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Practicing Science, Living Faith

Practicing Science, Living Faith: Interviews with Twelve Leading Scientists

Philip Clayton
Jim Schaal
Foreword by William Phillips
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    Practicing Science, Living Faith
    Book Description:

    Twelve scientists from diverse backgrounds and disciplines demonstrate that it is indeed possible for profound intellectuals to integrate the life of science with the life of faith. In honest and inspiring interviews, they describe the difficult though rewarding process of reconciling their faith with their science and reveal the ways in which the two spheres can not only coexist but also mutually enhance each other.

    Jane Goodall begins the conversation by emphasizing the importance of recognizing the "spark of spirit" that runs through all creatures, human and animal. Robert Pollack discusses his motivations for opening a major center for the study of science and religion at Columbia University. Khalil Chamcham, a Moroccan astrophysicist and devout Muslim, moves from the study of galaxy formation to a new dialogue between Islam and the West. Thomas Odhiambo, a Kenyan entomologist, helps to bring sustainable agriculture to sub-Saharan Africa by uniting African animist and Christian traditions, and Henry Thompson, a computer scientist, utilizes his Quaker practice in both his science and his work as a mediator.

    Thoughtful and compelling, these and other scientists recount a rich integration of science and religion in their practice, their experience, and their approach to their work. Some find a deep harmony between the life of faith and the practice of science, whereas others struggle with the ongoing tensions. These original interviews range across the metaphysical, ethical, and religious implications of cutting-edge research. Taken together, they offer a unique picture of how scientists make peace with their work and their spirituality.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-53422-2
    Subjects: General Science, Religion

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. vii-x)
    William D. Phillips

    When I was first invited to participate in the second phase of Science and the Spiritual Quest, I was of two minds. On the one hand, I could see the obvious benefits of discussing matters of spirit and faith with other physicists. I was increasingly being asked to speak about the relationship of science and religion, and I felt quite ill prepared. Interacting with intelligent and interested physicists of varied perspectives seemed like an obvious way to prepare myself. On the other hand, it’s hard to put the topic of science and religion at the top of one’s list of...

  4. Preface
    (pp. xi-xvi)
    W. Mark Richardson
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-14)
    Jim Schaal and Philip Clayton

    This collection of interviews offers glimpses into the scientific and spiritual lives of twelve leading scientists. Here one meets, among others, a British primatologist renowned for pioneering the field study of chimpanzees and respected for advocating environmental protection; a Moroccan astrophysicist who is tracing the formation of stars and galaxies while promoting dialogue between Islam and the West; an African American computer scientist who led in developing the first personal digital assistant, launched a successful software company, and established a foundation for African villagers and American inner-city kids; and an Iranian Canadian child psychologist who is developing novel therapies for...

  6. 1. Jane Goodall
    (pp. 15-40)

    Jane Goodall is a world-renowned expert on chimpanzee behavior and advocate for animal rights and the environment. One of the first women to do fieldwork with animals in Africa, she began working with chimpanzees in Tanzania in 1960 with the support of the anthropologist and paleontologist Dr. Louis Leakey. Her research at what would become the Gombe Stream Chimpanzee Reserve helped revolutionize ethological and anthropological methodology. Indeed, Jane Goodall’s work has fundamentally changed the way the world looks at animals. Defying scientific convention, Goodall named the chimpanzees she studied. She observed their behaviors with the eye of an anthropologist in...

  7. 2. Hendrik Pieter Barendregt
    (pp. 41-56)

    Hendrik Pieter Barendregt is a “meta-mathematician,” a thinker who reflects critically and constructively on the foundations of mathematics, logic, and computer science. His work has contributed not only to the theory of mathematical proofs and computations but also to the development of new functional programming languages, proof-checking algorithms, and mathematical assistant systems. Raised in an atheist family in the Netherlands, as an adult he undertook Buddhist meditative practice—first in the Zen tradition and then in the Theravada tradition—and is beginning new research on the neurological underpinnings of meditative experience. Though skeptical of notions of faith and transcendence in...

  8. 3. Khalil Chamcham
    (pp. 57-76)

    Dr. Khalil Chamcham lives in Casablanca, Morocco. He received his doctorate in nuclear physics from the University Claude Bernard, Lyon, France, in 1983. Since 1988 he has organized Morocco’s national meetings in astronomy at the University of Casablanca. He received his second Ph.D. from the University of Sussex in astrophysics in 1995 and has also carried out research in astrophysics and theology at Oxford University. Now a full professor at the University Hassan II–Ain Chock in Casablanca, he has initiated, for the first time in Morocco, undergraduate and postgraduate curricula in astronomy and astrophysics. His research interests include the...

  9. 4. Donna Auguste
    (pp. 77-90)

    Donna Auguste is a remarkable computer scientist, engineer, entrepreneur, and humanitarian. Pursuing a childhood fascination with technology, she earned her undergraduate degree in computer science and electrical engineering in 1980 at the University of California–Berkeley, where she served as president of the Black Engineering and Science Students Association. She completed a master’s degree in computer science at Carnegie-Mellon University, where she was one of the first African American graduate students in her department. Her early work at IntelliCorp focused on pioneering commercial applications of artificial intelligence technology. At Apple Computer she led the project team for the Apple Newton,...

  10. 5. Ursula Goodenough
    (pp. 91-108)

    Ursula Goodenough is an internationally known cell biologist. Born in New York City in 1943, she is a professor of biology at Washington University in St. Louis. She was educated at Radcliffe and Barnard (B.A., zoology, 1963), Columbia University (M.A., zoology, 1965), and Harvard University (Ph.D., biology, 1969), did two years of postdoctoral research at Harvard, and was assistant and associate professor of biology at Harvard from 1971 to 1978. Goodenough’s research has focused on the cell biology and (molecular) genetics of the sexual phase of the life cycle of the unicellular eukaryotic green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii and, more recently,...

  11. 6. Thomas Odhiambo
    (pp. 109-120)

    It is with deep sadness that we observe the passing of the world-renowned entomologist Thomas Odhiambo, who died as this book was being prepared for publication. Dr. Thomas Odhiambo was a native of Kenya, a Christian, and a student of African native religions. He received his M.A. in natural science and Ph.D. in insect physiology at Cambridge University. He selected his field of research—entomology—in order to contribute to the development of increased food production and improved health in rural communities in Africa. In 1967 Odhiambo responded to the problems faced by African village farmers by founding what was...

  12. 7. Faraneh Vargha-Khadem
    (pp. 121-140)

    Dr. Faraneh Vargha-Khadem was born in Tehran, Iran, and completed her graduate studies in 1979 at McGill University in Montreal and the University of Massachusetts–Amherst. After doing postdoctoral training at the Montreal Children’s Hospital, she joined the Faculty of Neurology and Neurosurgery at McGill University, where she worked for two years before moving to London in 1983 to accept a faculty research position at the Institute of Child Health. There she created the first academic department of developmental cognitive neuroscience in the United Kingdom, along with its clinical counterpart, the Department of Neuropsychology at Great Ormond Street Hospital for...

  13. 8. Pauline Rudd
    (pp. 141-160)

    Pauline Mary Rudd is a noted biochemist whose work has made important contributions to the understanding of the immune system and to the development of therapeutic drugs for viral and autoimmune diseases. She is also a thoughtful Christian in the Anglican tradition—a tradition she embodies in a deep contemplative and experiential spirituality significantly influenced by Kierkegaard, Tillich, Hesse, and Eastern thought.

    After earning her baccalaureate degree in chemistry at Westfield College, University of London, in 1964, Rudd served for five years as founding scientist and senior chemist at Wessex Biochemicals/Sigma in London, where she was responsible for research, development,...

  14. 9. Satoto
    (pp. 161-172)

    Dr. Satoto is an expert in nutrition and child development from Indonesia whose work has shaped public policy and improved the lives of children in several countries. First trained as a physician, then as a clinical nutritionist, Satoto (his full name, by Indonesian tradition) did his doctoral work on the connections between nutrition and child development. Raised in a devout Muslim household, he considers his research a path of devotion.

    Satoto directs the Research Institute at Diponegoro University in Semarang, Indonesia. The institute, on the island of Java, comprises eight research centers that examine environment, population, energy and natural resources,...

  15. 10. Paula Tallal
    (pp. 173-194)

    Dr. Paula Tallal is a noted experimental psychologist as well as a practicing clinical psychotherapist. Her primary theoretical work, on auditory processing dysfunctions in children with language-development impairments, offers a new model of the relationship between lower-level sensory functions like hearing and higher-level cognitive capacities like language. Because this model demonstrates that some language impairments, such as aphasia and dysphasia, result from relatively basic neurological problems, it challenges the widespread notions that “speech is special” and that this ability can be traced to an innate “language module” in the brain. Equally important, Tallal’s research has led to valuable therapeutic applications,...

  16. 11. Henry Thompson
    (pp. 195-216)

    Henry S. Thompson is reader in artificial intelligence and cognitive science in the Division of Informatics at the University of Edinburgh, where he is based in the Language Technology Group of the Human Communication Research Centre. He also is managing director of Markup Technology Ltd., an XML-related startup. He received his Ph.D. in linguistics from the University of California–Berkeley in 1980. His university education was divided between linguistics and computer science, in which he also holds a master’s. While still at Berkeley he was affiliated with the Natural Language Research Group at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center. His...

  17. 12. Robert Pollack
    (pp. 217-242)

    Dr. Robert Pollack is professor of biological sciences, adjunct professor of religion, and lecturer in psychiatry at the Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research; he is also director of the Earth Institute’s Center for the Study of Science and Religion, all at Columbia University. Pollack graduated from Columbia College with a major in physics. He holds a Ph.D. in biology from Brandeis University and has been a research scientist at the Weizmann Institute and at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, an assistant professor of pathology at New York University Medical Center and an associate professor of microbiology at the State University...

  18. Conclusion
    (pp. 243-248)
    Philip Clayton

    A number of standard typologies exist for conceiving the various relations between science and religion. The most famous is the four-part typology, developed by Ian Barbour in Religion in an Age of Science and numerous other publications, that emphasizes the contrasts between the models of conflict, separation, dialogue, and integration. (This typology is described in more detail in Jim Schaal’s introduction.)

    And yet, when one reads these twelve interviews with practicing scientists who are attempting at the same time to live lives of faith, one is struck by the inevitable inadequacy of all such typologies. Most, if not all, of...

  19. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 249-256)