Reflections on religion and science need intellect and integrity. Intellect that is informed by knowledge of a religious tradition, of science, of the dynamic historical interplay of these. Intellect that is able to pose challenging questions and avoid easy solutions. And moral and religious integrity so as to be someone who is willing to engage the best available knowledge of our time and the greater and smaller mistakes within ones own tradition. For me, a scholar who embodied such a rich mix of informed intellect and integrity was Ernan McMullin.
The placebo effect these days is no longer merely the insubstantial, subjective response that some patients have to a sham treatment, like a sugar pill. It has been reconceived as a powerful mind-body phenomenon. Because of this, it has also emerged as a complex reference point in a number of high-stakes conversations about the metaphysical significance of experiences of religious healing, the possible health benefits of being religious, and the feasibility of using double-blind placebo-controlled trials to investigate the efficacy of prayer. In each of these conversations, the placebo effect is always pointing toward some larger issue, serving some larger agenda. The agendas, though, tend to pull in different directions, leading to a situation that feels at once fractured and stalemated. This essay reviews the main areas of interest, and proposes some specific issues where humanistic scholars of religion in particular might be able to introduce constructive and creative new perspectives.
health and medicine • placebo effect • prayer studies • religious healing
Anne Harrington is Professor of the History of Science at Harvard University, Department of the History of Science, Science Center 371, 1 Oxford Street, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA; e-mail: aharring @ fas.harvard.edu.
Responses to Darwin in the Religious Traditions
Interpreting the Word and the World by John Hedley Brooke
The purpose of this essay is to introduce a collection of five papers, originally presented at the 2009 summer conference of the International Society for Science and Religion, which explore the reception of Darwins science in different religious traditions. Comparisons are drawn between Jewish, Christian, Islamic, and Indian responses to biological evolution, with particular reference to the problem of suffering and to the exegetical and hermeneutic issues involved.
Darwinism • hermeneutics • suffering • theodicy • time
John Hedley Brooke is the Andreas Idreos Professor of Science and Religion emeritus at the University of Oxford, Harris Manchester College, Mansfield Road, Oxford OX1 3TD, UK; e-mail: john.brooke @ theology.ox.ac.uk.
Darwinism and the Other Christian Tradition by Ernan McMullin
Augustine, and following him some major theologians of the early Christian church, noted the apparent discrepancies between the first two chapters of Genesis and suggested an interpretation for these chapters significantly different from the literal. After examining a selection of the relevant texts, we shall follow the later fortunes of this interpretation in brief outline, figuring in particular an unlikely trio: Suarez, St. George Mivart, and Thomas Henry Huxley. Moral: Darwinian theory might plausibly be construed as implementing, unawares, a suggestion from that other Christian tradition.
Aquinas • Augustine • biblical exegesis • Bonaventure • Darwin • Genesis • Huxley • Mivart • Simpson • Suarez
Ernan McMullin (1924-2011) was Director Emeritus, Program in History and Philosophy of Science, University of Notre Dame, South Bend, IN 46617, USA.
Judaism, Darwinism, and the Typology of Suffering by Shai Cherry
Darwinism has attracted proportionately less attention from Jewish thinkers than from Christian thinkers. One significant reason for the disparity is that the theodicies created by Jews to contend with the catastrophes which punctuated Jewish history are equally suited to address the massive extinctions which characterize natural history. Theologies of divine hiddenness, restraint, and radical immanence, coming together in the sixteenth-century mystical cosmogony of Isaac Luria, have been rehabilitated and reworked by modern Jewish thinkers in the post-Darwin era.
Eliezer Berkovits • Darwinism • divine self-restraint • evolution • exile • Abraham Joshua Heschel • hiding of Gods face • immanence • Hans Jonas • post-Holocaust theology • suffering • theodicy • typology; zimzum
Shai Cherry is the Education Director at Tifereth Israel Synagogue in San Diego, California. He may be contacted at 13727 Condesa Drive, Del Mar, CA 92014, USA; e-mail: shai.cherry @ gmail.com.
Muslim Hermeneutics and Arabic Views of Evolution by Marwa Elshakry
Over the last century and a half, discussions of Darwin in Arabic have involved a complex intertwining of sources of authority. This paper reads one of the earliest Muslim responses to modern evolution against those in more recent times to show how questions of epistemology and exegesis have been critically revisited. This involved, on the one hand, the resuscitation of long-standing debates over claims regarding the nature of evidence, certainty, and doubt, and on the other, arguments about the use (and limits) of reason in relation to scripture. Categories of knowledge and belief, alongside methods of scriptural hermeneutics, were repositioned in the process, transforming the meaning and discursive reach of the former as much as the latter. Indeed, this paper argues that the long-run engagement with Darwin in Arabic led to the mutual transformation of both science and religion, whether as objects of knowledge (and belief) or as general discursive formations.
authority • belief • doubt • epistemology • evolution • exegesis • hermeneutics • Islam • science • theology
Marwa Elshakry is Associate Professor of History, specializing in the history of science, technology, and medicine in the modern Middle East, at Columbia University, Fayerweather Hall 413, 1180 Amsterdam Ave., Mail Code 2527, New York, NY 10027-7039, USA; e-mail: me2335 @ columbia.edu.
Darwin and the Hindu Tradition: Does what Goes Around Come Around? by David L. Gosling
The introduction of English as the medium of instruction for higher education in India in 1835 created a ferment in society and in the religious beliefs of educated Indians—Hindus, Muslims, and, later, Christians. There was a Hindu renaissance characterized by the emergence of reform movements led by charismatic figures who fastened upon aspects of Western thought, especially science, now available in English. The publication of Darwins On the Origin of Species in 1859 was readily assimilated by educated Hindus, and several reformers, notably Vivekananda and Aurobindo, incorporated evolution into their philosophies. Hindu scientists such as Jagadish Chandra Bose were also influenced by Darwinian evolution, as were a number of modern Hindu thinkers. The results of an investigation into the religious beliefs of young Indian scientists at four centers were also summarized. The view that what goes around comes around appears increasingly to be open to doubt. Many educated Indians, not only Hindus, are raising more probing questions that call for deeper dialogues between science and religion, especially about what each believes it means to be truly human.
Darwin • evolution • Hindu • reincarnation • Vivekananda
David L. Gosling was until recently Principal of Edwardes College, Peshawar, and is a Life Member of Clare Hall, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB3 9AL, UK; e-mail: dlg26 @ cam.ac.uk.
Re-reading Genesis, John and Job: a Christian response to Darwinism by Christopher Southgate
This article offers one response from within Christianity to the theological challenges of Darwinism. It identifies evolutionary theory as a key aspect of the context of contemporary Christian hermeneutics. Examples of the need for re-reading of scripture, and reassessment of key doctrines, in the light of Darwinism include the reading of the creation and fall accounts of Genesis 1-3, the reformulation of the Christian doctrine of humanity as created in the image of God, and the possibility of a new approach to the Incarnation in the light of evolution and semiotics. Finally, a theodicy in respect of evolutionary suffering is outlined, in dialogue with recent writings attributing such suffering to a force in opposition to God. The latter move is rejected on both theological and scientific grounds. Further work on evolutionary theodicy is proposed, in relation in particular to the doctrine of creatio ex nihilo.
Karl Barth • creatio ex nihilo • Darwinism • Das Nichtige • evolution • Fall • Genesis • Gospel of John • hermeneutics • imago Dei • Job • semiotics • Shadow Sophia • theodicy
Christopher Southgate is Research Fellow in the Department of Theology, University of Exeter. Address correspondence to Dr. C. C. B. Southgate, Amory Building, Rennes Drive, Exeter EX4 4RJ, UK; e-mail: c.c.b.southgate @ ex.ac.uk.
Judaism and Science
Reflections on the Distinctness of Judaism and Science by Norbert Samuelson
The object of this essay is to explain what there is about discussions of Judaism and the sciences that is distinctive from discussions about religion in general and the sciences. The description draws primarily but not exclusively from recent meetings of the Judaism, Medicine, and Science Group in Tempe, Arizona. The authors Jewish Faith and Modern Science, together with a selective bibliography of writings in this subfield, are used to generate a list of science issues—focused around the religious doctrines of creation, revelation, and redemption in Judaism—that raise specific challenges to Jewish faith. Special attention is given to Leon Kasss The Hungry Soul as an example of a distinctive way to integration knowledge of both science and rabbinic Judaism on a philosophical issue.
creation • Darwinism • democracy • food • Halachah • history • humanism • Kabbalah and filosofia • medicine • monism and dualism • rabbi • race • redemption • religion • revelation • wisdom
Norbert M. Samuelson is the Harold and Jean Grossman Professor of Jewish Philosophy at Arizona State University, School of Historical, Philosophical, and Religious Studies, PO Box 874302, Tempe, AZ 85287-4302, USA; e-mail: Norbert.Samuelson @ asu.edu.
Zionism and the Eros of Science and Technology by Noah Efron
From the earliest nineteenth-century manifestos through the big, technology-rich development projects of Israels recent history, science and technology have loomed large in Zionist ideologies. There were several reasons for this. From the start, science and technology fit snuggly with many aims, ideals, and ideologies of Zionism. Science and technology offered means to establish Jewish title to the land. They made plain that Jewish settlement of Palestine was a Western project imbued with Western ideals. Science and technology (and scientific industry) made plain the progressive nature of the Zionist undertaking. They informed arguments that Jewish settlement would even benefit those locals displaced by the Zionists, bringing them culture of universal value, and providing a bridge between these backward societies and the advanced West. More importantly, science and technology helped meet growing practical needs of Jews building a national infrastructure in Palestine. The imprint of these considerations has remained large and influential in Israeli society until today.
Israel • science • technology • Zionism
Noah Efron chairs the Program in Science, Technology, and Society, Bar Ilan University, Ramat-Gan, Israel 52900.
Biology has been able to systematize and order its vast information through the theory of evolution, offering the possibility of a more engaged dialogue and possible integration with religious insights and emotions. Using Judaism as a focus, this essay examines ways that contemporary evolutionary theory offers room for balancing freedom and constraint, serendipity and intentionality in ways fruitful to Jewish thought and expression. This essay then looks at a productive integration of Judaism and biology in the examples of coevolution, environmental ethics, the place of humans within nature, the relationship of mind and brains, and the ways that individual and group identity blur.
biology • co-creation • consciousness • creation • emergence • environmental ethics • evolution • freedom • integration • Judaism • laws • spandrels
Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson is the Dean of the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies at the American Jewish University, 15600 Mulholland Drive, Los Angeles CA 90077-1599, USA; e-mail: bartson @ ajula.edu.
Voices from the Next Generation
Exploring Humanity and Our Relations by Michael Hogue and Lea Schweitz
This brief article introduces a symposium series on science and spirituality. Articles by Paul Voelker, Andrea Hollingsworth, Jason P. Roberts, Stephen McMillin, and Steven Cottam represent the prize-winning papers from the first two symposia.
hermeneutics • human nature • metaphysics • theological anthropology
Michael Hogue is Associate Professor of Theology at Meadville Lombard Theological School, 5701 S. Woodlawn Avenue, Chicago, IL 60637, USA; e-mail: mhogue @ meadville.edu. Lea F. Schweitz is Assistant Professor of Systematic Theology/Religion and Science at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, 1100 East 55th Street, Chicago, IL 60615, USA; and Director of the Zygon Center for Religion and Science, www.zygoncenter.org; e-mail: lschweitz @ lstc.edu.
Contrary to proposals that seek a harmonious integration of science and religion or science and spirituality, I argue that contemporary scientific and philosophical work at the mind-brain interface gives us reason to be skeptical of many of the claims found within religious spiritualities. Religious spiritualities typically presume commitment to strong versions of metaphysical dualism, while contemporary mind science gives us every reason to think that the mind is the brain. If materialism is true, what becomes of spirituality? Materialism or naturalism is widely understood to be an anti-religious position with corrosive effects on morality. I correct this impression, arguing that materialism offers a compelling account of moral objectivity and is fully compatible with an appreciation for many aspects of religion. I further suggest that nothing precludes dialogue and conversation between naturalists and religious believers.
atheism • consciousness • dualism • ethics • materialism • morality • naturalism • physicalism • theism
Paul Voelker recently received his Ph.D. in constructive theology from Loyola University in Chicago. His mailing address is 6124 N. Winthrop Ave. #312, Chicago, IL 60660, USA; e-mail: pvoelke @ luc.edu.
The Ambiguity of Interdisciplinarity by Andrea Hollingsworth
What kind of consciousness is best prepared to undertake effective interdisciplinary explorations in religion and science in our twenty-first century context? This paper draws on the thought of theologian David Tracy and psychologist and philosopher of religion James W. Jones to suggest that negation and ecstasy are mutually conditioning factors that go into the shaping of just such a consciousness. Healthy, constructive modes of relating to the disciplinary other imply the emergence of a transformed way of knowing and being wherein the scholar countenances the loss of controlling and autonomous ways of relating (negation), and precisely in that loss, enters into shared spaces of mutually illuminative and transformative understanding (ecstasy).
epistemology • hermeneutics • interdisciplinary method • James W. Jones • psychoanalysis • relationality • revisionist • David Tracy
Andrea Hollingsworth is a Ph.D. candidate in Constructive Theology at Loyola University Chicago, 1032 W. Sheridan Road, Chicago, IL 60660, USA; e-mail: ahollin @ luc.edu.
Emerging in the Image of God to Know Good and Evil by Jason Roberts
Found in the Primeval History in Genesis, the biblical concepts of the image of God and the knowledge of good and evil remain integral to Christian anthropology, especially with regard to the theologoumena of fall and original sin. All of these symbols are remained important and appropriate descriptors of the human condition, provided that contemporary academic theological anthropology engages in constructive dialogue with the natural and social sciences. Using Paul Ricoeurs notion of second naïveté experience, I illustrate the hermeneutical significance of contemporary bio-cultural or socio-biological evolutionary theory for reformulating these concepts of Christian anthropology today.
constitutive utterance • created co-creator • emergence • fall; humans-being-and-becoming-in-relation • imago Dei or image of God • knowledge of good and evil • myth • negative contrast experience • original sin • relationality • second naïveté • theory of meaning
Jason P. Roberts is a Ph.D. candidate in religious studies at Marquette University, P.O. Box 1881, 607 N. 13th St. Milwaukee, WI 53201, USA; e-mail: jason.roberts @ marquette.edu.
Faith-Based Social Services: From Communitarian to Individualistic Values by Stephen E. McMilln
This article argues that a primary, contemporary product of four moments in the history of faith-based social services has been a highly selective and inconsistent use of the notion of human rights by churches and church leaders. Churches still occasionally reference a communitarian sense of human rights and public good but now more commonly use the rhetoric of individual rights to contest specific political positions and social policies in the arena of the social service agencies these churches sponsor. Changing church views of human nature are not sweeping changes, but small changes of degree that still have the power to powerfully reorient social relations. In this sense, churches that sponsor social services increasingly espouse a privatized, economic, and individualistic Civil Society in sharp contrast to communitarian notions of social citizenship that formerly better reflected churches operating ontology.
Christian ontology • church mission • faith-based • free market • market-based • social services
Stephen Edward McMillin is a doctoral candidate at the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago, 969 E. 60th Street, Chicago, IL 60637, USA; e-mail: smcmill @ uchicago.edu.
Self-Control Failure in Catholicism, Islam, and Cognitive Psychology by Steven Cottam
Our human condition is often defined in terms of human fallibility; we are human specifically because we fail to live up to our own expectations. This paper explores various conceptions of one form of human fallibility: self-control failure. Self-control failure is examined through two conceptualizations, with each conceptualization observed through a corresponding theological and psychological lens: first, as the result of a divided, conflicted humanity, as understood by the Catholic Doctrine of Original Sin and psychological Dual-Process Theories of Cognition; and second, as the result of limited goal perception, as understood by Islamic conceptions of human memory and psychological Construal Level Theory. A concluding discussion considers two broader implications of the preceding analysis: first, that an appropriate understanding of human fallibility can help us to mitigate its effects, and second, that a conversation regarding overlapping concepts across academic disciplines and religious traditions can enrich understanding of said concepts.
Catholicism • cognitive psychology • construal level • human condition • Islam • original sin • Quran • self-control • theological anthropology
Steven Cottam is pursuing a Masters of Theology, with a concentration in Interreligious Dialogue, at Catholic Theological Union in Hyde Park, Chicago, where he is also an intern in the Catholic-Muslim Studies Program. He can be reached at the Catholic Theological Union, 5401 S. Cornell Ave., Chicago, IL 60615, USA; e-mail: Cottam.s @ gmail.com.
Am I a Monkey? Six Big Questions about Evolution by Francisco J. Ayala, reviewed by Paul G. Heltne