Discussion advice

From: Terry M. Gray (grayt@lamar.colostate.edu)
Date: Mon Jun 16 2003 - 16:28:36 EDT

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    ASA group,

    As I've watched the "debate" turn increasingly acrimonious and
    useless, I have hoped that we would excercise some self-control and
    move on to other topics. It's not clear that that's going to happen
    so I am going to make some pronouncements and suggestions. (Of
    course, you are free to ignore them, but I hope you will not in the
    interest of the health and usefulness of this list.)

    These comments are likely to offend people from all the various camps ;-)

    1. The ASA is not a young-earth creationist organization, although it
    welcomes young-earth creationists among its members. Don't be shocked
    that there are people in the ASA who don't hold to young-earth
    creationist viewpoints. I don't want to limit debate here, but most
    of us aren't interested in rehashing all these issues over and over
    again. ASA is best known as a place that welcomes other views--there
    are plenty of other places to advocate the YEC position. Above all
    let's not be questioning (on this list) the orthodoxy of those who
    hold to alternative views.

    Non-YEC should not be shocked that there are YEC among us. The ASA
    welcomes them in their membership. Only those that can tolerate other
    views will really be a part of us though. Historically, this is the
    reason that most YEC folks have left the ASA and started their own
    more restrictive organizations. So, please, let's not be questioning
    (on this list) the intelligence of those who hold to YEC views.

    2. The ASA is not an inerrantist organization, although it welcomes
    inerrantists (like myself) among its members. Don't be shocked that
    there are people in the ASA who think that there are errors in the
    Bible in matters outside the realm of faith and life (say in the area
    of history and science). The ASA statement of faith contains a fairly
    conservative statement concerning scripture and is compatible with a
    broad range of Christian traditions. However it deliberately avoids
    the term inerrancy. The debate in the ASA is outlined from the
    inerrantists viewpoint in Lindsell's *Battle for the Bible* and can
    be chronicled in our own journal in the 70's and 80's under the
    leadership of Dick Bube. Some of that material is on the web already.
    A key JASA issue on inerrancy is not yet posted on the web site, but
    we hope to have it up soon. Personally, I think that the ASA
    statement goes much beyond the more "theological liberal" views
    sometimes articulated on this list that the scripture is "merely" the
    human writings of a faith tradition informed by an encounter with
    God. In that sense the ASA statement is definitely in the broader
    evangelical camp.

    So there's no need to question (on this list) the orthodoxy of those
    who do not hold to inerrancy. Let's also not question the
    intelligence of those who hold to a "higher" view of scripture than
    you do.

    3. The ASA is not a church. It is a parachurch organization with a
    very narrow purpose. It is not evangelistic--thus we don't need a
    gospel presentation on every page. None of us need make any apologies
    for the absence of a full-blown Christology in our statement of
    faith. The reason that the point on scripture is there is because it
    is a particularly relevant part of the Christian faith that impacts
    the purpose of the ASA.

    4. Let's take a break from the "numbers" discussion. Anyone who wants
    to talk about this stuff can visit Vernon's website and dialog with
    him off-list. Those who want to continue should consider starting a
    new discussion group on yahoogroups.com. Vernon, feel free to post
    notices that you have added new information to your web site that we
    can visit if we like, but I don't think that productive discussion of
    your interests occurs here.

    5. At this point I would like to invite those on the list who aren't
    members of the ASA to seriously consider joining the ASA. If you
    aren't a member of the ASA, you are welcome to continue participate
    in the list, but please keep in mind the purposes and positions of
    the organization that sponsors the list.

    6. So what do we talk about? Hmmm.... maybe we should take some time
    to think about that question.

    List manager,


    Terry M. Gray, Ph.D., Computer Support Scientist
    Chemistry Department, Colorado State University
    Fort Collins, Colorado  80523
    grayt@lamar.colostate.edu  http://www.chm.colostate.edu/~grayt/
    phone: 970-491-7003 fax: 970-491-1801

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