Re: Petition for James Dobson: comments

George Andrews Jr. (gandrews@as.wm.edu)
Tue, 16 Nov 1999 11:58:41 -0500

Ted Davis wrote:

> My comments on Wendy Holtcamp's draft statement are based not only on my
> general familiarity with various types of creationism and the deep concerns
> of those who hold such views, but also on two highly relevant experiences.
> First, in my current research project on Protestant modernism and science, I
> have become very familiar with one of the best-known such statements, that
> drafted by Nobel physicist Robert Millikan for the New York Times in 1923,
> and its immediate context (it happened just as Bryan was blasting scientists
> and esp theistic evolutionists for their supposedly anti-Christian views).
> Second, I wrote a statement on creation/evolution that was unanimously
> endorsed by all natural sciences faculty at Messiah, a statement intended
> for use by the administration in responding to queries from concerned
> parents.
>
> So, I can fully appreciate the difficulty of drafting an effective
> statement that will not only reflect accurately the views of the signators,
> but also make points that will resonate with the broader Christian community
> and actually help to educate those who do not adequately appreciate the
> complexity of the issues. A person who reads such a statement should be
> able to come away from it with a much better sense of why most Christian
> scientists are not young-earth creationists: and I don't mean "why" in the
> scientific sense, because no short statement can (IMO) accomplish that, but
> "why" in the theological sense--and this is a reachable goal for more
> readers, because more of them will have some understanding of biblical
> literature and the Christian tradition than of the scientific tradition.
> Note that I do not suggest that a large number of readers will have such an
> understanding, but many pastors will and they are an important target
> audience.
>
> I am gratified by Wendee's strong interest in this issue and her
> willingness to write Dr. Dobson about it, in an effort to gain some balanced
> treatment. The fact that it comes from a concerned high school teacher is
> particularly important, and I urge Wendee to write Dr. Dobson herself and
> express her concerns to him. But I do not think this is necessarily a
> statement that ASAers ought to endorse in large numbers (though each must
> decide this themselves) for several reasons that could make this a very long
> post if I were to spell them all out. So let me be brief, with just a few
> comments.
>
> Overall, I applaud the desire to depolarize the conversation: and this is
> important where Prof. Johnson is concerned. Tone is crucial. It is also
> good to emphasize that this concern is placing a red herring in front of
> many who might otherwise be reached by the gospel of Christ's death and
> resurrection. Again, these are appropriate concerns that I fully share.
>
> But I'm not sure it gets to the heart of the matter for most Christians.
> What it fails to do, IMO, is to provide an appropriate sense of the
> complexity of biblical interpretation and of the importance of telling
> Christian youth about this very point. Further, it does not stress the
> importance of showing thoughtful young people various options for
> understanding science in light of their faith: and this is crucial, since
> the person who believes that only one option is biblical is more likely to
> lose their faith if they become convinced at some point that it cannot be
> supported by the evidence. I think many in the ASA will resonate with these
> points.
>
> So, where do we go from here? I am not prepared now simply to share the
> Messiah statement on the listserve, though at some point I might be willing
> to do that. I might be willing to draft an alternative statement that I
> think many ASAers (and, I hope, many others) would sign. Or, perhaps this
> is best left to others. But an effective statement, IMO, needs to be fairly
> short, so that I would not simply graft language about my concerns onto
> Wendee's statement: I would rather pick the best approach and focus on it.
>
> Finally, I wonder how many ASAers want to see such a statement prepared,
> with an eye to signing it if they find themselves in agreement? What say
> ye?
>
> Ted Davis

Hi Ted;

I, for one, would like to see this suggestion proceed forward; perhaps with
Wendy and those in secondary ed. sighning too?

George A.