Joseph Carson (73530.2350@CompuServe.COM)
12 Dec 96 20:25:01 EST

Sir, let me write a personal reply to your comments on the ASME and their
rejection of a ASA SIG. While I think I understand why you wish to form
such a group and while I have no fundamental disagreement, I must confess
to a queasy feeling about this and perhaps my comments will prompt you
towards an understanding of such concerns.

First, an introduction. I, too, am a mechanical engineer by education
(undergrad), but am a phyiscal metallurgist by graduate training and
profession. My professional society is ASM. And, with a smile, I am by no
means a youngster in the profession - this year it is 20 years since I've
started working. My experience is in the commercial rather than
governmental end of things, and I have been lucky to never have faced the
ethical concerns that you have had to face in your life.

Simply stated, my dis-ease with your suggestion is that what it appears to
be saying is that only Christians have a right to discuss ethics within the
engineering professions - that we claim some special morality that is not
available to those from other faiths. I would whole-heartedly agree with a
SIG to deal with ethics and but my problem is the implication that only the
ethics of a Christian are valid and worthy of the discussion.

As a materials engineer, I'm an empiricist - we are not particularly
mathematical people - we are experimenters. The empirical evidence before
me is that there are fine and honorable people, colleagues with whom I have
trusted my professional reputation and, to some extent in the lab, my life,
who are not Christian - they are Muslim or Hindu or atheist. I have also
have colleagues who are Christians who do not apply what I've been taught
are Christian pricinciples of honesty and faithfulness in their
professional lives - folks who will claim credit for the results of others
work or falsify results to suit management's ideas. It is difficult for me
to believe, on the evidence, that Christians have some special claim on
morality and ethics. That Christ is perfect and defines morality I truely
believe, but it seems boastful and proud to claim some special status as
Christians - rather it would seem our faith imposes on us a responsbility
to work within the world - to be as you've said, salt and leaven. And I do
not see how this can be done within the context of a Christian SIG of a
professional society. Better it would seem to keep ASA as a society that
brings to together Christians of different technical backgrounds, but to
have a Professional Ethics SIG within a professional society.

As a Christian I have been taught that the Good Lord is active in the world
- in all our lives, whether we know it or not, that he believes in us,
whether or not we choose to believe in him. From that standpoint, again
the call for a Christians only group seems disconnected from a faith that
stresses the actions of God in the world. It would seem to me to be more
in tune with the call to work for the glory of God to work within an
organization, to lead by example and to improve the ethical standards of
our profession as a whole, rather than to simply write off the
non-Christian members of our profession as beyond redemption and unworthy
of association.

Admittedly I will confess a bias towards organizations that work to bring
people together rather than divide them. One of the glories of engineering
profession to me is that we encompass such a diversity of backgrounds, but
are bound together by a way of thinking, a way of looking at the world,a
way of working towards solutions to problems rather then waiting for
someone else to do the work. Could we not, as people who have been gifted
by the Good Lord - and again, I cannot as a Christian say that the talents
and gifts of my non-Christian colleagues do not come from God, for from
where else would they come? - work together to improve the ethical basis of
our mutual profession - to encourage ethical actions in the corporate
world? Can we not share with our non-Christian colleagues a concern for
ethical actions, even if the faiths that defines those ethics differ? I am
not asking for anyone to accept non-Christian faiths as equally valid, but
to accept that God works in all our lives, Christian and non-Christian
alike, and that to choose to only work with Christians denies His actions
in much of the world and its people. Could we not do more to change the
corporate world by working together than by fragmenting as a Christian SIG,
a Muslim SIG, and Druid SIG, etc.?

Sorry to be so long winded. I have to applaud your actions and your
thoughtfulness in this matter. It is rare to find people who live their
faith in the workplace. But I would ask you to consider whether or not
seperating ourselves in our own special interest group serves to give
Christians a chance to be salt and leaven or does it only serve to isolate
Christians further from the world we are called to serve?

Janet Rice


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