For many of us, the great scientific discoveries of the modern age--the Big Bang, evolution, quantum physics, relativity--point to an existence that is bleak, devoid of meaning, pointless. But in The Sacred Depths of Nature, eminent biologist Ursula Goodenough shows us that the scientific world view need not be a source of despair. Indeed, it can be a wellspring of solace and hope. This eloquent volume reconciles the modern scientific understanding of reality with our timeless spiritual yearnings for reverence and (...) continuity. Looking at topics such as evolution, emotions, sexuality, and death, Goodenough writes with rich, uncluttered detail about the workings of nature in general and of living creatures in particular. Her luminous clarity makes it possible for even non-scientists to appreciate that the origins of life and the universe are no less meaningful because of our increasingly scientific understanding of them. At the end of each chapter, Goodenough's spiritual reflections respond to the complexity of nature with vibrant emotional intensity and a sense of reverent wonder. A beautifully written celebration of molecular biology with meditations on the spiritual and religious meaning that can be found at the heart of science, this volume makes an important contribution to the ongoing dialog between science and religion. This book will engage anyone who was ever mesmerized--or terrified--by the mysteries of existence. (shrink)
The various schools of the Indian classical philosophy have discussed the issue how we understand the meaning from an utterance. In the present paper, I analyse the ancient controversy on this issue between two schools, Naiyāyikas and Vaiśeṣikas, and attempt to show that it has two aspects of religious and epistemological natures. Vaiśeṣikas, on the ground that the process of the verbal understanding is identical with that of the inference, claim that the verbal understanding is merely a type (...) of the inference. Naiyāyikas oppose this and assert that the former is distinct from the latter. I summarise Vaiśeṣikas’ argument into two points: (1) the similarity of the objects of the cognition and (2) that of the relations between the object and what denotes it. Naiyāyikas rejects both thesimilarities. The above discussion, which may stimulate our epistemological interest, has a close connection with the issue of scriptures. The utterance as a source of knowledge seems to have stood, in the early period, only for the scriptures, as pointed out by Hiryanna. Taking this into consideration, Vaiśeṣikas’ thesis can be understood to imply that they deny the intrinsic authority of scriptures and reduce it to the rational faculty of human beings. Naiyāyikas also deny itsintrinsic authority, but their view on the cognitive process of the verbal understanding is different from that of Vaiśeṣikas. The reason of this divergence may lie in how they treat the reliability of the speaker in respect to the cognitive process. (shrink)
Synthetic biology is a new biotechnology that is developing at an impressive pace and attracting a considerable amount of attention from outside the scientific community as well. In this article, two main philosophically and ethically relevant characteristics of this field of research will be laid bare, namely its reliance on mechanistic metaphors to denominate simple forms of life and its appeal to the semantic field of creativity. It is argued that given these characteristics synthetic biology can be understood (...) as a prime example of a kind of human interference with reality that German philosopher Hannah Arendt called “fabrication.” This kind of self-world-relation contrasts to “action,” a relation that introduces, among other things, the idea of an inherent value of the object acted upon. Taking up this latter perspective, one scientific and two ethical challenges to synthetic biology’s take on the realm of life are identified. (shrink)
The phenomenon of aspect recognition is at the core of Wittgenstein's later views on logic and language; it is also central to his reflections on religious language and experience. In both contexts, the uptake and use of pictures is the critical element in concept formation and in understanding. Clarity and confusion in religious thought lie in a domain defined by the structure, aesthetics, and functions of the pictures religious people use, and by the relations among them. The (...) argument is conveyed through analyses of experiences of characters in _The Wind in the Willows and Homer's _Odyssey. (shrink)
Introduction: Evolution and mind -- The evolution of morality -- Setting the task -- The moral brain -- The first layer : kin selection -- The second layer : reciprocal altruism -- A third layer : indirect reciprocity -- A fourth layer : cultural group selection -- A fifth layer : the moral emotions -- Conclusion: From moral grammar to moral systems -- The evolution of moral religions -- Setting the task -- The evolution of the religious mind -- (...) Conceptualizing the almighty -- The moral function of gods -- Evolutionary religious ethics : Judaism -- Setting the task -- Constructing Yahweh -- TheTen Commandments : an evolutionary interpretation -- Conclusion: The evolved law -- Evolutionary religious ethics : Christianity -- Setting the task -- Constructing the Christ -- Setting the boundaries : Christian and/or Jew? -- The third race : Christians as in-group -- Putting on Christ : Christianity's signals of commitment -- Loving your neighbor and turning the other cheek -- Religion, violence, and the evolved mind -- Setting the task -- Devoted to destruction : sanctified violence and Judaism -- The blood of the Lamb -- A case study in the evolved psychology of religious violence : 9/11/01 -- Religion evolving -- Setting the task -- Varieties of religious expressions -- If there were no God -- Religion, ethics, and violence : an assessment -- Responding to religion, ethics, and violence : some proposals. (shrink)
Part I: The birth of religious naturalism -- Philosophical religious naturalism -- Theological religious naturalism -- Analyzing the issues -- Interlude religious naturalism in literature -- Part II: The rebirth of religious naturalism -- Sources of religious insight -- Current issues in religious naturalism -- Other current religious naturalists -- Conclusion: Living religiously as a naturalist.
With fundamentalists dominating the headlines and scientists arguing about the biological and neurological basis of faith, religion is the topic of the day. But religion, Mark C. Taylor shows, is more complicated than either its defenders or critics think and, indeed, is much more influential than any of us realize. Our world, Taylor maintains, is shaped by religion even when it is least obvious. Faith and value, he insists, are unavoidable and inextricably interrelated for believers and nonbelievers alike. Using scientific (...) theories of dynamical systems and complex adaptive networks for cultural and theological analysis, After God redefines religion for our contemporary age. Taylor begins by asking a critical question: What is religion? He then proceeds to explain how Protestant ideas in particular undergird the character and structure of our global information society—the Reformation, Taylor argues, was an information and communications revolution that effectively prepared the way for the media revolution at the end of the twentieth century. Taylor’s breathtaking account of religious ideas allows us to understand for the first time that contemporary notions of atheism and the secular are already implicit in classical Christology and Trinitarian theology. Weaving together theoretical analysis and historical interpretation, Taylor demonstrates the codependence and coevolution of traditional religious beliefs and practices with modern literature, art, architecture, information technologies, media, financial markets, and theoretical biology. After God concludes with prescriptions for new ways of thinking and acting. If we are to negotiate the perils of the twenty-first century, Taylor contends, we must refigure the symbolic networks that inform our policies and guide our actions. A religion without God creates the possibility of an ethics without absolutes that leads to the promotion of creativity and life in an ever more fragile world. The first comprehensive theology of culture since the pioneering work of Paul Tillich, After God is a radical reconceptualization of religion and Taylor’s most pathbreaking work yet, bringing together various strands of theological argument and cultural analysis four decades in the making. (shrink)
In this book Mark Wynn argues that the landscape of philosophical theology looks rather different from the perspective of a re-conceived theory of emotion. In matters of religion, we do not need to opt for objective content over emotional form or vice versa. On the contrary, these strategies are mistaken at root, since form and content are not properly separable here - because 'inwardness' may contribute to 'thought-content', or because (to use the vocabulary of the book) emotional feelings can themselves (...) constitute thoughts; or because, to put the point a further way, in religious contexts, perception and conception are often infused by feeling. Wynn uses this perspective to forge a distinctive approach to a range of established topics in philosophy of religion, notably: religious experience; the problem of evil; the relationship of religion and ethics, and religion and art; and in general, the connection of 'feeling' to doctrine and tradition. (shrink)
In recent years feminist scholarship has increasingly focused on the importance of the body and its representations in virtually every social, cultural, and intellectual context. Many have argued that because women are more closely identified with their bodies, they have access to privileged and different kinds of knowledge than men. In this landmark new book, Paula Cooey offers a different perspective on the significance of the body in the context of religious life and practice. Building on the pathbreaking work (...) of Elaine Scarry in The Body in Pain, Cooey looks at a wide range of evidence, from the Argentine prison narrative of Alicia Partnoy, to the novels of Toni Morrison and the paintings of Frida Kahlo. Drawing on current social theory and critique, cognitive psychology, contemporary fiction and art, and women's accounts of religious experience, Cooey relates the reality of sentience to the social construction of reality. Beginning with an examination of the female body as a metaphor for alternative knowledge, she considers the significance of physical pain and pleasure to the religious imagination, and the relations between sentience, sensuality, and female subjectivity. Cooey succeeds in bringing forward a sophisticated new understanding of the religious importance of the body, at the same time laying the foundations of a feminist theory of religion. (shrink)
I don't know of any other book like it."--Wayne Proudfoot, Columbia University "This is a terrific book. -/- The essence of religion was once widely thought to be a unique form of experience that could not be explained in neurological, psychological, or sociological terms. In recent decades scholars have questioned the privileging of the idea of religious experience in the study of religion, an approach that effectively isolated the study of religion from the social and natural sciences. Religious (...) Experience Reconsidered lays out a framework for research into religious phenomena that reclaims experience as a central concept while bridging the divide between religious studies and the sciences.Ann Taves shifts the focus from "religious experience," conceived as a fixed and stable thing, to an examination of the processes by which people attribute meaning to their experiences. She proposes a new approach that unites the study of religion with fields as diverse as neuroscience, anthropology, sociology, and psychology to better understand how these processes are incorporated into the broader cultural formations we think of as religious or spiritual. Taves addresses a series of key questions: how can we set up studies without obscuring contestations over meaning and value? What is the relationship between experience and consciousness? How can research into consciousness help us access and interpret the experiences of others? Why do people individually or collectively explain their experiences in religious terms? How can we set up studies that allow us to compare experiences across times and cultures?Religious Experience Reconsidered demonstrates how methods from the sciences can be combined with those from the humanities to advance a naturalistic understanding of the experiences that people deem religious. (shrink)
This book provides philosophical grounds for an emerging area of scholarship: the study of religion and dance. In the first part, LaMothe investigates why scholars in religious studies have tended to overlook dance, or rhythmic bodily movement, in favor of textual expressions of religious life. In close readings of Descartes, Kant, Schleiermacher, Hegel, and Kierkegaard, LaMothe traces this attitude to formative moments of the field in which philosophers relied upon the practice of writing to mediate between the study (...) of “religion,” on the one hand, and “theology,” on the other.In the second part, LaMothe revives the work of theologian, phenomenologist, and historian of religion Gerardus van der Leeuw for help in interpreting how dancing can serve as a medium of religious experience and expression. In so doing, LaMothe opens new perspectives on the role of bodily being in religious life, and on the place of theology in the study of religion. (shrink)
Introduction -- Part I. The way of the world I: truth -- Introductory -- Truth in the state of nature -- Socialized truth -- Experts and authorities -- Part II. The way of the world II: ethics -- Introductory -- Application -- Motivation -- Transformation -- Teleology -- Part III. Beyond the way of the world: worth -- Dissolving the question -- Dismissing the question -- Worth as attached to specific activities -- Worth as attached to general features of life (...) -- Kantian accounts of worth -- Secular versus religious visions of worth -- Part IV. Divine teaching -- Models of faith: trust, orientation, receptivity -- Revelation -- Aspects of revelation I: moral teaching -- Aspects of revelation II: beauty -- Aspects of revelation III: a path -- Receiving revelation -- Multiple revelations -- Part V. Divine teaching and the way of the world -- Truth again -- Morality again -- Politics -- Epilogue -- Appendix I: Proofs of God -- Appendix II: Maimonides on the evidence for revelation -- Appendix III : Kant on art and natural beauty. (shrink)
Jamake Highwater is a master storyteller and one of our most visionary writers, hailed as "an eloquent bard, whose words are fire and glory" (Studs Terkel) and "a writer of exceptional vision and power" (Ana"is Nin). Author of more than thirty volumes of nonfiction, fiction, and poetry, Highwater--considered by many to be the intellectual heir of Joseph Campbell--has long been intrigued by how our mythological legacies have served as a foundation of modern civilization. Now, in The Mythology of Transgression, he (...) uses his remarkable narrative powers to offer a personal and extraordinarily far-ranging examination of how people who stand outside of society--by dint of their sexual orientation, physical appearance, ideas, artistic inclinations, or ethnic heritage--often achieve lasting, even profound influence upon the culture at large. Drawing from a stunningly rich variety of sources ranging from the arts and literature to biology, physics, psychology, and anthropology, Highwater looks at his own outsider status--as a gay man, an artist, and an orphaned Native American--in an attempt to explore how mythologies from ancient times to the present have shaped the ways we think about social "abnormality" and alienation. Throughout, he points to a paradox at the center of Western values--the competing notions that the outsider is at once sinful and wise, that in everyday life the transgressor is ostracized, while in our most durable folklore and religious legends, heroes must break the rules to achieve greatness. Focusing in particular on homosexuality as a modern metaphor of transgression, Highwater brilliantly mixes personal anecdotes with wide ranging research, leading us on a tour through the history of social conformity and rejection, citing examples that span from Judeo-Christian-Islamic doctrines of good and evil, to the Navajo Nation's ambivalence toward the nature of sexuality, to Carson McCullers's treatment of physical deformity in the novella Member of the Wedding, to Descartes's theories of dualism. He also pays special attention to the debates currently raging in science regarding the biology of homosexuality and provides an engaging discussion of why we are motivated to seek a genetic basis of sexual orientation in the first place. Jamake Highwater has long been celebrated as a writer uniquely suited to give voice to the social outsider. Often provocative, always fascinating, The Mythology of Transgression is a tour de force of eloquent scholarship, a book that will prompt discussion and debate on the subject for years to come. (shrink)
Originally published: c2000. With new pref. An award-winning biologist argues that the intersection of scientific creativity and religious insight is a prerequisite for the emergence of a more humane medical science.
In the present paper, I shall argue that quantum theory can contribute to reconciling evolutionary biology with the creation hypothesis. After giving a careful definition of the theological problem, I will, in a first step, formulate necessary conditions for the compatibility of evolutionary theory and the creation hypothesis. In a second step, I will show how quantum theory can contribute to fulfilling these conditions. More precisely, I claim that (1) quantum probabilities are best understood in terms of ontological indeterminism, (...) but (2) reflect nevertheless causal openness rather than divine indifference or arbitrariness, and (3) such a genuinely creative universe can be considered as the work of a loving Creator. I ask subsequently whether these necessary conditions are also sufficient for the compatibility of evolutionary theory and the creation hypothesis. Finally, I will show that relating evolutionary biology with theology via quantum theory could also shed some light on the nature of life. (shrink)
In the above article endeavours have been made to outline the development of Biology in the Netherlands during the last 20 years. At Utrecht under the supervision of A. A. Pulle studies have been made of the flora in the Malayan Archipelago. Internationally Dirks and Verdoorn in particular have acquired great merit in Botany. In 1935 the sixth International Botanical Congress was organised in Amsterdam.
Machine generated contents note: 1. Introduction William A. Galston and Peter H. Hoffenberg; 2. Global poverty and uneven development Sakiko Fukuda-Parr; 3. The karma of poverty: a Buddhist perspective David R. Loy; 4. Poverty and morality in Christianity Kent A. Van Til; 5. Classical liberalism, poverty, and morality Tom G. Palmer; 6. Confucian perspectives on poverty and morality Peter Nosco; 7. Poverty and morality: a feminist perspective Nancy J. Hirschmann; 8. Hinduism and poverty Arvind Sharma; 9. The problem of poverty (...) in Islamic ethics Sohail H. Hashmi; 10. Jewish perspectives on poverty Noam Zohar; 11. Liberal egalitarianism and poverty Darrel Moellendorf; 12. Marxism and poverty Andrew Levine; 13. Poverty and natural law Stephen J. Pope; 14. Afterword Michael Walzer. (shrink)
Following in the fashion of Stephen Jay Gould and Peter Medawar, one of the world's leading scientists examines how "pure science" is in fact shaped and guided by social and political needs and assumptions.
The fifteen essays in this volume are taken from a symposium held in July 2008 at the University of Bologna, with contributions coming from ethology, evolutionary psychology, neuroscience, and anthropology, and with some sophisticated psychology of religion. The essays are of such high caliber and so free of wooden materialism that they are well positioned to invoke or provoke ongoing query.If one simply grows weary of the creationism vs. neo-Darwinian battles, it comes as a liberating moment when you can cast (...) your Darwin-friendly eyes "downward" into the realms where evolutionary traits are observable in a roughly delineated way. Yes, and you can get predictions too. Peirceans will note that these scientists are .. (shrink)