Zygon: Journal of Religion & Science
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Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science
50 (4), December 2015

Table of Contents


After Fifty Full Years, It’s Nice Not to Know by Willem B. Drees

In Fiddler on the Roof, a 1971 movie on Jewish life in Russia in the early twentieth century, the three oldest daughters of dairyman Tevye (played by Chaim Topol) and his wife Golde (Norma Crane) intend to marry men with different ways of life. Triggered by the new ways in which their daughters speak of love, Tevye asks Golde, in a duet, “Do you love me?” Her first response is dismissive; “You are upset, you are worn out. Go inside, Go lay down, maybe it’s indigestion.” He persists, and after some back and forth, including recollections of the first time they met, on their wedding day, the duet takes a pragmatic but romantic turn. “For twenty-five years I have lived with him, fought with him, starved with him. Twenty-five years my bed is his. If that’s not love, what is?” “Then you love me?” “I suppose I do.” “And I suppose I love you too.” Which leads to the conclusion, “It doesn’t change a thing, but even so. After twenty-five years, it’s nice to know.”
DOI: 10.1111/zygo.12225


Galileo in the Russian Orthodox Context: History, Philosophy, Theology, and Science by Teresa Obolevitch

The trial of Galileo remains a representative example of the alleged incompatibility between science and religion as well as a suggestive case study of the relationship between them from the Western historical and methodological perspective. However, the Eastern Christian view has not been explored to a significant extent. In this article, the author considers relevant aspects of the reception of the teaching of Copernicus and Galileo in Russian culture, especially in the works of scientists. Whereas in prerevolutionary Russia Galileo was considered a symbol of the unity of science and religion, in the Soviet period his name and especially his trial was largely used for atheistic propaganda purposes. The author discusses the most recent debate in the Russian Orthodox milieu. The second part is dedicated to the presence of Galileo in Russian religious philosophy, especially in the thought of Gregory Skovoroda, Ivan Kireyevsky, and Sergey Glagolev. Finally, the relation of the Russian Orthodox Church to the teaching of Galileo is considered.
Galileo • heliocentrism • Orthodox Church • Russian religious thought
Teresa Obolevitch is Professor at Department of Philosophy, The Pontifical University of John Paul II, Kraków, Poland; and member, Copernicus Center for Interdisciplinary Studies, Kraków, Poland; e-mail: tereza.obolevich @ upjp2.edu.pl.
DOI: 10.1111/zygo.12219

Medical Management of Infant Intersex: The Juridico-Ethical Dilemma of Contemporary Islamic Legal Response by Sayed Sikandar Shah Haneef and Mahmood Zuhdi Haji Abd Majid

Technological advances in the field of medicine and health sciences not only manipulate the normal human body and sex but also provide for surgical and hormonal management of hermaphroditism (intersexuality). Consequently, sex assignment surgery has not only become a standard care for babies born with genital abnormalities in the West but even in some Muslim states. On the positive side, it goes a long way in saving children born with abnormal genitalia from numerous legal interdictions of the pre-sex corrective surgery. Nevertheless, the larger ethical and legal questions that medical management of genital abnormality raises to some extent have not been adequately appreciated by contemporary Muslim responses. This article, therefore, in principle argues against surgical management of intersexuality during early infancy from the Islamic legal perspective.
contemporary Islamic jurisprudence • intersex • juridicoethical dilemma • medical management
Sayed Sikandar Shah Haneef is Professor of Islamic Jurisprudence at the International Islamic University, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; e-mail: zahids1 @ hotmail.com. Mahmood Zuhdi Haji Abd Majid is Emeritus Professor of Islamic Jurisprudence at the International Islamic University, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
DOI: 10.1111/zygo.12220

The Evolution of Human Birth and Transhumanist Proposals of Enhancement by Eduardo R. Cruz

Some transhumanists argue that we must engage with theories and facts about our evolutionary past in order to promote future enhancements of the human body. At the same time, they call our attention to the flawed character of evolution and argue that there is a mismatch between adaptation to ancestral environments and contemporary life. One important trait of our evolutionary past which should not be ignored, and yet may hinder the continued perfection of humankind, is the peculiarly human way of bearing and raising children. The suffering associated with childbirth and a long childhood have demanded trade-offs that have enhanced our species, leading to cooperation, creativity, intelligence and resilience. Behaviors such as mother–infant engagement, empathy, storytelling, and ritual have also helped to create what we value most in human beings. Therefore, the moral, cognitive, and emotional enhancements proposed by these transhumanists may be impaired by their partial appropriation of evolution, insofar as the bittersweet experience of parenthood is left aside.
childbirth • emotions • evolution • natality • parenthood • transhumanism
Eduardo R. Cruz is a Professor of Religious Studies at the School of Social Sciences, Pontifical Catholic University of São Paulo, R. Monte Alegre, 984, Sao Paulo 05014, Brazil; e-mail erodcruz @ pucsp.br.
DOI: 10.1111/zygo.12217

Reviews on Religion and Science around the World

Islam and Science: The Next Phase of Debates by Nidhal Guessoum

This article reviews the new developments that have occurred in the past ten to fifteen years in the field of Islam and science: (1) the emergence of a “new generation” of thinkers, Muslim scientists who accept modern science’s fundamental methodology, theories, and results, and try to find ways to “harmonize” it with Islam; and (2) the exponential increase in the popularity of the I‘jaz ‘Ilmiy “theory,” the “miraculous scientific content of the Qur’an” (and, some say, the Hadith) as well as the continuation of the traditionalist school (Iqbal and others, following Nasr) among a section of the Muslim intelligentsia. The author then focuses on the next phase of issues, that is the “challenges” that this “new generation” must address, including the integration of methodological naturalism and evolution (biological and human) in the Islamic worldview, and positions to adopt regarding divine action and miracles. The author also mentions “educational and social issues” where Islam and science interface, and concludes with “the way forward.”
divine action • evolution • Islam • miracles • methodological naturalism • science
Nidhal Guessoum is Professor of Astronomy and Physics at the American University of Sharjah, United Arab Emirates; e-mail: nguessoum @ aus.edu.
DOI: 10.1111/zygo.12213

“Science-Religion Samvada” and the Indian Cultural Heritage by Anindita Niyogi Balslev

This article seeks to delineate some of the fundamental philosophical traits that are special characteristics of the Indian cultural soil. Tracing these from the Vedic period, it is shown that this heritage is still alive and gives a distinctive flavor to the science-religion dialogue in the Indian context. The prevalent attitude is not to view science and religion as antagonistic, but rather as forces that together could create a world where the persistent epistemological and ethical problems can get resolved to the benefit of humanity. In Indian thought rationality and spirituality are not viewed as opposed categories. The notion of “evidence” has played a crucial role in all enquiries for legitimizing the sources of knowledge and the criteria by which any claim to knowledge can be tested. References to investigations pertaining to such areas as cosmology, ecology, ethics, study of consciousness, and so on are made in order to bring out their relevance for science-religion dialogue today.
ethics • Hinduism • Indian heritage • interdisciplinarity • naturalism • philosophy
Anindita Niyogi Balslev is a philosopher based in India and Denmark and is the initiator of the forum entitled Cross Cultural Conversation (CCC) and a founding member of the International Society for the Study of Science and Religion (ISSR); e-mail: aninditabalslev @ hotmail.com.
DOI: 10.1111/zygo.12229

Why Do We Disagree on Climate Change?

(Still) Disagreeing about Climate Change: Which Way Forward? by Mike Hulme

Why does climate change continue to be a forceful idea which divides people? What does this tell us about science, about culture, and about the future? Despite disagreement, how might the idea of climate change nevertheless be used creatively? In this essay I develop my investigation of these questions using four lines of argument. First, the future risks associated with human-caused climate change are severely underdetermined by science. Scientific predictions of future climates are poorly constrained; even more so the consequences of such climates for evolving human socio-technological and natural ecosystems. Second, I argue that to act politically in the world, people have to pass judgments on the facts of science; facts do not speak for themselves. Third, because these judgments are different, the strategic goals of policy interventions developed in response to risks associated with future climate change are inevitably multiple and conflicting. Finally, reconciling and achieving diverse goals requires political contestation. “Moving forward” on climate change then becomes a task of investing in the discursive and procedural preconditions for an agonistic politics to work constructively, to enable ways of implementing policies when people disagree.
Anthropocene • climate change • democracy • pluralism • politics • synecdoche
Mike Hulme is Professor of Climate and Culture, Department of Geography, King’s College, London, UK; e-mail: mike.hulme @ kcl.ac.uk.
DOI: 10.1111/zygo.12212

Climate Change and the Clash of Worldviews: An Exploration of How to Move Forward in a Polarized Debate by Annick de Witt

The current gridlock around climate change and how to address our global sustainability issues can be understood as resulting from clashes in worldviews. This article summarizes some of the research on worldviews in the contemporary West, showing that these (ideal-typical) worldviews have different, and frequently complementary, potentials, as well as different pitfalls, with respect to addressing climate change. Simultaneously, the overview shows that, because of their innate reflexivity and their capacity to appreciate and synthesize multiple perspectives, individuals inhabiting integrative worldviews may have particular potentials with respect to addressing climate change. In the conclusion I argue that the policy challenge is to develop strategies that inspire the different worldview groups to actualize their potentials while mitigating their pitfalls, as well as to unite and mobilize them around a single vision that speaks to them all.
climate change • cultural polarization • gridlock • sustainability • worldviews
Annick de Witt is a post-doctoral research fellow in the Biotechnology and Society Group of the Delft University of Technology, Delft, The Netherlands; e-mail: a.deWitt @ tudelft.nl.
DOI: 10.1111/zygo.12226

Storytelling and Wicked Problems: Myths of the Absolute and Climate Change by Lisa L. Stenmark

This article examines the emphasis on facts and data in public discourse, and the belief that they provide a certainty necessary for public judgment and collective action. The heart of this belief is what I call the “myth of the Absolute,” which is the belief that by basing our judgment and actions on an Absolute we can avoid errors and mistakes. Myths of the Absolute can help us deal with wicked problems such as climate change, but they also have a downside. This article explores the experience behind these myths, to better understand how they describe and mediate our experiences of uncertainty, then relates these myths to debates about climate change. I conclude by describing how to engage these myths in a way that promotes better public discourse—and thus better public judgment and collective action—by telling these stories in such a way that we poke and prod wherever the story is not.
climate change • public discourse • public judgment • storytelling • wicked problems
Lisa Stenmark is a Lecturer in the Humanities Department, San José State University, San José, CA 95192, USA; e-mail: lstenmark @ earthlink.net.
DOI: 10.1111/zygo.12218

Climate Change and the Apocalyptic Imagination: Science, Faith, and Ecological Responsibility by Jonathan Moo

The use of apocalyptic and post apocalyptic narratives to interpret the risk of environmental degradation and climate change has been criticized for (1) too often making erroneous predictions on the basis of too little evidence, (2) being ineffective to motivate change, (3) leading to a discounting of present needs in the face of an exaggerated threat of impending catastrophe, and (4) relying on a premodern, Judeo-Christian mode of constructing reality. Nevertheless, “Apocalypse,” whether understood in its technical sense as “revelation” or in its popular sense as “end of the world as we know it,” remains a powerful way of creatively reimagining the world and of introducing questions of value and significance into discussions of climate change.
apocalypse • book of Revelation • Christianity • climate change • ecology • ecomodernism • environment • hope
Jonathan Moo is Associate Professor of New Testament and Environmental Studies at Whitworth University, Spokane, WA 99251, USA; e-mail: jmoo @ whitworth.edu.
DOI: 10.1111/zygo.12222

Can Science and Religion Respond to Climate Change? by Mary Evelyn Tucker

With the challenge of communicating climate science in the United States and making progress in international negotiations on climate change there is a need for other approaches. The moral issues of ecological degradation and climate justice need to be integrated into social consciousness, political legislation, and climate treaties. Both science and religion can contribute to this integration with differentiated language but shared purpose. Recognizing the limits of both science and religion is critical to finding a way forward for addressing the critical challenges of climate change. How we value nature and human–Earth relations is crucial to this. We need a broader environmental ethics in dialogue with the science of climate change.
American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) • climate change • Earth Charter • ecosystems • fairness doctrine • flourishing • global ethics • intergenerational justice • Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) • precautionary principle • renewable energy • sustainability • technology transfer
Mary Evelyn Tucker is Co-director, Forum on Religion and Ecology at Yale, and a Senior Lecturer and Senior Research Scholar in Religion and Ecology at both the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and Yale Divinity School, Yale University, New Haven, CT 06520, USA; e-mail: maryevelyn.tucker @ yale.edu.
DOI: 10.1111/zygo.12221

What Is Specific about Humans?

A Heuristic Science-Based Naturalism as a Partner for Theological Reflections on the Natural World by Paolo D’Ambrosio

After a few general observations on scientific activity, the author briefly comments on different versions of naturalism. Subsequently, he suggests that the birth of evolutionary biology and its successive developments may show how the natural world comes to be differently conceived as scientific advancements are accomplished. Then the main thesis is outlined by introducing the principles of a heuristic science-based naturalism not conclusively defining the real and the knowable. From the epistemological perspective, heuristic naturalism is meant to be framed in critical realism, whereas from the ontological standpoint it may be framed in emergent monism, given that the latter can also underpin recent trends in investigation addressing human specificity. Finally, attention is turned to some implications of heuristically guided scientific activity with regard to the issues of divine action and of imago Dei.
critical realism • divine action • emergent monism • evolutionary biology • human specificity • imago Dei • nature • naturalism • science
Paolo D’Ambrosio carried out his doctoral studies at the Pontifical Gregorian University (Faculty of Philosophy). He is a team member of the research project “The Human Specificity: Tools, Symbols and Culture among Neuroscience, Philosophical Anthropology and the Religious Attitude toward Creation,” supported by the John Templeton Foundation and hosted by the Pontifical University Antonianum, Rome, Italy; e-mail: paolodam.prof @ gmail.com.
DOI: 10.1111/zygo.12214

Religion as a Language: Exploring Alternative Paths in Conversation with Postreductionist Anthropologies by Lluis Oviedo

New scientific approaches to religion have delivered a considerable number of theories aimed at explaining it, despite its cognitive and adaptive oddities. These efforts were built on available theoretical frameworks, including those from cognitive science, biology, and anthropology. Many voices have raised criticism against several aspects in the cognitive and evolutionist program, even if recognizing their legitimacy and the fruits collected to date. A pressing issue is whether the problem with the new scientific study of religion is related, to some extent, to the use of outdated views on human evolution, mind, and behavior. If this is the case, then a deep revision concerning current models is required. The new direction proposed should account for more complex aspects of human nature following multilevel models, and a specific human feature—language—that could better explain religion as a meaning system. Understanding religion as a language might open an alternative path inside cognitive studies that is closer to how it is lived by believers.
anthropology • cognitive and evolutionary study of religion • consciousness • language
Lluis Oviedo is Full Professor of Christian Anthropology, Theology Faculty, Antonianum University, Rome, Italy; e-mail: loviedo @ antonianum.eu.
DOI: 10.1111/zygo.12216

The Human Being Shaping and Transcending Itself: Written Language, Brain, and Culture by Ivan Colagè

Recent theological anthropology emphasizes a dynamic and integral understanding of the human being, which is also related to Karl Rahner’s idea of active self-transcendence and to the imago Dei doctrine. The recent neuroscientific discovery of the “visual word form area” for reading, regarded in light of the concept of cultural neural reuse, will produce fresh implications for the interrelation of brain biology and human culture. The theological and neuroscientific parts are shown in their mutual connections thus articulating the notion that human beings shape and transcend themselves both at the biological and at the cultural level. This will have relevant implications for the timely topic of human uniqueness in science and theology, and in proposing a new research perspective in which theology may consider culture along with its biological import, but not necessarily in strictly evolutionary terms alone.
active self-transcendence • brain and culture • cultural neural re-use • imago Dei • Karl Rahner • theological anthropology • visual word form area • written language
Ivan Colagè is an Invited Researcher in the Faculty of Philosophy of the Pontifical University Antonianum, Rome, Italy; e-mail: i.colage @ antonianum.eu.
DOI: 10.1111/zygo.12215


Zen-Brain Horizons: Toward a Living Zen by James H. Austin reviewed by Christoffer H. Grundmann

Christoffer H. Grundmann is John R. Eckrich University Chair in Religion and the Healing Arts Valparaiso University, Valparaiso, IN, USA; e-mail: Christoffer.Grundmann @ valpo.edu
DOI: 10.1111/zygo.12224

A Natural History of Natural Theology: The Cognitive Science of Theology and Philosophy of Religion by Helen De Cruz and Johan De Smedt reviewed by Christoffer H. Grundmann

Christoffer H. Grundmann is John R. Eckrich University Chair in Religion and the Healing Arts Valparaiso University, Valparaiso, IN, USA; e-mail: Christoffer.Grundmann @ valpo.edu
DOI: 10.1111/zygo.12223

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