Science and Religion, Periodical Literature

views updated

Science and Religion, Periodical Literature

Every major field of human discourse spawns a literature proportional to the intensity of the conversation. Science and religion is no exception. Fascinating topics, historic and contemporary, have arisen at the intersection of these two very different fields, and a periodical literature has emerged, both to facilitate communication among scholars who have entered into this conversation, and to report the conversation to a larger audience.

Given the diversity within science and among religions, it is no surprise that the field's periodicals address the disciplines differently. In some journals religion means theology, and the editorial approach is primarily theoretical. Some periodicals intend religion to include all world religions, whereas others intend it as a synonym for a particular brand of faith. Still other publications address issues of applied religion, meaning spirituality or public morality, and applied science, such as medicine, politics, or economics.

The field's most scholarly journal is the quarterly Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science, founded in 1965. Zygon has three sponsors: the Institute for Religion in an Age of Science (IRAS), the Center for Advanced Study in Religion and Science (CASIRAS), and Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida. Zygon construes religion broadly as anything that relates to the human quest for purpose and the journal has an exceptionally broad base of scholarly contributions.

The Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences (CTNS) in Berkeley, California, launched a new journal, Theology and Science, in 2003, with an intellectual focus on Christian theology. This journal is the continuation of the quarterly CTNS Bulletin, founded in 1982. Animated and enduring conversations have arisen within the Christian evangelical camp, which continues to debate vigorously the truth and significance of Darwinism. The most substantial journal in this category is the quarterly Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith, the official journal of the American Scientific Affiliation (ASA), which serves about 2,500 readers. Founded in 1941, the ASA and its journal promote the idea that both the Bible and science are revelations from God. Most of the articles relate to the creation-evolution controversy, and the journal has become a primary vehicle for the critical discussion of theistic evolution and Intelligent Design. A more conservative journal, Origins and Design, founded in 1980 and published by the Access Research Network, is devoted almost exclusively to the promotion of Intelligent Design. The quarterly glossy magazine, Facts and Faith, founded in 1987 (now discontinued), had almost seven thousand paid subscribers, and was published by the apologetics organization Reasons to Believe. It used design arguments to bolster faith in the Bible.

A number of fundamentalist publications promote a more conservative, biblically literalist view of science and religion. Two of the most influential are Acts and Facts, founded in 1971, a free monthly newsletter sponsored by the Institute for Creation Research in Santee, California, and Creation Magazine, founded in 1978, a more populist and politically oriented publication published by the Back to Genesis group.

Reports of the National Center for Science Education is a bimonthly newsletter founded in 1980 that reaches more than four thousand readers with articles and resources to refute creationism. These journals reflect America's ongoing struggle with Darwinism.

Outside of the United States, the science and religion conversation is much less intense but no less diverse. The ambitious semiannual journal Science and Christian Belief is the product of two organizations based in Britain. The Victoria Institute, founded in 1865 as the first anti-evolution group, merged its journal in 1989 with that of Christians in Science. The resulting journal, launched in 1988, resembles ASA's Perspectives, though it has a more scholarly and theologically eclectic approach. Given the journal's British roots, the editorial bent leans less toward the creation-evolution controversy, which is primarily an American phenomenon.

Other European science and religion publications include the twice-yearly book review compendium Reviews, founded in 1983 and published by the British Science and Religion Forum. The European Society for the Study of Science and Theology (ESSSAT) publishes two biennial texts: Issues in Science and Theology (2000) and Studies in Science and Theology (1987), which are basically book series.

In India, the Muslim Association for the Advancement of Science publishes the Journal of Islamic Science, founded in 1984, which looks at the historical and philosophical questions raised by science from an Islamic perspective. The South African Science and Religion Forum, founded in 1993, is a newsletter that reaches about five hundred readers, published by the Research Institute for Theology and Religion at the University of South Africa.

Two web sites, Metanexus and Counterbalance, span the geographic borders of science and religion and provide timely, comprehensive internet resources. Metanexus was launched in 1998 and by 2002 had thousands of subscribers in nearly sixty countries. It operates several electronic list servers that disseminate news updates daily and it publishes a monthly email newsletter. Since 1996, Counterbalance has provided a tightly woven web of materials that encapsulate the discussions taking place in the science and religion field, including such resources as video clips of lectures.

There are also two popular publications that support the field of science and religion: Science and Spirit is a bimonthly glossy magazine, and Research News and Opportunities in Science and Theology is a monthly newspaper. Science and Spirit, launched in 1989 and repositioned in 2001 for a general audience, explores the religious dimensions of scientific discoveries and technological advances. Brief, timely, articles by well-known thinkers illuminate the nexus of science and spirituality, while incorporating the wisdom of a world of faiths. Paid subscribers exceeded nine thousand in 2002. Research News and Opportunities in Science and Theology was launched in 2000 as a general clearinghouse of information for the field of science and religion. This monthly paper reports on the science and religion community's activities, organizations, and opinion leaders, and it publishes book reviews and interviews that address emerging and established topics of scientific and religious inquiry. Research News also serves the former readership of Bridgebuilding and Progress in Theology, two small specialized publications disbanded in 2000. Research News, in 2002, had a paid circulation over five thousand and readership of about thirty thousand.

Beyond the established scholarly periodicals and the emerging popular ones are a number of newsletters that, while connected to specific science and religion centers, often contain articles and reviews of general interest. Some of the more significant are The Pascal Centre Notebook from the Pascal Centre for Advanced Studies in Science and Faith at Redeemer College in Ancaster, Ontario; Science and Religion Forum from the Institute on Religion in an Age of Science (IRAS); and the Journal of the Faith and Science Exchange, published by the Boston Theological Institute.

See also Science and Religion in Public Communication

karl giberson

About this article

Science and Religion, Periodical Literature

Updated About content Print Article


Science and Religion, Periodical Literature