Ralph Wendell Burhoe was a leading figure in relating religion and science in the second half of the twentieth century. His autodidactic style and character as a public intellectual resulted in a vision that is comprehensive in its concern for the salvation of society. He does not fit easily into academic frameworks, even though he has been influential upon scholars who work in academia. This article discusses some conundrums posed by his work. There are also brief presentations of the concerns (...) that motivated Burhoe, his style of work, and the content of his vision. (shrink)
Technology is a mirror that reflects human nature and intentions: we want certain things done and we want tools to do those things; we are finite, frail, and mortal; we create technology in order to bring alternative worlds into being; we do not know why we create or what values should guide us. Imagination is central to technology. Human nature and human freedom are brought into focus when we reflect on the central role of imagination in technology.
The challenge to the journal Zygon as suggested here is to respond to three different reference groups: public intellectuals, academia, and religious communities. An extended discussion follows of what I term the situation of irony in which religion-and-science finds itself. I argue that this situation of irony actually constitutes the domain in which our greatest contributions can be offered.
Neither religion nor science is first of all a realm of pure ideas, even though religion-and-science discussions often assume that they are. I propose that a concept of embodied science is more adequate and that religion-and-science should center its attention on science as enabler for improving the world (SEIW). This idea of science is rooted in Jerome Ravetz's concept of industrialized science and Donna Haraway's technoscience. SEIW describes the sociocultural context of science in commercial, government, and university settings. The chief (...) focus of religion-and-science consequently takes into account five basic issues: (1) the kind of world we want, (2) liberating science, (3) human action and ethics, (4) religion and the world's possibilities, and (5) recovering myth. An underlying presupposition of the discussion is that understanding the world always involves as well an understanding of our being-in-the-world. (shrink)
Abstract The concept of evolution challenges us to an ongoing effort to interpret its significance. The challenge has several dimensions: (1) to calm the debate that divides Americans in arguing whether evolution is at odds with biblical traditions; (2) to integrate evolution into one's personal philosophy of life or religious faith; (3) to note the importance of the story form for rendering evolution; and (4) to evaluate evolution as a creation story. Evolution is portrayed as a drama in five acts: (...) cosmic, biological, cultural, moral, and spiritual. The discussion concludes with reflection on humans as co-creators whose task is to become the storytellers of evolution. The author presents this interpretation as a fuller concept of evolution. (shrink)
. Our ideas of disease try to explain it, and they aim at facilitating cures. In the process, they become entwined in sociocultural networks that have totalizing effects. Disease, however, counters this totalizing effect by revealing to us that our lives are fragments. Unless we engage this fragment character of disease and of our lives, we cannot properly understand disease or deal with it. HIV/AIDS clarifies these issues in an extraordinarily powerful fashion. Medical, legal, commercial, political, and institutional approaches to (...) disease overlook the fragment character of disease in favor of totalizing world- views. A theology of disease is necessary in order to maintain the focus on fragments. Unless we recognize this fragment character, we do not really understand our lives, and we do not really understand either disease or healing. (shrink)
. A dialogue between the outgoing and incoming directors of the Zygon Center for Religion and Science took place as part of the inaugural symposium. In their conversation they speak of the past and present challenges and goals of the Center, outline what is foremost in their minds, and offer glimpses into what they see as the Center’s priorities for future work.
This article argues that in order to understand nature, we depend on a basic idea or ideal type of nature, following R. G. Collingwood's work The Idea of Nature. Collingwood asserted that the prevailing idea of nature in Western thought evolved through three analogies for understanding nature: living organism, machine, and 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: emergence, mystery, and 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. (shrink)
Technology interfaces with society in several ways, one of the most important of which is in the domain of values. Technology is values driven. These values are sometimes expressed in dramatic rhetoric and visual images that qualify as metaphysical or even religious proposals. The flamboyance of these proposals is ap parently necessary in order to galvanize public support for the technologies in question. This article focuses on the prominent value in our culture to shape and reshape nature and takes as (...) case studies recent National Aeronautics and Space Administration proposals and the Human Genome Project. The conclu sion is that a kind of spirituality drives the use of technology, and this fact ought to be recognized and reflected upon. (shrink)