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

From: Jan de Koning (
Date: Thu May 09 2002 - 17:31:32 EDT

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    At 11:36 AM 08/05/02 -0500, Tom Pearson wrote:
    And I don't have enough time to reply to your posting as it deserves. It
    does deserve a book, not just a short letter like this will be.
    >I did not say there are no insights on this forum on population control,
    >only that I find it difficult to imagine that any such insights on
    >population control would be necessarily "Christian" insights. I harbor the
    >suspicion that a thorough assessment of the issues involved in population
    >control, and the development of successful proposals to resolve those
    >issues, are more likely to be derived from the principles of the natural
    >and social sciences, and not from the principles of Christianity. In that
    >sense, I also suspect that we are in fundamental disagreement over another
    >of your comments:

    As I have written in other postings: nothing is outside the rule of
    Christ. So, yes, if you do not believe that there is no use of
    talking. Principles are always either from this world or from God, from

    > >Nothing is just "technical". Saying so removes the actions of
    > >technical people and scientists from the rule of the lord.
    >If by "technical," you mean generally pertaining to a specific professional
    >community of practice, then I believe there is a great deal that is
    >I teach ethics to students in engineering and physical sciences
    >programs. When we discuss issues like moral decision-making in engineering
    >design, reflected in such traditional cases as the Kansas City Hyatt
    >Regency Hotel walkway collapse, or the O-ring failure in the Challenger
    >Space Shuttle disaster, or the GM truck side-saddle gas tanks, we are
    >drawing on the standards of moral excellence inherent in engineering
    >practice, and not on the principles of Christianity.

    I am sorry to hear that. Morality, ethics etc. depends on your basic
    beliefs. If you leave Christ out of it you depend only on human
    understanding. I taught mathematics by the way. I don't say that the
    actions of non-believers are worse than the actions of Christians. I only
    say, that there is no part of life of which Christ does not say "Mine."

    However, discussing this is only possible if you accept Christ as the Lord
    of your life. Then you dare as well a "whistle-blower" as we saw some time
    ago on this forum.

    > The essential message
    >of Christianity has nothing to do with O-ring design.

    There is nothing in this world that was not created by God, or from
    materials provided by God. One of the major points of Gen.1 is that this
    earth and its contents is being punished because of the sins of man.

    >I also teach ethics to students in our business school. When we discuss
    >issues like moral decision-making in accounting, as reflected in cases like
    >the recent Arthur Andersen/Enron fiasco, we are drawing on the standards of
    >moral excellence inherent in accounting practice, and not on the principles
    >of Christianity.

    Sorry to hear that. I would not be able to sit in that course. The
    sinfulness of man came out very clearly in the ways the accounting was done

    > The essential message of Christianity has nothing to do
    >with external auditing procedures or derivatives management.

    I disagree. Since the whole world was condemned because of the sins of
    man/men, healing can only come through salvation by Christ. Here again it
    is clear that we cannot talk very long, since your very basic background is
    humanistic, based on serving man, not God, talking becomes impossible.
    Yes, Christians do sin, and do not always (maybe seldom) make the proper
    decisions. All of us need to be saved by Christ, not just by some
    accounting or engineering methods.

    Discussing these things takes more time than I have available now. It
    would take probably a whole semester course, or more. And even then it is
    only possible when we start from the same basic acknowledgement: This world
    belongs to God. Man sinned, and caused destruction (Gen.1). The new earth
    will only come through accepting Christ, when He returns again

    >I am not sure what you mean by "removes the actions of technical people and
    >scientists from the rule of the Lord." What "rule of the Lord" applies to
    >me when I am trying to figure out what to do with an incompetent student
    >who has a learning disability, or when I am responsible for deciding which
    >of two candidates for a faculty position should get the job? The "rule"
    >here, if there is one, seems to be derived from the professional practice I
    >am in, and not from the Lord.

    These are not just "technical" decisions, not even for you. "Professional
    practice" is founded on principles as well. In a so-called Christian
    country, basic ethics and practice is usually based on a long history of
    Christian ethics in that country. Not everyone may be aware of that, but
    history will show that. Also, there are different philosophies about these
    things, which would take much time to discuss, and cannot possibly in a
    short note written by me.

    >professional ethics, I'm pretty well convinced that it is extremely
    >difficult, and mostly unnecessary, to take a set of ethical principles from
    >some source (say, some alleged "Christian" ethical principles) and
    >transplant them into very different professional contexts, and try to force
    >them to fit. For one thing, the attempt to do just this sort of thing
    >suggests that Christianity is a specific source of ethical norms, and I
    >dissent from this (meaning, I know of no conclusive biblical or historical
    >support for this argument). But even if there were a compelling argument
    >that the Christian Gospel generates moral standards, those standards (like
    >everything else in Christianity) would be universal in their scope, while
    >the normative elements in technical and professional practices turn out to
    >be highly particular and specific in their application. How often have all
    >of us said to ourselves something like, "I'm supposed to be compassionate,
    >as Christ was. But what exactly is the compassionate thing to do here, in
    >this situation, in this professional context?"

    Christianity is more than compassionateness. Of course, we all will
    struggle with what Christ would want us to do. And what we must do in His
    name, is do the right thing in His name in God's creation. There is no
    other possibility for a Christian.
    To be honest, I think it is dangerous to the utmost to keep part of your
    life outside the rule of Christ.

    >Christianity will not detail that.

    Through actions of Christians directly and indirectly many wrongs in
    factories have been stopped. Maybe many more should follow. If Christ
    does not rule, someone else does. Capitalism and Communism have both shown
    how wrong things can go.

    > Communities of professional practice can develop such ethical
    >guidelines over time, ones that are pertinent to the range of moral
    >problems that arise in their distinctive activities.

    A morality without Christ is impossible for a christian, in my opnion.

    > > Having reviewed books on genetic research I am more than ever
    > >convinced that it is time that christian scientists see, that there are
    > >grave dangers in genetic research.

    >I believe you are right, Jan. There are indeed grave dangers in certain
    >types of genetic research. But my recognition of that fact does not arise
    >from hearing the good news in Jesus Christ. And more important, any sense
    >of what is appropriate to do in the face of those dangers can only emerge
    >from my professional judgment, informed by the best technical information I
    >can get, and not from my worship of the crucified and risen One.

    I am sorry you see it that way. For me it is impossible to leave part of
    my life outside the rule of Christ. In general I can say as well:
    Morality, morals are not technical subjects, but depend on general accepted
    morals, which in Christian countries are usually founded in Christian
    morals derived from the Bible.


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