Re: ASA's "neutrality policy"

From: Ted Davis <>
Date: Sat Dec 17 2005 - 08:35:51 EST


It's been clear for decades that YECism as a view, does not have a home in
the ASA. That is, our commitment to scientific integrity *and* our
organizational history (think of the exit of the YECs in the early 1960s,
owing to very negative responses to *The Genesis Flood* by then ASA-member
Henry Morris) appropriately make most YECs feel very uncomfortable with us.
Their views are not welcome, in the sense that we won't be asking any YECs
to be plenary speakers at annual meetings (I assume, at least; the decision
is always left to program chairs) and we won't be publishing pro-YEC
articles without accompanying rebuttals (I assume, at least; the decision is
always that of the editor, but the editor did just that last year with
Robert Gentry's article).

However, YECs may be ASA members, and a few are; they may publish in our
journal (and sometimes have), even stand-alone pieces when they have no
obvious YEC argument to make (this has probably happened in recent years).

Let me offer an illustration, by way of comparison. IRAS (the Institute on
Religion in an Age of Science) is way to the left of the ASA theologically.
It was founded by Kirtley Mather (about whom I am writing in a book
project), a very liberal Baptist who was functionally a unitarian as far as
I can tell; Ralph Wendow Burhill, a Unitarian who was at Meadville Seminary
in Chicago for many years; and Harlow Shapley, a pantheist (perhaps, or else
an atheist), the famous Harvard astronomer. Their agenda today is along
those lines, as seen by the kinds of experiences on offer at the Star Island
conference each summer. They publish Zygon, an excellent academic journal
on religion and science. I myself do not feel comfortable joining IRAS; I
really don't fit in, my beliefs are far too traditional for them and I do
not share most of their assumptions. However, I did publish (at the
invitation of the editor) an essay in Zygon once--in which I praised and
defended Polkinghorne for his conservative (relative to IRAS) positions on
science and Christian faith. I could also imagine myself attending an IRAS
meeting from time to time, to listen to what they are saying on a particular
subject or to meet people including friends (I have some friends in the
group). I would say pretty much the same things, in reverse, about the CRS.
 I had planned to attend the big creationism conference at Liberty Univesity
this past summer, except that it ended up conflicting with another
conference where I was committed to giving a paper--ironically a paper about
geocentrism and creationism, in which I mentioned four of the plenary
speakers from the creationist conference.

I do not share most of the sci/rel views of many IRAS members; ditto for the
CRS. I do not feel comfortable among them as a member. I am of course not
welcome to join the CRS, given its statement that I would have to agree
with, but I woudn't anyway. Nevertheless, interacting with such folk is not
a bad thing; they share our planet and many will probably share eternity
with me (I hope).

In this life, our attitude/approach to the issues and our simple Christian
statement are sufficient to define who we are, and relative to IRAS and CRS,
who we are not. Our statement has been revised over the years in light of
both who we are (at a given time) and who we are not (at a given time). We
know that other organizations are out there, and we want to be a home for
those who find it in our fellowship. We do not welcome non-Christians as
members (they may of course get the journal), although I know a few members
who are probably not believers (no public identifications here) and I do not
suggest that we purge them. We do welcome Christians who want to join,
regardless of what they believe on specific scientific issues. Many of them
might not make good officers of the organization, but there are no bad
members, if I may say it that way.

Merry Christmas!!

Received on Sat Dec 17 08:37:15 2005

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Sat Dec 17 2005 - 08:37:15 EST