The Future of the First Sixty Years of Religion and Science
It might be argued that the modern American science and religion discussion started fifty years ago, with the first issue of Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science and Ian Barbours Issues in Science and Religion, both appearing in 1966. Both go back to work that started in the 1950s (Hefner 2014; Peters 2014). For the journal, the foundational event is the creation of IRAS, the Institute on Religion in an Age of Science, and its first conference at Star Island in the summer of 1954.
In 2014, IRAS held its sixtieth conference, again on Star Island, not only to commemorate its past, but also to consider the future of religion and science. With this issue, readers will get their share of the plenary lectures. Karl Peters, former editor of Zygon, linked the ghosts of IRAS past to those of the present and future. Michael Ruse, philosopher and historian of biology, challenges those who seek some form of integration between science and religion, as he defends their coexistence as different and relatively independent human activities—which involves a particular view of science and of religion (see Ruse 2011; Wisdo 2011). Ruse considers a fairly traditional Christian concept of God. In contrast, in a personal essay Nancy Ellen Abrams—author of the recent A God Who Could Be Real: Spirituality, Science, and the Future of Our Planet (Abrams 2014)—prefers a rather different understanding of God, as a name for emergent features in our existence. In doing so, she assumes a different understanding of science and of religion and a more immediate link between scientific knowledge and spiritual beliefs.
Intelligent design (ID) theorists assert that ID is a scientific theory that is merely consistent with some religious beliefs. Many critics point to the circumstantial evidence of the apparent development of ID from creation science and the affiliation of ID with mainstream evangelical organizations to assert its religious orientation. This article suggests that the position of ID proponents is a substantial understatement, and that beyond the circumstantial evidence of critics, fundamental Christian doctrine constitutes the essence of ID theory. The bulk of scholarship on ID is polarized into those for and against, as most focus on adjudicating ID truth claims, but this adversarial structure elides some important complexities. This article sets aside the truth claims of ID and focuses more broadly on the discourse in which it is situated to show the Christian core of ID and to examine several hallmarks of religion apparent from this perspective.
Christianity • intelligent design • religion • religious studies
Sharon Woodill is in the Religious Studies Department at Mount Saint Vincent University, 1266 Bedford Highway, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, B3M 2J6; e-mail: sharon.woodill @ msvu.ca.
An Idea of Nature: A Bipolar Proposal by Philip Hefner
This article argues that in order to understand nature, we depend on a basic idea or ideal type of nature, following R. G. Collingwoods work The Idea of Nature. Collingwood asserted that the prevailing idea of nature in Western thought evolved through three analogies for understanding nature: (1) living organism, (2) machine, and (3) historical process. His use of the concept of idea is comparable to the use of ideal type proposed by Max Weber and Ernst Troeltsch. This article is a bipolar proposal: the one pole suggests revising Collingwood by including three additional elements: (4) emergence, (5) mystery, and (6) full-bodied/God-intoxication. Each of these elements is elaborated. The second pole concludes that under the aegis of this sixfold idea of nature, the classical Christian dogma of the Incarnation, the Two Natures of Christ can be interpreted as a proposal for understanding nature. The two poles are not necessarily bound together, but for certain theological purposes they may indeed work in tandem.
Chalcedon • R. G. Collingwood • dogma of the Two Natures • ecstatic naturalism • idea of nature • mystery • nature
Philip Hefner is Professor Emeritus of Systematic Theology, Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. He was Editor of Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science from 1989 to 2009. Correspondence can be mailed to 5550 South Shore Drive, Apt. 902, Chicago, IL 60637-5033; e-mail: philnevahefner @ gmail.com.
Levels of Analysis in Philosophy, Religion, and Science by Piotr Bylica
This article introduces a model of levels of analysis applied to statements found in philosophical, scientific, and religious discourses in order to facilitate a more accurate description of the relation between science and religion. The empirical levels prove to be the most crucial for the relation between science and religion, because they include statements that are important parts of both scientific and religious discourse, whereas statements from metaphysical levels are only important in terms of religion (and philosophy) and are neutral in relation to particular scientific theories. In particular, the rejection of certain ontological assumptions behind special divine action logically entails the rejection of the literal meaning of empirical statements describing special open expression of supernatural factors in nature. Such a rejection also entails an essential revision of many religious systems of beliefs, including traditional Christian theism.
divine action • metaphysics • miracles • philosophy of science • popular religion • religion • science • scientific method • theology and science
Piotr Bylica is Assistant Professor in the Department of Logic and Methodology of Sciences, University of Zielona Góra. He may be contacted at the Institute of Philosophy, University of Zielona Góra, Poland; email P.Bylica @ ifil.uz.zgora.pl.
IRAS @ 60 and the Future of Religion and Science
The Ghosts of IRAS Past and the Changing Cultural Context of Religion and Science by Karl E. Peters
Beginning with our cosmic ancestors and the 1950s ancestors of Institute on Religion in an Age of Science (IRAS, the &147;Ghosts&&148;), this essay highlights the wider, post-WorldWar II cultural context, including other science and religion organizations, in which IRAS was formed. It then considers eight challenges from todays context. From the context of science there are (1) the challenge of scale that leads us to question our place in the scheme of things and can lead to a challenge to morale concerning whether we make any difference; (2) the challenge of human variability that leads to the question whether there is a single human moral nature; and (3) the challenge of detailed explanation that leads to the question of what is the task of theology in relation to detailed scientific explanation. From the religion context there are (4) the challenge of objectivity—studying religion without practicing religion; and (5) the challenge of pluralism and the variety of cultural and religious perspectives. From the context of the growing and diverse science-and-religion enterprise, considered from the perspective of IRAS developed in the first part of this essay, there are the challenges of (6) apologetics and (7) intellectualization. Finally, from the context of our growing, worldwide consumerist culture that is contributing to the radical alteration of the planetary environment, leading to much suffering, there is (8) the challenge of becoming more motivated to act for the long-term global good.
apologetics • connectome • consumerism • dark energy • dark matter • empathy • Institute on Religion in an Age of Science • meaning • morale • morality • motivation • problem of scale • • •
Karl E. Peters is Professor Emeritus of Philosophy and Religion, Rollins College, Winter Park, FL. Correspondence can be mailed at 30 Barn Door Hills Road, Granby, CT 06035, USA; e-mail: kpeters396 @ cox.net.
Why I Am an Accomodationist and Proud of It by Michael Ruse
There is a strong need of a reasoned defense of what was known as the independence position of the science-religion relationship but that more recently has been denigrated as the accommodationist position, namely that while there are parts of religion—fundamentalist Christianity in particular—that clash with modern science, the essential parts of religion (Christianity) do not and could not clash with science. A case for this position is made on the grounds of the essentially metaphorical nature of science. Modern science functions because of its root metaphor of the machine: the world is seen in mechanical terms. As Thomas Kuhn insisted, metaphors function in part by ruling some questions outside their domain. In the case of modern science, four questions go unasked and hence unanswered: Why is there something rather than nothing? What is the foundation of morality? What is mind and its relationship to matter? What is the meaning of it all? You can remain a nonreligious skeptic on these questions, but it is open for the Christian to offer his or her answers, so long as they are not scientific answers. Here then is a way that science and religion can coexist.
accommodationism • foundations of morality • fundamental question • Independence position • Thomas Kuhn • mechanism • metaphor • mind-body problem • Scientific Revolution • the problem of meaning
Michael Ruse is the Lucyle T. Werkmeister Professor of Philosophy and the Director of the Program in the History and Philosophy of Science, Department of Philosophy, Florida State University, 151 Dodd Hall MC 1500, Tallahassee, FL 32306-1500, USA; e-mail: mruse @ fsu.edu.
A God That Could Be Real in the New Scientific Universe by Nancy Ellen Abrams
We are living at the dawn of the first truly scientific picture of the universe-as-a-whole, yet people are still dragging along prescientific ideas about God that cannot be true and are even meaningless (e.g., omniscience) in the universe we now know we live in. This makes it impossible to have a coherent big picture of the modern world that includes God. But we dont have to accept an impossible God or else no God. We can have a real God if we redefine God in light of knowledge no one ever had before. The key question is, Could anything actually exist in the scientific universe that is worthy of the name, God? My answer is yes: God is an emergent phenomenon, as real as the global economy or the government or the worldwide web, which are all emergent phenomena. But God arose from something deeper: the complex interactions of all humanitys aspirations. An emerging God has enormous implications.
atheism • complexity • cosmology • creation • emergence • God • philosophy of science • quantum cosmology • spirituality • theology and science
Nancy Ellen Abrams is a philosopher of science and a lawyer specializing in the resolution of controversies involving scientific uncertainty, and she has been a lecturer at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She may be contacted by e-mail at nancysview @ gmail.com or through her website, http://agodthatcouldbereal.com.
Religion, Science and Globalization: Beyond Comparative Approaches by Whitney Bauman
Using case studies from the Indonesian context, this article argues that the current truth regimes we now live by are always and already hybrid and that we need new methods for understanding meaning-making practices in an era of globalization and climate change than comparative approaches allow. Following the works of such thinkers as physicist Karen Barad, political philosopher William Connolly, and eco-critic Timothy Morton, this article develops the idea that an event-oriented or object-oriented approach better captures our hybrid meaning-making practices. Not only that, but it also provides a lens through which to understand traditions as polydox (rather than orthodox) and the rise of modern science as itself a planetary (rather than a Western) phenomenon.
Gilles Deleuze • emergence • methods • new materialism • ontology
Whitney Bauman is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Florida International University where he is also Director in the Program for the Study of Spirituality. He may be contacted at Florida International University - Religious Studies, University Park Campus DM 301A, Miami, FL 33199, USA; email: wbauman @ fiu.edu.
The Relation between Science and Religion in the Pluralistic Landscape of Todays World by Zainal Abidin Bagir
The attempt to expand the discourse of science and religion by considering the pluralistic landscape of todays world requires not only adding new voices from more religious traditions but a rethinking of the basic categories of the discourse, that is, science, religion, and the notion that the main issue to be investigated is the relationship between the two. Making use of historical studies of science and religion discourse and a case study from Indonesia, this article suggests a rethinking of the categories, including giving more attention to indigenous religions.
Ian Barbour • John Hedley Brooke • indigenous religions • Indonesia • Islam • Muslim • world religions
Zainal Abidin Bagir is Director of the Center for Religious and Cross-Cultural Studies, Graduate School, Gadjah Mada University, Jl. Teknika Utara, Pogung, Yogyakarta 55281, Indonesia; e-mail: zainalbagir @ ugm.ac.id.
Scholars, Amateurs, and Artists as Partners for the Future of Religion and Science by Sarah Fredericks and Lea Schweitz
We recommend that the future of religion and science involve more partnerships between scholars, amateurs, and artists. This reimagines an underdeveloped aspect of the history of religion and science. Case studies of an undergraduate course examining religious ritual and technology, seminarians reflecting on memory and identity in light of Alzheimer's disease, environmentalists responding to their guilt and shame about climate change, and Chicagoans recognizing the presence of nature in the city show how these partnerships respect insights and experiences of our varied partners, identify and resolve community problems, and advance scholarship. Sourdough starter, a new metaphor, describes these collaborative, nourishing partnerships.
amateurs • artists • climate change • guilt • memory • partnership • pedagogy • ritual • shame • sourdough starter • technology • urban nature
Sarah E. Fredericks is Associate Professor of Philosophy and Religion, University of North Texas. She may be contacted at University of North Texas, 1155 Union Circle #310920, Denton, TX 76201, USA; email: sfrederi @ unt.edu. Lea F. Schweitz is Associate Professor of Systematic Theology/Religion and Science and Director of the Zygon Center for Religion and Science, Lutheran School of Theology. She may be contacted at Zygon Center for Religion and Science, Lutheran School of Theology, Chicago, 1100 E. 55th St., Chicago, IL 60615, USA; email: lschweitz @ lstc.edu.
From Authority to Authenticity: IRAS and Zygon in New Contexts by Willem B. Drees
In the 60 years since IRAS was founded, and the 50 years since Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science started, science has developed enormously. More important, though less obvious, the character of religion has changed, at least in Western countries. Church membership has gone down considerably. This is not due to arguments, for example, about science and atheism, but reflects a change in sources of authority. Rather than the traditional and communal authority, an individualism that emphasizes authenticity characterizes religion and spirituality in our time. Less extensive but similar is the loss of authority with respect to science. As a consequence, "religion and science" might seek to provide attractive constructive proposals for visions that integrate an ethos and a worldview. IRAS might contribute by providing a platform for information and the exchange of proposals for a particular audience, while Zygon serves a global and diverse audience with well-researched articles.
authenticity • authority • IRAS • religion • science • science and religion • secularization • Zygon
Willem B. Drees is Dean of the Tilburg School of Humanities, Professor of Philosophy of the Humanities at Tilburg University, the Netherlands, and the editor of Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science; e-mail: w.b.drees @ tilburguniversity.edu.
Religion and Science around the World: Review Articles
Knowledge, Values and Belief in the South African Context since 1948: An Overview by Ernst M. Conradie and Cornel W. du Toit
In this contribution, an overview of the distinct ways in which the interplay between knowledge, values, and beliefs took shape in the South African context since 1948 is offered. This is framed against the background of the paleontological significance of South Africa and an appreciation of indigenous knowledge systems, but also of the ideological distortion of knowledge and education during the apartheid era through the legacy of neo-Calvinism. The overview includes references to discourse on human rationality (as an implicit critique against ideology), on the use of social sciences in theological reflection, on the teaching of evolution in public schools, on science and religion, and on religion and ecology. The essay concludes with a survey of some of the major voices regarding the interface between religion and science in South Africa.
apartheid • contextual theology • human rationality • indigenous knowledge systems (IKS) • religion and ecology • South African Science and Religion Forum (SASRF)
Ernst M. Conradie is Senior Professor in the Department of Religion and Theology at the University of the Western Cape where he teaches Systematic Theology and Ethics. He may be contacted at University of the Western Cape, Religion and Theology, Private Bag X 17 Bellville, Bellville 7535, South Africa; e-mail econradie @ uwc.ac.za. Cornel W. du Toit is Head of the Research Institute for Theology and Religion at the University of South Africa. He may be contacted at University of South Africa, Research Institute for Theology and Religion, Pretoria, South Africa; e-mail: Dtoitcw @ unisa.ac.za.
Science and Religion in Latin America: Developments and Prospects by Ignacio Silva
The state of the debate surrounding issues on science and religion in Latin America is mostly unknown, both to regional and extra-regional scholars. This article presents and reviews in some detail the developments since 2000, when the first symposium on science and religion was held in Mexico, up to the present. I briefly introduce some features of Latin American academia and higher education institutions, as well as some trends in the public reception of these debates and atheist engagement with it in Mexico and Argentina. The primary conclusion of this article is that, even though the discussion is new to Latin American academic circles, it is gaining traction and will certainly grow in the coming years.
Latin America • liberation theology • science and religion • theology and science
Ignacio Silva is a Research Fellow at Harris Manchester College and the Ian Ramsey Centre for Science and Religion, University of Oxford, Harris Manchester College, Oxford OX1 3TD, UK; e-mail: ignacio.silva @ hmc.ox.ac.uk.
During the last fifty years, the dialogue between science and religion in Germany has gained momentum. This essay briefly describes the academic setting in Germany with denominational theology at state universities and explains the development of secularization in reunified Germany. Twenty-five years after reunification, East Germany is one of the most secular societies in the world, and religion is seen as a strange relic. This poses challenges to the interaction between science and religion in both parts of Germany. The essay then presents important institutions and contributors to the interaction between science and religion in Germany over the past fifty years, emphasizing the importance of private institutes at the intersection of the academy with society, churches, and ethical challenges.
Germany • Jürgen Moltmann • Wolfhart Pannenberg • secularism • theology and science • Michael Welker
Dirk Evers is Professor for Systematic Theology, Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg, 06099 Halle (Saale), Germany; e-mail: dirk.evers @ theologie.uni-halle.de.
The Craziness for Extra-Sensory Perception: Qigong Fever and the Science-Pseudoscience Debate in China by Jianhui Li and Zheng Fu
From 1979 to 1999, a heated dispute over the science or pseudoscience of extraordinary power or extrasensory perception (ESP) took place in China. During these two decades, many so-called grandmasters of ESP and Qigong emerged, and millions of people across the country studied with them; this was known as Qigong Fever or ESP Fever. The supporters of ESP argued that ESP existed, people could cultivate ESP through specific Qigong training, and ESP was a science; whereas the opponents of ESP denied all of these. Both sides of the dispute had many supporters. With the onset of Qigong Fever in China, some Qigong and ESP masters developed their Qigong organizations into Chinese-style religions. Qigong Fever ended when the religions were banned by the Chinese government. The rise of Qigong Fever demonstrated that basic questions about the boundaries between science and pseudoscience were not easy to answer. Different theoretical and practical consequences resulted from different answers to these questions.
China • extraordinary power or extrasensory perception (ESP) • Qigong Fever • science-pseudoscience debate
Jianhui Li is Professor of Philosophy in the School of Philosophy, Beijing Normal University, 19 Xinjiekouwai Street, Beijing 100875, China; e-mail: ljh @ bnu.edu.cn. Zheng Fu is Assistant Professor in the School of Philosophy, Beijing Normal University, 19 Xinjiekouwai Street, Beijing 100875, China; e-mail: shenzhou6635 @ mail.bnu.edu.cn.
Victorian Scientific Naturalism: Community, Identity, Continuity by Gowan Dawson and Bernard Lightmann, reviewed by James Ungureanu