According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for
this world to recreate, reclaim, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater
Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of
explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger
Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton
I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. - anon
Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII
Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut
Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest
People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. - anon
... Certainly God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater
An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater
Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument.
There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is
irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a
power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton
The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table
to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace,
reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants
us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. - anon
The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul
The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals
and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah
If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Ian Barbour - The Godfather of Science and Religion Dies


From my friend Thomas Jay Oord's blog, who recently extolled the passing of Ian Barbour, a physicist-trained theologian who had studied under Enrico Fermi (the Fermi reactor in Chicago) and later taught at Yale, then Carleton, on the integration of science and religion using process theology. He taught and wrote on such subjects as the warrant for a dipolar God; a theology of nature vs. natural theology; divine self-limitation and free will; and, an open future vs. mechanism and determinism; among other subjects. Enjoy Tom's review!

R.E. Slater
January 12, 2013
*[...] brackets are mine


Godfather of Science and Religion Dies
http://thomasjayoord.com/index.php/blog/archives/godfather_of_science_and_religion_dies/

by Thomas Jay Oord
January 1, 2013

My friend, Ian Barbour, died recently. He was 90 years old. Widely considered a groundbreaking giant in the science-and-religion dialogue, Ian was especially kind to me. I consider him the godfather of contemporary science and religion scholarship.

Barbour's contributions to science and religion began in the 1950s. He earned a Ph.D. in physics at the University of Chicago early in that decade. While a Ph.D. student, he studied under Enrico Fermi, perhaps best known for designing the world's first nuclear reactor.

After teaching physics at the undergraduate level, Barbour enrolled at Yale Divinity School to study theology and ethics. Upon completing studies at Yale, he moved to Carleton College (Minnesota) where he taught in both the religion and physics departments. He remained a professor at Carleton throughout his career, writing or editing sixteen books during his tenure.

I was first exposed to Barbour’s work as a graduate student, both at Nazarene Theological Seminary and Claremont Graduate University. His books took science and theology seriously. I read his classic, Issues in Science and Religion (1966), which offered categories of thought still employed by many working in science-and-theology research today.

After completing my Ph.D., I began teaching at Eastern Nazarene College and was invited by Karl Giberson to write for the newspaper he edited and was eventually called “Science and Theology News.” My first major story for the newspaper was an interview of Ian Barbour, whom I called the “Godfather of the Science and Religion Dialogue.”

More recent students of science and religion cut their teeth in Barbour’s 1989 Gifford Lectures presented in his book, Religion in an Age of Science. At last count, this book and others Barbour wrote have been used in 7,500 science-and-religion courses around the world. I have recommended it to many of my own students.

Among influential ideas he proposed in Religion and the Age of Science were four ways science and religion relate: 1) they conflict, 2) they are independent of one another, 3) they are in dialogue, or 4) they can be integrated. Ian was particularly interested in the possibility of the integration relationship. Later in his career, Barbour remarked, "Although my four-fold typology cannot account for all ways to talk about the relation between science and religion, I believe it remains very valuable as a first-cut. It is a pedagogical tool to begin to look at the science-and-religion landscape."

In his book, When Science Meets Religion, Barbour contrasts natural theology with his preferred view, what he calls a "theology of nature." Natural theology attempts to prove or establish the existence of God using empirical science. By contrast, says Barbour, "proponents of a theology of nature draw extensively from a historic tradition and a worshipping community. But they are willing to modify some traditional assertions in response to the findings of science."

In 1999, the John Templeton Foundation awarded Barbour with the Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion. Barbour gave a sizable portion of the award money to the Center for Theology and Natural Sciences in Berkeley, California. I attended a birthday party for Ian at the center soon after. Barbour told participants that he affirms a theistic view of the world, while affirming evolution, Big Bang cosmology, and most other major scientific ([evolutionary]) hypotheses. "The theistic framework I endorse includes order, novelty, and chance," he said. "It includes purpose, but in an open-ended design for life."

Barbour was one of the clearest representatives of process theology’s contributions to the science and theology integration. Although not as well known, his book, Nature, Human Nature, and God, was one of his best and offered a strong integration of theology and science from a process perspective.

I am particularly fond of his essay in a book edited by John Polkinghorne, The Work of Love: Creation as Kenosis. Barbour offers five reasons Christians should reject a deterministic God and accept instead that God's power has limits. “To say that the limitation of God’s power is a metaphysical necessity rather than a voluntary self-limitation," he argues, "is not to say that it is imposed by something outside God.  This is not a Gnostic or Manichean dualism in which recalcitrant matter restricts God’s effort.”

A festschrift in Barbour’s honor, Fifty Years in Science and Religion, offers a taste of Barbour's influence upon scholars of science and religion. Edited by Robert Russell, the book's contributors are among the leading voices at work in the field today. Barbour offers an autobiographical “Personal Odyssey” in the festschrift, and I recommend it as guide to how Ian saw his work contributing to the science-and-theology interface.

There is much more that I could say about Ian. He was especially kind to me, in private correspondence and personal meetings as well as in public endeavors. He was especially encouraging earlier in my career, and his encouragement bolstered my confidence as a scholar.

For that and for his life in general, I am so very grateful. I will miss him.

- Tom




Myths, Models and Paradigms by Barbour, Ian G. (Mar 19, 2013)







By Sabian
Format:Paperback
"Religion and Science" is an in-depth philosophical discussion of religion and science. Ian Barbour's initial aim is to analyze the goals and methodologies of both science and religion - determining their similarities as well as their differences. The analysis is broad in scope and thorough in detail. Key scientific theories are examined and their metaphysical and theological implications are discussed. Different points of view are given fair consideration as the author takes the reader on an enlightening journey through a history of philosophical thought.

At issue here is what separates scientific truth from religious truth. To be sure the author goes to great lengths to answer this question and the reader will gain a plethora of insights along the way; however, the bottomline is this - namely, that science relies on objectivity while religion on subjectivity.

Is it possible to reconcile the objective truth with the subjective? Yes. How? Answer: "Process Thought."

What is Process Thought? Process Thought (or Process Philosophy as it is sometimes called) is a metaphysical system that views processes instead of irreducible particles or substances as the fundamental constituents of reality. It overcomes the duality of mind and matter by proposing a "dipolar Godhead" - one with both a physical as well as a mental pole. Moreover, it asserts that each process or event has both a mental and physical aspect. Dipolar Theism (the designated term for this viewpoint) "holds that the world is in God (panentheism), a view that neither identifies God with the world (pantheism) nor separates God from the world (theism)." "God includes the world but is more than the world." pg. 295.

Process Philosophy has important implications for both science and religion. It provides a rational basis for resolving the apparent dualism of mind and matter, and thereby reconciles the seeming conflict between science's quest for objective truth and religion's for subjective truth.

This tome is a great work of erudition; It is well-written, engaging and thought-provoking. It will offer you a wealth of insights as well as an education in both the philosophy of religion and the philosophy of science. This book is highly recommended for the individual who is seriously seeking to reconcile the religious mind-set with the scientific - the intuitive mind with the analytical. You will not be disappointed.

Format:Paperback
Whatever anyone thinks of "Religion and Science," it is clearly a definitive, if not the definitive work, on the subject because of the book's references and discussion of them are extremely comprehensive, almost to the point of being mind-numbing!

I feel that the author does a far better job of explaining science and scientific methodologies than religion and its methodologies, though I do find it useful to consider religion and religious experiences in terms of normally scientific terms, which he defines as agreement with data, coherence, scope, and fertility.

I really enjoyed Chapter 7, entitled "Physics and Metaphysics." Mr. Barbour gives a very good presentation of the basic concepts of twentieth century physics, such as quantum theory, relativity, and chaos theory, and also presents some thought-provoking ideas about how modern physics can and cannot be related to religion, especially Eastern religions and mysticism. Barbour, with some validity, takes on books such as "The Tao of Physics," and criticizes what he feels is over-stressing the similarities between physics and mysticism. Again, there are many references provided that are well worth further study.

As I stated above, I found the discussion of religion less appealing, precisely because it is far too intellectual, and is limited to what I will call "human-only" theses, and there are so many models and points of view presented I found it impossible to keep them straight. The author does state repeatedly that religion is "interpretive experience," yet he seems to feel that hundreds of intellectual explanations and theories of religion and God are what is called for to be "coherent;" however, the effect to me what was basically the opposite.

The explanation of Whitehead's main theses is good in developing what the author calls "process theology." Yet I am sorry to say that I got the impression that the author, who uses the word God over and over, has himself little experience of God other than what he has read from philosophers and the Old and New Testaments (i.e., intellectual only). He barely mentions reincarnation and karma, and clearly doesn't accept them. To me they are vital concepts in understanding the way "God" is, or I would say the laws of the "Universe," and certainly in trying to understand what the relationship of our souls is to the temporary, material existence. There is virtually no discussion of death in this book other than vague references to Christian doctrine, from what I remember, and to me a thorough discussion is absolutely crucial in any book about comparative religion.

The author himself admits that models don't represent literal (physical) reality, and I would add that they also do not represent spiritual reality, and thus are overrepresented here in the latter context.

Mr. Barbour also supports, among many suggested models, modes of interaction as well as dealing with the obvious differences in scope between the two disciplines, with which I agree. He maintains that the two disciplines in principle occupy difference realms of knowledege, really experience, and thus he supports the "Independence" model, in order to avoid the kind of confusion that arises when religious leaders try to defend their beliefs with the latest findings in science. As for interaction, Barbour supports the "Dialogue" model, not only between religion and science, but among different religions, eschewing any claim of exclusive truth by any group.

My criticisms of this book are perhaps harsh given its amazing scope. I do recommend it as a valuable resource. The author takes on the almost mpossible task of presenting religion and science and their relationship very credibly, perhaps better than any other author.

5.0 out of 5 stars
Format:Paperback
Barbour is known for his expertise involving the connection between science and religion. As a student of science/theology this is the best treatise i've seen on this subject. It will serve very nicely as a textbook and for personal reading.It should be part of every library. It will definitely go down as a classic.

5.0 out of 5 stars
 A good attempt at dialogue October 20, 2006
By Greg
Format:Paperback
In an era where many in the U.S. believe the universe was made 6000 years ago, and Adam and Eve walked alongside dinosaurs, and many religious believers are rejecting the theory of evolution (a keystone of modern science), there is a desperate need to bring religion and science into a better and more fruitful relationship.

The situation unfortunately is not helped with the rigid fanatacism on both sides of the fence. Either with theologians who dismiss geology and biology because it contradicts the bible. Or who reject advanced biotechnology because of medieval theories of the person. Or by scientists like Richard Dawkins who try their best to use science as a hammer with which to smash down all religious systems and myths as worthless fictions which belong in the dustbin of history, and try to whitewash any possible influence religion and religious values may have to offer science or a scientific worldview.

Barbour offers in this work an impartial analysis of the relationship between religion and science and offers four basic modes of how the two human enterprises can relate to each other. While he does offer his own perspective, Barbour is rational in his arguments and avoids getting mired in pointless polemics against theological or scientific oppenents, and lets them be.

This book is of interest to any theologian, philosopher or scientist who is concerned about how religion and science relate to each other, especially in our turbulent times [(sic, variant epistemologies)].




Index to past discussions -