This chapter surveys biological research on selected topics in human sexuality and reproduction. It begins with a brief introduction to the approaches of evolutionary biology and behavioural genetics. Subsequent sections survey insights offered by these disciplines into the evolutionary origins of sex, sexual selection theory and human mating strategies, sexual diversity (particularly same-sex attraction and sexual behaviour), and sexual dimorphism and intersex. Critical perspectives on these topics from biologists and others are discussed, and a concluding section outlines some issues of concern to theologians engaging with this material.
For the last forty years or so, the dialogue between religion and science has wrestled with questions of meaning and purpose about human life. We wonder: Who are we? Where are we going? And why are we here? This article emphasizes ethical concerns and feminist insights. Everyone is embedded in multiple stories: familial, cultural, social, political, economic, and religious. People tell stories that are evolutionary and religious in their epic scale. Much of Christian theology has also reinforced this anthropocentric view that the natural world is valued only as a backdrop for humans on centre stage. The science-and-religion dialogue does not exist apart from the embodiment of its participants. In the end, the dialogue will make a difference only when and if it begins from the experiences of those on the margins and edges.
Lisa L. Stenmark
This article proposes a model of the science-and-religion discourse (SRD) as a ‘public’ discourse, a model that incorporates the insights of feminist epistemologies. Feminists have rejected objectivism, and have instead proposed an understanding of knowledge as a relationship between the knower and that which is known – a relational epistemology – and between the knower and society: a ‘situated knower’. The second part discusses the implications of this perspective for the SRD. It argues that, to the extent that people seek agreement between science and religion, the objectivist notions of knowledge in the SRD may actually impede discourse, for these concepts are embedded in a world-view in which either science or religion must be subordinated to the other. It concludes by offering a model of discourse based on the thought of Hannah Arendt.
This chapter describes several areas of research in cognitive neuroscience that have potentially great relevance to the study of religious conversion. These areas include the nature of human brain development, neuroplasticity, temporal lobe epilepsy, visual processing, and meditation. The chapter also addresses the conceptual and methodological challenges facing anyone who tries to identify meaningful connections between brain functioning and religious conversion. The overall aim is to map out the most likely future paths that researchers will follow in seeking a better understanding of how changes in brain/mind functioning correlate with changes in a person’s religious and/or spiritual orientation.