John B. Cobb, Jr., Ph.D. is Professor of Theology Emeritus at the Claremont School of Theology, Claremont, California, and Co-Director of the Center for Process Studies there. His many books currently in print include: Reclaiming the Church (1997); with Herman Daly, For the Common Good; Becoming a Thinking Christian (1993); Sustainability (1992); Can Christ Become Good News Again? (1991); ed. with Christopher Ives, The Emptying God: a Buddhist-Jewish-Christian Conversation (1990); with Charles Birch, The Liberation of Life; and with David Griffin, Process Theology: An Introductory Exposition (1977). He is a retired minister in the United Methodist Church. His email address is email@example.com..
This essay was delivered at Phillips Theological Seminary, Tulsa, OK on April 19, 2004.
John Cobb reviews the history of the relationship between science and religion focusing on how Western science and Christian theology are both influenced by philosophy. He believes God’s role in the world has nothing to do with violating otherwise well-established laws of nature.
Science and theology have had a long history together. For the most part the relation has been friendly, but the controversy over evolution in the latter part of the nineteenth century led to a cultural change. During the twentieth century most people came to view this relation as one of tension, if not enmity. We owe a great deal to the Templeton Foundation, to the Institute for Theology and the Natural Sciences, and to a few other institutions, concerned individuals, and groups for the renewed respectful conversation we now enjoy..
Let us briefly review the history of this relationship between science and religion. Rather than pretend to a global approach, I will focus on the relation of Western science and Christian theology. Much of this relation has been mediated through philosophy.
Christian theology has two roots. One, of course, was the religious thought of the people of Israel especially as mediated to the Gentile world through Jesus and Paul. The second was the sophisticated thought of that Gentile world, expressed especially in Greek philosophy. In comparison with the modern period, the sciences were still somewhat undeveloped. But such as they were, they were largely incorporated into philosophy. Hence the appropriation of Greek philosophy was also, implicitly, the appropriation of Greek science.
Prior to the Renaissance noone would have thought of a conflict between science and theology. Both were formulated in philosophical terms. There could be tensions between different schools of philosophy, and thus between the different schools of theology and of science associated with them. But no theologian intended to reject the best scientific thinking of the time and few scientists would suppose that their work was antithetical to theology in general.
More important is the fact that Christian theology in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries created a context in which the modern natural sciences took root. They flourished especially in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in a context that would objectively seem unfavorable. In the late Middle Ages Western Europe was not especially cultured, wealthy, or educated in comparison with Eastern Europe, India, or China. Furthermore, the intellectual climate of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries was quite restrictive, with the church struggling against schismatics and heretics to maintain its unity and authority. Wars were fought over theological doctrines, and individuals were tortured and killed for theological views that were deemed heretical.
Many historians have pondered what it was about Western thought at the time that, despite the unfavorable context, led to so much energy and talent being directed to scientific inquiry. That is a topic far beyond this lecture. However, we may note that the understanding of God as rational Creator contributed to this climate. If the Creator was rational, it was assumed, then the creation should embody rationally understandable order. That meant that, in order to understand God better, one should probe beneath the surface irregularities to deeper patterns that could be expressed in the purest language of reason, that is, mathematics. This theological motivation was widespread among the new scientists. The sixteenth and seventeenth centuries saw enormous progress in the discovery or regular patterns or "laws" of nature displaying the wisdom and power of God.
The remarkable tolerance of the church toward scientists in a time when it persecuted theological heretics and schismatics so viciously is obscured by the misrepresentation of two incidents. Giordano Bruno was executed, and Galileo was silenced. However, in neither case was the church punishing a scientist primarily for the way the science threatened theology.
To oversimplify, Bruno was executed for his theological heresy – pantheism -- not for his scientific studies and results. Of course, in Bruno's mind these were closely interconnected, so that my statement reflects the later separation more than the situation at the time. Nevertheless, this statement is more accurate than the idea that the church was persecuting scientists for their scientific findings.
Galileo was opposed first and foremost by the leading scientists of his time. These were mostly Aristotelians, whereas Galileo undertook to demonstrate the error of Aristotelian science. Even today scientists are not always tolerant of other scientists who reject their basic assumptions. The church was involved chiefly, not because it opposed science, but because of its strong support of the best science of its time.
Today, we would rightly say that the church should have interfered on the side of Galileo, to insist that his evidence be carefully examined. But even today it is hard for the church to side with the scientific maverick against the scientific majority. Of course, since theology, like science, had employed the best philosophy available, that of Aristotle, the threatening of the Aristotelian worldview threatened theology as well as science. No doubt this entered into the persecution of Galileo. Bu t to think of this as expressing the enmity of the church toward science is profoundly wrong.
Descartes provided the modern materialist worldview expressive and supportive of modern science. He encouraged the mechanistic model of the natural world. One reason he did so was that it strengthened the case for Christian theology. If the natural world is a machine, then there must be a Creator deity. Machines to do no come into being by themselves. Also, any event in nature, that is not explicable in mechanistic terms, is clearly supernatural. And since the human mind or soul cannot be viewed as part of this machine, it belongs to a supernatural sphere not affected by the laws of nature. Descartes thought he could thereby prove the immortality of the soul.
The alternative view he was chiefly opposing is sometimes called Hermetic. This view held that all things had some principle of motion within themselves and influenced one another at a distance. If this was correct, then much of the order of the world could be understood from the nature of the creatures that made up the world and much that seemed miraculous from the mechanistic point of view could be understood in terms of this much richer notion of nature. This Hermetic point of view was associated with the study of magnetism and gravity and was closely connected with alchemy. Much of Newton's early work was done in the context of this approach.
However, Newton accepted membership in the British Royal Society, which was dedicated to the promotion of mechanistic science. Even though that approach was never able to deal well with gravity, it won out, partly because of its great scientific successes and partly because of religious suspicion of the Hermetic approach. Christian theology wedded itself to the mechanistic view of nature and supported the research it inspired. The theological debate was between those who believed that the world was so perfectly constructed that God never needed to intervene in its working and those who believed that such interventions, miracles, occurred. Today we might suppose that scientists would adopt the former position and theologians the latter. But in fact this was not thought of as a debate between scientists and theologians. There were scientists and theologians on both sides. Neither group wanted to restrict scientific research or to challenge its findings.
Cartesian dualism continued to characterize a broad consensus and the common sense of the eighteenth century. The vast majority of people believed that one and the same God created and ordered the natural world and also dealt with human beings in a quite distinct way. Christian theology discussed both modes of God's activity. It was often said that nature and the Bible were the two sources of knowledge of God.
Of course, there were exceptions. Philosophers wrestled with the problems of dualism, some tending to materialism, others to idealism or phenomenalism. But the common sense remained dualistic. In many circles it still does.
The great change in the relation of science and religion came about through the work of Hume and Kant. The dualistic commons sense assumed that our experience gives us an independently existing material world the mysteries of which were being more and more fully understood by scientist. Hume, building on insights of earlier empiricists, showed that sense experience gives us nothing more than sense data. We can know nothing of a material world. Whereas from the material machine one could argue to its divine cause, from the sense data, one cannot. Causal relations are nothing more than regular successions of sense data, and obviously nothing of this sort exists between the sense data we call the world and God!
Immanuel Kant was impressed by Hume's analysis but could not rest with the extreme limitations this imposed. He accepted the conclusion that we cannot move in thought from nature to God. But he proposed that we could do so from our ethical experience. Since Kant, Protestant continental theology has largely given up attention to the natural world and focused intensively and exclusively on the human one. This means that our topic of the science and theology has been given rather little attention in continental theology for two hundred years. Catholic theology did not follow Kant so readily, continuing to rely on Thomas Aquinas. However, in the nineteenth and early twentieth century it did not play a major role outside the Catholic Church.
The English-speaking world was different. Hume and Kant were studied, but they did not overthrow established habits. Common sense still supported the dualism of a material world ordered mechanistically and a human world in which freedom and morality were important. Hence evolutionary theory constituted a great crisis.
This crisis, too, is widely misunderstood. Of course, evolutionary thought is in tension with the creation story in the Bible. But this by itself would have been minimally troubling. The deeper problem was two-fold. First, it undercut the most powerful common sense reason for believing in God. If we suppose that the world more or less as we know it came into being all together, if is hard not to assume that a powerful intelligence was at work. But if it has come into being very gradually through law-abiding steps explicable in mechanical terms, then any remaining role to be assigned to God is vanishingly small. Second, if human beings evolved in this way, then they are part of the material world, mechanistically understood. It seems that freedom and morality must be illusions.
The most extreme response was simply to reject evolutionary theory. For some decades respectable scientists participated in this rejection. For theologians to side with them was not warfare against science, but favoring one scientific over another. However, the general view of evolution gained more and more empirical support. Eventually, only very conservative Christians remained as opponents. Their continuing opposition is what has given rise to the idea that theology and science are inherently in opposition to one another.
However, many theologians took other approaches. One solution, approved, I believe, by Rome, was to agree that the human body is fully a part of this world machine but that God directly creates the human soul and infuses it into the body at the point of quickening. This maintains the dualism and the role of God.
A second solution, the one that has become most influential in Protestant circles, is to embrace Kant's philosophy. This locates evolutionary theory in the sphere of theories of the phenomena, which actually cannot address the way things actually are in themselves. For knowledge of human experience and existence we turn to direct examination of the human phenomena, and it is in this sphere that theology operates. English-language theology thus, in large part, belatedly joined continental theology in walling off science from theology.
Nether of these responses can fairly be described as opposing science. They intend to leave science alone to do whatever it can do. In principle, they suppose, what science finds and asserts cannot affect what theology asserts based on entirely different grounds. There is not much incentive to engage in a dialogue between practitioners in the two fields. Hence the rather intense discussions between them in the early part of the twentieth century were succeeded by near silence in the middle part of the century.
The work of the Templeton Foundation has been impressively successful in renewing conversation. The participants are not expected to challenge one another or to feel that their own discipline and convictions are under attack. On the contrary, most of the discussion sponsored by the Templeton Foundation assumes the mutual autonomy of the sciences and theology and that mutual respect is the prerequisite for useful conversation. Sometimes during the conversation scientists and theologians find that their approaches are not as mutually exclusive as they had thought. Sometimes they find that what they learn from the other is useful for their own purposes. Sometimes they see possible patterns of mutual support.
Another solution was to argue that if human beings are part of the natural world, then the natural world is far richer and more complex that had been supposed. Instead of assuming that the natural world is a materialistic machine, we should assume that it has within it the potential to produce the subjective, purposive life we experience within ourselves. We should assume that this evolved coordinately with the evolution of physical organic structures.
There is a third response that leads to seeking a quite different relation between science and theology. This one called for revision of our understanding of the natural world. This presupposes, of course, a rejection of the philosophies of both Hume and Kant. In one way or another, it assumes, we do have theories about what lies behind the sense data that dominate our conscious experience. Science should, and indeed does, talk about a real natural world, but we are arguing that the assumption that it is best described as matter, and in mechanistic terms, is incorrect. Some of the features of human existence can be assumed to characterize other creatures, especially those from whom human beings evolved.
Those of us who adopt this view, and I should state clearly that I am among them, do not consider ourselves to be against science. Far from it. But we do believe that the seventeenth-century decision to base scientific work on mechanistic materialism has outlived its usefulness. It is time to rethink what has been called the "scientific worldview." The need to do so arises precisely from the success of science. It has now gone far beyond its original subject matter to include the human in its scope. The basic paradigm, which was plausible when science excluded the human from its scope, no longer works. The investigator must assume that he or she is not like the picture of the human that emerges when human beings are subsumed within a mechanistic, materialistic nature.
One place the problem shows up acutely is in physiological psychology. Here scientific theory and philosophical speculation are hard to keep separate. Those who approach matters strictly in terms of standard scientific habits of mind have to explain what they find purely in terms of physical events in the brain. If they acknowledge the existence of subjective states of human experience, they can only view them epiphenomenal. That is they are caused by neuronal events, but they themselves have no causal efficacy. What happens in subjective experience has no effect on the physical events in the brain, and one moment of such human experience has no effect on successor moments. Given this assumption, the research program is to show the effects of neuronal events on other neuronal events and on subjective states of human experience. Of course, such effects exist and can be studied indefinitely. That such explanation is never exhaustive does not count against it as long as the metaphysical model is not doubted.
Nevertheless, there is overwhelming common sense reason to suppose that conscious human decisions have effects on bodily behavior. I decide to write a word and my fingers type it. To say that my conscious experience plays no role is counter-intuitive. Since there is no reason other than metaphysical dogma for adopting this position, it seems to some of us that it should be reexamined. In taking this view, we are supported by some top-ranking scientists, such as Nobel Laureates John Eccles and Roger Sperry.
Once we acknowledge that human experience plays a role in the world, we may acknowledge that the experience of our animal relatives may play a role also. If so, a more adequate science will pay attention to that experience as well. Evolutionary theory will be reformulated to take account of this role.
The reasons for revision arise elsewhere as well. Best known is the collapse of the traditional model when confronted by the phenomena of the subatomic world. The discovery of this world has revolutionized physics, but the changes in worldview for which it calls have still had very little effect in other sciences.
One puzzle for physicists from Newton's day on has been how to understand light, and indeed electro-magnetic phenomena in general. The question has been whether light is best understood in terms of particles, photons, or waves. The effort to understand all of its behavior in either of these categories has proved unsuccessful.
Further, neither the concept of particle nor the concept of wave as they have operated in the context of materialistic thinking has turned out to be applicable. This is clearest with the concept of "wave". Physics has long understood waves on the surface of the water and sound waves. In both cases there is an underlying medium, water and air. The waves are patterns discerned in movements within these media. Since the mathematics used in describing wave motion in these fields work also for light, physicists long assumed that there must be a medium for light also. They called this the ether. However, experiments designed to prove the existence of the ether proved instead that there is no ether. What then is a 'wave' when there is nothing to wave?
In any case, one cannot really affirm that light is a wave, since it also behaves like a particle. No more can one affirm that it is a particle, when it often behaves more like a wave. Some scientists have said it is a "wavicle," but obviously that does not really explain anything.
Although there are some commonalities among those who call for revision in the natural sciences, we also differ in our particular proposals. Mine come from being convinced by the writings of Alfred North Whitehead. I will indicate briefly the alternative to mechanistic materialism that I have learned from him.
Instead of thinking of the world as made up of little lumps of matter moving around in space, we should think of it as composed of events. A pattern of events may have features that give rise to particle images and others that suggest waves. If a wave is an event or a pattern among events, there is no need for an underlying substance.
The next step is to further characterize an event. This depends on the example we take. If we take a large scale event such as a battle, we cannot get very far, just as modern science would not have gone very far if it had stuck to tables and rocks and failed to analyze them into molecules and atoms. Large-scale events are composed of small-scale events, and ultimately of unit events that cannot be analyzed into smaller ones. A moment of human experience is a good example of the latter.
Whitehead analyzes a moment of human experience into the relationships that largely constitute it. There are relations to previous experiences in the personal succession. There are relationships to bodily events especially those in the brain. There are relationships to the environments, especially other people, as well as to the more distant past. Whitehead believes there is also, in every momentary experience, a relationship to God.
It is important to recognize that these relationships bring the experience into being. There cannot first be an event lacking relationships that subsequently enters into relationships. The relationships constitute the event. That means they are internal to the event. The event is largely constituted as a synthesis of many internal relations.
This idea of internal relations is of great importance in the proposed revision of science. A unitary event in a field is constituted by the internal relations at that locus in the field to all the events that have transpired in the remainder of the field. A quantum event is the way the whole world is at that point. A human experience is the way the whole world comes together in some region of a human brain. Of course, a human experience and a quantum event are very different. But they do not belong to metaphysically different orders of being. Both are syntheses of internal relations to the wider world. Both unify these internal relations through a "decision", that is, a cutting off all but one way of doing so.
Between these extremes there are many other levels of actual occasions. The momentary experience of a chimpanzee is quite similar to that of a human, but we assume that the experience of flea is quite different. A one-celled organism is more different still. But all are instances of integration of internal relations to the wider world.
Given this commonality among all events, an evolutionary process productive of complex human experience is understandable. But the bias against attributing importance to intelligent purpose in the evolutionary process is no longer justified. The evidence is that animals do act with intelligent purpose and that this affects the course of evolution. Such evidence should be respected and its role in the process thoughtfully investigated.
The relation of the brain and subjective human experience can also be comprehended. But this perspective does away with the bias against attributing a causal role to human decisions. Just as the events that make up the brain profoundly influence a human experience, so also human experiences profoundly influence the events in the brain. There is no justification for the materialistic bias of so much physiological psychology.
The revised model of reality I am proposing for scientific use resembles the one that modern science rejected at an early date. That model held that every actual thing had a principle of action within itself. The notion of matter was the denial that nature contained any such element of self-determination or self-motion. Matter can be acted on but it cannot act. This has led to a strictly deterministic system of scientific thought. Despite all of its achievements, it is unable to deal with the whole of nature and leads to unacceptable conclusions.
I mentioned that the Hermetic model rejected by modernity also affirmed action, or influence, at a distance. The materialistic model denied this in spite of such anomalous phenomena as gravity. Now experiments at the quantum level seem strongly to favor influence at a distance. Parapsychology has long provided evidence in its favor. The model of events I advocate does not entail influence at a distance, but it leaves the question open for empirical determination rather than rejecting the possibility on metaphysical grounds. That seems to me another gain.
Thus far I have focused on the revision of science through the systematic overcoming of the metaphysical materialism with which its history has been so closely identified. But I speak as a theologian. It is interesting to recall that the original choice of materialism was motivated in part by theological considerations. Would returning to the view that was rejected for theological reasons be detrimental to theology today?
I think not. But it would call for theological revision. This is true especially of the way divine power has been envisioned. If the world is composed of matter, then God is the sole source of motion. The laws of motion are the choice of God. God's creation and law-giving are completely free or unilateral. This fits with ideas of God's omnipotence that were deeply entrenched in Western Christian thought at the rime of the rise of modern science and still widely prevail.
As long as metaphysical dualism prevailed, it was possible to distinguish the nature of the moral law applied to human beings from the natural law applied to nature. The moral law did not force obedience. God pronounced this law, but God gave human beings the ability to obey or to disobey. However, God's control is shown by the fact that God will punish those who disobey by eternal suffering.
Some theologians were not willing to modify the doctrine of divine omnipotence this far. They held that God actually determined human thought, purpose, and action as well as physical events. Hence God is the ultimate cause of sinful acts as well as virtuous ones. This is the official position of traditional Calvinists.
If we adopt a model more like the Hermetic one, neither of these ways of thinking works well. Divine power has to be rethought. We begin with the notion that everything has some power to determine itself and to influence other things. God does not unilaterally determine what happens. If we posit a role for God at all, it will be as one of those entities which are related to internally in the coming into being of actual occasions of experience.
Since inclusion in an actual occasion is the very meaning of causal efficacy, this in no way excludes the causal efficacy of God from the world. But it does exclude the idea of God as the sole actor. Also it excludes the notion of God acting on the world externally, as the materialistic model has required. God acts in, with, and through creatures. God influences but does not control the outcome.
How drastic a revision of theology is required to accommodate this different view of divine power and action? That depends on the theology in question. There have been theologies for which God's total control of all that happens has been central. But there have also been theologies that have emphasized human freedom and responsibility and thought of God's relation to creature, or at least to human creatures, as persuasive rather than coercive. There have been theologies that depicted God's power over us in fully external ways. There have been others that emphasized grace as the internal working of God within us. Clearly revisions of theologies that emphasize creaturely freedom and the internal working of God will be far less drastic.
An important question for Christians is whether the Bible supports or opposes the revisions that are required by the adoption of this model. Since the Bible is an immensely variegated work reflecting the views of many different authors, no simple answer can be given. Nevertheless, I believe that when our reading of the Bible is informed by Jesus and by Paul, we find that it gives strong support to this revision. This does not mean that there are no passages in the gospels or Paul's writings that suggest external divine control. But there are far more passages that suggest that God calls and we respond, that much that happens in the world is not according to God's desire or purpose, and that God works within us in a noncoercive way.
Indeed, in my opinion the notion that the Bible in general teaches that God is omnipotent is quite mistaken. It is a mistake fastened on Western Europeans by the Latin translation of the Bible. Where the Greek translators of the Septuagint used "pantocrator", which means ruler of all things, the Vulgate use "omnipotens", which means having all the power. To rule all things does not mean that the subjects are wholly powerless. To have all the power does suggest that others have no power at all.
There is a further change. In the Septuagint "pantocrator" appears almost exclusively in Job. In the Vulgate, "Omnipotens" appears frequently elsewhere, especially in Genesis and Exodus. It is its presence there that encourages readers to see the whole of the biblical account in terms of this idea. Understandably the Eastern church has never drawn the extreme conclusions that have characterized major trends in the West.
Now a further point is important. There is no word in the Hebrew that actually supports the Septuagint rendering of "Pantocrator" much less the Latin "Omnipotens". In the great majority of instances where the Greek and Latin words are used, the Hebrew is a proper name, "Shaddai." This is one name for deity in the Hebrew Bible alongside Yahweh. No doubt these names go back to a polytheistic time. The Greek translators did not want use any proper name for God and certainly not two different ones. Yahweh becomes "The Lord". Of course, "Shaddai" could also be translated that way, but given the difference they wanted to render it differently. In Job, Shaddai is depicted as exercising extensive control. The substitution of "Pantocrator" seemed to fit. Elsewhere they employed diverse terms and strategies. The Latin translators preferred to translate Shaddai more consistently and took their cue from the Septuagint translation in Job.
The point, however, is that there is no basis in the Hebrew for this move. Shad means mountain, and there may be a rhetorical connection to the myth of Marduk placing mountains on the breasts of the dead Tiamat. Some scholars suggest that the naming of the Wyoming range, the Grand Tetons is the closest analogy we have. Of course, mountains connote strength and endurance, but they do not connote total control. When they are thought of through the metaphor of women's breasts, the connotation is even more remote from omnipotence. Their power is the power of nurturing rather than control.
I am not arguing that there is nothing in the Bible emphasizing divine control of what happens. Clearly there is. I am arguing that the naming of God in terms of this relation to creatures is absent from the Hebrew Bible. I also doubt that any writer of the Hebrew Bible entertained the ideas associated with omnipotence in later philosophical theology. And finally, both Jesus and Paul reinterpreted divine power in the light of divine love.
If I am correct in my reading of the Bible, then the revisions required by the renewal of the Hermetic model support the recovery of primary biblical themes, especially those of the New Testament. There is no biblical reason to resist this revision.
Our topic is science and theology. I have indicated that a change from thinking of nature as matter to thinking of it in organic terms will be beneficial to both science and theology. The remaining question is what effect it will have on the relation between the two.
Especially since Kant, the relation has been one of leaving each other alone. Recent conversations encouraged by the Templeton Foundation lead to interactions based on mutual respect of existing ways of thought in each field. I have proposed that still better would be revision of both.
Such revision would not lead to the disappearance of differences. But it would encourage both scientists and theologians to propose ideas to each other. The Templeton programs have gone some distance toward encouraging science to explore issues important to theologians and thus promoting better thinking in those fields. From my perspective as a revisionist, I support that. But I am equally interested in a new openness among scientists to explore suggestions coming from the side of theology.
For example, Templeton funds have established an Institute for Research on Unlimited Love. The idea, as I understand it, is that scientific research on the phenomenon of love will improve the work of theologians. However, I would like to see equal interest in developing this research in a way that would influence scientific hypotheses. For example, if we learn more about altruism among humans, we should also be able at some generalized level to understand relations among other animals better. I suspect that this is already happening, but my interest is in making this purpose explicit. If both scientists and theologians are informed by the same research about love, the relation of the two communities will overlap and become more mutually supportive.
The main issue here is whether scientists will be open to more consideration of the subjective side of the world with which they deal. This was not possible as long as the materialistic metaphysics reigned. Matter has no inwardness or subjectivity. It exists only for others. But the Hermetic model understands that every actual occasion is something for itself as well as something for others. If scientists allow themselves to adopt this perspective, they will be open to what we have learned about subjects, including what theologians have learned.
Let me offer an example of the kind of thing I have in mind. Charles Hartshorne, a philosopher of religion who worked with the model I am proposing, was also an ornithologist. He believed that at a highly generalized level one could find identities between the structure of the experience of birds and the structure of human experience. He was quite convinced that one reason for human singing is that people enjoy singing. This led him to the hypothesis that some singing by birds is also because of enjoyment.
This ran against orthodox scientific assumptions. They posit that birds sing only for functional reasons such as attracting a mate or establishing territory. They point out that no doubt the ability to sing developed because it had survival value.
Hartshorne could grant that such capacities develop for such reasons. This would be true of human beings also. But such capacities as language and music, once developed, can have other uses. What is the evidence that these other uses do not occur among birds?
Hartshorne developed a secondary thesis. If birds sometimes sing because they enjoy it, then birds with more complex songs would sing for greater lengths of time and with shorter breaks between songs. He assumed that birds with very simple songs would soon lose interest and therefore enjoyment. He developed one of the world's best collections of birdsong and tested his hypothesis. The evidence supported his hypothesis.
The happy ending to this story is that Hartshorne was well received by ornithologists. Many of them believed that birds were subjects as well as objects of our experience and that their subjective life influenced their behavior. Their own scientific training discouraged exploration of the implications of such views, but they were pleased that an outsider did so. On the whole, Hartshorne was better received by ornithologists than by philosophers.
Their remains the question of God and science. Would or should belief in God affect scientific work? I am not sure. A science that recognizes that a fuller explanation of what happens requires attention to the subjective side of things could, and I believe generally would, leave openings for the view that God plays a role in that inward reality. For example, once we acknowledge that intelligent purpose plays a role in evolution, we are likely to be open to the possibility that God influences such purposes in some way. Theological reflection about how God works in the world can complement scientific reflection. But I am not sure that it would suggest new research projects. I leave that open to the time when we have traveled together longer and when the understanding of God's role in the world has nothing to do with violating otherwise well-established laws of nature.