JIS XI 1999
Interdisciplinary Perspectives

JIS XI 1999: 1-38


Stephen C. Meyer
Whitworth College

Historian of science Frederic Burnham has stated that the “God hypothesis” is now a more respectable hypothesis than at any time in the last one hundred years. This essay explores recent evidence from cosmology, physics, and biology, which provides epistemological support, though not proof, for belief in God as conceived by a theistic worldview. It develops a notion of epistemological support based upon explanatory power, rather than just deductive entailment. It also evaluates the explanatory power of theism and its main metaphysical competitors with respect to several classes of scientific evidence. The conclusion follows that theism explains a wide ensemble of metaphysically-significant evidences more adequately and comprehensively than other major worldviews or metaphysical systems. Thus, unlike much recent scholarship that characterizes science as either conflicting with theistic belief or entirely neutral with respect to it, this essay concludes that scientific evidence actually supports such belief.

* Oleg Zinam Award for Best Essay in JIS, 1999.

JIS XI 1999: 39-60


Sami Pihlstrom
University of Helsinki-Finland

Hilary Putnam has discussed religion in his philosophical writings only since the early 1990s. While his approach is Wittgensteinian, Putnam seeks to avoid the pseudo-Wittgensteinian view which reduces religion to a language-game or form of life which cannot be rationally criticized from any external standpoint. In defending the possibility of critical philosophical discussion of religious issues, Putnam draws on the tradition of American pragmatism, especially William James. With classical pragmatists, he also shares a profoundly Kantian background, tightly connecting religion with morality. Finally, Putnam’s pragmatism may be interpreted as a form of existentialism. Putnam’s way of philosophizing about religion–matters of vital importance to human beings–while contradictory and paradoxical, may nevertheless offer a way of restoring critical philosophy in a fragmented postmodern world which has lost ethical integrity.

JIS XI 1999: 61-82


John P. Hittinger
U.S. Air Force Academy

In his classic, The Idea of a University, John Henry Cardinal Newman advanced three arguments for the inclusion of theology in the liberal arts curriculum. These include the very nature of a university in its profession to teach all subjects, the interdisciplinary value of theology, and the danger of academic quackery and usurpation, when a subject matter is not given its due place in the curriculum. The arguments for theology are intimately connected to Newman’s high ideal of education, rightly celebrated by educators today. The crisis in contemporary liberal education is reflected in a dispute between Edward O. Wilson and Richard Rorty over the concept of “consilience.” Yet there are promising signs of a renewal of liberal education through a deeper appreciation of theology in the course of studies in higher education.

JIS XI 1999: 83-104


Josef  Seifert
International Academy of Philosophy-Liechtenstein

Voyages and crises of philosophy refer to philosophical knowledge of truth, in contrast to skepticism and relativism. They encompass the rational foundation of philosophy and the application of a critical method to central contents. Realist phenomenology plays a key role in the seventh voyage by providing an objective foundation to a priori knowledge. It shows also that essential necessity possesses a supreme form of intelligibility. Cognition is reached via insight and deduction. Three kinds of essences explain the difference between empirical and a priori sciences, while the “impoverish-ment of a priori” is transcended through necessary essences. Rethinking Edmund Husserl’s method allows access to real existence, where objective values replace axiological nihilism. Rigorous philosophy is thus compatible with divinely revealed truth about the mysteries of God and man.

JIS XI 1999: 105-122


Christophe Berchem
Bettembourg, Luxembourg

Der Sinn der philosophischen Gottesbeweise besteht in der Widerlegung pseudo-wissenschaftlicher Argumente des Atheismus und in der reflexen Unterstutzung des religiosen Glaubens. Zwischen der philosophischen Theologie und der Religion kommt eine wesentliche Dialektik zur Geltung. Wird die philosophische Theologie, die eben im philosophischen Gottesbeweis kulminiert, abgelehnt, so tritt an ihre Stelle die Gefahr des Abgleitens in einen irrationalen Dezisionismus. Alle Satze der philosophischen Theologie sind Satze uber die Welt und den Menschen; sie erklaren deren Bedingung der Moglichkeit und Wirklichkeit, samt den Implikationen dessen, was ihr “Urgrund” ist. Einerseits sucht der (weit verstandene) Glaube reflexe Einsicht, andererseits lasst theoretische Gotteserkenntnis dasjenige intakt, worauf es dem religiosen Menschen unbedingt ankommt: die “Funktion” der freien Hingabe.

* David Morsey Award for Best Biblical Exegesis, 1999.

JIS XI 1999: 123-140


Karl W. Giberson & Donald A. Yerxa
Eastern Nazarene College

God’s action in the world poses a challenge for the Christian scholar. At the scholarly level of one’s discipline, invocations of divine Providence as an explanatory category are considered unacceptable. Yet the scholar-believer necessarily acknowledges that God is indeed active in His Creation. Generally, this tension is resolved via the assumption of methodological naturalism at the level of one’s discipline and the embrace of theism at the level of one’s faith. This can result in an incoherence between the commitments of one’s discipline and one’s faith. Yet both theology and physics suggest that this tension may be relieved somewhat by acknowledging that the physical universe is no longer understood to be closed to the possibility of divine action. Consequently, Christian historians may want to reconsider the value of Providence as an explanatory category.

JIS XI 1999: 141-156


Nicanor P. G. Austriaco, Jr., O.P.
Dominican House of Studies

By nature, every man is a philosopher who continuously seeks explanations for both the universe and the human condition. In the modern era, scientific explanations based on the scientific method and its accompanying philosophical framework of quantification, naturalism, and reductionism have obscured other approaches to explaining the world. Curiously, the emerging science of complexity and complex systems is challenging scientists to develop a more holistic approach to nature. The resulting more comprehensive view of nature combines traditional modeling based on the scientific method and empirical verification, complemented by modeling based upon philosophical principles. Aristotle’s philosophy of nature suggests a model of complex systems which is both intellectually satisfying and complementary to the mathematical models already in use. The rediscovery of a philosophy of nature would contribute to a holistic worldview, providing a neutral middle ground in the science-religion dialogue.

JIS XI 1999: 157-174


Oskar Gruenwald
Institute for Interdisciplinary Research

At the dawn of the Third Millennium, philosophy is at an important crossroads in its role as paideia–philosophy educating humanity. A major challenge for philosophy today is to mediate the emerging science-religion dialogue, and enhance understanding of the relationship between science, ethics, and faith. Curiously, the methodological dilemmas and thorny issues of demarcation between science and religion reflect a new awareness regarding metascientific questions posed by science itself. We are at the threshold of a new Golden Age of scientific discoveries and faith-informed, interdisciplinary, and liberal learning, interconnecting once more all areas of knowledge with ethics and faith. The likely key to new discoveries is an interdisciplinary approach seeking interrelatedness between all phenomena. This means also that the restoration of philosophy in the classic sense as sophia or the love of wisdom can only be achieved within the larger framework of dialogue among all disciplines in the quest for truth.

JIS XI 1999: 175-186

Review Essay

Thaddeus J. Trenn
University of Toronto-Canada

The Design Inference: Eliminating Chance Through Small Probabilities. By William
A. Dembski. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998. Cloth. 243 p. $54.95.
Show Me God: What the Message From Space Is Telling Us About God. By Fred
Heeren. Rev. ed. Wheeling, IL: Day Star, 1997. Cloth. 405 p. $19.99.
The Soul of Science: Christian Faith and Natural Philosophy. By Nancy R. Pearcey
& Charles B. Thaxton. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 1994. Paper. 298 p. $10.99.