Templeton Boston Workshop on Science and Religion,
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, 13-17 June 1998
Reviewed by Paul Henry Carr,
Philosophy Dept. Univ. Massachusetts Lowell, Lowell, MA, 01854-2881
 "From Mythos to Logos and Back"
Anne Foerst, Postdoctoral Fellow, Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, MIT and
Harvard Center for Values in Public Life

 Logos is a statement within a discussion: HOW
Mythos is an authoritative statement about meaning and ultimate concern: WHY

Theology is the analytic study of the mythos. They should not, but are in a dialectic relationship Both are equally necessary for human life. One can not be translated or resolved into the other and they influence each other strongly. Every logos is based on a mythos, unproven assumptions and stories. If the mythos is not articulated, than the logos becomes its own mythos. This unbalanced condition can sometimes lead to extremes, like the holocaust. For Dr. Forest, the miracle of Jesus walking on water is most meaningful when interpreted as Mythos. Water can be interpreted as a symbol of uncontrollable emotion. Using this, Jesus' walking on water symbolizes his control of the "uncontrollable."

"Where in the World is God?"
"Johannes Kepler: Praising God through Astronomy"
Owen Gingerich, Senior Astronomer, Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory,
Professor of Astronomy and the History of Science, Harvard University.

 On November 7, 1492, a brilliant fireball exploded over Switzerland and a stony meteorite plunged three feet into the ground. Emperor Maximilian, puzzled by the stone, consulted his advisers. They decided exactly what it was a wonder of God, a signal of favor to the emperor. Five centuries later, people have, commonly come to accept former mysteries as natural, normal phenomena and not as miracles or signs from God. Long ago, the fall of an Apple was sometimes interpreted as the "Will of God." This is an example of mythos. However such a statement does not pass muster as scientific explanation, as logos.

 This raises the question "Where in the world is God," or more particularly, the question of divine intervention in the physical universe. We can envision God as creating and recreating the universe from moment to moment. To postulate this moment-to-moment action of God is, however, more useful as a theological perspective, creationist's mythos, than as realization scientific notion. This idea of God's activity is comparable to the carrier wave of television-it makes it all possible, but it isn't the program. Science is interested in the program.

So let us look at the program and examine three scenarios for God's involvement or intervention. As an example, we will use the paradoxides trilobite, which was an unusually large three-lobed creature from the middle Cambrian Sea bottom. It was called paradoxides, because it seemed to have no obvious ancestor in the Cambrian strata.

Option One is to say that God created it, like our medieval predecessors who thought eels were born out of mud. This is similar to Isaac Newton's realization that the planets would each be attracting each other. He feared for the stability of the planetary system, but he proposed that God would from time-to-time readjust the system to maintain its order. Newton's continental rival and critic, Leibnitz, promptly retorted that this was "a very mean notion of the wisdom and power of God." Would such an explanation as Newton's deter astronomers from investigating further? It did not stop the French theoreticians, who in the next century closed the gap by showing that the solar system was stable despite such gravitational perturbations. God was no longer actively needed for the task. Option one is the scenario commonly adopted by the creationists. It agrees with the fossil record but provides no explanatory framework for all the relationships addressed by the theory of evolution by natural selection.

 Option Two provides a mechanism. A few cosmic rays zoom through the DNA of the ancestor creatures' germ cells, mutations occur, and in the genetic shuffling of sexual reproduction the offspring gradually become different. Behold! A new species, paraxdides, has come into being. God, within the limits of the uncertainty principal, could have directed these cosmic rays.

 Option Three is Howard Van Till's "functional integrity" view of creation. God's plan and design of the universe prepares for living beings to arise without further immediate intervention. This is in accordance with pre-ordained rules of order i.e. the laws of physics and chemistry. God's potential forms pre-exist in "possibility space." The initial creation was "pregnant with possibilities conceived in the mind of the Creator." The miracle of life is in the planning, not in disguise of a series of hidden discontinuities. Peacocke's talk below favors Option Three.

Gingerich showed that coherence was more important than proof in the replacement of Ptolemy's geocentric universe by Copernicus' heliocentric system. Copernicus at the beginning of the 16th century proposed his system as "pleasing to the mind." It placed the fastest planet, Mercury, closest to the sun and the slowest, Saturn, most distant. Galileo at the beginning of the 17th century had no "proof positive" that the earth was moving. His explanation of the tides turned out to be wrong! Nevertheless, his discovery of the moons of Jupiter and the mountains on the moon made more sense in Copernicus' system than Ptolemy's, where all the heavenly bodies were perfect spheres made of "ether." Kepler, a contemporary of Galileo, adopted the heliocentric system, as it allowed him to place the six known planets within the five nested perfect polyhedral solids of Plato and Pythagoras. This ordering was Trinitarian: the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit corresponded respectively to the sun, the stars, and spaces between the planetary orbits. Newton, later in the 17th century had no "proof positive" that the earth moved, but his gravitational theory made no sense without a massive, comparatively immobile, sun near the gravitational center. Foucault's proof positive that the earth was moving with his pendulum in 1851 was anticlimactic, as the scientific community had already accepted the Copernican system by then.

 "Welcoming the 'Disguised Friend'- Darwinism and Divinity"
Arthur Peacocke, Society of Ordained Scientists; Dean of Clare College, Cambridge; and
Director of Ian Ramsey Centre, St. Cross College, Oxford, UK.

"Darwinism appeared, and, under the disguise of a foe, did the is work of a friend. It has conferred upon philosophy and religion an inestimable benefit, by showing us that we must choose between two alternatives. Either God is everywhere present in nature, or he is nowhere." (Aubrey Moore, in the 12th edition of "Lux Mundi, 1891. p.73)

 Darwin, contrary to popular opinion, was generally accepted by liberal theologians of the 19th century. Darwinism has led to a renewed sense of the sacramentality of nature and God's immanence in the world. God is continually creating at each moment a world characterized by spontaneity in nature and creative freedom for humanity. We are human "becomings" rather than "beings." God is the imminent creator working in and through the processes of the natural order. He sustains the laws of nature. God is also the transcendent ground of being, beyond space and time. Peacocke is therefore a panentheist.

 Is evolution due to chance or design?
Peacocke believes in a creative interplay of chance and design or law apparent in the evolution of living matter by natural selection.
"Instead of being daunted by the role of chance in genetic mutations as being the manifestation of irrationality in the universe, it would be more consistent with the observations to assert that the full gamut of the potentialities of living matter could be explored only through the agency of the rapid and frequent randomization. This is possible at the molecular level with DNA."
Chance operating within a law-like framework is the basis of the inherent creativity of the natural order, in its ability to generate new forms matter and life. As in many games, the consequences of the fall of the dice depend very much on the rules of the game.

Can natural selection alone accountant for the tremendous diversity and complexity of life?
Richard Dawkins says "yes," but biologists like Stewart Kaufmann assert that there is a propensity for self-organization inherent in nature. For Peacocke, God is the ultimate ground and creative source of both law (design) and chance.

 Biological death of the individual is the pre-requisite of the biological order, that creativity which eventually led to the emergence of human beings. The extinction of the dinosaurs is attributed to collisions of the earth with asteroids or other heavily bodies. This adds an element of sheer contingency to natural history of life on this earth. The spontaneity and fecundity of the biological world is gained at the enormous price of death and of pain and suffering during life. If God is also immanently present in and to natural processes, than God like a human creator, suffers in, and with other creative processes of the world. "God suffers eminently and yet is still God, and a God who suffers universally." This is symbolized by the suffering of God's son, Jesus, on the cross.

"Human Evolution: Biology, Culture, Ethics"
Francisco J. Ayala, Dept .of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California, Irvine

The most distinctive human anatomical traits are a large brain and erect posture. The hominid lineage diverged from that of the chimpanzee 5-7 million years ago (Mya). It evolved exclusively in the African continent until the emergence of Homo erectus, somewhat before 1.8 Mya. Modern Homo sapiens has a brain weight of three pounds as compared to one pound for a chimpanzee. Biological evolution adapts life to its environment. Human cultural evolution enables us to change our environment to suit the needs of our genes. Cultural evolution is based on the transmission of information by a teaching-learning process, which is in principle independent of biological parentage.

Ethical behavior (proclivity to judge human actions as good or evil) has evolved as a consequence of high human intelligence. Ethical beings must (1) have the ability to anticipate the consequences of their actions, (2) ability to make value judgements, and (3) the ability to choose between alternatives. The capacity for moral behavior does not tell us what the moral values should be, just as the capacity for language does not determine which language we should speak. Moral values are the result of cultural evolution, not biological evolution. The latter is morally neutral. Biological evolution has also produced smallpox and AIDS. The sociobiologist's claim that moral values are a result of biological evolution is an example of the naturalistic fallacy: confusing "what is" with what "ought to be."