In the poem that appears in these pages, Christopher Southgate speaks of unweaving, reweaving, knowing where to look. Those words encompass the powers and possibilities that are ours as human beings. They also describe the situation we live in today and suggest the challenges we face as we bring our possibilities to bear on our situation. We have unwoven the things of this world, measured them, split them up into their constituent parts, and theorized about them. Southgate takes the rainbow as an example—its colors are registered as features of the spectrum; the hope that it has symbolized is analyzed in terms of neural activity.
The last thirty years have seen an increasingly vigorous dialogue between science and religion. Mostly this has been conducted in the mode of focused discussion of particular frontier issues: the rational transparency and rational beauty of the physical universe seen as being made intelligible by a revived natural theology, offered in a modest mode as being insightful rather than logically coercive; anthropic fine-tuning made intelligible as the endowment of fertility given to a world that is a divine creation; evolutionary process understood in terms of a continuous creation in which creatures make themselves; the compatibility of belief in divine special action with what science can actually say about the causal structure of the world. This style of discrete problem-solving discussion will always be a component of the interaction between science and theology, but I believe that it will increasingly be complemented by another approach, comparable to the influence on theological discourse effected by other contextual theologies, such as liberation theology or feminist theology. They not only address their own specific issues but also offer theology a particular style of thought that can prove generally insightful. Theology in the context of science offers a similar gift. …
John Polkinghorne is a Fellow and former President of Queens College, Cambridge, CB3 9ET, U.K.
My Journey in the World of Religion-and-Science by Michael Ruse
I did not consciously choose to get involved in the field of science-religion studies. I suspect that I am not alone in having rather backed into it. I come from a Quaker background, so the thought of studying either religion or theology never once raised its head as an option; we did not have priests, and, although (as I now realize) there is a very distinctive Quaker theology, for young people (as I then was) the teaching was much more directed toward moral and social issues than toward ultimate questions. I was very interested in science, but, finding that I was really not that excited by empirical inquiry, my career as a scholar was turned toward philosophy, a bend in the route of life that I have never regretted. Even then, however, science-religion was not a focus, as I trained and started working as a philosopher of science.
Not until I was around forty (in 1980) did my thoughts started turning seriously to issues in the science-religion field. Professionally, as a philosopher of science, my chosen field of study was evolutionary biology. (Chosen, I might say, for the cynical, academic, ecological reason that there was little work on the topic, and that little was rather bad.) Much influenced by the currents of the time, overwhelmingly so by Thomas Kuhns Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962), which urged those interested in the nature of science to turn to its history, I had written a book on the Darwinian Revolution (Ruse 1979). As part of the territory, I had had to deal with the religious aspects of the event, both revealed and natural theological. I stress that this had been only one part of the story—there was also science itself, not to mention philosophy and what one might call social issues. …
Michael Ruse is Lucyle T. Werkmeister Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Program in the History and Philosophy of Science at Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL 32306; e-mail: mruse @ mailer.fsu.edu.
Whither Theology and Science? by Gregory R. Peterson
Over the past year, I have had a few conversations about whether the field of theology and science is stagnating. When the field first became established some forty years ago, marked by the founding of Zygon and the publication of Ian Barbours Issues in Science and Religion, both in 1966, many of the issues being confronted were new and relatively unexplored. In particular, the advances in both physics and cosmology in the first half of the twentieth century provided fertile ground for rethinking traditional categories and oppositions and provided fresh opportunities for reconciling religious wisdom with scientific discovery. This trend continued in the late 1970s and 1980s as the impact of neo-Darwinism, sociobiology, and the creation science controversy came to be felt. The discipline has been fueled more recently by the ongoing discoveries in genetics and neuroscience in the 1990s. In the process, positions have been elaborated and staked out, even become standardized, especially with regard to the earlier material in physics and cosmology. And while there is certainly some strong consensus on what the options are—in cosmology one can endorse a many-worlds view or some version of the anthropic principle; one can relate mind and body by being a reductionist or property dualist or emergentist—there is much less consensus on which options are to be preferred. Perhaps, it has been suggested to me, the whole thing has crested and exhausted itself. Having explored the options but unable to come to agreement, there is no further point to be made. It is time to move on. …
Gregory R. Peterson is Associate Professor of Philosophy and Religion at South Dakota State University and Program Coordinator of the Philosophy and Religion Department, Box 504 Scobey 336, SDSU, Brookings, SD 57007; e-mail: greg.peterson @ sdstate.edu.
Experiencing Wonder and Seeking Wisdom by Celia Deane-Drummond
Those engaged in academic science-and-religion debates often have recourse to engage in theoretical questions and narrow specific concerns in the interests of clarity and academic respectability. Philip Hefner throws down the gauntlet in his Zygon editorial of March 2007: What if such studies are somehow missing the point? That is, what if they are bypassing the breadth of experience that sustains the conversation at the popular level or, equally important, ignoring the wider, larger audience that is gaining interest in such topics?
I suggest that we need to be bold enough to consider breadth and, in particular, practices that serve to establish a common language for those in the science community and the religious community. A good place to start is the language of wonder (Deane-Drummond 2006). Of course, this has had its own history of interpretation, going out of favor in intellectual circles in the post-Enlightenment period, but scientists today are becoming more inclined to admit to experiences of wonder being a core part of what motivates them to do science. Even Richard Dawkins, that bête noir of the religious community, admits to wonder through science. Indeed, he claims that wonder through science is rooted in something concrete—namely, scientific evidence—and so surpasses those experiences arising out of religious faith or poetry (Dawkins 1998). …
Celia Deane-Drummond is Professor of Theology and the Biosciences in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Chester, Parkgate Road, Chester, CH1 4BJ, United Kingdom; e-mail: c.deane-drummond @ chester.ac.uk. She is founder and director of the Centre for Religion and the Biosciences.
It Started with Galileo by Eduardo Rodrigues da Cruz
As is well known, Galileo on 25 February 1616 was summoned by the Inquisition to relinquish altogether the theory that the Sun is at the center of the world and at rest and that the Earth moves. This injunction was used against Galileo in his 1633 trial, and it was instrumental to his condemnation.
Fateful decision! Galileo still maintained the metaphor of the two books: of Nature and of Revelation. The church emphasized the traditional teaching that the latter should have priority over the former. However, Galileo was eventually taken as one of the martyrs of the scientific revolution, and the book of Revelation gradually faded away from the main scene. Only one book remained, and that is the one of Nature, read by science and used by technology. …
Eduardo Rodrigues da Cruz is Professor of Religious Studies at the Pontifical Catholic University of Sao Paulo, R. Monte Alegre, 984, Sao Paulo, 05014 SP, Brazil; e-mail: erodcruz @ pucsp.br.
Religion and Science: Finding the Right Questions by Taede A. Smedes
As one of the younger scholars in religion and science, I have a slightly different perspective on the field, a view not all other scholars in the field may appreciate. My perspective is strongly influenced by European—especially Kantian, hermeneutic, and Wittgensteinian—philosophy. As a consequence I strongly emphasize the difference between science and religion and am suspicious of attempts to integrate both. Although I am in favor of a dialogue between science and religion, I often focus on fundamental issues that I believe are nowadays too often neglected and that I think are crucial for the future of the field of science and religion.
Looking at that field today, I feel a growing unease with the way it is developing, especially in the English-speaking countries. In my book Chaos, Complexity, and God (Smedes 2004) I pinpointed my uneasiness by critically examining the approaches of two highly influential exponents of the contemporary field: John Polkinghorne and the recently deceased Arthur Peacocke. I tried to show that Polkinghorne and Peacocke (but this also pertains to many other scholars in the field today) adhere to a cultural form of scientism that has become part of our cultural heritage as a product of the conceptual revolution that occurred during the European Enlightenment and that showed a huge esteem for especially physical (Newtonian) science. …
Taede A. Smedes is Junior Fellow at the Faculty of Theology of the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven. His mailing address is Lodewijk van Deyssellaan 51, 2182 VN, Hillegom, the Netherlands; e-mail: tasmedes @ tasmedes.nl.
Crossing Species Boundaries
Cross-Species Chimeras: Exploring a Possible Christian Perspective by Neville Cobbe
Various entities that combine material from humans and other animals at either the cellular or subcellular level have attracted growing public interest. I explore the controversy by considering both the scientific rationale behind creating various entities that have prompted the greatest public concern and possible ethical implications. I note a number of potentially relevant biblical passages and reflect on the imago Dei and considerations of telos in order to prompt wider discussion regarding how Christians might respond to such emerging bioethical issues.
chimera • cloning • embryo • ethics • humanity • imago Dei (image of God) • nuclear transfer • research • telos (end) • welfare
Neville Cobbe is a Research Fellow at the University of Edinburgh, Queens Medical Research Institute, 47 Little France Crescent, Edinburgh EH16 4TJ, Scotland, U.K.; e-mail: Neville.Cobbe @ ed.ac.uk.
Approaching Religious Guidelines for Chimera Policymaking by Stephen M. Modell
Recent developments in the use of cow egg cells to clone human somatic cells, and the grafting by researchers at several universities of human neurons into mice, bring the notion of the chimera, a mixture of several living organisms, from myth into reality. In his article Cross-Species Chimeras: Exploring a Possible Christian Perspective, Neville Cobbe considers the religious arguments overlying the creation of human-nonhuman chimeras. In my commentary I focus on the distinction between germline—and tissue transplant—related chimeric techniques implicit in Cobbes essay and argue that the former poses more serious moral difficulties than the latter if the chimeric product is brought to term. The substantive view of the imago Dei, or image of God, serves as a scaffold by which to judge the permissibility of chimera creation using stem cell and other tissue implants. While useful for judging the rights of such artificially generated beings, I argue that specific criteria such as proportion of tissue uptake, mental capacity, and adherence with the organisms telos are more appropriately considered within a composite image of the living being reflecting its unique integrality. Human co-creativity with the Divine will inevitably prompt attempts to generate medically useful chimeras. Religious dialogue, combined with the categories of religious moral argument appearing in Cobbes essay, will help to establish the outline of feasible policy guidelines addressing the complexities inherent in the creation of chimeras.
chimeras • cloning • dialogue • ethics • gene therapy • genetics • imago Dei (image of God) • morals • ontology • policy • religion • religion and medicine • reproduction • stem cells • transplantation • wholeness • xenotransplantation
Stephen M. Modell is a genomics research area specialist and Dissemination Activities Director in the Center for Public Health and Community Genomics, University of Michigan, 2675 CBPH, SPH-I Tower, 109 S. Observatory, Ann Arbor, MI 48109; e-mail: mod @ umich.edu.
This essay is a critical response to Neville Cobbes article Cross-Species Chimeras: Exploring a Possible Christian Perspective. New technologies, particularly biotechnologies, raise major concerns in society. In the absence of good ethical thinking on these issues, bad ethical thinking becomes regnant. Two common types of bad ethical thinking are (1) confusing whatever disturbs people with genuine ethical issues and (2) confusing religious issues with ethical ones. Cobbes article commits the former type of error with regard to the possibility of a mouse created with human brain neurons. I analyze and discuss that error and also raise questions about Cobbes attempt to analyze the creation of chimeras from a Christian perspective.
chimeras • Christian response to chimeras • ethics and biotechnology • Greshams law for ethics • mouse with human brain neurons
Bernard E. Rollin is University Distinguished Professor, Professor of Philosophy, Professor of Animal Sciences, and Professor of Biomedical Sciences at Colorado State University. His mailing address is Department of Philosophy, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523-1781; e-mail: Bernard.Rollin @ colostate.edu.
Christopher Southgate is Research Fellow in Theology at the University of Exeter, Amory Building, Exeter EX4 4RJ, U.K.; e-mail: c.c.b.southgate @ ex.ac.uk. This poem appears in Easing the Gravity Field: Poems of Science and Love (Nottingham: Shoestring, 2006).
Psychology of Science/Theology of Science: Reaching Out or Narrowing? by Robert B. Glassman
Formalizing a psychology of science today will constrain intellectual freedom in ways more likely stultifying than liberating. We should be more improvisational in seeking ideas from academic psychology to develop a more comprehensive purview. I suggest that a psychology of science should look at systematic theology and empirical theology. Liberal theologians have long experience trying to distill from religion those structural aspects that affirm openness in a search for truth. Science, as well as religion, has its myths and rituals, but theologians are more experienced than scientists at a large mythohistorical scale. There are distortions in the extreme degree to which psychological science has traditionally emphasized empiricism, positivism, hypothesis testing, and falsifiability. I argue for less critical reduction and more creative augmentation. This could include looking outside academia at cognitive competencies of people in trades. Exaggerated parsimony is an old story. This is illustrated by the opposition to David Hartleys 1749 theory of neural oscillations. There is an inexorable margin of uncertainty where scientific prediction and control can never outstrip the new uses to which human beings put ideas. Facts and values interact in this margin; theology has long made a home there, but scientists sometimes have been excessive in rejecting the naturalistic fallacy. There is also often a degree of disingenuousness in psychologys reluctance to take subjective phenomena seriously; here there may be lessons in how empirical theology has handled subjectivity, as well as in taking an honest look at the way much of the methodology of experimental psychology incorporates subjective assessments. Feists book is a start, but these things need more thought before codifying a psychology of science.
analogy • behaviorism • cognitive • consciousness • conservatism • creativity • dogma • falsifiability • freedom • humanistic • intellectual history • parsimony • philosophy • progress • reductionism • scale • scientific languages • working memory capacity
Robert B. Glassman is a professor in the Department of Psychology, Box E1, Lake Forest College, 555 N. Sheridan Road, Lake Forest, IL 60045-2399; e-mail: glassman @ lakeforest.edu.
This article reviews The Psychology of Science and the Origins of the Scientific Mind by Gregory J. Feist.
Trinh Thuan and the Intersection of Science and Buddhism by Amos Yong
Trinh Thuan, professor of astronomy at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, since 1976, has published a number of books over the years that have touched on topics in the science-andreligion discussion. This essay reviews these volumes in light of a recent book he coauthored with Matthieu Ricard, a monk in the Tibetan Mahayana tradition with previous background and training in the biological sciences. The shift is observed in Thuans views from at one point being attracted to a form of theism based on inferences drawn from the anthropic principle to later being intrigued by Ricards explanations of the cosmos based on Buddhist consciousness theories. Thuans journey as a scientist seeking further understanding is a lesson to the religion-and-science dialogue that more of the worlds religious traditions need to be engaged with their specificities so that what emerges is an expanded conversation.
anthropic principle • astrophysical cosmology • beauty • Buddhism and science
Amos Yong is Professor of Theology at Regent University School of Divinity, 1000 Regent University Drive, Virginia Beach, VA 23464; e-mail: ayong @ regent.edu.
This article reviews The Secret Melody: And Man Created the Universe by Trinh Xuan Thuan, translated by Storm Dunlop and Chaos and Harmony: Perspectives on the Scientific Revolutions of the Twentieth Century by Trinh Xuan Thuan, translated by Axel Reisinger.
Beyond the Sociobiological Dilemma: Social Emotions and the Evolution of Morality by Alejandro Rosas
Is morality biologically altruistic? Does it imply a disadvantage in the struggle for existence? A positive answer puts morality at odds with natural selection, unless natural selection operates at the level of groups. In this case, a trait that is good for groups though bad (reproductively) for individuals can evolve. Sociobiologists reject group selection and have adopted one of two horns of a dilemma. Either morality is based on an egoistic calculus, compatible with natural selection; or morality continues tied to psychological and biological altruism but not as a product of natural selection. The dilemma denies a third possibility—that psychological altruism evolves as a biologically selfish trait. I discuss the classical treatments of the paradox by Charles Darwin ( 1989) and Robert Trivers (1971), focusing on the role they attribute to social emotions. The upshot is that both Darwin and Trivers sketch a natural-selection process relying on innate emotional mechanisms that render morality adaptive for individuals as well as for groups. I give additional reasons for viewing it as a form of natural, instead of only cultural, selection.
altruism • Charles Darwin • group selection • morality • selfish-gene theory • social emotions • sociobiology • Robert Trivers
Alejandro Rosas is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Ciudad Universitaria, Bogotá, Colombia; e-mail: arosasl @ unal.edu.co.
Strict Naturalism and Christianity: Attempt at Drafting an Updated Theology of Nature by Rudolf B. Brun
In the first part of this essay I sketch a view on cosmogenesis from the perspective of modern science, emphasizing, first, that the laws of nature are outcomes of the history of nature, not imposed on nature from outside of nature; and, second, that the universe, including human beings, is the result of a single, natural process. It consistently brings forth novelty through a probabilistic sequence of syntheses. Consequently, the new emerges from the unification of elements that were previously unified. This universal creative process is both probabilistic and nonlinear. It is probabilistic (historical) because each creative event occurs within a cohort of also possible events. It is nonlinear because the new has qualities that its elements in isolation do not possess. I refer to this model of understanding cosmogenesis as strict naturalism. In the second part of the essay I argue that deistic and theistic models of cosmogenesis cannot cope with strict naturalism because it excludes teleology and supernatural interference in the creative process. In contrast to deism and theism, I show that Christianity is capable of integrating strict naturalism. To do that I focus on the Christian notion of incarnation. At the center of this reflection is the attempt to increase the understanding of Christian faith that only the Word of God creates.
Christianity • cosmogenesis • creation • evolution • naturalism • theology of nature • Word of God
Rudolf B. Brun is Professor Emeritus of Biology, Texas Christian University. His mailing address is 3006 Tanglewood Park W., Fort Worth, TX 76109; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Colonial and Post-colonial Elaborations of Avataric Evolutionism by C. Mackenzie Brown
Avataric evolutionism is the idea that ancient Hindu myths of Vishnus ten incarnations foreshadowed Darwinian evolution. In a previous essay I examined the late nineteenth-century origins of the theory in the works of Keshub Chunder Sen and Madame Blavatsky. Here I consider two major figures in the history of avataric evolutionism in the early twentieth century, N. B. Pavgee, a Marathi Brahmin deeply involved in the question of Aryan origins, and Aurobindo Ghose, political activist turned mystic. Pavgee, unlike Keshub, used avataric evolutionism in expounding his nationalistic goals for an independent India. His rationale was bolstered by the idea that India was the fountainhead of all science and civilization. Aurobindo saw in avataric evolutionism a possible key to understanding the involution and evolution of the supreme spirit in the realm of matter as taught in traditional Vedanta. This material-spiritual evolution represented for Aurobindo the necessary knowledge for the true liberation of India, transcending purely political independence. Such knowledge he also saw as the means for the spiritual liberation of the whole of humankind. The processes of involution and evolution he claimed were not in conflict with modern science, and Western evolutionary thinking seems to have inspired many of his own evolutionary reflections, even though in the end he rejected the Darwinian transmutation of species. I conclude with an overview and assessment of recent, post-colonial Hindu assimilations of avataric evolutionism.
Aurobindo Ghose • avataras and Darwinism • avataric evolutionism • Annie Besant • British colonialism • Hinduism and Darwinism • Hinduism and evolution • Narayana Bhavanrao Pavgee • Orientalism • theosophy • Vedic geology
C. Mackenzie Brown is Professor of Religion at Trinity University, One Trinity Place, San Antonio, TX 78212-7200; e-mail: mbrown @ trinity.edu.
Doxological Extended Cognition by George Adam Holland
Many Christian theologians have proposed a universal knowledge of God implanted in all humans. Thomas Aquinas famously stated that all humans have some knowledge of God, confused though it may be. John Calvin developed this proposition in much more detail and concluded that there is a cognitive faculty in humans, the sensus divinitatis, committed to giving the cognizer knowledge of God. Independent of such theological concerns, a current movement in cognitive science proposes a radical change to the traditional boundaries drawn around the human mind. Proponents of mental extension, such as Andy Clark, argue that the mind extends well beyond the body and should be approached in a much broader conceptual analysis. This essay arises from the conviction that the Extended Mind (EM) framework offers new insights into developing a cognitive understanding of the sensus divinitatis. Drawing in equal parts on current arguments for mental extension and the sensus divinitatis, the essay establishes the compatibility between the two arguments and indicates how an integration of the two can yield significant benefits for both mental extension and the sensus divinitatis: the basing of the sensus divinitatis in a specific cognitive theory that offers explanations of its functions, and the introduction of theism to the EM argument as a potentially useful component in a collaborative cognitive science effort.
Thomas Aquinas • John Calvin • Andy Clark • cognitive science • complimentary external cognition • Extended Mind • functional analogy • God • interdisciplinarity • philosophic theology • Alvin Plantinga • sensus divinitatis • theology
George Adam Holland is part of the Humanities and Social Science research personnel at the University of Technology, Sydney. His mailing address is 1021 Dooralong Rd, Dooralong, NSW 2259; e-mail: george.a.holland @ uts.edu.au.
Synapses, Schizophrenia, and Civilization: What Made Homo Sapient? by Lyman A. Page
Progress in technology has allowed dynamic research on the development of the human brain that has revolutionized concepts. Particularly, the notions of plasticity, neuronal selection, and the effects of afferent stimuli have entered into thinking about brain development. Here I focus on development from the age of four years to early adulthood, during which a 30 percent reduction in some brain synapses occurs that is out of proportion to changes in neuronal numbers. This corresponds temporally with changes in normal child behavior from the loose-associative, almost schizoid, thinking and art of the four-year-old to the more trained, or disciplined, or acculturated—and restrained—personality of the young adult. I propose that the synaptic changes can best be thought of as a winnowing process likely subject to environmental influences. Acquisition of language and the ability to link linguistic cognition to the plastic development of the brain provide a potentially powerful means of explaining the evolutionally explosive development of human cognition and culture. Schizophrenia, a disease that can be envisioned as representing a derangement of synaptic maturation, may provide an entry into the search for genes controlling the processes mediating the unprecedented development of Homo sapiens over the past 40,000 to 70,000 years. The recently completed mapping of the genome of the chimpanzee provides a new frame of reference that may speed the search.
autocatalysis • brain development • cognition • culture • emergence • evolution • genetics of brain function • human brain • plasticity • puberty • religion • schizophrenia • synapses
Lyman A. Page is Clinical Professor Emeritus of Pediatrics at Brown University School of Medicine. His mailing address is 16 Oak Street, Kennebunkport, ME 04046; e-mail: lymanpage @ adelphia.net.
Believers and Their Disbelief by Thomas J. King, S.J.
Several recent Roman Catholics who were known for their devotion have left accounts of their troubled faith. I consider three of these: St. Therese of Lisieux, Mother Teresa of Calcutta, and Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. Then I tell of the troubled atheism of Jean-Paul Sartre. Finally, I use texts of Sartre and Teilhard to understand the unsettled nature of belief.
Dark Night of the Soul • destitution • faith and doubt • humanity • God • John of the Cross • Mother Teresa of Calcutta • prayer • Saint Thérèse of Lisieux • Jean-Paul Sartre • Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
Thomas M. King, S.J., is a Jesuit priest teaching theology at Georgetown University, Washington, D.C. 20057; e-mail: kingt @ georgetown.edu.