Remembering an old friend, Ralph Wendell Burhoe

1980 Templeton Award Winner

American Academy of Arts and Sciences, first full-time executive director
Ralph Wendell Burhoe, Zygon’s founding editor: An introduction, W. B. Drees, 2014
• Books: Science and Human Values in the 21st Century, Westminster Press, 1971
Center for Advanced Study in Religion and Science (CASIRAS)
Institute on Religion in an Age of Science
Meadville Lombard Theological School
Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science

Saturday, 29 August 2020: Looking back
by Bruce E. Camber

Ralph Burhoe and I met several times between 1975 and 1980.

I had become a subscriber of Zygon in 1972 because there was an article in Zygon (September 1972 Vol. 7 Number 3) about friends, Jay Forrester (MIT) and his work with Dennis Meadows on issues around the limits to growth. That was my introduction to both Ralph Burhoe and Zygon.

In that same issue, Ralph Burhoe had an article, Evolving Cybernetic Machinery and Human Values. He had been actively exploring the human-machine relation as well as brain-mind questions. Each became penultimate issues about the ultimate, and Ralph was deeply involved.  It wasn’t long before we were in communication. He warmly and graciously gave me of his time.

To attempt to catch up with his far-reaching studies, I made my way over to get informally involved with Marvin Minsky and Seymour Papert of MIT. It was a grand time for new explorations and Zygon was right there among just a few other publications to introduce us to thought-leaders within the foundations of physics and theology.

In one of Ralph’s visits back to Boston, we discussed the future of the publication, Zygon. Though just a doctoral student, I advocated that the Boston University Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, the Physics Department, and the School of Theology all work together to bring Zygon to BU from the University of Chicago. Although an early fan of the work of Robert M. Hutchins, I was eager to compete to bring Zygon to Boston. Ralph was yearning to get back to his native New England, particularly somewhere near Cambridge, Boston, and his beloved Star Island (just off the coast from Portsmouth, New Hampshire). But, once the future of Zygon was opened to general discussion, Rollins College jumped into the competition and ultimately won the day. I couldn’t believe it!

But even more, I couldn’t believe it when I heard that Ralph won “the Templeton.” To say the least, I was delighted and excited: The Templeton Award!

Emails, Tweets & More

Saturday, 29 August 2020

Notes to Arthur C. Petersen, the editor of Zygon and Edwin (Ted) C. Laurenson, former president of the Institute on Religion in an Age of Science.

Sunday, 30 August 2020

Notes to Zainal Abidin Bagir of Universitas Gadjah Mada (Yogyakarta, Indonesia), Willem B. Drees of Tiburg University in the Netherlands, Frans de Waal of Emory University, Wesley J. Wildman of  Boston University, and Amos Yong of  Fuller Theological Seminary, Graduate School

Ralph Wendell Burhoe

Thursday, 3 September 2020


Dear Prof. Dr. Claudia Vanney:

I have been visiting on your website and admire your work from afar. You are focusing on the most important issues of our time. So let me say, “Congratulations.”

Long ago (1972-1980) I got to know Ralph Burhoe and Zygon and I must say that I am delighted to find such authorities like yourself on Zygon’s Editorial Advisory Board. I have written a little summary of my memories of Ralph and others among the Templeton Prize winners over the years.

Today, the world needs a better understanding of the finite-infinite relation, and the very nature of space-and-time. In 2011 inadvertently, I picked up on my work on those efforts (as well as the EPR work that I started in 1972) when we followed Zeno (dividing by 2) down inside the tetrahedron and octahedron ending with the Planck base units in 112 steps. We then multiplied by 2 and went out to the current time in just 90 steps! Assuming Planck time is the starting point, we had a base-2, 202-step map of the universe. Then, the real questions began…

Let me wish you well with your work. Thank you.

Most sincerely,