A janus face upon religion from scientific materialism

John A. Teske, Elizabethtown College


Bjørn Grinde's article is a Janus face from a scientific insider looking out toward religion and from a religious outsider looking in. His scientific story of the evolutionary and present advantages of religion is laudable but incomplete, as the logic of commitment strategies might provide a fuller account of what produces the value of religious faith. His scientific presuppositions nevertheless might be taken as exhibiting some hubris, particularly in the limits of his instrumental ethics. Finally, the variety and potential incommensurability of both theistic and nontheistic religious views render his distinction between "minimal" and "elaborated" views of God problematic as a route to finding a scientifically credible view by which science might move to optimize the value of religion. Nevertheless, the goal of doing so might be supported by several structural features of religious views, of individual transformation and of hopes for the future, which may be supported by the evolutionary logic of commitment strategies at both individual and group levels. © 2005 by the Joint Publication Board of Zygon.