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A Sourcebook for the Worldwide Discovery of a Creative Organic Universe
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VII. Our Earthuman Ascent: A Major Evolutionary Transition in Twndividuality

6. Contrasts of Religion and Science

Endeavors to integrate and rejoin scientific and religious views have long been underway but the project is daunted because the late materialist, mechanical scheme which concludes that no such numinous, purposed milieu exists at all. Signs of an ordained design by way of the “anthropic principle” are an ongoing aspect, see the section above. Glimpses of an innately self-organizing cosmos occur but the waxing realization of a genesis universe whereof Earth and human have intrinsic, cocreative value has not yet registered.

2020: This active field has a copious literature which is surveyed and sampled here. However, as the introduction notes, a problem persists and inhibits because past scientific denials of any universe and human essence or purpose, which lately worsen, are just unreconcilable with any belief in a numinous, phenomenal creation.

Conradie, Ernst, ed. Creation and Salvation. Berlin: LIT Verlag, 2012.

Conway Morris, Simon. Darwin’s Compass: How Evolution Discovers the Song of Creation. Manning, Russell Re and Michael Bryne, eds. Science and Religion in the Twenty-First Century. London: SCM Press, 2013.

Gilbert, Scott. Wonder and the Necessary Alliances of Science and Religion. Euresis Journal. Volume 4, 2013.

Pruett, Dave. Reason and Wonder: A Copernican Revolution in Science and Spirit. New York: Praeger, 2012.

Rutman, Joel Yehudah. Why Evolution Matters: A Jewish Approach. London: Valentine Mitchell, 2014.

Sacks, Jonathan. The Great Partnership: Science, Religion, and the Search for Meaning. New York: Schocken Books, 2012.

Sloan, Phillip, et al, eds. Darwin in the Twenty First Century: Nature, Humanity, and God. Norte Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2015.

Metanexus Institute. www.metanexus.net. Founded by theologian William Grassie, this popular, multifaceted site features an online journal, articles, discussion topics from Anthropos to Techne, book reviews, and so on. The parent Metanexus Institute sponsors lecture series, a Local Societies Initiative, an annual conference and related activities.

Murphy, Nancey and George Ellis. On the Moral Nature of the Universe. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1996. A theologian and a cosmologist seek a deeper meaning for the hierarchical emergence of life and the human personal presence in the universe. Science alone is not enough, in addition a “kenotic” ethic of cooperative self-sacrifice which reflects the moral character of God is required.

Albright, Carol Rausch. Spiritual Growth, Cognition, and Complexity: Faith as a Dynamic Process. Koss-Chioino, Joan and Philip Hefner, eds. Spiritual Transformation and Healing. Lanham, MD: Altamira Press, 2006. A theologian and author at the Lutheran School in Chicago who specializes in neuroscience topics contends that a person’s life journey passes through six stages of spiritual encounter: Intuitive-Projective, Mythic-Literal, Synthetic Conventional, Individuative-Reflective, Conjunctive, and Universalizing. She then makes the unique leap that this developmental course expresses and can be modeled as a complex dynamical system.

As its central contribution, this chapter suggests that spiritual transformation and spiritual growth may be understood within the context of a scientific theory that has extremely broad applicability within both natural and social processes: the paradigm that comprises self-organization, complexity, and emergence. (168) Very basically, complexity theory asserts that a tendency to self-organization pervades natural systems, from the basic building blocks of the universe to the most sophisticated forms of human social interaction. (176)

Artigas, Mariano. The Mind of the Universe. Radnor, PA: Templeton Foundation Press, 2000. In this wide-ranging work, a scientist attempts to integrate the properties of dynamic systems and the organic cosmos they imply with an actively creative Divinity. Typical headings are Self-Organization and Divine Action, A Self-Created Universe?, and Reading the Book of Nature.

Barbour, Ian. Nature, Human Nature, and God. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2002. Barbour’s latest work is conversant with the complexity sciences but looks more to signs of God’s intervening activity than for an earthly purpose.

These ideas have led to new concepts of God – as designer of a self-organizing system, as determiner of indeterminacies, as top-down cause, or as communicator of information. (7)

Barbour, Ian. Religion and Science: Historical and Contemporary Issues. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1997. An update to Barbour’s 1990 Religion in an Age of Science tailored for classroom use. One of the premier books in the field lays out a metaphysics to join religion and science by way of process philosophy. The tacit implication is a Divinely ordained and subtly assisted self-creation of free and novel beings.

Barbour, Ian. When Science Meets Religion. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 2000. Barbour’s four options or stages of Conflict, Independence, Dialogue, and Integration between religion and science have gained much currency and are here applied to Astronomy and Creation, Quantum Physics, Evolution and Continuing Creation, and Genetics, Neuroscience and Human Nature.

Barnes, Michael. Stages of Thought. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000. With a subtitle: “The Co-Evolution of Religious Thought and Science,” the author contends their historical interplay proceeds through several versions that roughly parallel the Piagetian stages of individual learning.

Belden, David. Science and Spirit. Tikkun. November/December, 2007. A report on a roundtable discussion moderated by managing editor Belden, with such sages as Frithjof Capra, Nancy Abrams, Joel Primack, George Lakoff, and Ty Cashman (altogether one woman and nine men). As usual much time was spent on auxiliary issues of ‘scientism,’ religion vs. spirituality, and the like, rather than the subject itself which begs a sorting between a waning moribund and dawning genesis universe. But a good engagement by deeply concerned thinkers.

Braxton, Donald. Natural, Supernatural, and Transcendence. Zygon. 41/2, 2006. An introduction to the “cosmologies of emergence” inspired by complexity science, which are seen as an historic shift from a transcendent Divinity to a naturalized immanence. Theological implications – “emergence as the new vocabulary for sacrality” – are then viewed with regard to ecological ethics and Philip Hefner’s sense of human beings as “created co-creators.” A good entry to this welling discussion.

How can Christian theology engage the best knowledge provided by the modern natural sciences if it is unaware that the cosmological background has changed against which all theologizing can take place? (350) To look at the world trained with the eyes of complexity theory is to see a universe composed of nested structures. (354) In this new vision of the marvelous nested biological and cultural communities of the cosmos we are given a new model for understanding our religions. (360)

Brun, Rudolf. Cosmology, Cosmic Evolution, and Sacramental Reality. Zygon. 37/1, 2002. An innovative attempt to integrate Holy Scripture and the Book of Nature via the nonlinear sciences. A dynamic, self-developing cosmogenesis with a Divine future is seen to emerge through a universal creative process in self-similar effect everywhere.

Cambray, Joe. The Emergence of the Ecological Mind in Hua-Yen/Kegon Buddhism and Jungian Psychology. Journal of Analytical Psychology. 62/1, 2017. The author (search), who has a doctorate in chemistry, a masters in counseling psychology, is currently president of the Pacifica Graduate Institute, Carpinteria, CA. This paper continues his project to marry widely separate psychic and physical aspects into a common, meaningful synthesis. As a natural expression, Rhizome flora, which is an underground root network for spreading ground plants, is availed. Carl Jung (Plato before, search James Olney for both) drew upon this metaphor for an abiding guidance from which life and persons arise. Postmodernity, however, takes the opposite view of a random meander without any deep source. Into the 21st century, Cambray wonders if new findings of cosmic webworks, which seem akin to neural networks, along with dark energies, could aid and inform a vital expansion.

The complexity associated with deep interconnectedness in nature is beginning to be articulated and elaborated in the field of ecological studies. While some parallels to the psyche have been made, Jung’s explicit contribution by way of the image of rhizomes has not been considered in detail. Philosopher Gilles Deleuze acknowledges borrowing the term from Jung, though he disagreed with Jung’s Empedoclean use of the term. The paper presents some fundamental properties of rhizomes along with contemporary scientific research on mycorrhizal (fungal) networks. Comparisons are first made with classical symbolic forms. Then comparison of rhizomal networks is made to those found both in mammalian brains and in recent images of the ‘cosmic web’ …. one of the largest structures in the known universe as clusters of galaxies which form into filaments. An additional comparison of the emerging image of the universe as a whole with the ancient Chinese Buddhist cosmological vision from the Hua-Yen School (Kegon in Japan) again reveals profound parallels. (Abstract edited excerpt)

Cosmology has now identified a pervasive force permeating the entire universe, previously unrecognized until mapping the sectors of darkness revealed regions of voidness and their evolution in time. The results point to a new, unknown force, ‘Dark Energy’, generating increasing regions of relative ‘no-thing-ness’ and producing the intricate patterns of the Cosmic Web. Even though the details may reveal differences with the insights of Hua-Yen cosmology, we are left to ponder the remarkable capacity of the meditative methods of this school to create such a far-reaching vision and more generally how the nature of mind increasingly seems to reflect the universe in which it emerged. (Conclusion, 26)

Life has always seemed to me like a plant that lives on its rhizome. Its true life is invisible, hidden in the rhizome. The part that appears above ground lasts only a single summer. Then it withers away – an ephemeral apparition. When we think of the unending growth and decay of life and civilizations, we cannot escape the impression of absolute nullity. Yet I have never lost a sense of something that lives and endures underneath the eternal flux. What we see is the blossom, which passes. The rhizome remains. (Jung, Memories, Dreams, Reflections, p. 4, 1961)

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