh, The Biological Origin of Human Values (New York: Basic Books, 1977); Peter J. Richerson, Ecology and Human Ecology: A Comparison of Theories in the Biological and Social Sciences, American Ethnologist 4 (1977): 1-26.
³ See Dawkins (n. 2 above).
⁴ Campbell, On the Conflicts (n. 2 above); F. T. Cloak, Is a Cultural Ethology Possible? Human Ecology 3 (1975): 161-82; Dawkins; Ralph Wendell Burhoe, The Source of Civilization in the Natural Selection of Coadapted Information in Genes and Culture, Zygon 11 (I976): 263-303.
⁵ Campbell, On the Conflicts; Durham (n. 2 above); Burhoe (n. 4 above); Cloak (n. 4 above).
Harold L. Miller, Jr., is associate professor of psychology, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah 84602. Steven Faux is a graduate student in the Department of Psychology at Brigham Young.
The Unconscious God: Psychotherapy and Theology by Viktor E. Frankl, reviewed by Robert L. Moore