Putting Science in Its Place is the title of a study by David Livingstone (2003) on geographical and institutional contexts for science. He writes about laboratories and fieldwork but also about the responses to Darwins work within different countries. In Ireland, some responses are shaped by the tension between Protestants and Catholics; in Charleston, in the southern United States, white attitudes toward former slaves fuel resistance against common ancestry, while settlers in New Zealand could use the idea of evolutionary competition to justify their dominance over Maoris.
The various aesthetic phenomena found repeatedly in the scientific enterprise stem from the role of God as artist. If the Creator is an artist, how and why natural scientists study the divine art work can be understood using theological aesthetics and the philosophy of art. The aesthetic phenomena considered here are as follows. First, science reveals beauty and the sublime in natural phenomena. Second, science discovers beauty and the sublime in the theories that are developed to explain natural phenomena. Third, the search for beauty often guides scientists in their work. Fourth, where beauty is perceived, feelings of the sublime often also follow upon further contemplation. This linkage of beauty in science with truth and the sublime runs counter to most aesthetic theory since Kant. Scholarship in theological aesthetics has recently argued that the modern and postmodern elevation of the sublime over beauty is merely a preference that reveals a bias against transcendence—against God. If doing and understanding science can show this sundering of the sublime from the beautiful to be in error, science also gives evidence of transcendence.
aesthetics in science • art in science • art work • beautiful • beauty • beauty in science • general revelation • God as artist • mimesis • natural science • philosophy of science • sublime • sublime in science • scientist as artist • theological aesthetics • transcendence • wonder • work of art
Peter K. Walhout is Associate Professor of Chemistry, Wheaton College, 501 College Ave., Wheaton, IL 60187; e-mail: peter.k.walhout @ wheaton.edu.
Arguments from Nothing: God and Quantum Cosmology by Lawrence Cahoone
This essay explores a simple argument for a Ground of Being, objections to it, and limitations on it. It is nonsensical to refer to Nothing in the sense of utter absence, hence nothing can be claimed to come from Nothing. If, as it seems, the universe, or any physical ensemble containing it, is past-finite, it must be caused by an uncaused Ground. Speculative many-worlds, pocket universes and multiverses do not affect this argument, but the quantum cosmologies of Alex Vilenkin, and J. B. Hartle and Stephen Hawking, which claim that the universe came from literally nothing, would. I argue that their novel project cannot work for reasons both physical (their nothing is actually a vacuum state governed by eternal physical laws) and methodological (physical theory cannot explain the emergence of the physical per se). Thus my argument stands. However, as David Hume showed, a posteriori arguments like mine infer a creation, and Creator, of a certain character, namely, a stochastic concept of creation and a panentheistic, partly physical Creator lacking omniscience and omnipotence. Rather than undermining the cosmological argument, as Hume intended, these limitations liberate the concept of the Ground from unnecessary problems, as Hartshorne suggested.
Big Bang • cosmological argument • cosmology • creation • Creator • God • Hartle-Hawking • David Hume • inflation • no-boundary proposal • Nothing • origin of universe • past-eternal • past-finite • quantum cosmology • quantum gravity • teleological argument • universe • Alex Vilenkin
Lawrence Cahoone is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, MA 01610; e-mail: lcahoone @ holycross.edu.
Biotechnotheology and Demythologization of Stem-Cell Research by Tadej Strehovec
Biotechnology deals not only with new types of therapies for preventing and curing diseases but also with the creation of new technologies for the production of human flesh. Its ultimate aim is to create a new human body, a new person. Biotechnology wears the cloak not only of a new scientific paradigm but also of a kind of messianic religion. To develop new therapies, to destroy illnesses, to transform the human body into a nonmortal one—these are some of the promises it makes. In time, many of these promises will undoubtedly prove to be illusory, but they will nevertheless continue to have a significant impact on the way people think. Through a process that I call biotechnotheological analysis I show that biotechnology could eventually become not only a type of secular religion but even a type of mythic para-Christian religion, one that incorporates the two most significant processes at work in every mythical religion: the process of mimesis and the ritual of the scapegoat. The essay is an attempt to understand biotechnological achievements, especially in stem-cell research, in this new biotechnotheological way.
bioethics • biotechnology • biotechnotheology • demythologization • embryonic stem-cell research • genetics • Human Genome Project • moral theology • technoscience • technosociety
Tadej Strehovec is the assistant professor at the University of Ljubljana, Trzaska 85, SI-1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia; e-mail: tadej.strehovec @ teof.uni-lj.si.
Neurobiology of Chakras and Prayer
The Physiological Foundation of Yoga Chakra Expression by Richard W. Maxwell
Chakras are a basic concept of yoga but typically are ignored by scientific research on yoga, probably because descriptions of chakras can appear like a fanciful mythology. Chakras are commonly considered to be centers of concentrated metaphysical energy. Although clear physiological effects exist for yoga practices, no explanation of how chakras influence physiological function has been broadly accepted either in the scientific community or among yoga scholars. This problem is exacerbated by the fact that yoga is based on subjective experience, and practitioners often shun objective descriptions. This essay builds on earlier work hypothesizing that intercellular gap junction connections provide a physiological mechanism underlying subtle energy systems described in yoga as well as other disciplines such as acupuncture. Three physical aspects of chakras are distinguished that are integrated through gap junction mechanisms and are proposed to have arisen during embryological development. Furthermore, electrical conductance associated with a high concentration of gap junctions could generate phenomena that, when subjectively experienced, have the radiant qualities attributed to chakras. This theory provides a scientific rationale for previously unexplained details of chakra theory and offers a new orientation to conceptualizing and studying such subjective phenomena.
acupuncture • cakra • chakra • electrical synapse • gap junction • glial syncytium • kundalini • meditation • nervous system development • subtle energy • yoga
Richard W. Maxwell is a private practice clinical neuropsychologist and partner in Affiliated Psychological Consultants, PC. His mailing address is 34 Turkey Hill Road, Ithaca, NY 14850; e-mail: rwmaxw @ gmail.com.
Types of Prayer, Heart Rate Variability, and Innate Healing by Ruth Stanley
Spiritual practices such as prayer have been shown to improve health and quality of life for those facing chronic or terminal illness. The early Christian healing tradition distinguished between types of prayer and their role in healing, placing great emphasis on the healing power of more integrated relational forms of prayer such as prayers of gratitude and contemplative prayer. Because autonomic tone is impaired in most disease states, autonomic homeostasis may provide insight into the healing effects of prayer. I report on observations in five volunteers engaging in five types of prayer. Using heart rate variability as a measure of autonomic tone and adaptability, I review the potential correlation of type of prayer with autonomic rebalance as measured specifically by psychophysiological coherence ratios. The five types—supplication, devotion, intercession, gratefulness, and contemplative prayer—elicited varying degrees of improvements in heart rate variability and corresponding psychophysiological coherence. These observations suggest a correlation of innate healing to prayer type that is consistent with teachings from the Christian healing tradition and with modern research. Further research is warranted to verify these hypotheses.
autonomic nervous system • Christian healing tradition • contemplative prayer • desert fathers and mothers • desert tradition • devotional prayer • gratefulness • healing • heart rate variability • innate healing • integrated spirituality • intercessory prayer • intrinsic religiousness • meditation • monastic prayer • prayer • prayers of gratitude • psychophysiological coherence • supplication prayer
Ruth Stanley, a Benedictine sister and doctor of pharmacy, coordinates holistic services for the Central Minnesota Heart Center at St. Cloud Hospital, 1406 Sixth Ave. North, St. Cloud, MN 56303-1901; e-mail: stanleyr @ centracare.com.
Education on Religion-and-Science: Attitudes and Ideas
Student Thinking when Studying Science-and-Religion by Tonie L. Stolberg
Thirteen theology/religious studies students were interviewed while studying science-and-religion courses at four different institutions of higher education in the United Kingdom. They held a range of views about science and religion, their respective ontological status, and their science-and-religion studies. The interviews reveal that it may be possible to assign individuals to one of four different religioscientific conceptual frameworks and, furthermore, to relate differences in their approach when studying science-and-religion to their conceptual framework. The implications for course designers are discussed, including how the frameworks may enable teachers to be more aware of the range of possible reactions students may have while being introduced to science-and-religion topics.
conceptual frameworks • course design • education • learning • student • teaching
Tonie L. Stolberg is Lecturer in Science and Science Education, School of Education, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 2TT, UK; e-mail: t.l.stolberg @ bham.ac.uk.
On Evolution and Creation: Problem Solved? The Polish Example by Jacek Tomczyk and Grzegorz Bugajak
We present the results of research carried out as a part of the project Current Controversies about Human Origins: Between Anthropology and the Bible, which focused on the supposed conflict between natural sciences and some branches of the humanities, notably philosophy and theology, with regard to human origins. One way to tackle the issue was to distribute a questionnaire among students and teachers of the relevant disciplines. Teachers of religion and the natural sciences (biology, chemistry, and physics) and students of theology, philosophy, and the natural sciences (specializing in biology and/or anthropology) were asked to answer eleven questions concerning the perception of the conflict between evolutionism and creationism, the definitions of creation and evolution, the existence of a human spiritual element, and the ways of interpreting the Bible, especially the first chapters of the book of Genesis. We present selected results of this questionnaire.
creation • evolution • Genesis • human origins
Jacek Tomczyk lectures in anthropology at the Institute of Ecology and Bioethic, Department of Anthropology, Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski University, Warsaw 01-938, ul.Wóycickiego 1/3; e-mail: jaktom @ post.pl. Grzegorz Bugajak lectures in the philosophy of nature at Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski University in Warsaw and Medical University in Lódz. His mailing address is Institute of Philosophy, Department of Methodology of Information and System Sciences, Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski University, Warsaw 01-938, ul.Wóycickiego 1/3.
Homo Religiosus: Linnaeus and Beyond
Linnaeus as a Second Adam? Taxonomy and the Religious Vocation by Peter Harrison
Swedish naturalist Carl von Linné (1707-1778) became known during his lifetime as a second Adam because of his taxonomic endeavors. The significance of this epithet was that in Genesis Adam was reported to have named the beasts—an episode that was usually interpreted to mean that Adam possessed a scientific knowledge of nature and a perfect taxonomy. Linnaeuss soubriquet exemplifies the way in which the Genesis narratives of creation were used in the early modern period to give religious legitimacy to scientific activities and to taxonomy in particular. Allusions to Adams work in the Garden of Eden thus became a way of investing the vocation of the naturalist with religious significance.
Genesis • history of taxonomy • Carl Linnaeus • religious vocation
Peter Harrison is Andreas Idreos Professor of Science and Religion and Director of the Ian Ramsey Centre at the University of Oxford, Harris Manchester College, Mansfield Road, Oxford OX1 4PJ, U.K.
In The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature, Steven Pinker maintains that at present there are three competing views of human nature—a Christian theory, a blank slate theory (what I call a social constructivist theory), and a Darwinian theory—and that the last of these will triumph in the end. I argue that neither the outcome of such competition nor the particular content of these theories is as clear as Pinker believes. In this essay I take a critical as well as a constructive look at the challenge presented by a Darwinian theory of human nature—a challenge to the social sciences and the humanities and also to theology and more specifically to a Christian understanding of human nature.
blank slate • Christian • Darwinian • evolutionary psychology • human beings • human nature • Steven Pinker • religion • social constructivism • standard social science model
Mikael Stenmark is professor of philosophy of religion, Uppsala University, Box 511, 75120 Uppsala, Sweden; e-mail: Mikael.Stenmark @ teol.uu.se.
Theology, Evolution, and the Human Mind: How Much Can Biology Explain? by John F. Haught
Evolutionary biology contributes much to our present understanding of life, and it promises also to deepen our understanding of human intelligence, ethics, and even religion. For some scientific thinkers, however, Darwins science seems so impressive that it now supplants theology altogether by providing the ultimate explanation of all manifestations of life, not only biologically but also metaphysically. By focusing on human intelligence as an emergent aspect of nature this essay examines the question of whether theology can still have an explanatory role to play alongside biology in attempts to understand mind.
cognitional confidence • cognitional imperatives • cognitional performance • critical intelligence • evolutionary naturalism • generalized empirical method • Bernard Lonergan
John F. Haught is Senior Fellow, Woodstock Theological Center, Georgetown University, Washington, D.C. 20057; e-mail: haughtj @ georgetown.edu.
Are Animals Moral? A Theological Appraisal of the Evolution of Vice and Virtue by Celia Deane-Drummond
I discuss controversial claims about the status of non-human animals as moral beings in relation to philosophical claims to the contrary. I address questions about the ontology of animals rather than ethical approaches as to how humans need to treat other animals through notions of, for example, animal rights. I explore the evolutionary origins of behavior that can be considered vices or virtues and suggest that Thomas Aquinas is closer to Darwins view on nonhuman animals than we might suppose. An appreciation of the complexity of the emotional lives of social animals and their cooperative behaviors in light of the work of animal ethologists such as Frans de Waal and Marc Bekoff suggests that social animals can be considered moral in their own terms. I discuss the charge of anthropomorphism, drawing on the work of archaeologist Steven Mithen, and consider arguments for the evolution of conscience in the work of anthropologist Christopher Boehm. Only the biological basis for the development of conscience and religion has evolved in nonhuman animals, and this should not be confused with sophisticated moral systems of analysis or particular religious beliefs found in the human community.
animal morality • Thomas Aquinas • cooperation • ethology • evolution • virtues
Celia Deane-Drummond is Professor of Theology and the Biosciences at the University of Chester and Director of the Centre for Religion and the Biosciences, Department of Theology and Religious Studies, Parkgate Road, Chester, CH1 4BJ; e-mail: C.Deane-Drummond @ chester.ac.uk (CDeane-Drummond @ cafod.org.uk until June 2010).
Time and Eternity: Antje Jackeléns Theological Study
Theological Methodology, Classical Theism, and Lived Time in Antje Jackeléns Time and Eternity by James M. Byrne
Antje Jackeléns Time and Eternity successfully employs the method of correlation and a close study of the question of time to enter the dialogue between science and theology. Hermeneutical attention to language is a central element of this dialogue, but we must be aware that much science is untranslatable into ordinary language; it is when we get to the bigger metaphysical assumptions of science that true dialogue begins to happen. Thus, although the method of correlation is a useful way to approach this dialogue, there is not a strict equivalence in this relationship. Theology needs science more than science needs theology. In speaking of time and God we must keep in mind the relational nature of classical Christian theism, even in its most austere forms. We should not read Enlightenment ideas of God back into the classical Christian tradition or neglect the apophatic emphasis in Christian theism, which warned against assuming knowledge of the divine nature. Gods relation to time always lies beyond our understanding. Studying the effects of either the Newtonian or Einsteinian concepts of time on our theological concepts should not detract our attention from the lived time that characterizes human experience. Consideration of the notion of time in the Madhyamaka Buddhist tradition reminds us that we cannot control the inner reality of time and that for humans time is something to be considered pragmatically.
apophatic theology • classical theism • hermeneutics • method of correlation • Newtonian and Einsteinian time • religion-and-science dialogue • time and emptiness
James M. Byrne is Professor of Religious Studies at Saint Michaels College, Colchester, VT 05439; e-mail: jbyrne @ smcvt.edu.
Theres More to Time than Ticking Away by Varadaraja V. Raman
Time is an element that each of us experiences in the core of our being. Yet it also is one of the great mysteries in our conceptual grasp of reality. The notion of time has therefore been reflected upon and explored by thinkers and scientists since ancient times. In this essay I relate the multiple ways in which Antje Jackeléns scholarly and stimulating work Time and Eternity analyzes the historical, philosophical, theological, and scientific perspectives on the notion of time lived and its relation to the conceptual endless time that we call eternity, and offer some of my own contextual reflections on the topic.
arrow of time • complex numbers • death • eschatology • Galilean and Lorentz transformations • narration • NOMA • relativity • reversibility and irreversibility • static and dynamic time • theology • thermodynamics • time
Varadaraja V. Raman is Emeritus Professor of Physics and Humanities at the Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, NY 14623; e-mail: vvrsps @ rit.edu.
The Rhythm of Gods Eternal Music: On Antje Jackeléns Time and Eternity by Hubert Meisinger
Antje Jackeléns book Time and Eternity is a thorough and carefully presented theology of time and, by its very essence, an incomplete and open thought model because time will always be dynamic and relational. This approach is an excellent example for the dialogue between science and religion because it uses resources not tapped in the dialogue so far: hymn-books stemming from Germany, Sweden, and the English-speaking world published between 1975 and 1995. They are taken as resources for a critical investigation on the meaning and importance of the notion of eternity for the interdisciplinary dialogue, which is characterized not as a synthesis but as holding a beneficial tension, or eutonia. I suggest that this approach can be taken even further by merging it with a model of time developed by the German mathematician A. M. Klaus Müller: The crossing over of time modes in a relational matrix of time also gives clear insights into the time of God not only as futurum—time as extrapolation of the past and present—but also as adventus—time which is to come.
eschatology • eternity • eutonia • hope • relationality • (matrix of) time
Hubert Meisinger is Executive Officer for Ecological Questions at the Center Social Responsibility of the Protestant Church in Hesse and Nassau and extraofficial Director of Studies for Science and Religion at the Protestant Academy Arnoldshain, Germany. His address is Zentrum Gesellschaftliche Verantwortung der EKHN, Albert-Schweitzer-Str. 113-115-D-55128 Mainz, Germany, www.zgv.info; e-mail: h.meisinger @ zgv.info.
Time and Eternity: Hymnic, Biblical, Scientific, and Theological Views by John R. Albright
The book Time and Eternity, the English version of Zeit und Ewigkeit, by Antje Jackelén, contains scientific and theological treatments of these two topics, starting with the usage of such ideas in German, Swedish, and English hymns. This essay describes her work and explains how the scientific ideas provide a coherent framework for understanding the place of time.
antimatter • Bible • cosmology • Dirac equation • Albert Einstein • eschatology • eternity • hymn • irreversibility • Antje Jackelén • Maxwells equations • Newtonian mechanics • quantum mechanics • relativity • symmetry • thermodynamics • time
John R. Albright is Professor Emeritus of Physics at Florida State University and at Purdue University Calumet. He is currently Visiting Professor of Religion and Science at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. His mailing address is 5436 South Hyde Park Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60615; e-mail: jraphysics @ aol.com.
Cosmic Impressions: Traces of God in the Laws of Nature by Walter Thirring, reviewed by Carl S. Helrich