Paul Arveson (
Mon, 10 Jun 96 11:33:39 EDT

I realize that many of you are exhausted after the Morton/Fischer debate, and
Morton has even decided to leave the list. We are being urged to move on to
another discussion, and that's good, but I feel that some lessons learned from
the past debate should not go unrecorded. So before the dust settles, I urge
others to offer their comments along this line.

To me, this debate illustrated the burden that is placed on the shoulders of
the concordist.

First, I will reiterate Morton's criticism (which he apparently levied at
the entire ASA), of a lack of up-to-date scholarship in science. The serious
consequence of this is that we may pass along as scientific facts things that
are no longer accepted as such, and thereby our credibility, and that of the
faith, may be questioned. Sensing this, the concordist has a responsibility to
the Church not to make any mistakes. But is this really feasible?

Secondly, not only must he or she have knowledge of the various fields of
natural history, but this knowledge must be kept up to date in all the pertinent
areas mentioned in Genesis. These days, there is so much data that generally
one has to specialize in a very narrow area in order to have expertise. Even to
understand enough to be able to read articles intelligently requires a lot of
expertise. Consider some of the fields they discussed: geology, hydrodynamics,
geophysics, meterology, zoology, botany, paleontology, paleoanthropology, logic,
linguistics, genetics, palynology.... How could anyone really keep up to date
in all these areas? Even Einstein was a specialist!

Thirdly, there is the burden of isolation experienced in this endeavor.
Morton noted his inability to find a publisher. The work is not accepted by
regular scientific journals, nor by religious journals. Concordists tend to be
"one man shows". There are so many possible ways to contruct a concordist
scenario, it is unlikely to find two of them who agree. Part of this problem is
related to the old story of the 5 blind men and the elephant. Wishing to have
concordance with the best modern science, the possible ways one can arrange the
pieces of the puzzle are very numerous. The only way to avoid this is to take
ICR's Procrustean approach; to pick only the pieces that fit one simple
interpretation, and reject the rest. (Recall that originally, Morris and Gish
were members of ASA). There are many "maverick" concordist ministries centered
on the expertise of one individual. They come and go.

Fourthly, there is the lack of support for this approach in the Church.
Many don't even see the problem these people are trying to deal with. Many
criticisms were levied against what was perceived as strident debate,
nitpicking, doubtful disputations, etc. It looks unspiritual, worldly and
Pharisaical. It may not be edifying to the hearers. Certainly I would say that
this is "not for everybody".

Personally, the debate was edifying for me and I learned a lot from it.
(But not always in the intended direction).

Paul Arveson, Research Physicist
(301) 227-3831 (W) (301) 227-1914 (FAX) (301) 816-9459 (H)
Code 724, NSWC, Bethesda, MD 20084