VI. Earth Life Emergence: Development of Body, Brain, Selves and Societies
6. Religion and Science
Clayton, Philip, ed. The Oxford Handbook of Religion and Science. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006. A collection of 57 articles by leading authorities arranged in six sections: Religion and Science in the World’s Traditions, Religion in the Light of Science, Major Fields of Study, Methodological Approaches, Main Theological Debates, and Value Issues. A major yet fragmentary volume which still seems more concerned with preparing for the comparative task than actually carrying it out. The question of what kind of universe and evolution does “science” infer, contingently pointless or a purposeful emergent complexity and moral sentience, is not sufficiently recognized or formally addressed.
Conradie, Ernst, ed. Creation and Salvation: A Companion of Recent Theological Movements. Berlin: LIT Verlag, 2012. A University of the Western Cape, RSA, theologian broadly surveys this dichotomous issue that so besets us today. However can a rapport between heaven and earth, god and man, be resolved as history closes over a finite, imperiled sphere, and as human beings gain divine-like powers. Some 54 voices arranged, with an example for each, as Eastern Christian Thought (Vladimir Soloviev), Catholic Theologies (Karl Rahner), Lutheran Theologies (Dietrich Bonhoeffer), Reformed Theologies (Karl Barth), Nordic Theologies (Gustaf Wingren), Science and Theology (Pierre Teilhard, Thomas Berry), Process and Relational Theisms (Catherine Keller), Ecofeminist Theologies (Sallie McFague), Latin American theologies (Leonardo Boff), and African and Asian Perspectives (Creative Word: Asian Women’s Perspective on Creation and Salvation).
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. In this volume of Boyle Lectures, the University of Cambridge paleontologist cites present cosmological and evolutionary scientific paradigms as an erroneous, inappropriate “council of despair.” Rather life’s persistent convergence over long durations begs something like a “universal musical” score or script that guides and channels toward our sentient wonderment. See also in this volume “Christ and Evolution: A Drama of Wisdom” by Celia Deane-Drummond and “Is the World Unfinished?” by Jurgen Moltmann, who muses our task remains to read the second book of nature, ever open if we could learn to decipher its language.
Conway Morris, Simon. Evolution and the Inevitability of Intelligent Life. Harrison, Peter, ed. Cambridge Companion to Science and Religion. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010. As the writings of this Cambridge philosophical paleontologist developed over the last decade, and as a genesis synthesis now firms up, to which SCM is a contributor, a stronger claim can be made for a natural “inherency” that propels life’s directional convergence. In this vista, evolution performs as a “search engine” which serves to generate “innovations and transitions” in eukaryotes, animals, the nervous system, and intelligence. And this escapes or is denied by the materialists, because it dethrones blind selection as the only factor. Circa 2010, a “hitherto unrecognized predictability” is evident, that augurs for “deeper realities” from which creatures and consciousness arise.
Cunningham, Conor. Darwin's Pious Idea: Why the Ultra-Darwinists and Creationists Both Get It Wrong. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2010. In these days of rancorous screeds between atheists and believers from every corner, a University of Nottingham theologian and philosopher contrasts of these diametric readings of life’s evolution that confound us today. While the nihilist bias of Daniel Dennett, Richard Dawkins, and “skeptics” denies any innate cause, direction or purpose, welling 21st century evidence of nonlinear self-organizing dynamics, constant convergence, major evolutionary transitions, modular inherencies, and so on, increasingly implies an ordained teleological destiny. As a good review by John Rose in Commonweal for December 16, 2011 notes, the author then invites us to imagine what might be possible if the later version came to prevail. A coda thus proposes, among other insights, a sense of “anakephalaious” from Paul and Irenaeus, i.e. a developmental arc of history toward regnant humanity that is reciprocally “recapitulated” by Jesus Christ.
Dalia, Lama. The Universe in a Single Atom. New York: Morgan Road Books, 2005. A work of lucidity and focus upon the inherent unity of religion and science, meditation and experiment, along with vital insights into the human condition. Buddhism is not held to a literal text, so can revise its cosmology based upon the latest scientific findings. Its heart of wisdom is a perception of “Indra’s jeweled net” whence each interconnected jewel, atom, person, or galaxy epitomizes, reflects and contains every other. But the modern materialist paradigm does not include its foundational essence of ascendant mind. Since Buddhism does not have a concept of a “soul” or “original sin,” human beings can be joined with all other entities in a continuum of rising spiritual consciousness. World society today is spherically one but rent by archaic factions and violence. If we would calm the mind to be able to think about what we are doing, a new enlightenment and compassionate peace might dawn.
Despite the success of the Darwinian narrative, I do not believe that all the elements of the story are in place. (111) Today, in the first decade of the twenty-first century, science and spirituality have the potential to be closer than ever, and to embark upon a collaborative endeavor that has far-reaching potential to help humanity meet the challenges before us. (209)
Das, Pranab, ed. Global Perspectives on Science and Spirituality. West Conshohocken, PA: Templeton Press, 2009. Within the Templeton program of this name, carefully chosen essays from East European and Asian scholars uniquely broaden the convergence of these vital paths beyond Western material fixations. Chapters by Heup Young Kim, and Anton Markus, et al, are cited elsewhere (search). Its Templeton site can be reached at http://capabilities.templeton.org/2008/GP/gpss.html.
De Duve, Christian. Life Evolving. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002. A good example of the present conceptual impasse. The Nobel laureate chemist and Catholic concludes that the religious image of a Divinely infused creation remains incompatible with an aimless Darwinian evolution touted by mainstream science.
Dembski, William and Michael Ruse, eds.. Debating Design. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004. An inclusive and balanced entry to the intelligent design (ID) position along with the basics and frontiers of evolutionary theory. Four main aspects are covered: Darwinism (Francisco Ayala, Kenneth Miller, e.g.), Complex self-organization (Stuart Kauffman, Paul Davies – see also Current Vistas), Theistic evolution (John Haught, Keith Ward), and ID (Michael Behe, Stephen Meyer). At issue is whether organisms form and evolve due to contingent natural forces alone or is an “inbuilt potentiality” (John Polkinghorne) for creative emergence at work. The ID authors wrestle with how the Divine intervention they see necessary might actually occur.
Dick, Stephen, ed. Many Worlds. Radnor, PA: Templeton Foundation Press, 2000. Authoritative and unique articles explore scientific and theological implications of the growing verification and witness of a “biological universe” as it may be ordained by God and innately oriented to the emergence of intelligent, spiritual life.
Ecklund, Elaine, et al, eds. Secularity and Science: What Scientists Around the World Really think About Religion. New York: Oxford University Press, 2019. Seven ethnic scholars based at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy report upon a large survey of various cultural and national views about either a consilience or an opposition of spiritual beliefs and evidential findings. A mélange then spans a spectrum from a northern/western disdain for religion, which leaves a senseless profanity in its place while an Asian scientist cab see his research as a way to learn more about a divine presence and natural creation. But sociological studies have a new urgency since the indigenous protest against the Mauna Kea telescope has actually shut it down. One might recall Galileo’s answer to the Cardinals that he made his spyglass so to achieve a better view of God’s numinous cosmos.
Eisen, Arri and Gary Laderman, eds. Science, Religion, and Society. Armonk, NY, and London: M. E. Sharpe, 2007. This two volume Encyclopedia of History, Culture, and Controversy originated from programs at Emory University and contains these main sections: Creation, the Cosmos, and Origins of the Universe; Ecology, Evolution, and the Natural World; Consciousness, Mind, and the Brain; Healers and Healing; Dying and Death; and Genetics and Religion. But be advised that the work is somewhat fragmentary with many facets not covered.