Threat to ASA (Was Re: NTSE Note #3)

John W. Burgeson (
Tue, 25 Feb 1997 12:32:21 -0500

(forwarded also to the reflector)

Murphy writes: "This reference to the ASA is significant & ominous.
seems to be saying that it will soon succumb completely to his notions.
I can only hope he is as wrong about it as he is about everything else."

What Phil said was his prediction of what will happen. "Succomb"
is a very imprecise word (IMO) to use. And his prediction is not at all
about the demise of evolution -- not even the demise of Darwinism --
only about the opening of the definition of science to allow
non-natural hypotheses to be investigated. That is a much
more modest prediction than what you appear to have read into my
original post; I apologize for being unclear.

>>They realize that, while important aspects of evolution & its
with theology remain to be worked out, evolution - including natural
selection as at least a major component - is here to stay.>>

See the above. This was not the issue at this conference.

>>If ASA wants to follow Johnson into the fever swamps, it will be
regrettable. >>

Talk about your "persuasive definitions! Oh my!

>>Many people engaged in science-theology dialogue
already think that ASA is an obscurantist organization. I have, in the
past, tried to convince them that that is not the case, but the
favorable reactions of some members to Johnson makes me wonder.>>

As I said elsewhere, I hold no brief for Johnson; he can defend his views
well without my help. As a person trained (physics) in the "methodological
naturalism is a presupposition to do science" tradition, I don't
buy his thesis. But I see the debate as a real and valid one; if the
view prevails (I told him I thought that, if it ever did, it would not
be for many decades), then it will be because it should prevail; the
debates will
have happened and enough people will be persuaded.

I do object to the position taken by some that the debate ought not take
place because the "rule is set." Apparently, everyone at the NTSE
also agree with me here -- even those who thought the "rule is set" (and
there were
quite a few there who did) thought the debate was important to have.