Re: ORIGINS Re: Swan song -cleaner version

James Mahaffy (
Sat, 5 Oct 1996 10:49:59 -0500 (CDT)

Folks, (I moved to a different system to get the url of Keith's home
page and sent off a message with a bunch of headers and footers).

John Miller said:

> 3. ASA and this list exhibit an environment which is uncomfortable to the
> Phil Johnson crowd (as well as Dean Ohlman). Words to categorize fairly the
> 'Brand X' views fail me here, as I don't wish to misconstrue the issues on
> origins. I can understand why the YEC crowd does not hang out here in the
> kingdom of TE, for there is no basis for a dialogue with their underlying
> assumptions. But I've never understood (but can accept) why the
> intermediate views, i.e., Johnson et al, never appear.
> Is there an unstated but justifiable boundary that excludes those views,
> other than:
> a. Phil is a lawyer, not a scientist
> b. If 'he' or 'they' are right than TE loses out in the struggle for
> ascendancy of ideas.
> I'm grateful that truth is not established by:
> Tradition
> Majority vote
> Accumulating lists of arguments
> Debates that put down one's opponents
> Astounding proclamations to the media
> Boundaries that favor only one's friends
> A true seeker of truth should not be put off by contrary views, for that
> provides a test of validity, even though in some instances it is difficult
> to impossible to carry on a dialogue with those who are just looking for a
> fight.

Let me first say that not all of us ASA members are TE's or YEK's. As
someone who falls into that category, let me suggest that part of the
problem is that many evangelicals are YEK's and in my analysis that
movement is to a large extent a lay movement (even if it has folks like
Gish or K. Wise with good credentials). The biggest group of
evangelicals who are scientists are probably some form of TE - or at least
they are vocal. We are intimidating to lay folks just because we are
scientists - let alone the way we sometimes come off to those layfolks that
haven't studied our area.

To answer the other part of John's question - some of those who can
easily handle scientists like Phil Johnson, may not be here - because
they are too busy fight the battle against secular world and life view
on the larger academic campuses. Phil Johnson once gave a post on
another forum in which he found it sad that he was given a much more
hostile reception by scientists when he talked at Christian campuses
than non Christian. They were too interested interested in proving his
position wrong than fight the inroads of secular evolutionary (most
evolutionist on large campuses are not TE's) world and life view on
secular campuses. Let me hasten to add (as someone that teaches at a
small Christian college) that folks who are visibly Christian in a big secular
campus are very important to students regardless if they are TE, YEK or
other. In that regard let me suggest that you take a look at the home
page of Keith Miller at Kansas. It is a good witness. See:
Is he your relation John?

If you want to see an interesting history of change in a forum look at
the history of the evolution list. This originated as a private list
that Phil ran off his Berkeley computer. In those early days (one
philosopher invited me in) I found the discussion VERY stimulating. They
then invited in some TE's who were interested in the discussion and as the
list became open it unfortunately became dominated by some of these
chaps. Part of the degrading of the list (a lot just too much noise)
was because of overposting by a few individuals - yet the list did
change its character. I suspect some of the original folks are still on
the list, but posts from non TE's are probably a minority. I had to drop
that list because of the volume of posts by a few individuals.

Part of what you are running into is what T. Kuhn said long ago. There
is an established paradigm that is accepted not necessarily because it
is the best, but because it is accepted and among ASA it might be TE.
In other words positions of a quite different paradigm are less apt to be
accepted as right just because they are different. And if those who
propose them are "ignorant layman" (that may not be fair - but there is
a bit too much of that attitude even among us), it is even easier to
discount that ideas as pseudoscience (which of course is much more
prevalent in a lay community - think of who reads Prevention magazine).

Anyway - that is my two cents worth. I think I will copy this to my
paleo class. You are welcome to add them to any response. While I made
them subscribe to Paleonet, I did not force them to subscribe to this
list - but I do try and make them aware of ways folks have of
communicating electronically.

James F. Mahaffy                   e-mail:
Biology Department                 phone: 712 722-6279
Dordt College                      FAX 712 722-1198
Sioux Center, Iowa 51250