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Online ISSN: 1467-9744
Print ISSN: 0591-2385
This essay argues that Japan's resistance to the practice of transplanting organs from persons deemed "brain dead" may not be the result, as some claim, of that society's religions being not yet sufficiently expressive of love and altruism. The violence to the body necessary for the excision of transplantable organs seems to have been made acceptable to American Christians at a unique historical "window of opportunity" for acceptance of that new form of medical technology. Traditional reserve about corpse mutilation had weakened and, especially as presented by the theologian Joseph Fletcher, organ donation was touted as both expressive of agape and a way of "updating" Christianity via the ethics of Utilitarianism. Many Japanese, largely Buddhist and Confucian in their orientation, view these changed valorizations as neither necessary nor patently more ethical than those of their own traditions.
Reports the APA Presidential address delivered at the Chicago convention, August 1975. Urban humanity is considered as a product of both biological and social evolution. Evolutionary genetics shows that when there is genetic competition among the cooperators (as for humans but not for the social insects), great limitations are placed upon the degree of socially useful, individually self-sacrificial altruism that biological evolution can produce. Human urban social complexity is a product of social evolution and has had to counter with inhibitory moral norms the biological selfishness which genetic competition has continually selected. Because the issues are so complex and the available data are so uncompelling, all of this should be interpreted more as a challenge to an important new area for psychological research than as established conclusions. It is emphasized, however, that these are important issues to which psychology should give much greater attention, and that scientific reasons exist for believing that there can be profound system wisdom in the belief systems our social tradition has provided us with. (31/2 p ref)
The physical properties of human beings and other organisms as well as their social behavioral traits are manifestations of both genetic inheritance and environment. Recent behavioral research has indicated that certain characteristics or behaviors--such as schizophrenia, divorce, and homosexuality--are highly heritable and are not governed exclusively by social environment. A balanced view of human behavior includes the effects of social learning as well as of genetically determined behavior. A new paradigm promotes enhanced understanding and acceptance of human diversity, be it cultural, racial, or sexual, and has the potential to unite scientists and theologians by creating common grounds of understanding.
Neural fetal tissue transplantation offers promise as a treatment for devastating neurologic conditions such as Parkinson's disease. Two types of issues arise from this procedure: those associated with the use of fetuses, and those associated with the use of neural tissue. The former issues have been examined in many forums; the latter have not. This paper reviews issues and arguments raised by the use of fetal tissue in general, but focuses on the implications of the use of neural tissue for basic concepts of personhood and personal identity.
. We are faced with growing powers of manipulation of our human genetic makeup. While not denying that these powers can be used for great good, it behooves us to think now of possible upper limits to the change that we might want to effect. I argue that thoughts of changing the human species into a race of supermen and superwomen are based on weak premises. Genetic fine-tuning may indeed be in order; wholesale genetic change is not.
. This article argues that there are neither moral considerations that in principle forbid the development or use of recom-binant DNA technology, nor grounds to hold that its application is likely to cause more harm than good. A defensible moral position would enjoin a prudent assessment of consequences, rather than an absolute prohibition. The technology may remain controversial because it presupposes the difference between being a person, an entity who can evaluate and manipulate its own biological structure, and human-ness as a biological structure likely to be the subject of engineering over the long-range future.
This paper was presented at the 1968 summer conference of the Institute on Religion in an Age of Science, which dealt with the theological implications of computer science. Portions of this article appear in Biomedical Engineering Systems, edited by Manfred Clynes and J. H. Milsum. © 1970 by McGraw-Hill, Inc. They are used with permission of McGraw-Hill Rook Company.
Religious traditions enable ancestors to encourage proper social behavior in their distant descendants. Although traditional myths and rituals can provide basic values, these values must be interpreted in light of the specific circumstances encountered by later generations. In tribal societies the task of interpreting religious traditions falls upon religious leaders known as shamans. Shamans, perhaps universally, are claimed to obtain instructions from dead ancestors on how to deal with social disruptions. This paper argues that a focus on the more exotic aspects of shamanism has kept previous studies from realizing the crucial role of shamans as interpreters of religious traditions.
This annotated bibliography is a selected list of works published during the recent past by and about Teilhard. It can be considered as supplemental to the bibliographic and reference listings by individual authors in this issue. The selected listings are grouped under headings of works by Teilhard and works about Teilhard. The latter are categorized into religion, philosophy, science, and miscellany. Finally, the location is given of some principal libraries containing collections of writings by Teilhard. The emphasis is on literature written in English and French. There have been publications in other languages but English has been the most common medium used. Dissertations have not been included in the listing. The period 1980-94 showed a decline in the number of publications relative to 1966-80, but the listing below indicates there is still considerable interest and scholarship regarding Teilhard.
Neuroscience is in a period of explosive growth. To address the implications of the new findings for religion and science, Zyvon in 1996 published fifteen articles in this field. Although the authors'explorations of neuroscience and religion are various, three issues in particular are addressed repeatedly: (1) the nature of human identity, or hallmarks of humanness; (2) the nature and origin of religious consciousness; and (3) our means of discovering or constructing order and integration in the brain/mind, in the environment, and holistically. With these categories as templates, this article correlates the findings of the Zygon neuroscience contributors of 1996.
This essay is William Grassie's valedictory remarks at the Metanexus Institute's 2007 Annual Conference. Grassie asks what is wrong with religion, what is wrong with science, and why the constructive engagement of the two holds the key to setting things right. He cites Sir John Templeton and others to make his case and proposes a new curriculum for general science education that uses the history of nature as a mnemonic and context for promoting better science literacy and the incorporation of science into our cultural traditions.
Telling the tale about South Dakota's recent legislative ban on nearly all abortions gets messy, complicated, and dirty. There are no innocent subjects and no simple plot lines. The story reveals other stories underneath and over the top of the others. Stories counter stories, revealing who is in the know and who does the telling. To “tell the old, old story,” as the song goes, is not as simple as it may seem. Religion and medical science are caught in the politics and cultural wars about abortion.
Religious experiences, including mystical states and experience of the divine, are the ultimate reality of human existence that demand an account. Eugene d'Aquili weaves together that account using paradigms of thought which historically have made mutually exclusive claims about the nature of religious experience. While pointing out the deficiencies of the theory from a narrowly scientific point of view, this paper recognizes that neuroscience, or any other solitary discipline, is incompetent to explain religion. This paper emphasizes the significance and truth of d'Aquili's holistic theory, a religious vision which itself explains science and philosophy.
As the creator, God is the source of the abundance for immense variety manifest in creation. The reservoir for this abundance is the primordial chaos, identified as the Pandemonium Tremendum. God manages this inexhaustible “storehouse of the snow” through decisions or “willings,” giving rise to constraints that result in the ordered array of creation. Without this active and decisive vigilance, the Pandemonium Tremendum would scour and ravage the creation. Also, as an omniscient, unobtrusive, and impartial witness, God manages the primordial chaos without compromising its unfettered variety. What is the role of chaos as the Ungrund? All creatures are the consequence of acts of decision. God alone is self-decisive and, hence, the uniquely sovereign creator. That is, God arises spontaneously through an aboriginal act of in–speaking. Otherwise, and in utter contradiction to its radically unprincipled character, the primordial chaos would provide the arche or sufficient reason for divine causation. This mythic and metaphysical account falls in the tradition of Meister Eckhart and Nicolas Berdyaev and is expressed in the rubric of communication theory.
The primordial chaos of Genesis 1 may be understood as the Pandemonium Tremendum (or PT), the infinite field of variety or abundance within God. The concept of variety is taken from Claude Shannon's theory of communication. Especially significant is Shannon's notion that communication is the limitation of variety through decision processes. In one model of the divine life suggested by the theory, the PT is the boundless source of potential reaped by an agential God in the act of creation as a communication process. Other models for creation include the PT in a biased mode and creatures themselves as decision agents.
Not by Genes Alone excellently explains Peter J. Richerson and Robert Boyd's important ideas about human gene-culture co-evolution to a broader audience but remains short of a larger vision of civilization. Several decades ago Ralph Burhoe had seen that fertile possibility in Richerson and Boyd's work. I suggest getting past present reductionistic customs to a scientific perspective having an integral place for virtue. Subsystem agency is part of this view, as is the driving role of abundance, whose ultimate origins are in the mysterious, quintessentially energetic Big Bang. The free-rider problem may not impede higher social organization as inexorably as Richerson and Boyd believe; “the tragedy” of enervating leakage from “the commons” may often be less influential than an invigorating flow of externalities to the commons. Eukaryotic origins mark the origin of inevitable wider sharing as higher living systems evolve. I use a metaphor of flesh and spirit in drawing a parallel between that turning point and the wide sharing that occurs in civilization. This helps solve the enigma of the demographic transition. Why do so many productive participants in first-world societies severely restrict their selfish-gene reproduction to below replacement birth rate? It is not because culture is maladaptive but because civilization's brain and womb have become partially differentiated in distinct populations. Considerations of social boundaries, myths of sacrifice, and human creativity help in understanding how human social evolution taps potentials present in reality. Human beings' diverse vigorous activities—the organized ones and the inadvertent ones, the wise and the foolish, the good and the bad, the carefully thoughtful and the merely playful—provide the ground of being, or primordial soup, for cultural entities that transcend our intentions. If we have it right for the most part and are fortunate, we will continue to emerge at higher levels.
Einstein's special theory of relativity has had a wide influence on fields far removed from physics. It has given the impression that physics has shown that there are now no absolute truths, that all beliefs are relative to the observer, and that traditional stable landmarks have been washed away. We each have our own frame of reference that is as good as any other frame, so that there are no absolute standards by which our actions may be judged. The predictions of relativity theory, such as the elimination of simultaneity, the variation of mass with velocity, and the equivalence of mass and energy, are all highly counterintuitive and yet are precisely confirmed by detailed measurements. The clear rocklike mechanical physics of Newton seems to have dissolved into a swirling mist of unintelligible concepts, and familiar certainties seem to have disappeared.A detailed analysis of relativity theory shows, however, a completely different picture. Properly understood, it is a logical extension of Newtonian physics that expresses the relations of space and time in a more exact and elegant way and in the process shows forth more clearly the invariant features of the world. The apparently counterintuitive features appear as natural consequences that extend and refine our classical concepts. The traditional landmarks remain, but God's world is more subtle than we had previously imagined.
The philosophy of science of Imre Lakatos suggests criteria for acceptability of work in the interdisciplinary area of theology and science: proposals must contribute to scientific (or theological) research programs that lead to prediction and discovery of novel facts. Lakatos's methodology also suggests four legitimate types of theology–and–science interaction: (1) heuristic use of theology in science; (2) incorporation of a theological assertion as an auxiliary hypothesis in a scientific research program, or (3) as the central theory of a research program; and (4) hybrid theology–and–science programs with empirical data. Three recent Zygon articles illustrate these four types.
Religion persists, even within enlightened secular society, because it has adaptive functions. In particular, Ralph Wendell Burhoe's theory holds that religion is the repository of cultural wisdom that most encourages mutual altruism among nonkin, long-term social survival, and human progress. This article suggests a variant of Burhoe's rationalized naturalistic view. Cognitive theism is a proposal that secularists sometimes take religion on its own terms by suspending disbelief about God. If we consider particular human capacities and limitations in memory, perception, personality, and motivation, the regulated “mind expansion” of cognitive theism may help us to evaluate, coordinate, and invigorate things in a modern environment. In this environment, communicative and travel technologies have led to a high loading of consciousness with a historically unusual diverse range of experiences and responsibilities, a high rate of cultural change relative to biological evolution, and a tendency to factionalize. Burhoe's extension of the concept of symbiosis to the coevolution of culture and genes is modified here in recognition of individual differences and of individuals' potential for choosing strategies, recombining in groups, and learning. In human biocultural symbiont pools, cultural phenomena can evolve while changing partners in a dance with genetic substrates, a dance that broadly supports these substrates. In the context of diversity and incessant change in a large predominantly secular community, Judeo-Christian monotheism can have a valuable advisory unifying function.
In order to survive as a species and grow in complexity, humanity must adopt a new image of what it means to be human, rediscover a reward system beyond the merely material, and see that young people find joy in challenges and in cooperating with others.
I examine the responses to John Caiazza's “Athens, Jerusalem, and the Arrival of Techno-Secularism” as part of Zygon's forty-year anniversary symposium. The responses reveal that issues of modernism and postmodernism are central to understanding the dynamic of the current science-religion/theology dialogue and that the resistance of many of the participants to the influences of postmodernism is a sign not of its backwardness but rather of some of the weaknesses inherent in the postmodern project. This does not mean that the many insights of postmodernism should be rejected. Rather, the science-religion/theology dialogue may be in an intellectually opportune place to construct successors to the worn label of postmodernism.
We assess St. Paul's account of kenōsis in Philippians 2:5–8 from a neurophenomenological horizon. We argue that kenōsis is not primarily a unique event but belongs to a class of experiences that could be called kenotic and are, at least in principle, to some degree accessible to all human beings. These experiences can be well analyzed, making use of both a phenomenological approach and the cognitive neuroscience of altered states of consciousness. We argue that kenotic experiences are ecstatic, in that they involve—both phenomenologically and neurologically—one's “stepping out of” his/her self and history. This seemingly impossible task of stepping out has led to the understanding of kenōsis as a unique event. We conclude that kenotic experiences are continuous with common, everyday experiences of the self's intimate communion with everything that exists. This means that kenotic Christology does not necessarily have to rest solely on the scriptures but can also be arrived at by way of the worldly experiences of actual, living persons.
In a recent Zygon article (June 1991), Roger Sperry argues for the unification of science and religion based on the principle of emergent causation within the central nervous system. After illustrating Sperry's position with some current experiments, I suggest that his conclusions exceed his argument and the findings of contemporary neuroscience and propose instead a pluralistic, rather than unified, approach to the relations between religion and science necessitated by the incompleteness inherent in any strictly neurological account of human nature.
Abstract With the aid of some Scotistic conceptual distinctions, I develop a way of meeting the apparent deterministic sway of neurobiology. I make a careful distinction between formal and material freedom. Formal freedom, the ability to will or not to will a certain state of affairs regardless of whether it can be effectuated, remains, even if our material freedom to effectuate it is hampered by neurobiological mechanisms. These conceptual findings are linked with contemporary empirical research on obsessive-compulsive disorder and the possibility of volitional modulation of cerebral function.
Strong forms of dualism and eliminative materialism block any significant dialogue between the neurosciences and theology. The present article thus challenges the Sufficiency Thesis, according to which neuroscientific explanations will finally be sufficient to fully explain human behavior. It then explores the various ways in which neuroscientific results and theological interpretations contribute to an overall theory of the person. Supervenience theories, which hold that mental events are dependent on their physical substrata but not reducible to them, are explained. Challenging the determinism of “strong” supervenience, I defend a version of “soft” supervenience that allows for genuine mental causation. This view gives rise in turn to an emergentist theory of the person. Still, I remain a monist: there are many types of properties encountered in the world, although it is only the one nature that bears all these properties. The resulting position, emergentist monism, allows for diversity within the context of the one world. This view is open at the top for theological applications and interpretations while retaining the close link to neuroscientific study and its results. Theology offers an interpretation of the whole world based on a yet higher order of emergence, although the notion of God moves beyond the natural order as a whole. It therefore supplements the natural scientific study of the world without negating it.
Evolutionary psychology and intelligent-design theory both need to be able to account for the empirical world, or the world as it is. This essay is an attempt to clarify the challenges these theories need to meet, if the relevant empirical findings are replicable. There is evidence of change in the biological world and of modularity of mind, and there is a growing body of work that finds evolutionary theory a convincing and fruitful account of the “design” of the mind. Three major empirical findings within evolutionary psychology are presented and discussed. The author claims that Cartesian dualism, as it is usually meant within psychology—a split between body and mind—is false, but that Descartes' original division between body and soul has not been challenged and is not challenged by the evidence that the mind is also a biological entity. The article concludes that the convergence of theology and science is to be found in the onus to discover the truth about the world as it really is, and this calls for an ability on both parts to account for the empirical world.
The biological and cognitive approach to religion has matured somewhat and reveals interesting results. Nevertheless, some questions arise about its foundation and development. The essay offers a review of current research in the cognitive field, focusing on its conclusions, the internal discussions, and the problems that need more study or correction. Emphasis is placed on a more intricate account of the factors involved in religious experience, discussing the proper use of the discoveries of biocognitive research and the limits that should be placed on said conclusions.
Six “divine conjectures” frame the place of Theóne (The One to Whom we pray) in the creation of our universe and for its continuing development in five subsequent stages into a loving universe. The first stage, the cosmological universe, establishes the laws of nature, understood by scientists as the “standard model”. The second stage introduces life and death into the universe by a process we are only now beginning to understand. Stage 3 requires certain life forms to become conscious with a subset of those life-forms acquiring language that results in that subset becoming self-conscious. The next stage, Conjecture 4, identifies certain persons who become addicted to learning in their unrelenting effort to learn as much of what can be known as possible. The fifth conjecture requires individual persons to act as agents of Theóne in achieving Conjecture 6—a universe that is both loving and lawful. During the course of the exposition subsidiary discussions of the concepts of conjecture and hypothesis explicate the function of each in the advancement of knowledge and understanding. There are brief discussions of prayer and purpose in relation to the Divine.
Abstract Adapted from the six 2010 Star Island Chapel Talks, the paper introduces the readers to contemporary Catholic Social Teaching and its application and implementation, particularly in the fields of environmental justice and human rights. An opening vignette explains how ideas about the common good contributed to the defeat of “Takings” legislation aimed at undoing environmental regulation in the 104th Congress (1995–1996). The teaching is presented as a vision of society centered on the communion of persons and creation rather than a discrete set of principles, with human rights and charity being the twin pillars of an evolving tradition. The interaction among ideas, historic events, and social movements is stressed throughout.
The recent debates concerning divine action in the context of quantum mechanics are examined with particular reference to the work of William Pollard, Robert J. Russell, Thomas Tracy, Nancey Murphy, and Keith Ward. The concept of a quantum mechanical “event” is elucidated and shown to be at the center of this debate. An attempt is made to clarify the claims made by the protagonists of quantum mechanical divine action by considering the measurement process of quantum mechanics in detail. Four possibilities for divine influence on quantum mechanics are identified and the theological and scientific implications of each discussed. The conclusion reached is that quantum mechanics is not easily reconciled with the doctrine of divine action.
Recent articles by Nicholas Saunders, Carl Helrich, and Jeffrey Koperski raise important questions about attempts to make use of quantum mechanics in giving an account of particular divine action in the world. In response, I make two principal points. First, some of the most pointed theological criticisms lose their force if we attend with sufficient care to the limited aims of proposals about divine action at points of quantum indetermination. Second, given the current state of knowledge, it remains an open option to make theological use of an indeterministic interpretation of quantum mechanics. Any such proposal, however, will be an exploratory hypothesis offered in the face of deep uncertainties regarding the measurement problem and the presence in natural systems of amplifiers for quantum effects.
The Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences and the Vatican Observatory have jointly sponsored a series of conferences exploring the overarching question: How can we conceive a personal God creating and active within the universe described by the natural sciences? The volumes include significant contributions to the field, although I highlight two important weaknesses: (1) theology is not adequately respected as an active conversation partner capable of advancing the agenda under discussion; and (2) insufficient attention is paid to the many scientific and philosophical uncertainties that plague the overall project.
It has been suggested that God can act on the world by operating within the limits set by Heisenberg's uncertainty principle (HUP) without violating the laws of nature. This requires nature to be intrinsically indeterministic. However, according to the statistical interpretation the quantum mechanical wavefunction represents the average behavior of an ensemble of similar systems and not that of a single system. The HUP thus refers to a relation between the spreads of possible values of position and momentum and so is consistent with a fully deterministic world. This statistical interpretation of quantum mechanics is supported by reference to actual measurements, resolves the quantum paradoxes, and stimulates further research. If this interpretation is accepted, quantum mechanics is irrelevant to the question of God's action in the world.
The concept of God's acting in the world has been seen to be problematic in light of the claims of scientific knowledge that the regularity of a law like universe rules out divine action. There are resources in both scientific knowledge and religion that can render meaningful and credible divine action. The new physics, chaos theory, cognitive psychology, and the concept of top-down causation are used to understand how God acts in the world. God's action is not an intervention, but is understood on the model of how the mind influences the brain in a downward causative manner. Suggestions for imagining God's actions are discussed.
The scientific and theological enterprises are regarded as interacting and mutually illuminating approaches to reality. The theological consequences of the transformation of the scientific worldview through twentieth-century physics and cosmology are considered with respect to notions of God's transcendence, time, continuous creation, determinism, and multiple universes. The theological implications of the worldview of biology are similarly assessed with respect to certain features of biological evolution: its continuity, its open-endedness, its mechanism, and the role of “chance” and law. The model of human agency for the agency of God in the hierarchy of natural systems is examined. The article concludes with some reflections on a science-informed understanding of God's relation to the world as transcendent, incarnate, and immanent.
Nicholas Saunders claims that, in my view, divine action requires and is confined to indeterminacies at the quantum level. I try to make clear that, in speaking of “gaps” in physical causality, I mean that the existence of intentions entails that determining law explanations alone cannot give a complete account of the natural world. By “indeterminacy” I mean a general (not quantum) lack of determining causality in the physical order. Construing physical causality in terms of dispositional properties variously realized in more or less creative ways in different contexts may be most helpful in developing an account of divine action.
Recent articles by Michael Heller, Carl Helrich, Peter Hodgson, Jeffrey Koperski, and Nicholas Saunders present a challenge to much current thinking on God, divine action, and cosmology. In the process, they also reveal underlying assumptions and current problems, especially in the debate over physics and divine action. In particular, three issues come up that need to be addressed further. First, what is the status of determinism, and what can physics contribute? Second, what kind of divine action are we talking about? Third, what is the relationship between God and time, and how does this affect claims about the personhood of God? While these essays present necessary critiques and interesting, positive proposals, they also reveal unresolved tensions that need to be addressed.
Abstract As religious-environmental awareness in the United States becomes more widespread, many faith-based institutions find themselves unaware of the range of environmental actions that they can take, and methods for organizing their efforts for greatest impact. This essay conceptualizes Spirit, Stewardship, and Justice as organizing values for understanding religious-environmental efforts. The essay then reviews environmental action steps that faith-based institutions can take, including the integration of environmental focus into worship, religious education, spiritual practices, energy and water conservation, food practices, waste management, toxics reduction, environmental justice education, alliance building, advocacy, and community organizing. The essay concludes with a review of research on community-based social marketing and organizational transformation, offering these as methods for increasing the impact of religious efforts to address energy and protect the environment.
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