RE: Please show respect (was GEN 1-11: Beyond the concordist debate)

From: Terry M. Gray (
Date: Mon May 06 2002 - 13:58:14 EDT

  • Next message: Shuan Rose: "RE: GEN 1-11: Beyond the concordist debate"


    You wrote:

    >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 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 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
    of opinion.

    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
    achieve this.


    Terry M. Gray, Ph.D., Computer Support Scientist
    Chemistry Department, Colorado State University
    Fort Collins, Colorado  80523
    phone: 970-491-7003 fax: 970-491-1801

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