The real core of human nature is not any particular body but an enduring pattern of flow. The flow pattern is generated by the interaction of the energy and boundary conditions set by habitat (or cosmotype), genotype, and culturetype, resulting in unending successions of ever-evolving levels of living forms.
Ralph Wendell Burhoe
When I first selected the articles for this Zygon issue on Nature, Mind, and Method and then reviewed what we had published for the year 1980, I thought to myself that some readers might wonder about the dramatic shift between 1980 and 1981. During 1980 we published four issues that in one way or another focused directly on the relationship between facts and values: Is Ethics a Science? The Is/Ought Question, and the set of issues on Sociobiology, Values, and Religion. In this first issue of 1981, however, facts and values no longer appear on center stage. Instead the reader finds articles addressing questions of how we know about the world and of the similarities and differences between the methodologies of scientific and religious inquiries. Why should a journal, even a journal of science and religion, make such dramatic shifts of emphasis? The reader who was just becoming comfortable with discussion of the relationship between facts and values might well ask: What is Zygon trying to accomplish?
A hundred and forty years ago, during one of the most fruitful periods in the history of science, a hint of one great science was treated as if it were a toy. A clue to the solution of a principal metaphysical mystery was passed by unappreciated.
In my hometown library the chief delight of the younger patrons was not the books but the Brewster stereoscope. Through its lenses children saw boats and bridges and camels and mountains and—the best of all three-dimensional subjects—grottoes. Having converted two slightly faded sepia, flat, dull photographs into a vivid reality, the stereoscope transported the child through the interplay of stalagmites and stalactites into the distant depths of the caves. The child could hear the dripping water, smell the dampness, fear the darkness as he sat with legs crossed under him on the chair in the dear old library. Where did this new reality exist? In his chest, in his head, in his eyes, or rather did he exist in it? A toy? Or the most powerful metaphysical clue to emerge in three thousand years? …
Edwin H. Land, research scientist and inventor, is founder, chairman, and research director of the Polaroid Corporation, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139.
on Seeing the Unseen: Imagination in Science and Religion by Garrett Green
One of the issues that have shaped most powerfully the social, cultural, and intellectual history of the West since the Enlightenment is epitomized in the phrase science and religion. Although both terms have ancient roots, both have achieved the meanings that we take for granted today only in the modern period. Their combination has proven to be among the most explosive mixtures in modernity; a scholar at the close of the last century could write two thick volumes entitled A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom.¹ That history of course has many dimensions—including social, political, and economic—but it also has provided one of the main topics of philosophical interest in modernity. …
¹ Andrew Dickson White, A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom, 2 vols. (New York: D. Appleton, 1896).
Garrett Green is associate professor of religious studies, Connecticut College. New London, Connecticut 06320. As a research fellow of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation he presented the original version of this paper to a bilingual colloquium at the Evangelisch-Theologische Fakultät of the University of Tübingen, West Germany.
Methods in Scientific and Religious Inquiry by Holmes Rolston III
To have a method is to have a disciplined mode of following after (μέθοδος) truth, and in science and religion alike one intends an orderly approach to understanding, to be a methodist, but procedures in the two fields may seem very different and even incompatible. In this overview I shall broadly assess their operation so as to see whether and how far they are related or opposed. Lest the diversity in religion prove overwhelming, I plan here to consult mainly Western theistic belief, itself diverse enough, as it has developed in interaction with the sciences, which too have a diversity almost equal to that in theism. Despite the pluralism, these two great epistemic lines in the West are cousins, at once kindred and independent. What follows is partly a description characteristic of science and theology, but, so far as I choose good science and good religion for models, it is a prescription of how inquiry there ought to be done, perhaps not always but at least in the present state of these arts.
The thesis that will emerge is that in generic logical form science and religion, when done well, are more alike than is often supposed, especially at their cores. An implication of this is that positivistic and scientistic views which exalt science and downgrade religion involve serious misunderstanding of the nature of both scientific and religious methods. At the same time, in material content, science and religion offer alternative interpretations of experience, the scientific interpretation being based on causality, the religious interpretation based on meaning. There are differing emphases in specific logical form in the rational modes of each. But both disciplines are rational, and both are susceptible to improvement over the centuries; both use governing theoretical paradigms as they confront experience. The conflicts between scientific and religious interpretations arise because the boundary between causality and meaning is semipermeable. …
Holmes Rolston III is professor of philosophy, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado 80523.
Theological Questions to Scientists by Wolfhart Pannenberg
In their discussions with theologians few scientists seem motivated primarily by theoretical questions. There is rarely much desire for theologians help in explaining the world of nature. Rather there is a widespread awareness that science alone cannot cope with the consequences and side effects of scientific discoveries, especially in their technological application. Frightened earlier by the development of nuclear weapons and later by the threat of ecological disaster and by the dangers involved in modern biochemical techniques, many scientists have been led by a sense of responsibility for the application of their work to look for moral resources that can be mustered in order to prevent or at least to reduce the extent of fatal abuse of the possibilities provided by scientific discoveries. At this point then the churches are appreciated once more as moral agencies that should help the human society in responsibly dealing with the potential of science and technology. …
Wolfhart Pannenberg is professor of systematic theology and director of the Ecumenical Institute, Evangelical Theological Faculty, Munich University, Schellingstrasse 3/III, D-8000, Munich 40, West Germany.
Mind in Nature: Essays on the Interface of Science and Philosophy, edited by John B. Cobb, Jr., and David Ray Griffin (Washington, D.C.: University Press of America, 1978), is a symposium of multidisciplinary essays from a conference sponsored by the Center for Process Studies with support from the Rockefeller Foundation. The avowed purpose of the conference was to consider whether and how process thought, especially Alfred North Whiteheads philosophy of organism, might facilitate nonreductionistic interpretations of biological processes.
The broad subject of the title is made manageable by organizing the symposium in four parts. In part 1, The Evolution of Mind, the papers treat of the emergence of human self-conscious, purposive action out of a matrix in which, until the rise of quantum physics, Western thought customarily perceived no grounds for that emergence. W. H. Thorpe, L. Charles Birch, and the late Theodosius Dobzhansky are major contributors to this section. They concur that life, human consciousness, and purposive action must have been among the potentialities of the primordial cosmic substratum. Further, they agree that their emergence was subject to the same evolutionary principles operative in the emergence of novel anatomical and physiological characteristics. Dobzhansky differs, however, in that he will not speak of the seeds of self-consciousness as present in all living creatures—from virus and bacterium upwards (Thorpe), nor yet of a germ of subjectivity in atoms before there were brains (Birch). Dobzhansky insists that evolution consists in the development of novelties which began to appear at some time and were not at all present earlier. He notes, among other biological illustrations of his point, that animals evolved quite different kinds of organs of respiration—lungs, gills, tracheae, etc. The ancestral unicellular and primitive multicellular organism respire through the entire body surface. It is gratuitous to ascribe to them proto-lungs, proto-gills, and proto-tracheae. Thus he rejects protopsychism and panpsychism. …
George A. Riggan, professor emeritus of systematic theology, Hartford Seminary Foundation, lives at Leshures at Cross Road, Rowe, Massachusetts 01367.
Cosmic Dawn by Eric Chaisson, reviewed by Sanborn C. Brown