Re: History and ASA

From: George Murphy <>
Date: Thu Nov 17 2005 - 09:49:16 EST

It's helpful to have Ted's comments below. I've always liked history & read
it as an amateur & don't want to be exclusive, but do think that there's
some practical sense in limitation of ASA memmbership. Otherwise we could
become simply an organization of Christians with college degrees & be too
broad to be able to accomplish much. Certainly the history of science is
germane to the purposes of the ASA as are the other 2 examples Ted cites so
it is hard to draw boundaries.
& it's interesting to note that theologians (as well as philosophers) are
eligible without any statement about what qualifies a person as a
theologian. Does a degree from a Bible college count?


----- Original Message -----
From: "Ted Davis" <>
To: <>; <>; "Don Winterstein"
<>; "Tjalle T Vandergraaf" <>;
<>; "'Glenn Morton'" <>
Sent: Thursday, November 17, 2005 9:10 AM
Subject: History and ASA

>>>> "George Murphy" <> 11/16/05 8:34 PM >>>writes:
> Since this is an ASA list it's relevant to point out that the constitution
> of the ASA (Article III, Section 2, c.) includes "history" in its broad
> definition of science for purposes of membership.
> Ted comments:
> I've actually been asked about this very thing--the inclusion of history
> as
> among the relevant disciplines for the ASA--and here is what I think.
> First, I do not know the history of the "history", if I can put it that
> way.
> Mark Kalthoff might, but I don't. I'm prepared to bow before the facts,
> if
> someone actually unearths them. The rest of my response is speculative,
> although in the absence of further information I think it's a very
> reasonable speculation.
> My suspicion is, that history was included b/c it was once considered by
> many in academe as a branch of social science rather than as a branch of
> the
> humanities--which is how it is usually seen today. My own view is the
> modern one, that history is in the humanities rather than the social
> sciences. I do not see history per se as part of the ASA umbrella,
> despite
> the fact that "history" is there. History of science clearly is part of
> the
> umbrella, however--indeed, I would argue (no surprise) that HSC is either
> the single most important discipline for the modern religion/science
> conversation (in support of that, let me note that when the Templeton
> foundation sought out model courses on science and religion to use in
> their
> course program several years ago, 3 of the 5 models they chose were taught
> by historians of science) or at least one of the 2 or 3 most important
> disciplines. But I won't take that one further here, I think most ASAers
> would fully agree that HSC is vital to the ASA. Intellectual history,
> which
> some regard as a dying specialty (I don't, but it might be seriously ill),
> is often relevant to ASA's concerns.
> Philosophy of science likewise, but philosophy per se is IMO more relevant
> to the ASA than history per se.
> All this having been said, some important ASAers are/have been historians,
> and not historians of science. Just to pick two obvious examples: the
> late
> W Stanford Reid was a good reformation scholar who knew a lot about Calvin
> and science (of much relevance to the ASA), and Ed Yamauchi is an
> excellent
> ancient historian (and his knowledge of the biblical world is surely
> relevant to the ASA).
> So, one can make a good argument that historians (undifferentiated) ought
> to be included.
> On a larger issue, however, I really do wonder why we bother to indicate
> which disciplines belong and which don't. Isn't the real issue simply
> one's
> own interest in participating in the ASA? I entirely support a
> specifically
> Christian statement of faith for membership, but the disciplinary thing
> seems quite irrelevant to me here in 2005. If a carpenter or a secretary
> or
> an elementary schoolteacher or a homemaker wants to join the ASA, read the
> journal, and/or attend our meetings, why in the world would we want to
> keep
> him or her out? Obviously such persons would not (in most cases, not
> quite
> all) be qualified to lead the organization or to contribute to PSCF, but
> if
> they perceive a benefit worth paying the dues for, why should we not
> welcome
> them into the organization? I am not worried about a potential "swamping"
> effect, in which people with relatively little knowledge of science try to
> influence opinions in such a way as to drive away professional
> scientists--I
> doubt that such people would be attracted to the ASA in the first place.
> Rather, let us enhance our opportunities to provide leadership on
> important
> issues, leadership first to the body of Christ and then to our secular
> colleagues.
> This isn't a "campaign promise," but it's something I want to push for if
> I
> get onto the council.
> Ted
Received on Thu Nov 17 09:51:55 2005

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