RE: ASA's "neutrality policy"

From: Ted Davis <>
Date: Fri Dec 16 2005 - 09:29:57 EST

>>> "Dick Fischer" <> 12/15/05 7:02 PM >>>wrote,
concerning Randy Isaac's view on the ASA's attitude toward members who
advocate YEC:
In your heart you know what's right, but lack the stomach to fight
for it. Christ kicked the money changers out of the temple. That
should be our example.
Put it to a vote.

Ted replies:
You just did, Dick, you just did put it to a vote.

Here is what I said as the final paragraph (in full) from my ballot for
election to the ASA Council this year:

A second challenge comes from growing tension within the larger body of
Christ between advocates of "intelligent design" and advocates of what
is commonly called "theistic evolution" (and I recognize that some ASA
members and other people advocate views that might fit into both
categories). Throughout its history the ASA has facilitated helpful,
respectful exchanges of views on many aspects of the origins controversy,
while not endorsing officially any one particular view. If elected, I would
do what I can to help the ASA retain and enhance its role as an effective
forum for the healthy exchange of views on all issues related to science and
Christian faith, and to increase our visibility among the religious press.

OK, I was talking about ID rather than YEC, but my overall attitude toward
such controversy was clear here. We need to retain the historical role of
the ASA as a forum for talking about (among many other things) various views
on the origins controversy. Contrary to other organizations (such as the
Creation Research Society or The Discovery Institute), the ASA has not
officially held or defended a specific view on "evolution" (I put that word
in scare quote b/c it means different things to different people). The CRS
requires members to reject common descent and an old earth/universe and to
accept the flood as the primary cause of the fossil record and many other
aspects of the earth's surface. TDI expects its fellows to reject
"evolution" in the "Darwinian" sense, where they define both of those terms,
while staying away officially from the issues that the CRS focuses on. The
ASA does neither of those things as a matter of policy. This leads lots of
people to think we're just wimps who want to keep our cushy jobs and not
make a fuss with the scientific establishment, but of course that's just so
much name calling, in some cases I suspect by people who are intentionally
trying to give insulting and distorted pictures to those who know a great
deal less about science, theology, and the history of their interaction.

This greatly limits our influence among those Christians who are focused on
the "culture wars," in which those Christians who don't quite agree with
either "side" are seen as cowards or traitors by some. In fact, it is a
testimony both to our courage to stand for the pursuit of truth itself,
independently of the politicization imposed on the debate by many others.
It is also a tribute to our commitment to open inquiry, within the bounds of
an agreed definition of Christian belief. We will survive the current
"culture war" and continue to influence Christians in the sciences in the
next century, if God wills it. People like Francis Collins (to cite him as
one of many similar examples) will still need us to be there for them 100
years from now, and if we remain true to our identity as an open forum
within the bounds of an agreed statement of faith, we will still be there
for them.

As for YECs in the ASA, I have known several over the years, including some
who attended local section meetings in the 1970s when I first learned about
the ASA, at least one of whom is still a member. I wish myself that one of
my younger YEC friends would join, b/c of the open attitude and genuine
expertise (a doctorate in a highly relevant field from one of the top
programs in the world) he brings to these issues. Undoubtdly we both agree
that the ASA would not welcome most YECs, b/c most YECs engage in the kind
of misrepresentation of the state of the scientific evidence that Randy
mentioned. But not all do, and those who do not would IMO be very welcome
here. B/c of our organizational history and b/c of the kinds of articles we
have published since the 1960s and esp the 1970s, no one could fairly claim
that we exist in order to promote YEC (this doesn't mean that for some
political purpose an unfair or misinformed person would never say it), and
none of the YECs I know consider us friendly to the YEC position (an
accurate judgement). Since we do publish lots of articles in favor of ID,
it's more likely that we'd be accused of being in league with TDI, but the
fact is that lots of IDs *wish* we were in league with TDI when of course we
are not. B/c many of our members find ID attractive, however, we have and
should continue to publish well written and well argued essays that support
aspects of ID as long as they respect the integrity of those who disagree
with their conclusions.

I was elected to Council this fall, after making a very clear statement
about what I believe should be the ASA's attitude toward controversies of
this nature. I can fairly assume that anyone who voted for me agrees with
that attitude, or at least did not find it strongly objectionable. We had
the election, Dick, and we did not decide to throw anyone out.



Received on Fri Dec 16 09:32:51 2005

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