Science and Soul

Charles Birch

Preeminent evolutionary biologist Charles Birch credits many pivotal scholars in the science and science-religion worlds with shaping his thinking and his worldview. In his memoir, Science and Soul, he recalls the leaders in the sciences and science-religion field who most influenced him. Vignettes and quotes reveal their thoughts, personalities, and interactions, and unveil the ways in which shared thinking and ideas evolve into a philosophy of life.

Birch's reflections center on twenty people who became his mentors, contributing to his perception of the meaning of life and his views on process thought. They come from the fields of modern evolutionary biology, animal ecology, the philosophy of religion, and science and religion, and include Theodosius Dobzhansky, Charles Elton, Reinhold Niebuhr, and Ian Barbour.

These reminiscences open a window on the ways in which seminal thinkers advance their knowledge and understanding, and they lead Birch to candid commentary about process thought. He notes that he has published a number of books that discuss what process thought is, but Science and Soul is the first book in which he explains what process thought means to him.

Foreword Rachael Kohn / vii

Acknowledgments / xi

Introduction / 1

1. Evolutionary Biologists / 13

  • Theodosius Dobzhansky / 15
  • JBS Haldane / 29
  • Conrad H Waddington / 32
  • Sewall Wright / 34
  • Wilfred E Agar / 39

2. Animal Ecologists / 43

  • Charles Elton / 45
  • Herbert George Andrewartha / 50
  • Thomas Park / 55
  • Paul and Anne Ehrlich / 57
  • Environmental ethicists / 59

3. Philosophers of Religion / 63

  • Harry Emerson Fosdick / 66
  • Charles Raven / 71
  • Robert Maynard Hutchins / 73
  • Charles Hartshorne / 78
  • Paul Tillich / 84
  • Daniel Day Williams / 90
  • Reinhold Niebuhr / 92

4. Science and Religion / 98

  • Carl von Weizsäcker / 103
  • Margaret Mead / 105
  • John Habgood / 109
  • Ian Barbour / 112

5. My Philosophy of Life: Pansubjectivism / 114

  • Three worldviews / 117
  • Modern worldview / 118
  • Deconstructive postmodern worldview / 121
  • Constructive postmodern worldview / 122
  • Two kinds of perception / 130
  • Centrality of experience / 133
  • Objections to pansubjectivism / 134
  • Ecological worldview of pansubjectivism / 136
  • First-person and third-person views / 137
  • Internal relations / 138
  • Purposive nature of experience / 141
  • Values / 147
  • Value of nature / 155
  • Evolving cosmos / 157

6. My Philosophy of Life: Panentheism / 159

  • God / 159
  • History of pansubjectivism and panentheism / 180
  • Practical consequences / 181

References / 188

Index / 192