The Cosmic Breath

Spirit and Nature in the Christianity-Buddhism-Science Trialogue


Recent thinking in the interfaith dialogue and in the theology-science dialogue have taken a “pneumatological turn.” The Cosmic Breath explores this pneumatological theology as unfolded in the Christian-Buddhist dialogue alongside critical interaction with the theology-and-science conversation. As an attempt in comparative and constructive Christian philosophical theology, its central thesis is that a pneumatological approach to Buddhist traditions in further dialogue with modern science generates new philosophical resources that invigorate Christian thinking about the natural world and humanity’s place in it. The result is a transformation of the Buddhist-Christian dialogue from insights generated in the theology-and-science interface and a contribution to the religion-and-science dialogue from a comparative theological and philosophical perspective.
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Biographical Note

Amos Yong, Ph.D. (1998) in Systematic Theology, Boston University, is J. Rodman Williams Professor of Theology at Regent University School of Divinity in Virginia, USA, and the author and editor of over twenty-five volumes, including Pneumatology and the Christian-Buddhist Dialogue (Brill, forthcoming).

Review Quote

Winner of the 2015 Frederick J. Streng Award for Excellence in Buddhist-Christian Studies.

In this groundbreaking monograph Professor Amos Yong continues developing his ambitious project of constructive theology in an interfaith environment. Here Christian pneumatology and comparative theology are set in the context of a robust interdisciplinary conversation with natural sciences. Only few scholars possess the width of learning and depth of creative thinking to execute such a program. All subsequent investigations into Buddhist-Christian dialogue must consult and engage this proposal. At the same time, this project is a landmark effort in the rapidly growing interdisciplinary and interfaith investigation into the role of the Spirit in the world. - Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen,
Professor of Systematic Theology, Fuller Theological Seminary and Docent of Ecumenics, University of Helsinki, Finland

Whew! What an adventure in trialogue! The breadth, depth and scope of Amos Yong’s close readings in theological and biblical studies, the natural sciences and Buddhist traditions all converge in this truly masterful study. Yong’s wide-ranging yet careful engagement with a great host of religious, philosophical and scientific texts, always undertaken in lively conversation with his faithfully Pentecostal yet profoundly liberating pneumatology, is virtually mind-boggling. Inhale The Cosmic Breath and embark upon a richly rewarding, and profoundly educational, journey of the mind and the heart. - Michael Lodahl, Professor of Theology and World Religions, Point Loma Nazarene University

This book is a very valuable, stimulating read benefitting everyone who likes to be intellectually challenged and pushed outside the box of conventional thinking; especially those interested in interreligious dialogue will gain a lot from it.
Christopher Grundmann in Zygon

Table of contents

Preface ... xi

Chapter 1 – Introduction – Spirit, Science, and the Religions: Pneumatology and Philosophy of Nature in a Pluralistic World ... 1
1.1 Thinking about Nature: Methodological Issues in the Science-and-Religion Discussion ... 2
1.2 Considering the Religions: Interfaith Dialogue and the Buddhist-Christian Encounter ... 10
1.3 Starting with the Spirit: Pneumatology and the Christian-Buddhist-Science Trialogue ... 20

Part I – Pneuma: Divine Presence and Nature in the Theology and Science Dialogue

Chapter 2 – Spirit and Science: An Emerging Dialogue ... 37
2.1 Spirit and Science: What Kind of Relationship? ... 38
2.2 Spirit, Theology, and Science: Emerging Trajectories ... 44
2.3 Pneumatology and Field Theory ... 51

Chapter 3 – Spirit and Creation: Pneumatology, Genesis 1, and Modern Science ... 58
3.1 Spirit and the Creation Narrative ... 60
3.2 Spirit and Emergence ... 65
3.3 Spirit, Systems Theory, and Divine Activity ... 70

Chapter 4 – Spirit and Human Nature: The Breath of Life, Genesis 1-2, and the Neurosciences ... 80
4.1 Genesis and the Emergence of the Human ... 81
4.2 Mind, Body and the Neurosciences ... 85
4.3 Divine Presence and Contemporary Philosophical and Theological Anthropology ... 92

Part II – Shunyata: Nature and Science in Mahayana Buddhism

Chapter 5 – Buddhism and Contemporary Science ... 103
5.1 The Buddhist-Science Dialogue: An Overview ... 104
5.2 Mind and Life: Contemporary Tibetan Buddhism and Science ... 112
5.3 Emptiness, Science, and the Kyoto School ... 120

Chapter 6 – Shunyata: The Nature of the World in Mahayana Traditions ... 129
6.1 Madhyamaka and the Emergence of Shunyata ... 130
6.2 Huayen: Emptiness and Form ... 136
6.3 Basho and the Emptying “Field” in Contemporary Cosmology ... 144

Chapter 7 – Self and Becoming Human in Buddhism and Science ... 151
7.1 “Non-Self,” “True-Self,” and the Neurosciences ... 152
7.2 Buddhist Contemplation and the Science of Consciousness ... 159
7.3 Shunyata and the Fields of Human Nature ... 167

Part III – Pneuma and Shunyata: Nature, the Environment, and the Christian-Buddhist-Science Trialogue

Chapter 8 – Spirit, Nature, Humanity: A Trialogical Conversation ... 177
8.1 Pneuma and Shunyata: Science and Comparative Theology ... 178
8.2 Pneuma and Pratityasamutpada: On Cosmology and Philosophy of Nature ... 185
8.3 Pneuma and Anatman: On Human Being and Becoming ... 192

Chapter 9 – Spirit and Method: Science, Religion, and Comparative Theology ... 198
9.1 Interpreting the Human: Pneumato-christological Perspectives ... 200
9.2 Interpreting the Cosmos: Pneumato-theological Approaches ... 208
9.3 Method in Science and Religion: A Pneumatological Assist ... 217

Chapter 10 – Spirit and Environment: Toward a Christian Ecological Ethic “after” Buddhism ... 224
10.1 Pneumatological Theology and the Environment ... 225
10.2 Buddhist Self-Emptying and the Environment ... 229
10.3 Toward a Pneumato-ecological Ethic: Christian-Buddhist Convergences ... 234

Epilogue ... 242
Bibliography ... 247

Name Index ... 277
Subject Index ... 279


All faculty, researchers, and students in graduate level programs interested in Buddhist-Christian dialogue, comparative theology and philosophy, the theology and science interface, philosophical theology, and philosophy of the environment.


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