This book considers the consequences of the natural sciences for our view of the world. Willem Drees argues that higher, more complex levels of reality, such as religion and morality, are to be viewed as natural phenomena and have their own concepts and explanations, even though all elements of reality are constituted by the same kinds of matter. Religion and morality are to be understood as rooted in our evolutionary past and our neurophysiological constitution. The book takes a more radical (...) naturalist position than most on religion and science. But religion is not dismissed: religious traditions remain important as bodies of wisdom and vision, and the naturalist view of the world does not exclude a sense of wonder and awe, since at the limits of science questions about the existence of natural reality persist. (shrink)
What are the humanities for? The question has perhaps never seemed more urgent. While student numbers have grown in higher education, universities and colleges increasingly have encouraged students to opt for courses in STEM or take programs in applied subjects like business and management. When tertiary learning has taken such a notably utilitarian turn, the humanities are judged to have lost their centrality. Willem B. Drees has no wish nostalgically to prioritize the humanities so as to retrieve some lost high (...) culture. But he does urge us to adopt a clearer conception of the humanities as more than just practical vehicles for profit or education. He argues that these disciplines, while serving society, are also intrinsic to our humanity. His bold ideas about how to think with greater humanistic coherence mark this topical book out as unmissable reading for all those involved in academe, especially those in higher educational policy or leadership positions. (shrink)
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. (shrink)
The dialogue between science and theology is no longer confined to discussing theology, physics and biology, but, as these essays make clear, sociology, psychology & neuroscience are now open for discussions between theologians and scientists.
This essay explains the rationale behind a series of reviews on interactions between knowledge and values, science and religion, in different countries or regions around the world. The series will run in Zygon for the whole of 2015 and beyond. In the literature, it may seem that discussions in the United States and to a lesser extent the United Kingdom are typical of the issues, but they need not be. David Livingstone showed that the reception of evolution differed, even among (...) Calvinists in different countries. Thus, rather than an export model, we should take time to learn from scholars rooted in different contexts how in their situation issues on knowledge and values arise and are dealt with. In this interplay of global processes and local contexts, indicated with the term glocalization, we should be alert to the migration of concepts and the transformations that ideas undergo. (shrink)
If we appeal to God when our technology fails, we assume a “ God of the gaps.” It is religiously preferable to appreciate technological competence. Our successes challenge, however, religious convictions. Modifying words and images is not enough, as technology affects theology more deeply. This is illustrated by the history of chemistry. Chemistry has been perceived as wanting to transform and purify reality rather than to understand the created order. Thus, unlike biology and physics, chemistry did not provide a fertile (...) basis for natural theologies. It is argued that an active, transformative role of humans is appropriate in biblically inspired religions and called for in the light of imperfections and evil in the world. When the expression “playing God” is used dismissively, as if we trespass upon God–given territory, a theologically problematical association of God and the given order is assumed. A different view of the human calling can be articulated by drawing upon the Christian heritage and by developing an antinatural religious naturalism. (shrink)
This paper places “Islam and bioethics” within the framework of “religion and science” discourse. It thus may be seen as a complement to the paper by Henk ten Have () with which this thematic section in Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science opens, which places “Islam and bioethics” in the context of contemporary bioethics. It turns out that in Zygon there have been more submitted articles on Islam and bioethics than on any other Islam-related topic. This may be a consequence (...) of the global nature of the bioethical issues, driven by advancement in science and technology, which allows for conversation across cultural and religious boundaries even when the normative references and argumentative methods are tradition-specific. (shrink)
Technology raises important religious issues and not only moral ones. Given that technology is about transforming reality, these issues are different from the issues that arise in dialogues on religion and science that are primarily after understanding reality . Technology is a multifaceted reality—not just hardware but also skills and organization, attitudes and culture. Technology has been appreciated as well as considered a threat but is best understood contextually and constructively.
Is panentheism a metaphysical and religious understanding of the divine and of the world that aligns better with science than classical theism? In order to address this question, I'll present brief descriptions of theism, pantheism, and panentheism, and of religious visions as integrating models of the world and models for the world. In this respect, science has its limitations. The conclusion that I will argue for is that naturalistic varieties of theism, pantheism, and panentheism do equally well with respect to (...) the natural sciences, and hence that there is no argument from science that favors a panentheistic metaphysics. There may be philosophical or religious arguments that make one prefer one position over another. Science can be involved in the choice for one interpretation of a religious-metaphysical view such as panentheism. Thus, science might play a role in the development of positions, once chosen, and hence in intra-religious competition, even though it cannot be decisive on fundamental choices in metaphysics. (shrink)
Can one call nature 'evil'? Or is life a matter of eating and being eaten, where value judgments should not be applied? Is nature beautiful? Or is beauty in the eye of the beholder? Scientists often pretend that their disciplines only describe and analyze natural processes in factual terms, without making evaluative statements regarding reality. However, scientists may also be driven by the beauty of that which they study. Or they may be appalled by suffering they encounter, and look for (...) technical or medical means 'to improve nature'. Outside of the scientific community, value judgments are even more common. Humans evaluate nature and natural processes in moral, aesthetic and religious terms as cruel, beautiful, hopeful or meaningless. Is nature ultimately good, with all suffering and evil justified in the context of the larger evolutionary process? Or is nature to be improved, via culture or technology, as it is considered less adequate than it could be? In this book, some major scientists, theologians, and philosophers discuss these issues. As a study on the relations between religion and science, this is unique in emphasizing the evaluation of nature, rather than treating religion and science as competing or complementary casual explanations. (shrink)
The main title of Robert J. Russell's Cosmology from Alpha to Omega: The Creative Mutual Interaction of Theology and Science catches the substance of the essays; the subtitle his methodological vision. The mutualis modest as far as the influence from theology on science goes; in no way is Russell curtailing the pursuit of science. Driven by intellectual honesty, he holds that in the end religious convictions will have to stand the test of compatibility with scientific knowledge. And as a Christian (...) he believes core beliefs of Christianity, reformulated as needed, will be able to stand this test. The essays address the origin and contingency of our universe in relation to belief in creation, and his proposal for noninterventionist objective divine action. For him a stumbling block is natural evil; the evolutionary intelligibility of evil falls short of what would be desirable theologically. As steps toward an adequate eschatology Russell seeks to develop a more complex understanding of temporality, and proposes to understand the resurrection of Jesus as the First Instantiation of a New Law of the New Creation. This area is more in tension with current science, but that could be expected when one moves from creation to redemption. Within his self-imposed boundaries, these essays are well informed and well argued, and together they provide a sincere and sustained research program. (shrink)
The new editor of Zygon considers the task of "yoking religion and science" not as the combination of two similar entities. Rather, their categorical difference makes reflection on their interplay worthwhile. One thereby confronts the understanding of religion, the multiple facets of religion, the diversity of religious traditions, and disagreements within religious communities. Although concern about secularization might stimulate an apologetic attitude, the author favors a critical and more skeptical attitude, countering superstition and the abuse of people. By being academic (...) rather than apologetic we engage in the best apology for meaningful religion, if any. (shrink)
. For moral guidance we human beings may be tempted to turn toward the past (scripture, tradition), toward present science, or toward future consequences. Each of these approaches has strengths and limitations. To address those limitations, we need to consider how these various perspectives can be brought togetherâand âreligion and scienceâ is an area in which this may happen. That makes the question of where to look for guidance potentially a central one for religion and science, setting the agenda differently (...) from apologetic questions with respect to religion or to science. However, âreligion and scienceâ does not solve the issues, leading to a single normative perspective; the way that current knowledge is integrated with past wisdom is highly dependent upon ideals that relate to the future. Thus, rather than resolving the need for guidance, the religion-and-science conversation becomes one way of addressing our need for guidance, bringing into the conversation past, present, and future. (shrink)
Scientific cosmology raises various issues of philosophical interest. Among these is the understanding of the beginning', as it arises in normal cosmology, which seems not intelligible as an ordinary beginning (' in time'), but rather as a beginning ' of time'. Recent cosmological research that seeks to unite theories of gravity and of quantum physics is speculative; various proposals with different philosophical perspectives on time and reality co-exist. This plurality of speculative cosmological proposals reflects also a diversity of views regarding (...) the nature of explanations. ' Anthropic principles' are not fruitful as additional explanations. It is argued here, however, that any cosmological proposal will always have an open end, due to limit questions that arise in relation to the scientific research but are not answered by it. These limit questions allow for various religious interpretations, theistic, pantheistic and agnostic. /// O presente artigo parte da constatação de que a cosmologia científica contemporânea suscita questões de grande relevância e interesse filosófico. Entre estas está a compreensão do "começo", tal como ele se dá na cosmologia normal, o qual não se mostra inteligível nos termos de um começo ordinário ("no tempo"), mas sim se entendido como começo "do tempo". O artigo analisa alguns aspectos da investigação cosmológica mais recente, a qual procura sobretudo unir as teorias da gravidade e da física quântica, considerando-a como especulativa; mostra-se assim até que ponto diversas propostas científicas co-existem com diferentes perspectivas filosóficas acerca do tempo e da realidade. Por outro lado, mostra-se também até que ponto esta pluralidade de propostas cosmológicas especulativas reflecte também uma diversidade de pontos de vista acerca da natureza das explicações em si mesmas. Por exemplo, o artigo tenta demonstrar que os "Princípios antrópicos" não são fecundos enquanto que explicações adicionais. Nesse sentido, o autor do artigo defende que toda e qualquer proposta cosmoíógica terá de ser sempre aberta, e isso precisamente devido à presença de questões-íimite que brotam a partir da investigação científica, mas que não podem por esta ser respondidas. Finalmente, mostra-se ainda que estas questões-limite dão azo a uma diversidade de interpretações religiosas, entre estas se vislumbrando posições como a tetsta, a panteísta e a agnóstica. (shrink)