Contemporary scholarship has given rise to several different modes of understanding biophysical and human nature, each of which is entangled with related notions of science and religion. Envisioning Nature, Science, and Religion represents the culmination of three years of collaboration by an international group of fourteen natural scientists, social scientists, humanists, and theologians. The result is an intellectually stimulating volume that explores how the ideas of nature pertain to science and religion.
Editor James D. Proctor has gathered sixteen in-depth essays, each of which examines and compares different aspects of five central metaphors or "visions" of biophysical and human nature. These visions are evolutionary nature, emergent nature, malleable nature, nature as sacred, and nature as culture. The book's diverse contributors offer a wide variety of unique perspectives on these five visions, spanning the intellectual spectrum and proposing important and often startling implications for religion and science alike. Throughout the essays, the authors do a great deal of cross-referencing and engaging each other's ideas, creating a cohesive dialogue on the visions of nature.
Envisioning Nature, Science, and Religion offers a blend of scholarly rigor and readable prose that will be appreciated by anyone engaged in the fields of religion, philosophy, and the natural sciences.
Table of Contents
Acknowledgments / vii
Introduction: Visions of Nature, Science, and Religion / 3 James D. Proctor
1. The Nature of Visions of Nature: Packages to Be Unpacked / 36 Willem B. Drees
2. Visions of Nature through Mathematical Lenses / 59 Douglas E. Norton
3. Between Apes and Angels: At the Borders of Human Nature / 83 Johannes M.M.H. Thijssen
4. Locating New Visions / 103 David N. Livingstone
5. Enduring Metaphysical Impatience? / 131 Robert E. Ulanowicz
6. God from Nature: Evolution or Emergence? / 149 Barbara J. King
7. Who Needs Emergence? / 166 Gregory Peterson
8. Creativity through Emergence: A Vision of Nature and God / 180 Antje Jackelén
9. Rereading a Landscape of Atonement on an Aegean Island / 205 Martha L. Henderson
10. The Vision of Malleable Nature: A Complex Conversation / 227 Andrew Lustig
11. Visions of a Source of Wonder / 245 Fred D. Ledley
12. Nature as Culture: The Example of Animal / Behavior and Human Morality / 271 Nicolaas A. Rupke
13. Environment after Nature: Time for a / New Vision / 293 James D. Proctor
14. Should the Word Nature Be Eliminated? / 312 John Hedley Brooke
Afterword: Visualizing Visions and Visioners / 337 James D. Proctor
The reader comes away with an enhanced and more subtle understanding of the way in which philosophers and scientists understand nature, which will form the cultural backdrop to any new relationship with nature.
The 14 scholars who contributed essays in this volume address what they refer to as the “trilogy” of science, nature, and religion from a deeply conceptual base. They are a diverse group of natural and social scientists, philosophers, and theologians, with very different worldviews. The book is tightly edited by Proctor (environmental studies, Lewis & Clark College), and the authors often refer to each other's arguments, so reading this book is like listening to a well-organized lecture series. The topics range from the philosophical to the postmodern, best exemplified by the title of the first essay, “The Nature of Visions of Nature,” and of the last, “Should the Word Nature Be Eliminated?” One of the most interesting themes is the concept of emergence, which in this work refers to the ways complex systems are derived from simple interactions. The reader will not find here any attempts to harmonize science and religion via nature. Of the three, religion drops out quickly as a significant component of the sophisticated arguments. Interactions and concepts of science, nature, and culture make the most compelling essays in this volume. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduate through professional libraries with strong collections in philosophy and environmental studies. — M. A. Wilson, College of Wooster