[asa] Public questions for Denyse O'Leary

From: Ted Davis <tdavis@messiah.edu>
Date: Thu Dec 21 2006 - 14:51:31 EST

Dear Denyse,

In your comments about Francis Collins' book, "The Language of God," on
your Post-Darwinist blog (http://post-darwinist.blogspot.com/), you write
this about the "key boffins" who belong to the ASA. The larger context is
those intellectuals who engage in "trashing Christianity":
<Why Christianity? Why not Islam? Well, for one thing, Muslims tend to
actually respond to this kind of thing. Christians don't. There is an
organization of Christians in science in the United States called American
Scientific Affiliation, with about 2000 members, but they seem dedicated to
ignoring these obvious affronts, and claiming to an increasingly restless
public that there is no conflict between Darwinism and the traditional
religions. Indeed, they have so far managed to ignore the fact that
increasingly strident Darwinists claim that there is indeed such a

I suspect that the key boffins at ASA would be inclined to blame those who
openly question Darwinism for "causing" the atheist outbursts. In much the
same way, under Marxist regimes, the churches that went along with Marxism
used to blame traditional Christians who refused to do so, for bringing upon
themselves the persecution they suffered at the hands of Marxists.

Right now, the ASA is making much of genome mapper Francis Collins, whom I
regard as an intellectual lightweight. I tried to say that in as nice a way
as possible in my recent review of his book because he sounds like a really
nice guy. If nice is all you need, he's your man.>

It is no secret, Denyse, that you have deep negative feelings about the ASA
as an organization. You are also apprently unable to acknowledge that any
type of TE position has any intellectual merits. My gut feeling is, Denyse,
that your biggest problem with the ASA is that we are not The Discovery
Institute. Our members include several leading IDs, and the pages of PSCF
frequently feature contributions from ID advocates; but our role as a
leading Forum for the exchange of ideas and beliefs about science and
Christian faith is apparently disagreeable to you for some reason. It would
be helpful to know what your real problem with us is.

Denyse, in the past I have sometimes directly responded to what is becoming
a mantra, frankly: that ASA somehow "ignore[s] the fact that increasingly
strident Darwinists claim that there is indeed such a conflict [between
science and the traditional religions, including Christianity]." I have
pointed out publications by ASA members that directly confront/deny/respond
to scientific materialism of the type represented by Dawkins, Dennett, and
others. One of the most frequent themes in the ASA journal for decades is
precisely this, and ASA members have often gone into this in publications
(books, articles) in other places. You are either ignoring this fact, or
for some reason you do not regard such publications as relevant to the point
you are making.

So, Denyse, let me ask you directly to respond to two questions. (1) What
exactly would you regard as an appropriate response to Dawkins and company,
a response sufficient to have you admit that we do not ignore the claims of
scientific materialism? and (2) Why exactly do you continue to bait the
ASA? Is it simply b/c (apparently) our members generally do not share your
views on some specific topic of great personal interest to you? Do you
think somehow that we are advancing the materialist agenda?

Finally, Denyse, as per our member Francis Collins, whom you call an
"intellectual lightweight." That is the last thing I would ever say about
Francis myself. I would agree that his book is not a very deep treatment
(in the intellectual sense, not the personal sense) of issues in science &
religion, but neither is your book--which (as you know) I read with much
care (and I am acknowledged in your preface). If we want heavyweight books
on science and religion, there are several ASA members who have written
such, and more are being written as I write this. The overall best
treatment of the current American debate, e.g., is IMO "Species of Origins"
by Karl Giberson (ASA member) and Donald Yerxa (ASA member). If your
general view is (as it appears to be) that TE simply cannot be both orthodox
and heavyweight, then I do suggest that you become more familiar with the
writings of John Polkinghorne; there is no deeper thinker on this particular
landscape, IMO. And no one would ever accuse him of not responding to
scientific materialism. Granted, he isn't an ASA member, but he is a member
of our British counterpart, Christians in Science; and he will be a keynote
speaker at our joint meeting in Edinburgh this August. You might want to
report on that meeting and take an informal count of the "lightweights" on
the program--many of whom know far more than you do about science and
religion, IMO.

I am about to leave my office, and access to my books, for about 3 weeks.
But I am interested to see your reply to my questions in the meantime.
Although many on this list are not ASA members (and quite a few of them are
not really very familiar with the organization and its membership), there
are a number of members who contribute regularly here, and some of them may
want to respond. I'm sure I speak for all of us, at least, in asking these


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Received on Thu Dec 21 14:52:06 2006

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