Open AccessArticle
Islam and Democracy: Conflicts and Congruence
Religions 2017, 8(6), 104; doi:10.3390/rel8060104 (registering DOI) -
Abstract
Is authoritarianism intrinsic to Islam? Is Islam incompatible with democracy? These questions are frequently debated in the context of the study of the relationship between the Western and Islamic civilization. The debate has gained momentum since the last decade of the twentieth century,
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Is authoritarianism intrinsic to Islam? Is Islam incompatible with democracy? These questions are frequently debated in the context of the study of the relationship between the Western and Islamic civilization. The debate has gained momentum since the last decade of the twentieth century, especially after the collapse of the former Soviet Union and the subsequent transition of socialist states in Eastern Europe and other authoritarian states in Asia and Latin America to democracy. The publication of The Clash of Civilizations by American scholar Samuel Huntington, in which he presented a controversial argument about a cultural divide and clash between the Islamic world and the West, pushed the debate even further. Apart from Muslim intellectuals, Western academics have spent a significant amount of time on these questions, with a multitude of articles and volumes examining the compatibility of Islam and democracy. In this paper, we will examine Islam’s relationship with democracy from normative and philosophical viewpoints, examining how the established values and principles of Islam as reflected in the Qur’anic and prophetic traditions correspond to Western democratic norms and practices. In order to obtain a profound understanding of this subject, we have delved into, through content analysis, the thoughts of several early modernist Islamic scholars who have had tremendous impact on contemporary Islamic revivalist movements throughout the world, and interviewed a number of contemporary Islamic thinkers in Bangladesh. Full article
Open AccessConference Report
Art Images in Holistic Nursing Education
Religions 2017, 8(6), 103; doi:10.3390/rel8060103 (registering DOI) -
Abstract
Background: Nursing research has concentrated on empirical knowing with little focus on aesthetic knowing. Evidence from the literature suggests that using visual art in nursing education enhances both clinical observation skills and interpersonal skills. The purpose of this review was to explore how
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Background: Nursing research has concentrated on empirical knowing with little focus on aesthetic knowing. Evidence from the literature suggests that using visual art in nursing education enhances both clinical observation skills and interpersonal skills. The purpose of this review was to explore how visual art has been used in baccalaureate nursing education. Methods: Of 712 records, 13 studies met the criteria of art, nursing and education among baccalaureate nursing students published in English. Results: Three quantitative studies demonstrated statistical significance between nursing students who participated in arts-based learning compared to nursing students who received traditional learning. Findings included improved recall, increased critical thinking and enhanced emotional investment. Themes identified in 10 qualitative studies included spirituality as role enhancement, empathy, and creativity. Conclusion: Visual arts-based learning in pre-licensure curriculum complements traditional content. It supports spirituality as role enhancement in nurse training. Visual art has been successfully used to enhance both critical thinking and interpersonal relations. Nursing students may experience a greater intra-connectedness that results in better inter-connectedness with patients and colleagues. Incorporating visual arts into pre-licensure curriculums is necessary to nurture holistic nursing practice. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Rethinking Neo-Vedānta: Swami Vivekananda and the Selective Historiography of Advaita Vedānta1
Religions 2017, 8(6), 101; doi:10.3390/rel8060101 -
Abstract
This paper problematizes the prevalent model of studying the “Neo-Vedānta” of Swami Vivekananda (1863–1902) principally in terms of an influx of Western ideas and nationalism. In particular, I demonstrate how scholarly constructions of “Neo-Vedānta” consistently appeal to a high culture, staticized understanding of
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This paper problematizes the prevalent model of studying the “Neo-Vedānta” of Swami Vivekananda (1863–1902) principally in terms of an influx of Western ideas and nationalism. In particular, I demonstrate how scholarly constructions of “Neo-Vedānta” consistently appeal to a high culture, staticized understanding of “traditional” Advaita Vedānta as the alterity for locating Vivekananda’s “neo” or new teachings. In doing so, such studies ignore the diverse medieval and early modern developments in advaitic and Advaita Vedāntic traditions which were well-known to Vivekananda and other “Neo-Vedāntins”. Redressing this discursive imbalance, I propose that close attention to the way in which Swami Vivekananda drew from Indic texts opens up a wider frame for understanding the swami and the genealogy of his cosmopolitan theology. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Economic Inequality and the New School of American Economics
Religions 2017, 8(6), 99; doi:10.3390/rel8060099 -
Abstract
This essay analyzes economic inequality in the Gilded Age, roughly from 1865 to 1900. It focuses specifically on a group of economists who identified working-class consumption as an economic stimulus, and accordingly advocated an increase in wages to bring this about. It is
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This essay analyzes economic inequality in the Gilded Age, roughly from 1865 to 1900. It focuses specifically on a group of economists who identified working-class consumption as an economic stimulus, and accordingly advocated an increase in wages to bring this about. It is structured in three sections: first, it demonstrates how industrialization in the late-nineteenth century sparked social tensions, convincing observers that there was a crisis of inequality; second, it explains how these tensions produced a “New School” of economics who sought to alleviate these issues by changing economic doctrine; it concludes by noting how this New School exerted an influence on public policy in the Progressive Era. In their conception, economics should be redesigned to promote a more equal distribution of wealth. Therefore, higher wages would stimulate working-class consumption, which would stabilize the economy and overall alleviate class conflict. This story offers a unique way to view the development of consumerism and social reform in American history. Full article
Open AccessEditorial
Monstrosities: Religion, Identity and Belief
Religions 2017, 8(6), 102; doi:10.3390/rel8060102 -
Open AccessArticle
The Limits of Machine Ethics
Religions 2017, 8(5), 100; doi:10.3390/rel8050100 -
Abstract
Machine Ethics has established itself as a new discipline that studies how to endow autonomous devices with ethical behavior. This paper provides a general framework for classifying the different approaches that are currently being explored in the field of machine ethics and introduces
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Machine Ethics has established itself as a new discipline that studies how to endow autonomous devices with ethical behavior. This paper provides a general framework for classifying the different approaches that are currently being explored in the field of machine ethics and introduces considerations that are missing from the current debate. In particular, law-based codes implemented as external filters for action—which we have named filtered decision making—are proposed as the basis for future developments. The emergence of values as guides for action is discussed, and personal language –together with subjectivity- are indicated as necessary conditions for this development. Last, utilitarian approaches are studied and the importance of objective expression as a requisite for their implementation is stressed. Only values expressed by the programmer in a public language—that is, separate of subjective considerations—can be evolved in a learning machine, therefore establishing the limits of present-day machine ethics. Full article
Open AccessArticle
After Onto-Theology: What Lies beyond the ‘End of Everything’
Religions 2017, 8(5), 98; doi:10.3390/rel8050098 -
Abstract
This article takes up the onto-theological critique of metaphysics and questions whether onto-theology is not something to evade or overcome, but is inevitable. Consequently, it furthers the exploration of onto-theology by asking, if it is inevitable, then what comes after onto-theology? For the
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This article takes up the onto-theological critique of metaphysics and questions whether onto-theology is not something to evade or overcome, but is inevitable. Consequently, it furthers the exploration of onto-theology by asking, if it is inevitable, then what comes after onto-theology? For the past half-century, onto-theology has been a central concern for philosophy, particularly in phenomenology where one sees a theological turn in order to understand and incorporate what might be beyond, or within, consciousness that does not readily appear to the self. In this turn, one often sees philosophers (and theologians) attempt to craft a post-metaphysical understanding. Resultantly, many of these philosophers herald what I call the ‘end of everything,’ often due to their onto-theological character: from the ‘end’ of philosophy of religion, to the ‘end’ of metaphysics, to the ‘end’ of theology. However, when investigating their findings, one often sees these concepts arise from the grave, perhaps showing that some onto-theological construction is inevitable. This paper proceeds by first giving a brief overview of the philosophers Jean-Luc Nancy, Richard Kearney, John Caputo, and Merold Westphal to propose how onto-theology is still an issue for their philosophies by revealing a necessary link between ontology and empirical reality. It then builds off of this proposal through the work of Joeri Schrijvers to show what might lie ahead of philosophy (and philosophy of religion in particular), arguing that if onto-theology is inevitable then philosophy should turn further into theology to explore how theology deals with this inevitability on an empirical basis. Basically, since theology always already accepts being in default (through concepts like original sin), then how does it help believers cope with this inevitability and how does it focus upon the empirical reality of this ontological gesture. Finally, this paper investigates the work of Colby Dickinson in order to solidify this finding into a programmatic, philosophical framework. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Resurrection of the Body and Cryonics
Religions 2017, 8(5), 96; doi:10.3390/rel8050096 -
Abstract
The Christian doctrine of resurrection of the body is employed to interpret the cryonics program of preserving legally dead people with the plan to restore them when future medicine can effectively address the cause of death. Cryonics is not accepted by mainstream science,
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The Christian doctrine of resurrection of the body is employed to interpret the cryonics program of preserving legally dead people with the plan to restore them when future medicine can effectively address the cause of death. Cryonics is not accepted by mainstream science, and even if the vision is never realized, it is worth the effort to use it as a thought experiment to test the capability of the Christian theological system to address this issue in the unfolding new world of human enhancement. Drawing on the apostle Paul, whose view was based in the Jewish notion of psychosomatic unity, Christian resurrection includes emphases on physicality, radical transformation, and continuity of personal identity. Successful cryonics scenarios can include restoring a person to more or less the same life they had before or, more likely, utilize robotics, tissue regeneration, and other future advances in human enhancement technology to restore one to an enhanced state. Christian resurrection and the more likely cryonics scenario both entail physicality, radical transformation, and continuity of personal identity and, as such, can be understood to be technological expressions of Christian resurrection. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Growing Economic Inequality and Its (Partially) Political Roots
Religions 2017, 8(5), 97; doi:10.3390/rel8050097 -
Abstract
Growing economic inequality fosters inequality in the political processes of American democracy. Since the 1970’s inequalities in earnings and wealth have increased dramatically in the United States creating a higher level of inequality in disposable income than in other developed democracies. The United
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Growing economic inequality fosters inequality in the political processes of American democracy. Since the 1970’s inequalities in earnings and wealth have increased dramatically in the United States creating a higher level of inequality in disposable income than in other developed democracies. The United States also lags behind other rich nations in the way it provides for those at the bottom of the income distribution, and there is no evidence that the opportunities for success promised by the American Dream compensate for inequality in America. Technological and economic developments are significant causes of this growing economic inequality. The role of politics is more controversial, but government policy influences the distribution of income and education by the way it determines government benefits, taxes and the way markets function. For a number of reasons—including, most importantly, the relationship between education and income and the ability of the affluent to make large campaign donations—those who are economically well-off speak more loudly in politics. They are more likely to engage in most forms of individual political participation—not only ones that involve using cash but also ones that cost nothing except time. Moreover, when it comes to political voice through organizations, a professionalized domain dominated by hired experts in which the volume of political voice can be altered to reflect available economic resources, affluent interests are more likely to be organized and active. This essay considers the growing economic inequalities that form an important part of the backdrop for unequal political voice. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Knocking on a Saint’s Door, or a Quest for Holiness in a Post-Secular Society
Religions 2017, 8(5), 87; doi:10.3390/rel8050087 -
Abstract
The article examines Successors (Nasledniki, 2015) directed by Vladimir Khotinenko, illustrating a recent trend in the Russian film-making industry, namely, a rising interest in religious topics. While the Orthodox faith is widely seen by Russian political leaders as a basic aspect
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The article examines Successors (Nasledniki, 2015) directed by Vladimir Khotinenko, illustrating a recent trend in the Russian film-making industry, namely, a rising interest in religious topics. While the Orthodox faith is widely seen by Russian political leaders as a basic aspect of national identity, the Church is also becoming more and more visible in the life of society, with religious holidays and events now receiving a higher profile in the public domain. The article analyzes how these trends shape the public consciousness and are reflected in the cinema production of recent years. Successors, a one location movie focusing on the debate over the role of Saint Sergius of Radonezh in the history of Russia, demonstrates that this 14th-century monk is very much present in the lives and minds of people 700 years later. In turn, this suggests that, under a layer of cynicism and consumerism, there is a growing hunger for holiness in a post-secular society. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Service and Pro-Existence in the Thought of the Romanian Theologian Dumitru Staniloae: A Path for the Orthodox Church Facing the Challenges of Globalization
Religions 2017, 8(5), 95; doi:10.3390/rel8050095 -
Abstract
“Pro-existence” is a concept developed by 20th century western Christian theologians to describe the service of the Church facing contemporary challenges. The leading Romanian theologian Dumitru Staniloae (1903–1993) took this further by expressing his Orthodox understanding of the relationship between service and pro-existence.
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“Pro-existence” is a concept developed by 20th century western Christian theologians to describe the service of the Church facing contemporary challenges. The leading Romanian theologian Dumitru Staniloae (1903–1993) took this further by expressing his Orthodox understanding of the relationship between service and pro-existence. The article explores Staniloae’s call for Orthodox Christians to serve not only people from other denominations, but those from other religions, as well as atheists. He depicted human pro-existence as an “existential impetus” towards serving the one in need, an impetus that the Orthodox Church should more visibly exercise. In a gentle, non-critical approach, Staniloae argues that the Orthodox Churches concentrated on liturgical service to God, while leaving service to people underdeveloped. The path ahead for the Orthodox Church will be the development of a harmonious multi-level understanding of pro-existence to hear and respond, as a “Serving” Church, to the needs of any human being. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Does Ideological Education in China Suppress Trust in Religion and Foster Trust in Government?
Religions 2017, 8(5), 94; doi:10.3390/rel8050094 -
Abstract
A major goal of ideological education in China is to promote loyalty to the party-state and to instill atheism among the people. How effective is this ideological education? This article examines the relationship between education and trust in government and trust in religion
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A major goal of ideological education in China is to promote loyalty to the party-state and to instill atheism among the people. How effective is this ideological education? This article examines the relationship between education and trust in government and trust in religion using data from the 2010 Chinese General Social Survey. We find that education is negatively associated with trust in government, while positively related to trust in religion. Our findings suggest that policies aimed at displacing religion in favor of the Communist ideology have largely failed to shape the public mindset; rather, the more educated, the more people tend to trust religion instead of the government. Full article
Open AccessEditorial
Religions Series: “Christian Nationalism in the United States”—Ebook Introduction
Religions 2017, 8(5), 93; doi:10.3390/rel8050093 -
Open AccessArticle
Mimesis or Metamorphosis? Eastern Orthodox Liturgical Practice and Its Philosophical Background
Religions 2017, 8(5), 92; doi:10.3390/rel8050092 -
Abstract
What does Eastern Orthodox liturgy do? Is it a mimetic remembrance of Christ’s acts or about a transformation of the believers who come to worship? This paper explores the larger philosophical worldview within which patristic liturgy emerged in order to negotiate this tension
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What does Eastern Orthodox liturgy do? Is it a mimetic remembrance of Christ’s acts or about a transformation of the believers who come to worship? This paper explores the larger philosophical worldview within which patristic liturgy emerged in order to negotiate this tension between mimetic and transformative aspects of liturgical practice. It suggests that ancient philosophical conceptions of the cosmos and of soul and body underlie and can hence elucidate what Byzantine liturgy does. Liturgy tries to unify soul and body, heaven and earth, in a particular way. Liturgy seeks to transform the human person and the cosmos in such a manner that they come to image and match each other. The introduction to the paper briefly examines some contemporary accounts to show the stakes of the question about what liturgy “does” and the role mimesis and metamorphosis play in this debate. The main part of the paper explores the shared philosophical heritage regarding imitation and transformation, inner and outer, heavenly and earthly in order to understand more fully the background for how liturgy negotiates these dimensions. The conclusion to the paper draws out the implications of this patristic heritage for making sense of what contemporary liturgy does in a broader sense. Full article
Open AccessEssay
“And Thou, all-Shaking Thunder…”A Theological Notation to Lines 1–38 of King Lear, Act III, Scene II
Religions 2017, 8(5), 91; doi:10.3390/rel8050091 -
Abstract
In the dramas of Shakespeare, the madman and the fool speak in prose; wisdom and sanity are properly poeticised. King Lear is no exception: I go some way in providing a theological notation to a crucial moment of Lear’s descent into madness, the
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In the dramas of Shakespeare, the madman and the fool speak in prose; wisdom and sanity are properly poeticised. King Lear is no exception: I go some way in providing a theological notation to a crucial moment of Lear’s descent into madness, the fracturing of his blank verse into prose. Is the storm on the heath a representation of the turmoil of his mind? Or is it a theophany, the manifestation of divine displeasure at human foolishness? Finding between the verse and the prose the theological tradition of Christianity will allow us to negotiate this question and to understand a little more clearly the peculiar wisdom of poetry for Christianity. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Big Data, Ethics and Religion: New Questions from a New Science
Religions 2017, 8(5), 88; doi:10.3390/rel8050088 -
Abstract
Hopes, fears, and ethical concerns relating to technology are as old as technology itself. When considering the increase in the power of computers, and their ever-more widespread use over recent decades, concerns have been raised about the social impact of computers and about
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Hopes, fears, and ethical concerns relating to technology are as old as technology itself. When considering the increase in the power of computers, and their ever-more widespread use over recent decades, concerns have been raised about the social impact of computers and about practical issues arising from their use: the manner in which data is harvested, the preservation of confidentiality where people’s personal information is concerned, the security of systems in which such data is stored, and so on. With the arrival of “big data” new ethical concerns surrounding computer-based technology arise—concerns connected not only with social issues, and with the generation of data and its security, but also with its interpretation by data scientists, and with the burgeoning trade in personal data. The first aim of this paper is to introduce some of these ethical issues, and the second is to suggest some possible ways in which they might be addressed. The latter includes some explorations of the ways in which insights from religious and theological perspectives might be valuable. It is urged that theology and data science might engage in mutually-beneficial dialogue. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Willful Control and Controlling the Will: Technology and Being Human
Religions 2017, 8(5), 90; doi:10.3390/rel8050090 -
Abstract
One purported benefit of technology is that it gives humans greater control over how they live their lives. Various technologies are used to protect humans from what are perceived to be the capricious whims of indifferent natural forces. Additionally, technology is used to
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One purported benefit of technology is that it gives humans greater control over how they live their lives. Various technologies are used to protect humans from what are perceived to be the capricious whims of indifferent natural forces. Additionally, technology is used to create circumstances and opportunities that are believed to be preferable because they are more subject to human control. In large measure, the lives of late moderns are effectively constructed and asserted as artifacts of what they will themselves to be. This control is seen prominently at the beginning and end of life. Technology is employed to overcome infertility, prevent illness, disability, and undesirable traits, to select desirable traits and increasingly enhance them. At the end of life, late moderns have a far greater range of options at their disposal than past generations: they can choose to delay death, control pain, or end their lives at the time and with the means of their choosing. The greater control that technology offers helps humans to survive and even flourish, but it comes at a price. One such cost is that it tends to reduce humans to being little more than a will confined within a body. The body is thereby effectively perceived to be an impediment to the will that should be overcome. Is this troubling? Yes. I argue that the purported control technology offers often serves as a distraction or blind spot that may prevent humans from understanding and consenting to their good. In making this argument I draw upon the Christian doctrine of the incarnation as a way of disclosing the creaturely good of finitude against which the will should conform rather than attempting to overcome. I also draw upon Iris Murdoch’s and Simone Weil’s concept of “unselfing” as a way of conforming the will with this good. I revisit issues related to the beginning and end of life to draw-out some of the implications of my argument. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Social Services, Social Justice, and Social Innovations: Lessons for Addressing Income Inequality
Religions 2017, 8(5), 89; doi:10.3390/rel8050089 -
Abstract
This paper first explores three lessons about income inequality that have emerged in cross-disciplinary study. Second, it relates those lessons to ethical practices in social work and social services, and other ethics of social justice. Third, it briefly examines sample innovations in social
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This paper first explores three lessons about income inequality that have emerged in cross-disciplinary study. Second, it relates those lessons to ethical practices in social work and social services, and other ethics of social justice. Third, it briefly examines sample innovations in social services that hold promise for addressing the three lessons of the income inequality described. Finally, the paper offers reflections on a potential path forward in a quest to mitigate the harm of persistent income inequality and create more equitable systems for those experiencing it. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Awe and Artifacts: Religious and Scientific Endeavor
Religions 2017, 8(5), 85; doi:10.3390/rel8050085 -
Abstract
The article takes as its point of departure the reflections of Henry Adams and Jacques Ellul on the possible gradual replacement of objects used in religious worship with objects used in technological worship, and advances the hypothesis that such a substitution is unlikely.
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The article takes as its point of departure the reflections of Henry Adams and Jacques Ellul on the possible gradual replacement of objects used in religious worship with objects used in technological worship, and advances the hypothesis that such a substitution is unlikely. Using information from psychology, history of religions, and history of science, the perspective proposed is that of a parallel historical analogous development of both religious and scientific attitudes of awe by the use of artifacts carrying two functions: firstly, to coagulate social participation around questions dealing with humanity’s destiny and interpersonal relationships across communities, and secondly to offer cultural coherence through a communal sense of social stability, comfort, and security. I argue that, though animated by attitudes of awe (“awefull”), both leading scientists and religious founders have encountered the difficulty in representing and introducing this awe to the large public via “awesome” artifacts. The failure to represent coherently the initial awe via artifacts may give rise to “anomalous awefullness”: intolerance, persecutions, global conflicts. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Moral Bioenhancement through An Intersectional Theo-Ethical Lens: Refocusing on Divine Image-Bearing and Interdependence
Religions 2017, 8(5), 84; doi:10.3390/rel8050084 -
Abstract
This article begins with a brief interrogation of the meanings of moral and virtue. Next, an intersectional Christian theo-ethical lens focusing on humans as divine image-bearers is used to generate critical insights regarding the influence of extreme individualism on approaches to moral bioenhancement.
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This article begins with a brief interrogation of the meanings of moral and virtue. Next, an intersectional Christian theo-ethical lens focusing on humans as divine image-bearers is used to generate critical insights regarding the influence of extreme individualism on approaches to moral bioenhancement. This alternative lens emphasizes the interdependence of life, and the contextual character of moral dispositions. The questions of what it means to be creatures bearing the imago dei and making moral choices, is at the center of this exploration. The author concludes that while there may be justifiable exceptions, for now moral bioenhancements are unwarranted. Moral improvement will be better achieved through more effective educational strategies, and possibly spiritual enhancements, that are geared toward appreciation for the interdependence of all life. Full article