Kurt Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem says (i) all closed systems are unprovable within themselves and, that (ii) all open systems are rightly understood as incomplete. - R.E. Slater

The God among us is the God who refuses to be God without us, so great is God's Love. – Tripp Fuller

According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater

Our eschatological ethos is to love. To stand with those who are oppressed. To stand against those who are oppressing. It is that simple. Love is our only calling and Christian Hope. - 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) or, conversely, “I AM who I AM Becoming.”

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

God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – Anon

Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson

We can’t control God; God is uncontrollable. God can’t control us; God’s love is uncontrolling! - Thomas Jay Oord

Life in perspective but always in process... as we are relational beings in process to one another, so life events are in process in relation to each event... as God is to Self, is to world, is to us... like Father, like sons and daughters, like events... life in process yet always in perspective. - R.E. Slater

To promote societal transition to sustainable ways of living and a global society founded on a shared ethical framework which includes respect and care for the community of life, ecological integrity, universal human rights, respect for diversity, economic justice, democracy, and a culture of peace. - The Earth Charter Mission Statement

Christian humanism is the belief that human freedom, individual conscience, and unencumbered rational inquiry are compatible with the practice of Christianity or even intrinsic in its doctrine. It represents a philosophical union of Christian faith and classical humanist principles. - Scott Postma

It is never wise to have a self-appointed religious institution determine a nation's moral code. The opportunities for moral compromise and failure are high; the moral codes and creeds assuredly racist, discriminatory, or subjectively and religiously defined; and the pronouncement of inhumanitarian political objectives quite predictable. - R.E. Slater

God's love must both center and define the Christian faith and all religious or human faiths seeking human and ecological balance in worlds of subtraction, harm, tragedy, and evil. - R.E. Slater

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Podcast: Thriving with Stone Age Minds

 

Amazon Link


Thriving with Stone Age Minds: Evolutionary Psychology, Christian Faith, and the Quest for Human Flourishing
A BioLogos Book Series on Science and Christianity

by Justin L. Barrett (Author), Pamela Ebstyne King

What does God's creation of humanity through the process of evolution mean for human flourishing? The emerging field of evolutionary psychology remains controversial, perhaps especially among Christians. Yet according to Justin Barrett and Pamela Ebstyne King it can be a powerful tool for understanding human nature and our distinctively human purpose. Thriving with Stone Age Minds provides an introduction to evolutionary psychology, explaining key concepts like hyper-sociality, information gathering, and self-control. Combining insights from evolutionary psychology with resources from the Bible and Christian theology, Barrett and King focus fresh attention on the question, What is human flourishing? When we understand how humans still bear the marks of our evolutionary past, new light shines on some of the most puzzling features of our minds, relationships, and behaviors. One key insight of evolutionary psychology is how humans both adapt to and then alter our environments, or "niches." In fact, we change our world faster than our minds can adapt―and then gaps in our "fitness" emerge. In effect, humans are now attempting to thrive in modern contexts with Stone Age minds. By integrating scientific evidence with wisdom from theological anthropology, we can learn to close up nature-niche gaps and thrive, becoming more what God has created us to be.


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Thriving with Stone Age Minds
A Homebrewed Podcast
August 26, 2021

*Notes and Reflections by R.E. Slater

Imago Dei = Man's Created Nature
Sin Nature = Man's Challenge of Agency


Homebrewed Christianity is happy to host a celebratory book launch for "Thriving with Stone Age Minds: Evolutionary Psychology, Christian Faith, and the Quest for Human Flourishing" by Justin Barrett & Pam King. Not only will we hear from the co-authors, but we will be joined by two stellar scholars, Joanna Collicutt & Jonathan Jong.


PANELISTS

TF - Theology and Science are speaking together with more of a unified voice than ever before as Christian barriers are broken down in reflection and examination.

JB - "How Does Your Faith Fuel Scientific Discovery?" 

Our book project began 8 years ago at Fuller as we thought through evolutionary science and how to bring it into Christianity. Applied for a Biologos grant to write about evolutionary psychology. What does it mean to thrive as a human? From that we brought in a host of acamedicians, scholars, and theologs.

PK - I'm interested in what it means to thrive re development psychology? What it means to be a human species. Evolution, adaptation, and change from God's perspective. How are we distinct from other species? How can this knowledge and dialogue unify people, help us live fuller lives, etc? How does one live out a life lived well?

JC - How do we lean into the image of Christ and how do we resist all those elements which would take away this image and from finding shalom?

JJ - I'm interested in metaphysics and evolutionary psychology cross-sects.

JB - Brings us Imago Dei v Sin Nature. (I found this very helpful)


End


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Making Sense of Evolutionary Psychology

by Justin Barrett
August 03, 2021



The latest book to come out on the series, BioLogos Books on Science and Christianity is Thriving with Stone Age Minds: Evolutionary Psychology, Christian Faith, and the Quest for Human Flourishing, by Justin L. Barrett (with Pamela Ebstyne King). We asked Justin to write about the book, responding particularly to the reaction some people have to evolutionary psychology. We hope this inspires you to buy the book and give it a read!

I recently had an email exchange with an accomplished astrophysicist, who is also deeply engaged with integrating scientific findings with theological positions from his faith tradition. He had listened to my interview on the Language of God podcast concerning my book (with Pamela King) Thriving with Stone Age Minds (2021, InterVarsity Academic) and said he was ordering it immediately, but also admitted that he tends “to be very skeptical of evolutionary ‘explanations’” of human behaviors. My book prominently features evolutionary psychology as a helpful vantage point for re-considering Christian perspectives on human thriving, but I don’t fault my colleague for his skepticism. Perhaps you have also felt this skepticism.

It took me a lot of reading past the more popular treatments, and seeing evolutionary psychological research up close before I warmed to this approach. I am sure that some of my squeamishness was the initial impression that evolutionary psychologists interpret too many behaviors as ultimately about sex. Even setting this appearance aside, most newish scientific claims should be approached with at least some tentativeness and held provisionally. Evolutionary psychology has featured some excesses that have earned it a fairly short leash. As my colleague commented, sometimes it does seem like you can ask about almost any human behavior and you get a very glib evolutionary explanation. Why do men cheat on their spouses? Evolution! Why do women wear make up? Evolution! Why do we love cheesecake? Evolution! Nonetheless, a theoretical perspective or subfield should not be judged by its popular treatments or its missteps but by its total body of work. I can’t summarize all of evolutionary psychology here, but hopefully I can give a better sense of its foundations.

The term “evolutionary psychology” can mean several related things. It can mean studying the evolution of human psychology, often in contrast to the psychology of chimpanzees and other great apes. Why, from an evolutionary perspective, did we come to have the kinds of brains, minds, and behavioral tendencies that we have, instead of some other bag of tricks? We could call this evolution of psychology.

A different “evolutionary psychology” is the study of the thought and behaviors of contemporary humans using insights and assumptions from evolutionary theory.1 This approach may be applied to cognitive, developmental, social, or any other subfield of psychology. Evolutionary psychology of this sort wonders whether particular ways of thinking or behaving may be partially explicable by considering the long-term selection pressures on our species or other features of our species’ history. To illustrate, why do young females typically find themselves attracted to potential spouses from their age and older but males typically look for spouses about their age and younger? An evolutionary perspective would consider the asymmetrical demands that reproduction has on the sexes and the longer fertility that males experience. It may be that each sex has a different mating “strategy” unconsciously working on their mating preferences because such strategies may have been more adaptive than others. An evolutionary psychologist would then look for evidence that these asymmetries placed selection pressure on the psychology of human sexual attraction. They would consider whether alternative explanations capture the available data more completely. This evolutionary psychology is informed by evolution of psychology.

Within evolutionary psychology there are several schools of thought or emphases. One that is sometimes called the “Santa Barbara School” (due to its popularization by Leda Cosmides and John Tooby at the University of California at Santa Barbara2) adds to evolutionary psychology an emphasis on the idea that human minds can be characterized as having lots of specialized subsystems, mental instincts, or “modules.” The idea that humans have some specialized information processing systems (as do other animals) is not a controversial claim, but the number, degree of specialization, and just how (un)receptive such subsystems are to cultural tuning are far from settled questions. Cosmides and Tooby have been such outspoken advocates of evolutionary psychology, that often their approach is thought to characterize all of evolutionary psychology with the result being that those who, for instance, are skeptical about human minds being composed of massive numbers of specialized subsystems, will reject evolutionary psychology in its entirety. Or they will take evidence of the human minds as being importantly tuned up by cultural context as evidence against evolutionary psychology as a whole, but such wholesale rejections are unwarranted.

The logic of evolutionary psychology is fairly straightforward. If we accept the premise that humans evolved over hundreds of thousands of years from some ancestral species that we have in common with all great apes, and accept the claim that evolution works to shape bodies (including brains) and behaviors, then evolution has shaped human brains and behaviors. Because brains facilitate thought, feelings, and behaviors, this shaping of brains by evolution, has also shaped how we think, feel, and behave. Psychological science is the scientific study of thought and behavior, and so a psychological science that ignores evolution, is missing important intellectual resources in doing its job. That is, if we can accept that humans evolved – perhaps this is the mechanism God used to create humans from ancestral species—then, doing evolutionary psychology is part of doing thorough psychological science.

But does an evolutionary perspective add any explanatory power? Even if one is prepared to accept the basic argument for an evolutionary psychology, it may be that humans have been gifted with minds that are so good at learning new things about new environments that there is no reason to bring our species’ prehistory into the discussion. Instead of lots of mental instincts (modules, subsystems, etc.), we have a super-powerful, super-flexible, all-purpose learning system. And so, anything interesting to say about human psychology is a product of experiences in this lifetime, not the accumulated baggage of ancestral experiences. Perhaps. But notice that this sort of position should be the conclusion of psychological science, not the default stance. What such a position seems to be claiming is that humans are the only known animal on earth to not have brains, minds, and behaviors that have been tuned to specific fitness demands through evolution. Such a prima facie improbable claim requires considerable evidence.

And the evidence just isn’t there. It is easy to generate examples of domains in which humans show fitness-relevant information-processing predilections. We don’t process any and all information in our environments, and we don’t process that information in some kind of neutral manner. Rather, we selectively attend to and process information in ways important for our type of animal. To take two examples that I mention in the book: (1) infants readily form fear associations with snakes, not snails or sneakers; and (2) essentially from birth they selectively attend to human faces among all of the visual stimuli around them. These information processing “biases” (as we call them in psychological science) are the default tendencies of our psychology. I mention many others in the book.

It is common for evolutionary psychologists to draw upon evidence from infant/child developmental, neuroscientific, cross-cultural, experimental, cross-species, and computer modeling studies. Evidence from studies of these sorts point to many ways in which humans—just like any other animal that has been studied—have specialized ways of thinking, feeling, and acting in response to different sorts of things in their environment, many of which appear to be ancient adaptations.

Many very good recent books, such as those by Kevin Laland and Joseph Henrich3, seem to argue that human specialness is not found in our mental instincts but in our ability to learn from each other, teach each other, and otherwise adapt to our environments. I agree that human cultural learning is remarkable and unparalleled on earth. Perhaps these capacities are what sets humans apart. It does not follow, however, that human minds are best characterized as bland sponges that passively soak up whatever is around them. Indeed, Laland and Henrich both identify some of the very unusual psychological abilities that enable cultural learning—most of which are either only present in humans or greatly enhanced in humans. We have to do things like selectively attend to others (especially eye gaze), figure out what others are attending to, speculate about what it is they want to communicate to us, and so on. These are precisely those evolved capacities that evolutionary psychologists are interested in understanding better.4

Just because humans are usual in their abilities to learn and adapt, it does not follow that somehow our basic psychological endowment isn’t importantly constrained by ancestral fitness demands, much like other animals. That we carry in our psychology the imprints of evolution working on our ancestors is what is meant by saying humans have “stone-aged minds.” Evolution works slowly on the basic biological endowment, and genetic evidence suggests we have not changed much genetically in some 200,000 years. Hence, our species has spent at least twenty-times as long living in stone-aged environments (i.e., living with only the ability to make stone, wooden, and fiber technologies, and not bronze or iron, etc.). Furthermore, the Stone Age only ended for a small minority of humans about 4500 years ago—not enough time for massive changes in our natural endowment. Indeed, depending upon one’s criteria for what counts as a full transition out of a “stone-aged” culture, there are still stone-aged societies today. And so, humans really can be said to be trying to thrive in a contemporary world with stone-aged minds. This mismatch between our nature and our environmental niche—a gap rapidly enlarged by the industrial and high-tech revolutions—is one of the great obstacles we face when trying to live the abundant lives God wants us to enjoy.

I understand being suspicious of evolutionary psychology. Sometimes its practitioners seem to over-interpret their studies and find adaptations where there might be evolutionary byproducts, drift, or deliberate innovation. But if you think it is possible that God used an evolutionary process to bring about humans, I encourage you to give evolutionary psychology a fair chance. In addition to reading my book, check out some of the books and articles that I have noted here, keeping in mind that these books are summaries and interpretations of the available evidence and do not detail all of the relevant studies for the claims made. To get a better feel for the kind of evidence that backs the claims, check out some of the research reports and review papers cited in the books. Michael Tomasello’s website is a rich resource for basic research articles and a number of videos from his studies with chimpanzees and children. Spending some time there is a great way to get a sense for the depth and variety of research that just one evolutionary psychology lab group has produced.5 For videos, podcasts, and readings that my team and I have designed especially for theologically-minded people, check out the TheoPsych Academy.6 Applications from evolutionary psychology are sprinkled throughout but especially in the “On Human Nature”course.


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Evolution and Image Bearers

On April 15, 2015



One of the challenging issues raised for Christians by the science of evolution is understanding what it means for an evolved human to be made in the image of God (imago Dei). Evolutionary theory implies that species are not neatly distinguished from one another in discrete categories. Instead, it posits that the ancestry of life on earth is better understood as a slow, continuous development with ever-changing lines differentiating species from one another. Species, including humans, have changed over time and continue to change. If, according to evolutionary theory, the human species has evolved from non-human ancestors over the course of hundreds of thousands of years, how might we understand humans as uniquely bearing the image of God?

In a previous BioLogos blog post, Dennis Venema suggests that modern homo sapiens have evolved along “different evolutionary trajectories.” While all modern homo sapiens share common ancestors from Africa, some homo sapiens also have Neanderthal and Denisovan ancestors. Who, then, were divine image-bearers–the common ancestors from Africa, Neanderthals, Denisovans, their mixed species children, or all of the above? In other words, if the lines differentiating species from one another are less clear and the development of a species is seen as an extended, continuous process involving the mixing of different related species, how are we to understand modern humans as divine image-bearers in comparison to the direct ancestors of humans who presumably were not? One way of addressing this question is to consider the role divine image-bearers are given and the capacities required for that role. If bearing God’s image requires a particular role with particular capacities, those species that lack those capacities and therefore cannot act in that role are not image bearers of God. Those species that possess those capacities may then be considered potential image bearers, in the sense that these species have the necessary capacities for this role. In this way, a line may be drawn between direct ancestors of humans that most likely did not bear the image of God and those that may have. We believe this approach is compatible with existing interpretations of the imago—whether Christological, relational (i.e., being in relationship with God), functional (i.e. fulfilling God’s role or commission to humankind)—and also compatible with understanding how God could have used natural processes to enable humans to become unique image bearers. (Part 2 will address a different approach to understanding the image of God in the context of evolution as well.) This method is, of course, somewhat complicated by disagreements concerning what it means to be made in the image of God. These disagreements, while certainly interesting, will not be resolved here. For the sake of this post, one well-established feature of the imago Dei will be focused on: the role of dominion or stewardship over creation. We will then consider which capacities are required for this role to be performed in a meaningful way. Two broad examples are the ability to learn about creation and flexibly care for different species with different needs and the ability to plan for the benefit of these species. The ability to learn about creation is important for dominion because different species require different care. Here we may discuss various psychological capacities that enable this ability. Theory of mind—the ability to consider the intentions, desires, and beliefs of other minds—is greatly useful. In order for a divine image-bearer to exercise dominion, he or she must understand that gazelles prefer to eat grass and lions prefer to eat gazelles. Various aspects of intuitive biology may also be useful as they allow humans to understand the basic needs of species in general (e.g., food, water, shelter, etc.) and to differentiate between species and attribute specific needs to them. These abilities, in turn, allow humans to flexibly care for different species with different needs. The sheep can be led to pasture and the fish left in its pond where they may both respectively thrive, rather than applying one method of care to both. In order to helpfully rule over creation, image bearers also need to plan ahead for the benefit of these species. Sheep taken to the same pasture too often may create an environment that can no longer sustain the life of the sheep or the life of other co-existing species. Here we may also speak of particular psychological capacities, such as a certain amount of self-control and the ability to delay gratification. Without these abilities, humanity may wreak havoc on ecosystems in order to pursue their own gain or obtain immediate rewards. Further, image bearers may need to examine potential futures, set goals, and implement these goals. In this way image bearers may foresee problems and helpfully avoid them.To a degree, these capacities exist in other species as well, but the extent to which they exist in the human species is unique. Additionally, this method does raise further questions about humans or groups of humans with limited capacities in these areas, and for this reason, it may be better applied to species as a whole, rather than to individuals. For example, we may be able to say that those groups of humans that possessed these capacities, such as theory of mind and self-regulation, were potentially image bearers, but those groups of direct human ancestors that lacked these capacities were likely not image bearers. For example, if Neanderthals lacked a number of necessary capacities for dominion, it may be accurate to say that they were likely not image bearers. But, if Neanderthals, like modern humans, possessed these capacities and were capable of exercising a meaningful amount of dominion over creation, it may be accurate to say they were potential image bearers.Further consideration of evolutionary theory and the imago Dei, however, raises another interesting question. If we consider the entirety of human history, dating back to our first human ancestors until today, we may wonder about the image bearing actions, behaviors, or qualities of humans throughout history. We may ask, how have humans borne the image of God across time and in different cultural contexts? For example, the businesswoman in New York City grabbing a cup of coffee before hopping on the subway is presumably an image bearer of God, but so is the hunter-gatherer spending his time fashioning stone tools. An interesting question rises out of this comparison: Do humans today bear God’s image differently than those humans living 1000 years ago, 10,000 years ago, or even further back?These considerations may be helped by a dynamic conception of the image of God as considered by developmental psychology. We recognize both the continuous work and movement of the Holy Spirit in the lives of humans and also the malleability of the human species providing the capacity to readily adjust to a variety of cultural contexts. Building on these notions, we suggest that a dynamic approach, one that recognizes the human propensity to change and grow, to understanding the image of God allows for a theologically and scientifically coherent conceptualization of what it means for humans to bear God’s image. Given the plasticity inherent in human development and the ongoing sustaining and perfecting work of the Spirit, we make two propositions regarding a dynamic perspective of the image of God. The first is that the actions or behaviors by which individual or communal entities relate to God and image him are not fixed throughout time and place; they are dynamic. Secondly, that the imago is less about a static or fixed image and more about an active or dynamic imaging as humans relate to God and God’s creation.The first point suggests that the imago Dei may not be evident in the same way across different historical or cultural contexts. For example, during the Enlightenment, the use of reason may have gained importance and helped illuminate an individual’s relationship with God. In more recent times relational qualities, such as having a coherent identity or expressing empathy, may better enable individuals to participate more fully in Christian fellowship and in the life of the triune God. This is not a relativistic claim about the imago, but rather a supposition about how cultural and historical context shapes different opportunities for imaging God that may then inform the intellectual history of the doctrine of the imago Dei. This notion differs from the historical tendency to attempt to locate the image of God in a particular quality that a human possesses and allows for the image of God in humankind to deepen and expand throughout history.

Second, this perspective emphasizes that bearing the image of God involves the whole person and the imago becomes more apparent through relating to God and others. Human nature has a plastic and undetermined element that enables humans to be shaped and formed into a better likeness of the image of God. Although psychological capacities may be relevant to the imago, this does not mean such capacities are fixed or set throughout one’s life. John Webster powerfully made this point by saying that human nature is not “immobile.” From this perspective, perhaps arguing about what the image is (such as the human will or reason) is less the point than how one bears the image of God by participating in fellowship with God. In Webster’s words, being human involves fellowship with God that “becomes through participation in the drama of creation, salvation and consummation.”

Thus the imago is “dynamic” in that it stems from ongoing human engagement with God’s work of creation, redemption, and perfection. Such an approach affirms the importance of human reason, will, love, and relationship (capacities that are identified by different static understandings of the imago), but emphasizes the process by which these capacities enable an individual to engage in the on-going activity of God. Given that the Spirit is the sustainer and perfecter in the process of sanctification, then we should not be surprised that the there could be change over time (in someone’s life or throughout history) in the expression of the imago. Consequently, when the evidence of multiple human ancestors raises the question of how the imago may have emerged within the natural order, a dynamic perspective suggests that the capacity to be an image bearer could have arisen regardless of context or even ancestors—as long as the sufficient constellation of capacities necessary to relate to God, other, and creation were present (for a discussion of some of these capacities, see previous post).

From this perspective, humans are image bearers, and similar to a photo that changes in quality or resolution as it comes into focus, so the image we bear becomes more apparent the closer our relation to God. Perhaps it is through the process of “becoming” more fully who we were created to be, through relating to God, his people, and his creation, that the image becomes more evident. Said differently, the substance is present in a picture, although we may not see it clearly. If we increase the resolution of the picture, we increase the clarity of the image. Consequently, the imago is not limited to a singular quality that mirrors the image of God, but rather we argue for a malleable understanding of bearing the image of God that becomes more apparent in relating to God.

To summarize, given the ongoing work of the Spirit and the constant change brought about within humans as they interact with God, others, and creation, perhaps speaking of “bearing the image of God” is more helpful than a more static concept of “an image.” Such an approach is consistent with existing interpretations of the imago (e.g., Christological, relational, functional) and also compatible with understanding how God could have used natural processes to enable humans to become unique image bearers. Through the processes of evolution, humans eventually had the capacity to bear the image of God in a way that was distinct from their predecessors. This is not at all to suggest that the imago itself evolves over time; but rather that how humans bear the image of God may have different nuances at different times within individual lives and also as a species throughout history.


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Jonathan Jong on Fraser Watts and Léon Turner (eds.),
Evolution, Religion, & Cognitive Science: Critical & Constructive Essays


How Not to Criticize the
(Evolutionary) Cognitive Science of Religion

by Jonathan Jong


Fraser Watts and Léon P. Turner (eds.), Evolution, Religion, and Cognitive Science:
Critical and Constructive Essays, Oxford University Press, 2014, 272pp


That human beings are incorrigibly religious is an anthropological truism if ever there was one. Always and everywhere, most people participate in what we — lay people and academic specialists alike — would recognize as religious activities, even if there is some uncertainty over how to define “religion” and its cognates. Whatever else the evolutionary cognitive science of religion (ECSR) might be, it is at least an attempt to explain why religion is so cross-culturally and historically ubiquitous. To be sure, this is hardly a novel enterprise; ECSR is but the latest in a long series of efforts to explain religion, beginning at least as far back as Xenophanes of Colophon in the 5th century BCE, and featuring such luminaries as Lucretius Carus, Thomas Hobbes, David Hume, and more recently, Feuerbach, Marx, and Freud. For the past 25 years or so, scholars and scientists from diverse fields — including religious studies, history, anthropology, political science, sociology, psychology, and biology — have come together to ask old questions afresh, armed with shiny new theoretical assumptions and research methodologies. Marx’s historical materialism and Freud’s id-ego-superego are out; Darwin’s theory of natural selection and the cognitive turn in psychological science are in. Supplementing traditional participant observation and the close-reading of texts are laboratory- and field-based experiments, neuroimaging studies, “Big Data” analyses, and computerized semantic text analysis. The fruits of this labour have been aptly — if a tad sensationalistically — summarized in a litany of books with titles like “Why Would Anyone Believe in God?”, Religion Explained, and The Belief Instinct.

Now, Watts and Turner have seen it fit to add to the verbiage of ECSR texts by producing Evolution, Religion, & Cognitive Science: Critical & Constructive Essays, a sort of commentary featuring sage advice for researchers and perhaps readers. This sort of inter-disciplinary scrutiny is generally a healthy thing, and this nascent field could certainly do with more thoughtful interrogation. After all, there have been and still are many approaches to understanding religion, and ECSR scholars ignore this wealth of extant knowledge at their epistemic peril. Nevertheless, this particular effort to critically analyze ECSR falls short of the mark, not least because of its inconsistency in grasping its subject matter.


As Léon Turner’s excellent introduction to the volume clearly recognizes, some of the difficulty faced by Evolution, Religion, & Cognitive Science comes from the ambiguity over what its target — the evolutionary cognitive science of religion — is. Is it, as some of the contributions in this volume imply when they discuss “the standard model” in ECSR, a single, generally accepted theory about the evolutionary and psychological origins of religion? Or is it, as others suggest, a set of methodologically related approaches to the study of religion that, while implying certain basic theoretical assumptions, are nevertheless theoretically diverse? Or is it, as I am more inclined to assert, a social phenomenon within which there is at best only tenuous agreement over either method or theory? Admittedly, it is hardly the fault of the would-be critics of ECSR that their target is so amorphous. However, many of the contributors to Evolution, Religion, & Cognitive Science nevertheless seem tempted to impose on ECSR some semblance of coherence, if only for the sake of having a fixed target to criticize. This penchant for systemization is unfortunately misled, and the resulting attempts to produce taxonomies of theoretical approaches within ECSR are predictably unilluminating. The reason for this is that if there is any core — any fundamental theoretical assumption or central methodological principle — to ECSR, it is that religion is a socially (and scholarly) constructed category. There is no definition of religion that can successfully specify necessary and sufficient conditions that make some phenomenon religious; as it were, there is no such thing as religion per se, only recurring non-essential constituents thereof. The methodological upshot of this theoretical assertion is the fractionation of religion into various empirically tractable or theoretically meaningful elements: costly commitment to supernatural agents, widespread intuitions about the ontology of persons and the afterlife, individual and/or collective rituals, the social dynamics within and between religious groups, etc. It seems oddly remiss that an allegedly critical volume on ECSR would have neglected to identify this piecemeal approach as a significant characteristic of ECSR.

If “religion” is a polysemic term in ECSR, then “evolution” may be even more so. Some contributors to this volume seem to be preoccupied with a narrow conception of evolutionary approaches to human behavior that was more in vogue in the 1980s and 1990s than it is now among ECSR researchers. On this view, the job of an evolutionary science is to identify evolutionary adaptations: traits that were genetically hard-wired as they were selected for in our phylogenetic past for conferring on our ancestors some reproductive advantage. The contributors to Evolution, Religion, & Cognitive Science therefore devote an undue amount of space to the question of whether religion is a trait that evolved as an adaptation or one that emerged as a by-product of other adaptations. This is a silly question, or at least a question that ECSR researchers do not seriously ask; as we have seen, religion is not a trait or even a fixed cluster of traits. The question of whether or not religion is an adaptation is thus poorly posed. To complicate matters further, ECSR researchers take a variety of viewpoints on what counts as an evolutionary adaptation. These days — as Lesley Newson and Peter Richerson’s chapter on Darwinian cultural adaptation demonstrates — one cannot even take for granted that evolutionary scientists are primarily interested in biological evolution. Even among researchers who are primarily interested in biological evolution, many — myself included — have rejected traditional, gene-centric views; indeed, Purzycki, Haque, and Sosis’s chapter in the present volume takes a dynamic systems approach that all but rejects the distinction between genetic and environmental factors. The inclusion of Richerson’s and Sosis’s work — which has already been influential in ECSR for a few years now — in this volume makes others’ outdated critiques more disappointing than they otherwise would be. For example, co-editor Fraser Watts’s chapter, which seems to take Barbara Herrnstein Smith’s 2009 summary of Pascal Boyer’s 2001 popular paperback Explaining Religion as an adequate current account of the cognitive science of religion, accuses ECSR of being committed to and confined by the view that naturally-selected automatized computational modules “bear the whole burden of explanation”. If this view has ever been held by anyone, it was long gone from serious scholarship by the time I entered the scene as a graduate student in 2008.

While no one can expect a single volume to provide an exhaustive evaluation of the field in all its glorious diversity, the recurring tendency — particularly by the philosophers and theologians in this volume — to caricature ECSR by focusing on one particular (and, perhaps, particularly absurd) theoretical perspective — is too cheap a trick to justify the price of the book. Philosophers and theologians are apt to be annoyed when scientists make silly generalizations about religion; I hope they are not too hurt when I say that evaluations of ECSR should be based on its more rigorous research output, rather than paperback popularizations thereof.

Another abiding theme in Evolution, Religion, & Cognitive Science is that of the compatibility of ECSR, either with religious faith and practice or with other scholarly approaches to the study of religion. On the first point, the contributors seem anxious to assert that ECSR entails no direct and strong implications for philosophy and theology, though not entirely without reservation. Aku Visala and Michael Ruse both raise potential challenges for religious believers, not from ECSR itself, but from wider issues within naturalistic Darwinism. While I am somewhat disappointed that the editors did not feel moved to include a dissenting voice amongst this placid consensus, I am more bothered by the limp defenses of the view that the alleged naturalness of religious belief may count in favor of theism. Whatever the merits of this view, it seems strange that it could possibly enjoy the endorsement of any theologically orthodox Christian (or Jew or Muslim), for at least two related reasons. First, even if we grant that religious beliefs come naturally in human cognitive development, this fact is obviously consistent with both an atheistic and a theistic view; to think otherwise is to commit the genetic fallacy. Second, it is unclear if the claim that theism is natural is a defensible one. After all, the kinds of gods that people ostensibly naturally believe in seem to be, if not strictly anthropomorphic, then at least super-human. Furthermore, the claim that God is a possible object of cognition and perception — such that the psychological faculties posited by some ECSR theories can accurately “detect” God in the environment — is, according to the classical theism of Jewish, Christian, and Muslim traditions, simply idolatrous. The idea that human beings evolved the capacity to pick out God in much the same way that we evolved the capacity to pick out prey and predators is therefore anathema to Abrahamic theists, as it reduces God to the level of creaturely things: God is, in this view, like a delicious deer (or a hungry tiger) that triggers our attention from peripheral vision. There is a very large gap between the implicit theology of ECSR and the traditional view of God as ipsum esse subsistens. Would-be defenders of the faith from the acid of naturalistic Darwinism may well find themselves as unwitting heretics.

Besides the (potentially idolatrous) hand-wringing over philosophical and theological implications, this book also attempts to address the relationship between ECSR and other efforts to study and understand religious phenomena. Here too, there seems to be some motivated eagerness to reduce any visible conflict between ECSR and other approaches; typically, the prescription is for the new, young upstart field to back down on some of its claims. This seems odd, not least because scientists ought not be interested in reducing theoretical conflict with other approaches, so much as in clarifying where different theories disagree and in figuring out how to adjudicate empirically between mutually contradictory theories. If, as Léon Turner suggests in his chapter on this issue, ECSR and humanistic theorists disagree about the explanatory power of evolved cognitive systems relative to historical and cultural contingencies, then surely the solution is not for one or both camps to back away from their claims lest they step on one another’s toes, but for both parties to specify the testable hypotheses that follow from their competing theoretical perspectives. Scientific disagreements are not to be resolved by appeal to diplomacy but to data. This suggestion that ECSR should “leave space” for humanistic approaches and vice versa seems to misunderstand how science works. In contrast, Timothy Jenkins’s suggestion that ECSR and more traditional forms of social and cultural anthropology can be reconciled by re-thinking how each relates to different time scales is somewhat more promising, albeit rather vague and difficult to follow, at least as presented in his chapter.


Inca Goddess Tiwanacu, Bolivia. Image via Wikimedia Commons


So far, we have seen how this volume’s contributors’ caricatured or outdated views on ECSR have led them to make errant accusations. The other consequence of this ignorance is that, for the most part, Evolution, Religion, & Cognitive Science fails to provide the constructive feedback that a better-informed critic would make. For instance, very little mention is made about the evidential paucity for the alleged central tenets of ECSR’s standard model. The role of evolved agency detection mechanisms and the mnemonic advantage of “minimally counterintuitive” concepts, to cite two prominent examples, are notoriously under-determined by data, as anyone intimately familiar with the primary research literature knows. There are also theoretical problems that the present critics have neglected to identify. Multiple contributors to the volume — Ilkka Pyysiäinen and Fraser Watts in particular — allude to the distinction between two cognitive systems: variously, the intuitive v. reflective, the implicit v. explicit, the unconscious v. conscious, etc. This is a distinction that has been made in ECSR since in early 1990s, but ECSR researchers have almost always largely run roughshod over the diversity of dual-process and dual-systems theories in cognitive psychology, unjustifiably treating the various competing cognitive theories as more or less fungible. They are not fungible, nor is the distinction between a dual-process and dual-systems cognitive theory one to ignore. Nor, for that matter, should ECSR theorists ignore the many thoughtful criticisms that have been deployed against dual-systems theories in the past decade. All of which is to say that, while the contributors to the present volume are preoccupied with making outdated criticisms of ECSR’s dalliance with certain forms of evolutionary psychology — all criticisms that have been made before — they fail to provide any useful insight on ECSR’s actual problems.


Having enumerated what I consider to be this collection’s major flaws, I shall end by highlighting the more positive aspects of the book, many of which have already been alluded to. Léon Turner’s introductory chapter captures the diversity of ECSR well, though this insight is not consistently applied in subsequent chapters. Three other chapters stand out, from the background of more or less sophisticated caricatures of ECSR. These three describe approaches that are increasingly influential, but sadly still neglected in most popular summaries, here and elsewhere. Benjamin Purzycki and colleagues take the view that religions are adaptive dynamic systems, getting away from a simplistic gene-centric view of evolution. Similarly, Lesley Newson and Peter Richerson examine the cultural evolution of religion in a thoroughly Darwinian fashion. William Bainbridge argues for the value of computer modelling in the scientific study of religion. Having stated my approval of these chapters, in each case, the views presented there can be found elsewhere, sometimes more lucidly; as they are, these chapters are more valuable as counterpoints to some of the other chapters than they are in their own right.

In short, then, Evolution, Religion, & Cognitive Science suffers from a crisis of identity. If ECSR researchers like myself are the target audience, then the book is a failure: there is nothing new here, and some of the older points are now outdated or simply predicated on mischaracterizations. If, instead, the book aims to educate outsiders and novices about the field, its inaccuracies are enough to mislead, and there are certainly better books (and, indeed, shorter articles) that fulfil this goal.


* * * * * * *
The coronavirus pandemic is deeply traumatic, writes Joanna Collicutt,
but also deeply transformative


REUTERS Ambulance workers arrive with a patient at the Severo Ochoa Hospital in Leganes, Spain, on Thursday of last week.

WE ARE living through a national and global trauma. The American Psychiatric Association defines psychological trauma as actual, or threatened, death or injury to self or a loved one. This can be through witnessing such things directly, or hearing them reported.

The way in which this works on our psychology is twofold. First, our physical anxiety levels rise. We go into fight-flight mode, and we are forced to confront the threat full-on. This means that our habitual tendency to avoid or deny unpalatable truths is not an option.

Second, the threat is not only to our physical integrity, but to our basic assumptions about the world and our place within it. Thus, psychological trauma combines a highly embodied process with deeply existential content.

Twenty years ago, the trauma psychologist Ronnie Janoff-Bulman published Shattered Assumptions (Simon & Schuster), in which she presented what was then a novel analysis of trauma. She defined it as something that does violence to core beliefs, most notably that the world is safe; that I (or we) can cope with what life throws at us; and that this life has meaning and purpose.

We nurture such assumptions of safety by not attending fully to evidence that contradicts them, and by crafting narratives that shore them up.

Another psychologist, Dan McAdams, has noted how often these created narratives are redemptive in form, bringing good out of bad, and meaning out of chaos.

In “developed” cultures at least, there is a yet deeper assumption buried beneath these core beliefs: the sense that I exist and shall continue to exist. Witnessing the death of “people like me” violently challenges this sense, confronting us with the possibility of existential annihilation. The feeling is well captured in Damien Hirst’s installation The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living.

---

ONE means of defending ourselves against this sort of “death terror” is to “other” the individuals whose death we witness, or hear about, by emphasising their cultural or geographical distance (“the Chinese virus”), their age, or their state of health (“the elderly with underlying medical conditions”).

Another approach — the subject of much research — is self-esteem. Indeed, a dominant theory in psychology is that self-esteem arose in our evolutionary history primarily as a way of managing our awareness of, and terror at, our own mortality.

This can be an aspect of individual psychology. For example, at the time when the Government was advising all older people to self-isolate, Christian Wolmar wrote on Twitter: “I am 70 and have just played 4 sets of tennis, cycled 6 miles and yesterday ran a tough Parkrun in under 29 minutes. . . I work full time and go to meetings most days. Is the govt seriously suggesting ppl like me sit at home for 4 months?” (my italics).

---

THIS use of self-esteem as a buffer against mortality is not confined to individuals: it is also a characteristic of communities. The high esteem in which we hold our culture is a defence against the prospect of its annihilation.

The Covid-19 pandemic is traumatic not only because it threatens our existence and that of our loved ones, but because it also threatens the cultural norms, frameworks, and habits that we take for granted — and assume will continue to operate after we have gone.

These are creaking and cracking under its assault, leaving us socially isolated and existentially disorientated. It is no longer easy for us to say “. . . but life goes on.”

Janoff-Bulman’s research highlights something that we already know: when trauma strikes, people experience the need to attach themselves to institutions of society which offer stability and to gather together with others.

In the present instance, however, this need is being thwarted by the nature of the threat: people are isolated, and churches are closed. Thank God for online communities and live-streaming, but there is no substitute for gentle, healing touch and physical solidarity.

Trauma is utterly grim and has the capacity to wreak destruction. As mental-health practitioners know only too well, it can result in depression, PTSD, and psychosis. But we also know from the ever-growing research literature on the phenomenon of “post-traumatic growth” that it can be productive, and even transformative, in the lives of individuals.

This is not about Nietzsche’s oft-quoted maxim that: “What does not kill me makes me stronger.” Nor is it about crafting a narrative that looks on the bright side. It is about the revelatory way in which trauma forces us to see the world in a new light, re-examine radically our assumptions and priorities, discover new things about ourselves and others, and offer a different and more solid form of hope.

---

Much of this can be summed up in the word “wisdom”. Reviewing the psychological literature on post-traumatic wisdom, P. Alex Linley notes, wisdom is needed to engage well with trauma, but is also a quality that emerges from it. It is part of the process and one of the outcomes.

He identifies three characteristics of this wisdom: the integration of feeling and thinking; the recognition and acceptance of human limitation (including one’s own); and the recognition and management of uncertainty in life.

---

THE strong connections with the Christian faith hardly need to be drawn out here. Christianity is all about post-traumatic growth: the transformation of the utterly grim and the wreckage of disappointment into something that gives life and hope. Not “What does not kill me makes me stronger,” but the absurdly subversive notion that “what kills us makes us stronger.”

This is built into the way in which we observe Holy Week, where our remembrance of Christ’s Passion moves between affect-laden lament and theological reflection, integrating them so that the participants are not engulfed by grief and terror at the events, but are neither overly cerebral and detached from them.

When done well, the timing and pace of our observance of the Triduum do not allow wallowing in misery, or a premature rush to resurrection joy; our liturgies pause, and take account of the emptiness and disorientation of Holy Saturday.

This has the capacity to build a spiritual resilience and wisdom that should be at the heart of the life of faith and the witness of a life well-lived which are offered by the Church to the world.

Linley’s “recognition and acceptance of human limitation” has its counterpart in the Christian vocation to set aside the ego, and to understand fully that the esteem of an individual is not located in external achievements, or inherent qualities, but in Christ.

The gift of self-esteem, then, becomes a source of connection with the other rather than a mark of superiority; nor is self-esteem necessary as a defence against mortality, because its sting has been drawn out by Christ.

---

ACCEPTING human limitations need not tip us into a spiral of low self-esteem and despair. Instead, we are offered paradox as a means of grasping that another story is to be had: “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.

“Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12.9-10).

This strength shows itself in being willing to do what we can, not held back by thoughts that it is not good enough, but inspired by the insight that we have our small but unique part to play in a bigger story. We can be liberated from the need to be masters of our fate, into servanthood in a higher enterprise.

We have seen thousands of people inside and outside the Church show this sort of deeply Christian “rising to the occasion”, resisting the destruction of community life in an insistence on enacting Kingdom values.

This living out of the Kingdom will eventually be seen as that other story: the breaking in of an alternative reality through the gap opened up by trauma.

Finally, the recognition and management of uncertainty is made possible because of the deepest conviction offered by Christianity, that we are not alone in this life: “I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4.12-13).

We are not alone. The present provisional reality is being transformed into a state in which all shall be well. There is an ultimate context within which our trauma is placed.

This makes it no less grim, but it offers both a wider vision and a stronger anchor. We should not forget that it was in the context of the Black Death, which had killed as much of one third of the population of Norwich, and perhaps even while she was in quarantine, that Julian recorded those famous words: “I may make all things well, and I can make all things well, and I shall make all things well; and thou shalt see thyself that all manner of things shall be well.”
 

*Canon Joanna Collicutt is Karl Jaspers Lecturer in Psychology and Spirituality at Ripon College, Cuddesdon. She is a clinical psychologist and psychologist of religion whose research interests include trauma-processing and the part that it plays in faith



How An Evangelical Christian Gained A Processual World View




How An Evangelical Christian Gained
A Processual World View

by R.E. Slater

*Occasionally I try to personalize my Christian faith so that other
fellow travellers might gain a sense of spirit struggle, rhythm and flow.


A Comment from an Outside Observer:
With regard to the two courses you mentioned that are not on the list, we did discuss them briefly. We did have a lecture that related to process theology this past year [sic, Open and Relational Theology]. Judging by the reaction to that lecture, I am not convinced that the course on Whitehead and process philosophy/theology will draw sufficient interest.

Process theology has been present for a century and it has also been prevalent in some discussions with regard to evolutionary biology. If we were to offer the course, then I would suggest an instructor for the course who could provide an analysis of the process theology for our audience, but I am not convinced it would draw sufficient interest to put it in the program.

With regard to 'black theology', I find that rather nebulous. Perhaps you are thinking of something similar to 'liberation theology'. In some ways we addressed this in a course last Fall (Reconstruction: Shackled Liberty) which presented some good issues that black preachers and churches made during the time of slavery and the reconstruction period. Otherwise I am not sure that is what you were thinking of. 

- Anon

My Thoughts:

Thank you for your candid response. For some time now I've been working on a new Christian voice. It’s taken 35 years for me to get to this point - though I only recently started writing about it these past 9 or 10 years.

And yes, to present an unfamiliar subject to Christian learners would be unfair as I know firsthand the turmoil it can cause when the Lord, by His Spirit, led me into a deep, black hole. A wilderness of God’s own making. It took some 11 months before my soul could return to the land of the living. Except for the Lord’s merciful grace who lifted me above the stormy waters to quiet my soul when I could have too easily gone the “None and Done” route.

He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the mud; And He set my feet on a rock, making my footsteps firm, (Psalm 40.2, NASB)

But retreat was never an option. God wanted me here, not there. I had only one choice and that was to obey the Spirit’s leading. More curiously, when arising from a miry pit of destruction, I had a very clear sense of where God wanted me to go.  I felt like the Apostle Paul whose eyes became blinded on the Damascus Road only to learn to see again more clearly than he ever had in the past.

Saul got up from the ground, and though his eyes were open, he could see nothing; and leading him by the hand, they brought him into Damascus. (Acts 9.8, NASB)

In counterpoint, I can attest that what I have been exploring is the most right direction to go, not only for myself but also as a newer expression for Christianity. I had to first deconstruct, then reconstruct, my traditionally modern faith heritage. A faith heritage consisting of denominationally conservative, Evangelically-Reformed (Baptist) precedents (20 years) which also included 27 years of prior worship in the faith lands of Fundamentalist Christianity. After a lifetime of study and ministry (M.Div., Biblical Theology) I know both sides well.



I also had sensed probably as far back as my seminary days my denominational faith’s unhealthy change as an institution as it's rising demographic trended further and further away from Christ in its actions and words of defiance. Especially as a  secular religious mindset crept in denying the rights and basic needs of others. This bothered me a lot and went against all my Christian training and attitudes about God's love.

This sixth sense of spirituality became heightened with my later church experience within Emergent Christianity which last 20 years. From that latter fellowship my faith gradually gave way to a post-evangelic, progressive Christian expression into a more livable Christian epistemic worldview.



From my prior Upper Room Spirit-chambers until this present hour, I knew then what I know now... I needed to write of a new Christianity. One which would help provide secularized Christianity a way out from itself. One with a more contemporary, postmodernal orthodox expression of itself. Over the years it came to mean a Christian faith founded upon the philosophic theology of Whitehead’s "Philosophy of Organism" (e.g., Process Philosophy and Theology (PPT)). It was the only tenable direction to go as all other hermeneutical theologies and directions I had reviewed were too limiting, resulting in unhelpful apologies for Westernized forms of Christian expression.



Arminianism (sic, modern day Wesleyanism) was the way out of the deep conflicts and burdens strangling my soul. At which point I plowed under the beautiful Calvinist garden of Tulips I had grown for years and replanted fields and fields of common Daisies. Later, I came to see Wesleyanism's more modern expression epitomized in the theology of Open and Relational Theology (ORT).

It was ORT which proved the steadier road to process theology gained from Arminianism's “biblical” or “biblically systematic” resurrection rather than from the philosophic direction of process thought (which I am now presently learning). But I also knew I couldn't stop at Arminianism like my previous mentor did, Arminian theologian Roger Olson. Why? Because even old-line Arminianism was still contained well-inside the modern Westernized forms of Hellenized Platonism.



Like Jesus’ gospel needing newer wineskins which could expand to hold  the good wine being poured out from His atoning sacrifice, I knew by replacing the (White/European) Westernization of the Gospel, I either had to move towards the narratival structure of Continental Philosophy or some intermix of Eastern philosophies.

36 ...And He [Jesus] was telling them a parable: “No one tears a piece of cloth from a new garment and puts it on an old garment; otherwise he will both tear the new, and the patch from the new garment will not match the old. 37 And no one pours new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled out, and the skins will be ruined. 38 But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins. 39 And no one, after drinking old wine wants new; for he says, ‘The old is fine.’” (Luke 5.36-39, NASB)

Fortunately, even as I had been developing ORT on my own before knowing of others who were writing of it, I was also writing myself towards a process version of Whiteheadian thought expressed many, many years earlier in the 1910s and 1920s. I sensed then that this newer direction was ably erasing the theological borders holding Jesus' redemptive fullness and power back - including the church's ascription to its Christian faith. And that those theologic borders contained in older wineskins of creeds and legacies must give way, as they should, to a superior integral philosophy which was flowing over-and-around all other previous  beliefs, disciplines and directions, including all of the world’s religions (which is also why PPT is an integral philosophical theology)




Process philosophy will be what future cosmoecological civilizations will be built upon whether they know it or not. To it will be tomorrow’s technologies, biologies, economies, and social sciences. As example, I joined a Quantum Logic forum with seasoned quantum physicists this past March and to my surprise found that as late as the 60’s process thought was being woven into quantum research. Amazing!

Now perhaps the best I can expect from a Christian university's philosophic and cultural limitations is that it is willing struggle with how to read the bible so that God’s love becomes the center of outreach and ministry. I applaud those efforts. I see this across many private conservative colleges dedicated to conservatism. The ones seeking to set the Spirit free in all directions. The most recent case was the one I participated in at a Christian forum held at Indian University last week which included evangelical Christians speaking out against White Christian Nationalism. I couldn’t have been prouder of these voices as they dissented against those Christian churches, congregations, and institutions supporting white supremacy and anti-BLM (Black Lives Matter) campaigns.

Sadly, and with regrets to black theology, I just haven’t had time to develop it from the Black Theologian, James Cone’s, perspective. It’s a future project I hope to achieve at some later date. But there are many articles at Relevancy22 on Christian Humanism (an older term for = social justice) and another large section under Social Justice gained from America's recent past years of religious-political racism. And yes, Black Theology does run in-and-around the following Christian subjects of Liberation Theology, Feminism, Queer Theology (yes, God loves the trans- people too), and Intersectional Theology.



Even though I don’t think Whitehead should be ignored by conservative Christians, it’s “radicalness” can, and should, upset the older, faithful generations of believers trained to think in parochially prescribed ways. However, my websites are not intended for my generation or the generations older or immediately younger than myself. I write for the Christian torchbearers of Generation Y (e.g., Gen X = Millennials, seem to be half-and-half onboard with spiritual re-examination of Christianity as they enter their 30’s). Yet younger minds seem more readily able to grasp foreign subject material.

As an example of older Christians willing to reflect on theology's direction I noticed Peter Enns, a Facebook friend of mine, is grappling with Process Thought. Yet his focus by training and interest is on the OT bible ala the theologic context of Progressive, Evangelical Christianity. It probably will stay that way but it’s heartening to see some older theologs willing to interact with newer ideas.

I also had noticed my Arminian Baptist Theologian friend, Roger Olson, take a step back-or-two from his rash surmise of process relational panentheism expressed in his earlier thoughts against it. (As an aside, perhaps I and other Christians like Tripp Fuller, helped motivate Roger to dial it down a bit).

I also suspect that Roger’s close friend, Clark Pinnock, would be right in the thick of things with other process theologians had he lived long enough. Pinnock's theology was always one of exploration towards good, solid biblical themes, even as his latter interest was spilling into open theology (I’m not sure if he had joined it with it's natural corollary, relational theology or not; but I think not).



And though I no longer think of evangelicalism as “biblical”  constricted as it is by its cultural messaging, I do think of it as a gate-keeper which will surely crumble as newer generations arise who, like me, see that traditional Platonic Christianity’s artificial barriers of the “eternal impassable object” can no longer withstand a God who declares, “I AM who I AM BECOMING.” A (process) relational theology which informs us that even as our own human character may stay somewhat the same throughout our lifetimes, our experiences and relationships mold us as a transitioning people living out each day moment-by-moment in our non-static, transactional lives.

Hence, I would expect God to be as much, and more, than we are. And more specifically, His creation - of which God is a superior other ( = panentheism) and in His Being is an immanent, integral part of - provides God with enriching experiences as a transitioning, transactional, passable deity that is also neither a non-static divine Being, nor impassable object.

Consequently, even as God is a part of each concreasing moment of creation's processual transactions, it is also a creation which ever leans towards goodness, wellbeing, and valuative relationships centered in God’s love. So too is God’s divine Being eternally evolving and ever-and-always Becoming… flowing… growing… enriching… with every new concreasing cosmic moment as those novel moments present themselves to God.



And so we say incorrectly as we stretch fingers and palms skyward, “Lord Come,” when God has already come in Christ (forget all the implied eschatological schemas here… none apply in process theology). More correctly, our response should be, “Even so, Lord BECOME… through us and through your creation to your glory, and honor, Hallelujah!”

Since I’m preaching, I’ll quit. Links provided below...

Your brother in Christ who continues to need prayer and fellowship,


R.E. Slater
August 26, 2021




REFERENCE LINKS

  • Index - Open & Relational Process Theology
  • (the quickest and easiest way to ORT is through Tom Oord. My stuff says the same stuff in a different way but I decided to use his voice to round out contemporary Wesleyanism)






PROCESS THEOLOGY

Not to be confused with Process Church.

According to Cobb, "process theology may refer to all forms of theology that emphasize event, occurrence, or becoming over substance. In this sense theology influenced by Hegel is process theology just as much as that influenced by Whitehead. This use of the term calls attention to affinities between these otherwise quite different traditions."[2][3] Also Pierre Teilhard de Chardin can be included among process theologians,[4] even if they are generally understood as referring to the Whiteheadian/Hartshornean school, where there continue to be ongoing debates within the field on the nature of God, the relationship of God and the world, and immortality.For both Whitehead and Hartshorne, it is an essential attribute of God to affect and be affected by temporal processes, contrary to the forms of theism that hold God to be in all respects non-temporal (eternal), unchanging (immutable), and unaffected by the world (impassible). Process theology does not deny that God is in some respects eternal (will never die), immutable (in the sense that God is unchangingly good), and impassible (in the sense that God's eternal aspect is unaffected by actuality), but it contradicts the classical view by insisting that God is in some respects temporal, mutable, and passible.[1]

History

Various theological and philosophical aspects have been expanded and developed by Charles Hartshorne (1897–2000), John B. Cobb, Jr.Eugene H. Peters, and David Ray Griffin.[5] A characteristic of process theology each of these thinkers shared was a rejection of metaphysics that privilege "being" over "becoming", particularly those of Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas.[6] Hartshorne was deeply influenced by French philosopher Jules Lequier and by Swiss philosopher Charles Secrétan who were probably the first ones to claim that in God liberty of becoming is above his substantiality.

Process theology soon influenced a number of Jewish theologians including Rabbis Max KadushinMilton Steinberg and Levi A. Olan, Harry Slominsky and, to a lesser degree, Abraham Joshua Heschel. Today some rabbis who advocate some form of process theology include Bradley Shavit Artson, Lawrence A. Englander, William E. KaufmanHarold Kushner, Anson Laytner, Michael Lerner, Gilbert S. Rosenthal, Lawrence Troster, Donald B. Rossoff, Burton Mindick, and Nahum Ward.

Alan Anderson and Deb Whitehouse have applied process theology to the New Thought variant of Christianity.

The work of Richard Stadelmann has been to preserve the uniqueness of Jesus in process theology.

God and the World relationship

Whitehead's classical statement is a set of antithetical statements that attempt to avoid self-contradiction by shifting them from a set of oppositions into a contrast:

  • It is as true to say that God is permanent and the World fluent, as that the World is permanent and God is fluent.
  • It is as true to say that God is one and the World many, as that the World is one and God many.
  • It is as true to say that, in comparison with the World, God is actual eminently, as that, in comparison with God, the World is actual eminently.
  • It is as true to say that the World is immanent in God, as that God is immanent in the World.
  • It is as true to say that God transcends the World, as that the World transcends God.
  • It is as true to say that God creates the World, as that the World creates God.[7]

Themes

  • God is not omnipotent in the sense of being coercive. The divine has a power of persuasion rather than coercion. Process theologians interpret the classical doctrine of omnipotence as involving force, and suggest instead a forbearance in divine power. "Persuasion" in the causal sense means that God does not exert unilateral control.[8]
  • Reality is not made up of material substances that endure through time, but serially-ordered events, which are experiential in nature. These events have both a physical and mental aspect. All experience (male, female, atomic, and botanical) is important and contributes to the ongoing and interrelated process of reality.
  • The universe is characterized by process and change carried out by the agents of free willSelf-determination characterizes everything in the universe, not just human beings. God cannot totally control any series of events or any individual, but God influences the creaturely exercise of this universal free will by offering possibilities. To say it another way, God has a will in everything, but not everything that occurs is God's will.[9]
  • God contains the universe but is not identical with it (panentheism, not pantheism or pandeism). Some also call this "theocosmocentrism" to emphasize that God has always been related to some world or another.
  • Because God interacts with the changing universe, God is changeable (that is to say, God is affected by the actions that take place in the universe) over the course of time. However, the abstract elements of God (goodnesswisdom, etc.) remain eternally solid.
  • Charles Hartshorne believes that people do not experience subjective (or personal) immortality, but they do have objective immortality because their experiences live on forever in God, who contains all that was. Other process theologians believe that people do have subjective experience after bodily death.[10]
  • Dipolar theism is the idea that God has both a changing aspect (God's existence as a Living God) and an unchanging aspect (God's eternal essence).[11]

Relationship to liberation theology

Henry Young combines Black theology and Process theology in his book Hope in Process. Young seeks a model for American society that goes beyond the alternatives of integration of Blacks into white society and Black separateness. He finds useful the process model of the many becoming one. Here the one is a new reality that emerges from the discrete contributions of the many, not the assimilation of the many to an already established one.[12]

Monica Coleman has combined Womanist theology and Process theology in her book Making a Way Out of No Way. In it, she argues that 'making a way out of no way' and 'creative transformation' are complementary insights from the respective theological traditions. She is one of many theologians who identify both as a process theologian and feminist/womanist/ecofeminist theologian, which includes persons such as Sallie McFagueRosemary Radford Ruether, and Marjorie Hewitt Suchocki.[13][14]

C. Robert Mesle, in his book Process Theology, outlines three aspects of a process theology of liberation:[15]

  1. There is a relational character to the divine which allows God to experience both the joy and suffering of humanity. God suffers just as those who experience oppression and God seeks to actualize all positive and beautiful potentials. God must, therefore, be in solidarity with the oppressed and must also work for their liberation.
  2. God is not omnipotent in the classical sense and so God does not provide support for the status quo, but rather seeks the actualization of greater good.
  3. God exercises relational power and not unilateral control. In this way God cannot instantly end evil and oppression in the world. God works in relational ways to help guide persons to liberation.

Relationship to pluralism

Process theology affirms that God is working in all persons to actualize potentialities. In that sense each religious manifestation is the Divine working in a unique way to bring out the beautiful and the good. Additionally, scripture and religion represent human interpretations of the divine. In this sense pluralism is the expression of the diversity of cultural backgrounds and assumptions that people use to approach the Divine.[16]

Relationship to the doctrine of the incarnation

Contrary to Christian orthodoxy, the Christ of mainstream process theology is not the mystical and historically exclusive union of divine and human natures in one hypostasis, the eternal Logos of God uniquely enfleshed in and identifiable as the man Jesus. Rather God is incarnate in the lives of all people when they act according to a call from God. Jesus fully and in every way responded to God's call, thus the person of Jesus is theologically understood as "the divine Word in human form." Jesus is not singularly or essentially God, but he was perfectly synchronized to God at all moments of life.[17] Cobb expressed the Incarnation in process terms that link it to his understanding of actualization of human potential: "'Christ' refers to the Logos as incarnate hence as the process of creative transformation in and of the world".

Debate about process theology's conception of God’s power

A criticism of process theology is that it offers a too severely diminished conception of God’s power. Process theologians argue that God does not have unilateral, coercive control over everything in the universe. In process theology, God cannot override a person’s freedom, nor perform miracles that violate the laws of nature, nor perform physical actions such as causing or halting a flood or an avalanche. Critics argue that this conception diminishes divine power to such a degree that God is no longer worshipful.[5][18][19][20][21]

The process theology response to this criticism is that the traditional Christian conception of God is actually not worshipful as it stands, and that the traditional notion of God’s omnipotence fails to make sense.[22]

First, power is a relational concept. It is not exerted in a vacuum, but always by some entity A over some other entity B.[23] As such, power requires analysis of both the being exerting power, and the being that power is being exerted upon. To suppose that an entity A (in this case, God), can always successfully control any other entity B is to say, in effect, that B does not exist as a free and individual being in any meaningful sense, since there is no possibility of its resisting A if A should decide to press the issue.[24]

Mindful of this, process theology makes several important distinctions between different kinds of power. The first distinction is between "coercive" power and "persuasive" power.[25] Coercive power is the kind that is exerted by one physical body over another, such as one billiard ball hitting another, or one arm twisting another. Lifeless bodies (such as the billiard balls) cannot resist such applications of physical force at all, and even living bodies (like arms) can only resist so far, and can be coercively overpowered. While finite, physical creatures can exert coercive power over one another in this way, God—lacking a physical body—cannot (not merely will not) exert coercive control over the world.[26]

But process theologians argue that coercive power is actually a secondary or derivative form of power, while persuasion is the primary form.[25] Even the act of self-motion (of an arm, for instance) is an instance of persuasive power. The arm may not perform in the way a person wishes it to—it may be broken, or asleep, or otherwise unable to perform the desired action. It is only after the persuasive act of self-motion is successful that an entity can even begin to exercise coercive control over other finite physical bodies. But no amount of coercive control can alter the free decisions of other entities; only persuasion can do so.[27]

For example, a child is told by his parent that he must go to bed. The child, as a self-conscious, decision-making individual, can always make the decision to not go to bed. The parent may then respond by picking up the child bodily and carrying him to his room, but nothing can force the child to alter his decision to resist the parent's directive. It is only the body of the child that can be coercively controlled by the body of the physically stronger parent; the child's free will remains intact. While process theologians argue that God does not have coercive power, they also argue that God has supreme persuasive power, that God is always influencing/persuading us to choose the good.

One classic exchange over the issue of divine power is between philosophers Frederick Sontag and John K. Roth and process theologian David Ray Griffin.[28] Sontag and Roth argued that the process God’s inability to, for instance, stop the genocide at Auschwitz meant that God was not worthy of worship, since there is no point in worshipping a God that cannot save us from such atrocities. Griffin's response was as follows:

One of the stronger complaints from Sontag and Roth is that, given the enormity of evil in the world, a deity that is [merely] doing its best is not worthy of worship. The implication is that a deity that is not doing its best is worthy of worship. For example, in reference to Auschwitz, Roth mocks my God with the statement that “the best that God could possibly do was to permit 10,000 Jews a day to go up in smoke.” Roth prefers a God who had the power to prevent this Holocaust but did not do it! This illustrates how much people can differ in what they consider worthy of worship. For Roth, it is clearly brute power that evokes worship. The question is: is this what should evoke worship? To refer back to the point about revelation: is this kind of power worship consistent with the Christian claim that divinity is decisively revealed in Jesus? Roth finds my God too small to evoke worship; I find his too gross.[28]

The process argument, then, is that those who cling to the idea of God's coercive omnipotence are defending power for power's sake, which would seem to be inconsistent with the life of Jesus, who Christians believe died for humanity's sins rather than overthrow the Roman empire. Griffin argues that it is actually the God whose omnipotence is defined in the "traditional" way that is not worshipful.[28]

One other distinction process theologians make is between the idea of "unilateral" power versus "relational" power.[29] Unilateral power is the power of a king (or more accurately, a tyrant) who wishes to exert control over his subjects without being affected by them.[30] However, most people would agree that a ruler who is not changed or affected by the joys and sorrows of his subjects is actually a despicable ruler and a psychopath.[31] Process theologians thus stress that God’s power is relational; rather than being unaffected and unchanged by the world, God is the being most affected by every other being in the universe.[32] As process theologian C. Robert Mesle puts it:

Relational power takes great strength. In stark contrast to unilateral power, the radical manifestations of relational power are found in people like Martin Luther King, Jr.Mahatma Gandhi, and Jesus. It requires the willingness to endure tremendous suffering while refusing to hate. It demands that we keep our hearts open to those who wish to slam them shut. It means offering to open up a relationship with people who hate us, despise us, and wish to destroy us.[29]

In summation, then, process theologians argue that their conception of God’s power does not diminish God, but just the opposite. Rather than see God as one who unilaterally coerces other beings, judges and punishes them, and is completely unaffected by the joys and sorrows of others, process theologians see God as the one who persuades the universe to love and peace, is supremely affected by even the tiniest of joys and the smallest of sorrows, and is able to love all beings despite the most heinous acts they may commit. God is, as Whitehead says, "the fellow sufferer who understands."[33]

See also

References

  1. ^ Viney, Donald Wayne (January 28, 2014). "Process Theism"Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved March 15, 2018.
  2. ^ Cobb Jr., John B. (1982). Process Theology as Political TheologyManchester University Press. p. 19ISBN 978-0-664-24417-0.
  3. ^ O'Regan, Cyril (1994). The Heterodox HegelAlbany, New YorkSUNY Press. p. 448: "Any relation between Process Theology and Hegelian ontotheology needs to be argued. Such argument has become more conspicuous in recent years". ISBN 978-0-791-42005-8.
  4. ^ Bonting, Sjoerd Lieuwe (2005). Creation and Double Chaos. Science and Theology in DiscussionMinneapolis, MinnesotaFortress Press. p. 88ISBN 978-1-451-41838-5.
  5. Jump up to:a b John W. Cooper, Panentheism: The Other God of the Philosophers (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2006), 342.
  6. ^ Seibt, Johanna (October 26, 2017). "Process Philosophy"Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved March 15, 2018.
  7. ^ Whitehead, Process and Reality, Corrected Ed. (New York: The Free Press, 1978), 348.
  8. ^ Charles HartshorneOmnipotence and Other Theological Mistakes (Albany: State University of New York, 1984), 20—26.
  9. ^ John Cobb and David Griffin, Process Theology: An Introductory Exposition (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1976), 14—16, chapter 1.
  10. ^ Hartshorne, 32−36.
  11. ^ Viney, Donald Wayne (August 24, 2004). "Charles Hartshorne: Dipolar Theism". Harvard Square Library. Retrieved March 15, 2018.
  12. ^ Cobb Jr., John B. (1978). "Process Theology". Religion Online. Retrieved March 15,2018.
  13. ^ Center for Process Studies, "CPS Co-directors," retrieved September 6, 2014.
  14. ^ "The Body of God - An Ecological Theology," retrieved September 6, 2014.
  15. ^ C. Robert MesleProcess Theology: A Basic Introduction (St. Louis, MO: Chalice Press, 1993), 65—68, 75−80.
  16. ^ Mesle (1993). p. 101.
  17. ^ Mesle (1993). p. 106.
  18. ^ Feinberg, John S. (2006). No one like Him: the doctrine of God (Rev. ed.). Wheaton. Ill.: Crossway Books. p. 178. ISBN 978-1581348118.
  19. ^ Roger E. Olson, “Why I am Not a Process Theologian,” last modified December 4, 2013, Patheos.org, accessed May 7, 2014.
  20. ^ David BasingerDivine Power in Process Theism (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1988), 14.
  21. ^ Al Truesdale, God Reconsidered (Kansas City: Beacon Hill Press, 2010), 21.
  22. ^ David Ray GriffinGod, Power, and Evil: A Process Theodicy (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2004), 268.
  23. ^ David Ray Griffin (2004). p. 265.
  24. ^ David Ray Griffin (2004). p. 267.
  25. Jump up to:a b David Ray Griffin (2004). p. 9.
  26. ^ David Ray Griffin (2004). p. 8.
  27. ^ David Ray Griffin (2004). p. 6.
  28. Jump up to:a b c David Ray Griffin, "Creation Out of Chaos and the Problem of Evil," in Encountering Evil: Live Options in Theodicy, ed. Stephen Davis (Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1981), 135.
  29. Jump up to:a b C. Robert Mesle, "Relational Power Archived 2017-08-24 at the Wayback Machine," JesusJazzBuddhism.org, accessed May 7, 2014.
  30. ^ Schubert M. OgdenThe Reality of God and Other Essays (Dallas: Southern Methodist University Press, 1992), 51.
  31. ^ Charles Hartshorne, "Kant's Traditionalism," in Insights and Oversights of Great Thinkers: An Evaluation of Western Philosophy, ed. Charles Hartshorne (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1983), 174.
  32. ^ Charles Hartshorne, The Divine Relativity: A Social Conception of God (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1964), 58.
  33. ^ Alfred North WhiteheadProcess and Reality (New York: The Free Press, 1978), 351.

Further reading

  • Bruce G. Epperly Process Theology: A Guide for the Perplexed (NY: T&T Clark, 2011, ISBN 978-0-567-59669-7) This is "perhaps the best in-depth introduction to process theology available for non-specialists."
  • Marjorie Hewitt Suchocki's God Christ Church: A Practical Guide to Process Theology, new rev. ed. (New York: Crossroad, 1989, ISBN 0-8245-0970-6) demonstrates the practical integration of process philosophy with Christianity.
  • C. Robert Mesle's Process Theology: A Basic Introduction (St. Louis: Chalice Press, 1993, ISBN 0-8272-2945-3) is an introduction to process theology written for the layperson.
  • Jewish introductions to classical theismlimited theism and process theology can be found in A Question of Faith: An Atheist and a Rabbi Debate the Existence of God (Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson, 1994, ISBN 1-56821-089-2) and The Case for God (St. Louis: Chalice Press, 1991, ISBN 0-8272-0458-2), both written by Rabbi William E. Kaufman. Jewish variations of process theology are also presented in Harold Kushner's When Bad Things Happen to Good People (New York: Anchor Books, 2004, ISBN 1-4000-3472-8) and Sandra B. Lubarsky and David Ray Griffin, eds., Jewish Theology and Process Thought (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1995, ISBN 0-7914-2810-9).
  • Christian introductions may be found in Schubert M. Ogden's The Reality of God and Other Essays (Dallas: Southern Methodist University Press, 1992, ISBN 0-87074-318-X); John B. Cobb, Doubting Thomas: Christology in Story Form (New York: Crossroad, 1990, ISBN 0-8245-1033-X); Charles Hartshorne, Omnipotence and Other Theological Mistakes (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1984, ISBN 0-87395-771-7); and Richard Rice, God's Foreknowledge & Man's Free Will (Minneapolis, Minn.: Bethany House Publishers, 1985; rev. ed. of the author's The Openness of God, cop. 1980; ISBN 0-87123-845-4). In French, the best introduction may be André Gounelle, Le Dynamisme Créateur de Dieu: Essai sur la Théologie du Process, édition revue, modifiée et augmentee (Paris: Van Dieren, 2000, ISBN 2-911087-26-7).
  • The most important work by Paul S. Fiddes is The Creative Suffering of God (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992); see also his short overview "Process Theology," in A. E. McGrath, ed., The Blackwell Encyclopaedia of Modern Christian Thought (Oxford: Blackwell, 1993), 472–76.
  • Norman Pittenger's thought is exemplified in his God in Process (London: SCM Press, 1967, LCC BT83.6 .P5), Process-Thought and Christian Faith (New York: Macmillan Company, 1968, LCC BR100 .P615 1968), and Becoming and Belonging (Wilton, CT: Morehouse Publications, 1989, ISBN 0-8192-1480-9).
  • Constance Wise's Hidden Circles in the Web: Feminist Wicca, Occult Knowledge, and Process Thought (Lanham, Md.: AltaMira Press, 2008, ISBN 978-0-7591-1006-9) applies process theology to one variety of contemporary Paganism.
  • Michel Weber, « Shamanism and proto-consciousness », in René Lebrun, Julien De Vos et É. Van Quickelberghe (éds), Deus Unicus, Turnhout, Brepols, coll. Homo Religiosus série II, 14, 2015, pp. 247–260.
  • Staub, Jacob (October 1992). "Kaplan and Process Theology". In Goldsmith, Emanuel; Scult, Mel; Seltzer, Robert (eds.). The American Judaism of Mordecai M. Kaplan. NYU Press. ISBN 978-0-8147-3257-1.
  • Kwall, Roberta R. (2011–2012). "The Lessons of Living Gardens and Jewish Process Theology for Authorship and Moral Rights". Vanderbilt Journal of Entertainment and Technology Law14: 889–.
  • Bowman, Donna; McDaniel, Jay, eds. (January 2006). Handbook of Process Theology. Chalice Press. ISBN 978-0-8272-1467-5.
  • Loomer, Bernard M. (1987). "Process Theology: Origins, Strengths, Weaknesses". Process Studies16 (4): 245–254. doi:10.5840/process198716446.
  • Cobb, John B. (1980). "Process Theology and Environmental Issues". The Journal of Religion60 (4): 440–458. doi:10.1086/486819S2CID 144187859.
  • Faber, Roland (6 April 2017). The Becoming of God: Process Theology, Philosophy, and Multireligious Engagement. Wipf and Stock Publishers. ISBN 978-1-60608-885-2.
  • Burrell, David B. (1982). "Does Process Theology Rest on a Mistake?". Theological Studies43 (1): 125–135. doi:10.1177/004056398204300105S2CID 171057603.
  • Pixley, George V. (1974). "Justice and Class Struggle: A Challenge for Process Theology". Process Studies4 (3): 159–175. doi:10.5840/process19744328.
  • Mesle, C. Robert (1988). "Does God Hide from Us?: John Hick and Process Theology on Faith, Freedom and Theodicy". International Journal for Philosophy of Religion24 (1/2): 93–111. doi:10.1007/BF00134167ISSN 0020-7047JSTOR 40024796S2CID 169572605.
  • Dean, William (1984). "Deconstruction and Process Theology". The Journal of Religion64 (1): 1–19. doi:10.1086/487073S2CID 170764846.
  • Dorrien, Gary (2008). "The Lure and Necessity of Process Theology". CrossCurrents58 (2): 316–336. doi:10.1111/j.1939-3881.2008.00026.xISSN 0011-1953JSTOR 24461426.
  • Stone, Bryan P.; Oord, Thomas Jay, eds. (2001). Thy Nature and Thy Name is Love: Wesleyan and Process Theologies in Dialogue. Kingswood Books. ISBN 978-0-687-05220-2.
  • Mueller, J. J. (1986). "Process Theology and the Catholic Theological Community". Theological Studies47 (3): 412–427. doi:10.1177/004056398604700303S2CID 147471058.
  • O'Connor, June (1980). "Process Theology and Liberation Theology: Theological and Ethical Reflections". Horizons7 (2): 231–248. doi:10.1017/S0360966900021265.
  • Trethowan, Illtyd (1983). "The Significance of Process Theology". Religious Studies19 (3): 311–322. doi:10.1017/S0034412500015262.
  • Hare, Peter H.; Ryder, John (1980). "Buchler's Ordinal Metaphysics and Process Theology". Process Studies10 (3/4): 120–129. doi:10.5840/process1980103/411JSTOR 44798127.
  • Hekman, Susan (2017). "Feminist New Materialism and Process Theology: Beginning the Dialogue". Feminist Theology25 (2): 198–207. doi:10.1177/0966735016678544S2CID 152230362.
  • Pittenger, Norman (1977). "Christology in Process Theology". Theology80 (675): 187–193. doi:10.1177/0040571X7708000306S2CID 171066693.
  • Pittenger, Norman (1974). "The Incarnation in Process Theology". Review & Expositor71 (1): 43–57. doi:10.1177/003463737407100105S2CID 170805965.
  • Inbody, Tyron (1975). "Paul Tillich and Process Theology". Theological Studies36 (3): 472–492. doi:10.1177/004056397503600304S2CID 170482044.
  • Griffin, David Ray (31 July 2003). "Reconstructive Theology". In Vanhoozer, Kevin J. (ed.). The Cambridge Companion to Postmodern Theology. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-79395-7.

External links


Reference works