Re: ASA's "neutrality policy"

From: George Murphy <>
Date: Fri Dec 16 2005 - 10:10:49 EST

Though less sanguine than Ted about prospects for dialogue between TE & ID
(& some YEC), I'm in basic agreement with him here. & it's worth adding
that besides organizations advocating YEC or ID, there are also those which
are de facto TE organizations. While one doesn't have to accept TE & reject
the other views to be a member of CTNS, e.g., I think you'll find few IDers
& fewer YECs who belong to or support it. Note, e.g., Bob Russell's
editorial in the July 2005 issue of _Theology and Science_: "Intelligent
Design is Not Science and Does Not Qualify to be Taught in Public School
Science Classes." So it's not as if there were no organizations promoting


----- Original Message -----
From: "Ted Davis" <>
To: <>; <>
Sent: Friday, December 16, 2005 9:29 AM
Subject: RE: ASA's "neutrality policy"

>>>> "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
> 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.
> Blessings,
> Ted
Received on Fri Dec 16 10:12:21 2005

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