The Literature on Science and Religion
J. W. Haas, Jr.
From: Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith51.2 (June 1999): 71.
A recent correspondent has questioned the quality of the review process for PSCF. I agree that each of us; writers, reviewers, and editor could do better. The current explosion of writing on science and religion themes has created a problem of inadequate knowledge of the literatureóa literature which is not always amenable to the usual search approaches used by scientist authors. In examining articles in various science and religion magazines, it seems that writers often exclude quality papers in other journals. We can understand writers who quote only those who have the "received truth" but we should be no less forgiving to those who ignore or dismiss the literature out of hand.
As editor, I often remind prospective authors that they have not taken into account relevant articles in our journal let alone what has been said in Science and Christian Belief or Zygon. These journals are abstracted in Religious and Theological Abstracts and web sites for the journals increasingly provide article lists if it is not possible to consult the journals themselves. The ASA web site www.asa3.org offers a detailed keyword index for all but the most recent issues of PSCF and a list of subscribing libraries. An abstracting service that covers the entire range of the fieldóperiodicals and booksówould be of great value.
Material on science and Christianity in English (and important work being carried out in other languages) is found in many places. It takes a significant start-up period to embrace the literature before one can, with confidence, bring a fresh approach to more recent themes, let alone ideas which have been debated for 150 years.
The burden on reviewers is enhanced due to the multidisciplinary nature of many manuscripts. On occasion a scientist, theologian, and a philosopher are required to fully assess a manuscript. Thankfully, the letters to the editor section provides a useful venue for catching the errors that all of us have missed.