Judaism in an Age of Science

Judaism in an Age of Science
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Universalism and Particularism

A Review of Norbert M. Samuelson, Jewish Faith and Modern Science: On the Death and Rebirth of Jewish Philosophy, New York: Rowman & Littlefield, 2009.

Modern Jews are torn between the particularist teachings of their religious tradition and the universalist aspirations of science (or maybe they should be more so). Of course, other religious traditions face similar challenges. Science undermines the foundational myths and theological commitments of all three of the Abrahamic faiths, as well as their Eastern cousins. However, Judaism’s emphasis on family of descent in the marriage of biology and religious identity accentuates this conflict. It might be easier for Judaism, I will argue, if it were a universalist and missionizing religion, more like Christianity and Islam in that respect, aspiring to convert the world into “a Chosen people.” As we will see in the discussion below that may be one of the implications of Norbert Samuelson’s new book, Jewish Faith and Modern Science, albeit not one that he overtly embraces.

Norbert Samuelson steps into the conflict between modern science and traditional religion with both feet and considerable intellectual prowess. Samuelson is the Harold and Jean Grossman Professor of Jewish Studies at Arizona State University.[1] While much has been penned and processed on science and religion from a Christian perspective, Judaism has largely been absent from this intellectual rumble. Samuelson calls this a great mistake, referring to this as “the death of Jewish philosophy”. Many readers, perhaps most, will be shocked with what they find here. Samuelson has thrown down the gauntlet for Jews and Judaism in an age of science and no thinking person should go back to business as usual.

Before proceeding further, a few disclaimers are in order. I studied with Norbert Samuelson during my graduate schooling in comparative religion at Temple University in the early 1990s. Norbert introduced me to the thought of Alfred North Whitehead. His efforts to teach me about Franz Rosenzweig were much less successful. We audited a course together in the philosophy of science with Miriam Solomon. Norbert later served on my dissertation committee. In the years that followed, Norbert has served on the Academic Board of the Metanexus Institute and as a frequent speaker at our annual conferences. In 2007-2008, Norbert Samuelson presented many of the themes of this book in a lecture series as the Metanexus Senior Fellow. It should be no wonder that I am favorably disposed to the basic argument, though I will also find some fault and explore some of the understated implications of his argument. Finally I approach this book, not as a Jew, but as a friendly Shabbas Goy, helping as it were to bend the rules to make the Shabbat a bit more comfortable.

Since the Haskalah in the 18th and 19th centuries, Jews have played an increasingly and disproportionately significant role in the advancement of modern science and intellectual culture in general. In the course of the twentieth century, scientists of Jewish heritage account for thirty-eight percent of American Nobel laureates in physics, forty-two percent of American Nobel laureates in medicine, and twenty-eight percent of American Nobel laureates in chemistry.[2] This is remarkable, because there are only some 6 million Jews in the United States, making up less than 2 percent of the plus 300 million Americans.[3] Humanity owes a great debt to Jewish scientists and intellectuals in the 20th century, who have contributed much to the advancement of science and humanist values.

In the mid-twentieth century, American Jews were confronted with admission quotas and other forms of discrimination limiting their access to elite universities. One of the responses to this discrimination was to embrace secularism and the meritocracy of science with a religious-like fervor. Jewish religious identity is threatened by this assimilation. By contrast, their Roman Catholic neighbors, who faced similar discrimination from the Protestant establishment in the United States, tended to create their own institutions of higher education. Catholic religious identity is stronger for it.[4]

Ironically, the very culture and content of science, the notions of progress that it entails, and the new story of the universe and humanity that science has discovered, all undermine any understandings of “Jewishness” as a significant biological category as well as the credibility of Jewish religious mythology.[5] Embracing science, many have come to believe, means giving up quaint tribal rituals and beliefs and embracing universal truths.

The ideals of modern science insist upon an objective and universally valid understanding of the universe and everything in the universe. Modern science promotes a progressive epistemology, which is best understood as a self-transcending learning-process that leads to progress in human life.[6] The accelerated pace of scientific advance and technological invention in the 20th century has stressed the adaptive capacities of all religious traditions. Judaism is an interesting case in point.

The central thesis of Jewish Faith and Modern Science is that contemporary science necessitates a radical refiguring of Jewish philosophy and with it our understanding of Creation, Revelation, and Redemption. This has significant implications for religious education, including the training of rabbis, who, Rabbi Samuelson says, are increasingly irrelevant in Jewish life. What is at stake in this reinterpretation is not some esoteric scholastic debate, but rather the well-being and survival of the Jewish people. He calls for a “rethinking of almost everything we have taken for granted about the Jewish people” (3).

This is an encyclopedic book organized around the death and possible rebirth of Jewish philosophy, in two parts and nine chapters. Part One deals with how neither classical Orthodox Judaism nor liberal Judaism is able to assimilate the insights of contemporary science. He includes chapters on “Misunderstanding Physics and Astronomy,” “Misunderstanding Linguistics and Epistemology,” “Misunderstanding Psychology”, “Misunderstanding Medicine,” and “Misunderstanding History”. Part Two then moves on to present Samuelson’s constructive argument for “The Rebirth of Jewish Philosophy”. He does so by reconstructing the doctrines of Creation, Redemption, and Revelation in a manner consistent with contemporary scientific insights. Samuelson is an iconoclast and a formidable scholar with a grasp of a great variety of disciplines. The book includes a dizzying array of topics, from Biblical exegesis and rabbinic commentaries, to ancient, medieval, and contemporary philosophy, to technical fine-points in physics, linguistics, neuroscience, bioethics, and more. It is beyond the scope of a review to give a full accounting of Samuelson’s arguments.

Let’s examine two particularly provocative cases, both found in Chapter Four on “Misunderstanding Medicine”. Samuelson acknowledges the rich contemporary literature on Judaism and medicine, including extensive jurisprudence by Orthodox rabbis and Jewish involvement in contemporary bioethics debates. Samuelson is critical, however, of the utilitarian assumptions that ground these discussions. The utilitarian principle, minimizing pain and maximizing pleasure, “dominates almost all philosophical discussions in modern Jewish medical ethics” (73). He classifies this as “hedonism”:

“… no historical position in ethics is more remote from traditional Jewish values than this one. To be sure, a significant theme that runs through all rabbinic ethics, traditional and modern, is the close association of the good life with the pursuit of happiness, but the happiness of which traditional Jewish texts speak has nothing to do with maximizing pleasure and avoiding pain.

“For traditional Jewish philosophy, the purpose of all life is to serve God in every way that God wills, and such service often (possibly always) involves accepting personal suffering.” (72)

Moreover, the history of the Jewish people suggests that being “chosen” and especially loved by God entails more suffering than that experienced by others with less devotion to God. Note also that the modern demonstration of atheism is based largely on the theodicy argument, so grounding ethics in utilitarian principles actually promotes atheism. Adopting a utilitarian-hedonistic medical ethic ultimately entails banishing God from Judaism. And for Samuelson, Jewishness without God will ultimately result in the assimilation and destruction of the Jewish people.

Samuelson goes on to ask whether Jewishness is a meaningful biological category. Until the Second World War, most people, including most Jews, would have spoken of the “Jewish race”. For instance, Judah Halevi (c.1075–1141) taught that Jews receive from birth a “divine soul,” where as all other human beings received only an “animal soul”. Utopian Zionists, in the early twentieth century, talked about the creation of a modern Jewish nation-state as an ideal social model, precisely because they believed that the Jewish people had a special innate moral capacity (76). None of these beliefs can be reconciled with contemporary sciences of population genetics and human evolution. Race is not a meaningful biological category; it is a culturally constructed concept with a nasty history. “The case for racism in response to Zionist ideology,” writes Samuelson, “is stronger than in either the case of classical Jewish philosophy or mysticism precisely because the secular Zionist argument is both secular and modern”. Samuelson goes on to clarify that:

“neither the philosophical position of the followers of Judah Halevi, nor the utopian visionaries of the Zionist movement, nor the kabbalistic followers of the Baal Shem Tov have a position on biological descent that is simplistically racist. Still, it is significantly and implicitly racist, and that degree of racism, deeply imbedded in both classical and modern Jewish thought, is (and should be) deeply troubling for any modern Jewish philosopher.” (77)

Samuelson does not really offer a definitive answer how to reconceive of Jewishness in light of this problem. Traditionally, what makes someone Jewish is whether their mother is Jewish. Beyond that they can be a good Jew, i.e., observant, or a bad Jew, i.e., non-observant, but they can never not be a Jew. In the modern era, however, as more and more Jews become non-observant and non-religious, the long-term justification for maintaining this “tribal” identity quickly evaporates.[7]

For instance, inter-marriage of Jews to non-Jews in the United States today is now over 50 percent. Reform and Conservative synagogues are in decline, much like their Mainstream Protestant cousins. Orthodox Judaism, particularly the Chabad movement, is growing through intra-Jewish conversions and higher birthrates. Samuelson seems to be saying that the only viable, long-term justification for maintaining Jewishness is as a religion and not as an ethnic identity. No other category can sustain Jews in a wholesome and healthy way. Judaism, not Jewishness, is the only viable foundation for the survival of the Jewish people as a distinct community. At the center of Judaism is the covenant with God and the meaning of being a Chosen people. Samuelson seems to be saying that, “choosing” this relationship with God – not biology, not history, and not ethnicity – is what it means to “be chosen”.

The implication here is that Judaism should become a global and universal religion with an emphasis on mission and conversion, though Samuelson does not overtly embrace this conclusion. He wonders only about “an interpretation of divine chosenness that transcends race, species, and planet” (111). We will return to this new concept of chosenness at the end of this review.

In Chapter Five, Samuelson argues that Jewish philosophy misunderstands history and scripture. “No spiritual claim is more basic than this doctrine that the Torah is ‘from Sinai,’” writes Samuelson, “but no historical claim about the foundations of Judaism and the Jewish people is academically more doubtful” (93). Modern academic scholarship of the Bible seeks an accurate scientific history of ancient Israel, rather than a rabbinic mythological history. We now know that the text of the Bible was constructed intentionally from previous layers of Judaism and borrowed sources from other cultures. The redaction of the Bible is thus an intellectual fraud by contemporary standards. The fraud may have been perpetrated with good intentions or bad, but in no sense should the Bible be taken as an accurate historical chronology or an actual account of ancient Judaism.

Of course, similar problems plague Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and so forth. How do we read these ancient scriptures, which are considered unique revelations and central to the maintenance of their respective religious identities? Samuelson’s argument seems to be “get over it”! Scriptural literalism of our great religious traditions is now implausible. We are going to have to significantly reinterpret our scriptures in light of modern science. It will not be the first time that we have done so either. Jewish philosophy was radically reinterpreted in the medieval period in confrontation with the best science of its time – Aristotelianism – as transmitted largely through Islamic translations and commentaries, and then retransmitted through Jews to Christian scholastics. Samuelson writes of this medieval intellectual ferment:

“For the classical Jewish philosophers, Aristotelianism suggested a necessary universe that admitted no room for a creating deity, while the Stoicism suggested a chance universe that admitted no possibility of purpose or meaning. Most classical Jewish philosophers opted for a form of Platonism that reconciled differences between the Aristotelian and the Stoic and introduced a new and unique way of understanding the nature of both the creator and his creation. However, no modern Jewish philosopher can simply accept the traditional interpretation of creation on purely textual grounds. That interpretation of the classical Jewish texts depends on a science that no longer has any authority as truth. What is required of Jewish philosophy is that it reexamines its dearest conclusions in the light of radically different modern science” (54).

One option for scriptural interpretation that Samuelson does not explore is that the Bible is a rich source of archetypal stories. In this approach, the conflicts and dynamics between the characters in the Bible are psychologically profound, if not literally true. Of course, such an approach finds large portions of the Bible as irrelevant and also accords the Bible the same status as other myths and fairytales from around the world. Perhaps there is some happy middle ground, as in the case of classical and modern Midrash that seeks to engage and develop Biblical stories for their contemporary, true-to-life profundities.

Part Two of Samuelson’s book addresses “the Rebirth of Jewish Philosophy.” He does so with chapters devoted to the reconstruction of the doctrines of Creation, Redemption, and Revelation. This section of the book is more suggestive than definitive. He gives a nod to the role of process philosophy in his thinking, referencing Alfred North Whitehead and Franz Rosenzweig in particular, but actually spends very little space elaborating why process philosophy and what this would actually mean. Whitehead, for instance, gives us a new way to reconceptualize Platonic “Ideas” and Aristotelian “Natural Kinds” in an evolutionary cosmos, both of which were concepts critical to the Medieval theological synthesis; but Samuelson does not offer a proper tutorial in process philosophy, or discusses its strengths and weaknesses.

Part Two of Jewish Faith and Modern Science is less successful than the earlier chapters, in part because Samuelson continues throughout this section in building his case for the death of Jewish philosophy, rather than delivering on his promise to offer constructive proposals for the rebirth of Jewish philosophy. What he offers, instead, is an interesting list of questions, which in and of themselves set out a road map and compelling research project for other Jewish philosophers to pursue. For instance, he wonders:

“What would a cosmology look like that fits the data of physics and astronomy but assigns reality to morality in the physical universe? Where in the modern conception of the universe is there room for quality and purpose as physically real?” (114)

This question of meaning and purpose is central to all religious traditions. “The one claim of past Jewish thinking that cannot (or at least should not) be compromised,” writes Samuelson, “is the biblical affirmation that at least as God created it, the universe is morally good” (137). In this reading, I would argue, the most important single word in the Bible would be the word tov, meaning “good,” repeated by God after each day of Creation in Genesis 1. Tov me’od, or “very good”, on the last day of Creation when “God saw everything that he had made” including the humans (Genesis 1:31). In its parts, the Universe is “good,” and on whole, the Universe is “very good”. This normative orientation towards the new scientific cosmology is for Samuelson a non-negotiable core of what it means to be religious and Jewish. An Existentialist or Stoic interpretation of science is simply incompatible with religion. The universe is in some real sense moral and meaningful. The rest is commentary.

Samuelson appears to contradict himself in the following passage:

“It is not my intention to tell scientists what they should and should not believe as scientists. If their work contains nothing to suggest the existence of a creator of the universe, then so be it. However, Jewish thinking about everything does not require a stamp of approval from card-carrying scientists. Nor does it require scientists as scientists to prove the claims of Judaism about any and all aspects of reality… there should not, in principle, be a conflict between the claims of theology and the claims of either the physical or the biological sciences. If there is a conflict then in principle an error has been made either in theology or in science. In this particular case the error seems to reside in the thinking of some scientists who extend the limits of their methodology to make judgments beyond science out of a dogmatic empiricism about modern science. (We may call this logical error of unjustified expansion scientivism [sic.])” (165).

Here, Samuelson would have done better to clarify the distinction between the content of science and the interpretation of science. Policing the porous boundaries between science and scientism is a full-time job in our philosophically naïve world. Science certainly challenges the plausibility of miracles and mythologies, but in no sense can it prove or disprove the existence of God-by-whatever-name. In no sense can science tell us whether the universe is meaningless or not. These are not even scientific questions. And yet to leave the content of science out of our reflection on meaning of life and the nature of God is also no longer a viable strategy, as Samuelson has persuasively argued.

Modern physics and cosmology offer a better platform for arguing for a purposeful universe, as Samuelson explores in his discussion of the Anthropic Principle. Evolutionary biology, on the other hand, make the adjudication of such transcendent purpose in the universe much more difficult. At some points, I might fault my Rebbi for taking his biology from overly simplistic accounts of science popularizers. This is an on-going problem in these kinds of transdisciplinary endeavors. We cannot all be experts in everything, though Samuelson’s erudition is enormous, indeed humbling. In particular, however, I want to single out his understanding of the Neo-Darwinian synthesis as especially problematic. Darwin’s argument is seductively simple, so much so that even philosophers and lay readers can understand the logic. As Whitehead warned, however, “[t]he guiding motto in the life of every natural philosopher should be: seek simplicity — and distrust it.”[8]

Real biology is hugely complicated and context-specific, as any undergraduate biology textbook reveals. To reduce evolution to random drift, competition, survival, and reproduction is inadequate in light of new insights arising from developmental biology, ecology, multi-level selection theory, complexity theory, and many other areas. Evolution, as in common descent with modification, has never been more true; but how evolution occurs is open to serious scientific debate. The typical account of evolution offered in popular literature is inadequate and misleading.[9] When these categories – random drift, competition, survival, and reproduction – are then translated into interpreting the human person, as is done by evolutionary psychology, then we are at risk of getting things very confused.

Overall, Jewish Faith and Modern Science is an excellent book, indeed a magnum opus from one of the most important Jewish thinkers working on interpreting contemporary science and traditional faith. Readers, Jewish and non-Jewish, will be well rewarded and challenged. Samuelson’s book can and should be read as a template for what all religions must contemplate in the confrontation with contemporary science. One can only hope that the book elicits the kind of debate and conversation, it seeks to provoke. To do so productively requires a very different kind of education for religious and lay leaders alike. Samuelson’s recommendation runs counter to the increasing specialization that we have witnessed in intellectual life over the last century:

“What I would like to see happen, first of all, is that the sciences become a central part of all Jewish curricula – from lessons in Jewish schools for children, undergraduate and graduate programs in universities, and that science literacy be programmed into the training of Jewish communal leaders, especially the training of future rabbis. Scholars and teachers should be trained who are minimally literate in Jewish texts and professionally competent in some science, who will guide their students to ask the kind of questions I have raised in this book and offer answers informed by reason and training in every scientific source of knowledge and in every source of Jewish belief.” (237)

I note only that educators and scholars with this kind of broad training in science, religion, and philosophy are few and far between. Our entire educational system is now oriented towards increasing specialization and the rewarding thereof.

In the dance of particularism and universalism as experienced by Judaism in the 21st century, I predict four different scenarios unfolding. The first three are all occurring today. The first scenario would be a religious revival movement within Judaism. In this revival, the fideistic and orthodox varieties of Judaism will survive and thrive, while the more liberal forms will decline. This revival is likely to be anti-science and anti-intellectual, for reasons that should be clear from the discussion above. The second scenario would be the rise of a more ethnic and nationalist definition of Jewishness. Israeli citizenship and the support of Israel will be the defining meaning of “being Jewish”. This raises a number of intellectual, religious, political, moral, and pragmatic problems. The third scenario is that Jews in the Diaspora will assimilate and intermarry, becoming part of a cosmopolitan global culture of science, business, education, and entertainment. This is the trajectory of liberal Judaism.

The fourth scenario, the one I think is implicit in Samuelson’s discussion, is that Judaism will reinterpret, transform, and revitalize itself into a “universal” religion. As such, Judaism will need to refashion itself as a religion of “mission”, welcoming converts from other “tribes” around the world, much as Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism presume to be universal religions. This would require a new interpretation of scriptures, history, and Halachah consonant with contemporary science and historical understandings of human origins and evolution. This is also presumably the least likely scenario.

Note that in this fourth scenario intermarriage, an extremely divisive issue for contemporary Jews, is turned into a strategy for increasing membership and vitality within a greatly expanded concept of what it means to be “a Chosen People.” Note also that the concept of Israel as a homeland for the Jewish people becomes as impractical as the concept of a particular homeland for hundreds of millions of Christians or Muslims. This is not to say that Israel will be any less symbolically significant for Jews (and others), or that Israel as a nation-state should be dismantled. Israel, like the rest of us, will need to evolve, hopefully in the direction of more peaceful and productive relations with its immediate neighbors and the world. Note finally that this is potentially a dangerous scenario, first because smaller religious groups can better regulate “free loaders” and “defectors”[10] and second because interreligious, “universalizing” competition often incites interreligious violence.   The alternative, however, at least as seen by this outsider, is for Judaism to be polarized by extremes – fideism or rationalism, nationalism or cosmopolitanism, sectarianism or secularism, tribalism or assimilation, particularism or universalism, religion or science. This at least is my understanding in my role as Shabbas Goy, a non-Jewish servant who helps especially on Shabbat to chop wood, carry water, and light the fire.

To some extent, the first three scenarios are in fact on-going in contemporary Judaism. Nor are these strategies necessarily all mutually exclusive. Humans need not think and act in philosophically consistent and theologically sophisticated ways; if anything, most humans tend to be quite compartmentalized in holding many mutually exclusive beliefs. It is only the philosopher who seeks consistency and truth. Jews are hardly alone in confronting these issues in this Brave New World, but the dilemma is accentuated by equating Jewishness with birth and ethnicity. De facto most religions do create an unholy alliance between ethnicity, language, nationalism, and membership, but this is rarely enshrined as theological doctrine. It is the theological doctrine of chosenness as biology that should change and not Judaism’s many ethnicities and idiosyncrasies. The latter are sure to adapt and evolve, as they always have in the past.

How these conflicts play out between science and religion, between the universal and the particular, within and between our cultures and religions in our increasingly global civilization will largely determine whether humanity adapts successfully in our rapidly changing world. Samuelson embraces these conflicts head on and no doubt has offended many in doing so. In the end, I think the fourth scenario is the implied conclusion in his process relational recasting of Jewish philosophy, but not one that even Samuelson has the chutzpah to actually articulate and consciously embrace. Samuelson ends by offering a new, science-friendly Messianic vision, leaving these problems to be solved in a future utopian horizon and by other Jews and other Jewish philosophers along the way:

“In the new thinking, God is worshipped and served primarily as the ultimate end with which everything unites in an idealized anticipated conclusion to all history – mineral, vegetable, and animal no less than human and divine – in a singular state of unity that transcends all conceptual dichotomies, including Jews and the nations; humans and animals, life and death, and even creation and the creator. As such the logic of the new thinking is inherently ethical in purpose and utopian in nature rather than discursive in both nature and purpose.” (236)


[1] Professor Norbert M. Samuelson is the Harold and Jean Grossman Chair of Jewish Studies at Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona. He is an internationally renowned scholar of Jewish philosophy, who is the author of over 200 articles, and the co-editor of three collected volumes of essays. He is the founder and secretary of the Academy of Jewish Philosophy and the secretary of the American Theological Society. Prior to assuming the newly-established Chair of Jewish Studies, Prof. Samuelson was a Professor of Religion for twenty-three years at Temple University and for two years at the University of Virginia. He launched his academic career after serving as a Hillel Rabbi in Indiana University and Princeton University. Prof. Samuelson holds a Ph.D. in Philosophy from Indiana University (1970), Rabbinic Ordination from the Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion (1962), and a B.A. from Northwestern University (1957). Prof. Samuelson’s scholarship focuses on Jewish philosophy and theology. He has written six books: Gersonides on God’s Knowledge (1977), a critical edition and exposition of Abraham ibn Daud’s Exalted Faith (1986) An Introduction to Modern Jewish Philosophy (1989), The First Seven Days: A Philosophical Commentary on the Creation of Genesis (1992) and Judaism and the Doctrine of Creation (1994); A Users’ Guide to Franz Rosenzweig’s Star of Redemption (1999). Prof. Samuelson has been active in the American Academy of Religion, the Association of Jewish Studies, the American Theological Society, the American Philosophical Association, and the Metanexus Institute.

[2] Noah Efron “Physics & Civics: Jews, Science and Citizenship in 20th Century America”, manuscript, 3/19/2005.

[3] In the world, there are only 14 million Jews or 0.21 percent of the world’s population.

[4] See Efron, Noah. Judaism and Science: A Historical Introduction. New York: Greenwood, 2006; Hollinger, David A. Science, Jews, and Secular Culture: Studies in Mid-Twentieth-Century American Intellectual History. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996; and Marsden, George M. Soul of the American University: From Protestant Establishment to Established Nonbelief. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996.

[5] “Jewishness” is a translation of the term “Yiddishkeit”. I will continue to use the term without quotations throughout the essay.

[6] My approach to the content of science is that of critical realism. Certainly, the cultures of science can be studied with the tools and insights of social constructionism, but the basic content and applications of science will be the same regardless of one’s nationality or religion. This “Natural Ontological Attitude” to science (see Arthur Fine) is more clearly the case in the natural sciences. The social sciences, including medicine, are much more complicated and therefore much more open to culturally framed interpretation. I otherwise reject as nonsensical the idea of ethno-sciences (Islamic Science, Hindu Science, Jewish Science, etc.), though clearly science develops in specific historical and cultural contexts that are significant.

[7] See also Pollack, Robert E. The Faith of Biology and the Biology of Faith. New York: Columbia University Press, 2000.

[8] A.N. Whitehead, The Concept of Nature, Cambridge University Press, 1926, p. 163.

[9] See a standard introductory biology textbook, for instance, Purves, William K., Gordon H. Orians, H. Craig Heller, and David Sadava (1998). Life: The Science of Biology. Sunderland, MA, Sinauer Associates. For discussions of the inadequacies of natural selection as explanation, see Depew, David and Bruce Weber (1996). Darwinism Evolving: Systems Dynamics and the Genealogy of Natural Selection. Cambridge, MA, MIT Press; Wesson, Robert (1991). Beyond Natural Selection. Cambridge, MA, MIT Press; Morris, Simon Conway (2003). Life’s Solution: Inevitable Humans in a Lonely Universe. New York, Cambridge University Press; Stewart, Ian (1998). Life’s Other Secret: The New Mathematics of the Living World, Wiley & Sons. See especially the new book, Gilbert, Scott F. and David Epel. Ecological Developmental Biology: Integrating Epigenetics, Medicine, and Evolution. Sunderland, MA: Sinauer Associates, 2009.

[10] See David Sloan Wilson (2002). Darwin’s Cathedral: Evolution, Religion, and the Nature of Society. Chicago, The University of Chicago Press.

William Grassie is an interdisciplinary scholar, academic entrepreneur, social activist, and accomplished author. During his school years, he hitchhiked some 30,000 kilometers throughout North America and Europe. He has worked as a newspaper boy, night watchman, farm hand, house painter, dish washer, janitor, caretaker of multiply handicapped children, apprentice in a ceramic studio, camp counselor, computer consultant, real estate manager, and general contractor, among other jobs. Billy received a B.A. in political science from Middlebury College, and then worked for ten years on nuclear disarmament, citizen diplomacy, conflict resolution, community organizing, and sustainability issues in Washington, D.C, Jerusalem, Philadelphia, and West Berlin. He completed a Ph.D. in Religion from Temple University, where he wrote a dissertation on "Reinventing Nature: Science Narratives as Myths for an Endangered Planet" (1994). He has taught at Temple University, as well as at Swarthmore College, Pendle Hill, and the University of Pennsylvania. A recipient of academic awards and grants from the American Friends Service Committee, the Roothbert Fellowship, and the John Templeton Foundation, Billy served as a Senior Fulbright Fellow in the Department of Buddhist Studies at the University of Peradeniya in Kandy, Sri Lanka in 2007–2008. He is the founding director of the Metanexus Institute, which promotes scientifically rigorous and philosophically open-ended exploration of foundational questions. Metanexus has worked with partners at some 400 universities in 45 countries and publishes an online journal. He has authored "The New Sciences of Religion: Exploring Spirituality from the Outside In and Bottom Up" (2010) and a collection of essays, "Politics by Other Means: Science and Religion in the 21st Century" (2010).