>It is worth discussing, just not all the freaking time. Christianity is a
>whole more than Gen 1-11. But you would never know it from this listserv.
Over the years we have been frustrated as well with this phenomenon.
The issue has been equally frustrating for the ASA journal (PSCF).
Those interested in a Christian perspective on environmental issues
and stewardship of natural resources are extremely frustrated by
this: see http://www.asa3.org/ASA/PSCF/1996/PSCF9-96DeWitt.html for
an expression of some of the frustration within the ASA over this
I suspect that one of the explanations for this is that this is one
of the areas in which we are deeply divided as an organization. We
have chosen to agree to disagree on this issue, yet we still debate
and talk and fellowship...a good thing, I think.
I don't think that we can force the hand of those involved. My
suggestion is that if you want to talk about something else...go for
it...you may not get many responses thought. Similarly, if you don't
want to talk about origins issues, don't.
We've encouraged a labeling scheme where you label posts with general
topic (ORIGINS, BIBLE, ENVIRONMENT, ETHICS, etc.) but it hasn't
really taken off.
Personally, I'm forced into the origins discussion simply as an
advocate for the orthodoxy of those like myself who aren't Biblical
literalists on Genesis 1 (in particular) and who see evolution as a
scientific description of God's creative work. For many of us, the
churches and denominations that we find ourselves in would be more
than happy to exclude us in favor of more young-earth creationist
oriented interpretations of the Bible and "science". Thus, if we
don't speak up, we will find ourselves outside of the church or
denomination that otherwise we agree with in most other areas of
faith and practice.
I'm much more interested in questions of worldview (what general
attitude ought Christians have toward the culture around--science,
politics, law, journalism, the arts, etc.?) and "reductionism in
biology" (what is the relationship between chemistry and biology,
between neurochemistry and mind?). ASA has journal issues devoted to
both of these topics and they continue to interest many, but,
clearly, interest in origins dominates. Also, the topics aren't
totally disconnected. Both of the issues that I have mentioned can
quickly point back to origins questions, although to be honest, I
think that if you address the other questions first, you've gone a
long way to anwer many of the issues raised in the origins debate.
As I attempted to explain in my response to you earlier, there are
"different" scholarships. It would go a long way in our discussions
if we all would recognize this. Some of us take "offense" at other's
acceptance of more "liberal" scholarship. Others of us take "offense"
at yet other's acceptance of more "conservative" scholarship. It is
really the case that many of these issues are already decided by
which scholarship we accept and that most of the time we are merely
talking past each other, because we can't accept the foundations of
other's viewpoint. I think that this is why we often so quickly get
back to the doctrine of scripture--but here is where the "liberal"
vs. "conservative" scholarship differ most radically.
As long as we in the ASA are open to multiple perspectives on some of
these core issues we're simply going to have to find areas of
agreement, work together in those areas, and agree to disagree with
respect to other areas...after all, the ASA is not "the church". The
other point along these lines is that the ASA is very much a
"discussion" oriented organization. I'm not so sure that we need to
come to a consensus "and then move on" on these issues. This is
frustrating to some, it seems. Even the leadership of the ASA is
frustrated by this, it seems. For example, in the latest ASA
Newsletter and at the last annual meeting, there was discussion of
the ASA Lay Education Project. Some in the ASA, perhaps the majority,
want us to come out and say that yes, the earth is old, and this
conclusion is consistent with both the Bible and science and that the
young-earth creationists are wrong on this issue. Now I happen to
agree with this conclusion, but I'm not sure that we want to
"exclude" young-earthers from the ASA by taking such a strong stand.
Our Statement of Faith claims
"As an organization, the ASA does not take a position when there is
honest disagreement between Christians on an issue. We are committed
to providing an open forum where controversies can be discussed
without fear of unjust condemnation. Legitimate differences of
opinion among Christians who have studied both the Bible and science
are freely expressed within the Affiliation in a context of Christian
love and concern for truth."
It seems to me that approaches to the early chapters of Genesis and
the age of the earth fall in this category. While I don't agree with
my young-earth creationist brothers on these matters, I take our
disagreements to be "honest" and I want to allow in the ASA "an open
forum..." and stifle "unjust condemnation". Sometimes our language on
the ASA email list seems to suggest that these controversies cannot
be discussed without fear of unjust condemnation, and we seldom
recognize our opponents on an issue as having a legitimate difference
I don't know where the ASA Lay Education Project will end up...I hope
it will encourage us to recognize and respect the motives and
Christian commitments of people who differ from us. If agreement on
these issues cannot be attained, then we should at least be able to
-- _________________ Terry M. Gray, Ph.D., Computer Support Scientist Chemistry Department, Colorado State University Fort Collins, Colorado 80523 firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.chm.colostate.edu/~grayt/ phone: 970-491-7003 fax: 970-491-1801
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