JIS XVII 2005
SCIENCE AND RELIGION:
The Missing Link
JIS XVII 2005: 1-24
THE WORD AND THE WORLD *
William R. Clough
Scientists and theologians a priori believe that it is possible and desirable for worldviews to evolve reflecting higher and higher levels of accuracy and insight. St. John the Evangelist uses the word Logos to describe the force driving this epistemological growth process. This essay suggests that the Logos explains human experience, scientific and religious, more fully than other contemporary worldviews. It explains the scientific search for order and the religious drive for spiritual transcendence. This implies that science and religion themselves can both be viewed as two subsets of a more complete, holistic worldview. They can inform and correct one another. Logos epistemology allows for a coherent understanding of emergent properties, the relationship between facts and values, consciousness, and theodicy. As an explanatory device, the Logos outperforms Materialism, Perspectivalism, and Idealism.
* David Morsey Award for Best Biblical Exegesis, 2005.
JIS XVII 2005: 26-44
GOETHE ON COLOR AND LIGHT
Brigham Young University
This essay explores Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s reaction to Newtonian science and its quantification of nature. In particular, Goethe insisted that Newton’s mechanistic portrayal of light and color was but a partial account of their reality. Broadening the understandings upon which science is practiced, Goethe developed ideas that presuppose mind-world intimacy and the consequent need to acknowledge the limited utility of mathematical modeling and theory construction. Such an approach values human subjectivity and sees it as partly constitutive of nature. While Goethe’s treatment of color and light is not religious in a traditional sense, it resonates overtones consonant with religious belief. Rejecting the materialistic emphasis of Newtonian physics, Goethe felt that science may expand our spiritual horizons by helping us see the many ways we are patterned into the phenomenological splendor of the world. This outlook aligns with Goethe’s belief–illustrated in Faust–that the soul holds out for something more than a materialistic metaphysics.
JIS XVII 2005: 45-64
METAPHYSICAL FOUNDATIONS AND
COMPLEMENTARITY OF SCIENCE AND THEOLOGY
James A. Marcum
This essay examines the metaphysical foundations of the natural sciences and Christian theology in order to complement the epistemic claims from both disciplines. These foundations include Robin Collingwood’s notion of presuppositions and Ernan McMullin’s epistemic and non-epistemic values. Specifically, the essay investigates the presuppositions and values of science and theology used for guiding and constraining the formation and evaluation of scientific theories and theological doctrines. Practitioners in both disciplines need to keep these presuppositions and values in mind when complementing epistemic claims to form a comprehensive world picture. Complementing scientific and theological claims requires wisdom and restraint in analyzing the presuppositions and values that make such claims possible. For, theology without the input of science, and science without the input of theology, may lead to an impoverished world picture.
JIS XVII 2005: 65-87
A BRIDGE BETWEEN SCIENCE AND RELIGION?
Marguerite de Werszowez Rey
Philippe le Hodey Foundation, Poland
The prospect of organic unified knowledge challenges the increasing fragmentation of scientific disciplines which have become narrowly specialized with the accelerating rate of discoveries and the shaky status of many inductively obtained theories. Yet proof checkers which can control the logical correctness of reasoning offer the possibility of developing an integrative, deductive approach encompassing many branches of science within the same framework. The Principia Humanistica, developed by Krzysztof de Werszowec Rey, constitute such an attempt to apply the Mizar system of verification to the human and related sciences as well as theology. Mizar is based on set theory whose terms may define the individual, value choices, the human person, culture, and religion. This essay explores the Mizar framework, including the definition of valuation and religion. It seeks to show the possibilities opened by such an integrated multi-disciplinary approach for the study of free will, the definition of courage, and convergence towards unification with God.
JIS XVII 2005: 88-104
MATHAPHORS AND FAITH
UNDERSTANDINGS OF CONSCIOUSNESS
University of Nebraska at Omaha
This essay explores how contemporary metaphors drawn from mathematical language impact current faith understandings of consciousness. Complicated by a pervasive ambiguity in the way society defines consciousness, and widespread cultural blindness when it comes to recognizing metaphors that emerge from mathematics, this study is necessarily more speculative than conclusive. Nonetheless, even a brief examination of “conscious computers” shows the persuasive power of mathaphors to alter long-held convictions about humanity. The mathematics of holography, nonlinear dynamic systems, hyperspace, quantum theory, and the Internet give rise to other modern mathaphors. Taken together, these images suggest understandings of consciousness that accommodate more mystically-oriented faith interpretations, move Western religious sentiments closer to those of Eastern traditions, redefine the relationship between the animate and the inanimate, and between human and God, accept multiple realities as the norm, and, generally, offer profound implications for spiritual outlooks and choices.
JIS XVII 2005: 105-122
MEDITATIONS ON BLADE RUNNER
The 1982 film, Blade Runner, presents many questions concerning the position and relevance of the human being in the postmodern epoch. The audience is confronted with androids, called replicants, incredibly handsome “beings” whose language rises at times to poetic beauty, while the humans in the film are embarrassing physical and moral examples of the species. With whom will the audience identify or sympathize, the human or the simulacrum? The film further complicates this issue by incorporating traditional Christian symbols and language in relation to the replicants. The film seems to suggest that consciousness is the defining characteristic of humanness, whether one speaks of an organic human being or a replicant. Current debate between scientists, philosophers, and theologians centers on the question of consciousness and its relationship to the brain and, for some, the soul. This essay addresses the dilemmas in the film, while keeping in mind the central question: What is a human being?
JIS XVII 2005: 123-138
CULTURE IN A NEW SCIENTIFIC WORLDVIEW
Arnold O. Benz
Swiss Institute of Technology-Zurich, Switzerland
In the past decades, the scientific view has changed from a static to a dynamic universe. So should our worldview progress and, in particular, the relation between science and religion. In today’s scientific worldview, the future is open. The universe is not a clock, but an adventure. Though not directly expressed today, science is often perceived implicitly as the key to the foundations of reality, a function previously assumed mostly by religion. However, science does not include all of human experience, nor does it pose and answer ultimate metaphysical questions. Thus, science is not complete and does not fulfil the necessary conditions to be a culture. Scientific results form a part of culture and should be amalgamated with the rest. The relation between science and religion must ultimately develop beyond the classical forms–conflict, ignorance, dialogue, or integration–towards a collaboration between engaged scientists and theologians pursuing well-defined goals.
JIS XVII 2005: 139-160
THE THIRD CULTURE:
AN INTEGRAL VISION OF THE HUMAN CONDITION
Institute for Interdisciplinary Research
This essay explores a new conceptual paradigm for bridging the gulf separating what C. P. Snow called The Two Cultures–science and the humanities. Central to this rainbow paradigm is a more unified, holistic, and integral understanding of human life in society. A fruitful science-theology dialogue presupposes a much broader context of a revitalized Third Culture which weaves together insights from all the arts and sciences, social sciences and humanities. The essay thus invokes the incarnational dimension of man as God’s creation and truth as the Logos or ultimate Reality. The conclusion follows that a new lingua franca–a more felicitous conceptual understanding focusing on man as the missing link–requires integrative insights across all disciplines. Such an integral vision of what it means to be fully human reflects a sapiential, existential, and eschatological challenge of unity in diversity, that is, a truly human culture or a culture of cultures.
JIS XVII 2005: 163-172
OUR KNOWLEDGE OF GOD AND NATURE:
PHYSICS, PHILOSOPHY AND THEOLOGY
Pope John Paul II
The Vatican, Rome
A major challenge confronts our world today: Will science and religion contribute to the integration of human culture or its fragmentation? What is needed is a community of interchange, a relational unity, which encourages its members to expand their partial perspectives and form a new unified vision. Yet the unity we seek is not identity. The Church does not propose that science should become religion or religion, science. On the contrary, unity always presupposes the diversity and integrity of its elements. We are asked to become one. We are not asked to become each other. In sum, both religion and science must preserve their autonomy and distinctiveness, while developing a common interactive relationship in which each discipline is radically open to the discoveries and insights of the other. Science can purify religion from error and superstition; religion can purify science from idolatry and false absolutes.
JIS XVII 2005: 173-183
RECONCILING OLD LOVERS:
JOHN PAUL ON SCIENCE AND FAITH
Michael S. Sherwin, OP
University of Fribourg, Switzerland
John Paul II invites scientists and theologians to work toward a new relational unity between science and religion within the context of developing a fully human culture. The Pope affirms the Catholic insight that if science and faith could live together harmoniously in the hearts of Nicholas Copernicus and Galileo Galilei, then, in principle, they should be able to do so in the hearts of all scientists. Thus, there is no need for any divorce between science and faith. The God of creation is the God of revelation and redemption. Science and faith can work together for the promotion of true culture, because ultimately the truth they both pursue is a “Who” and not a “what.” The relationship between science and faith can be dynamic and healthy, because truth itself is a dynamic relationship. If we grant that the nuptial analogy is apt, then truly we can say that John Paul’s work is an attempt to reconcile old lovers. Indeed, for the Christian, the ground of Truth is itself a triune community of love.