RE: [asa] Question for all the theistic evolutionists

From: Brent Foster <>
Date: Mon Mar 12 2007 - 18:03:51 EDT

I think that fear of criticism or negative reaction is no more prominent among TE scientists than it is among Christians in general, from their professional and social peers.

But one thing I fear is way too prominent is TE pastors who swallow their TE convictions for fear of negative reaction from their congregation. And this is a very legitimate fear; it would be carreer suicide for some TE pastors to publicly support evolution, and I don't envy their position. But I also think that pastors have a *far* greater influence on the opinions of their congregation than any number of scientific professionals, within or outside the church. We can preach TE till we're blue in the face but if a trusted pastor says not to buy it, they won't. If all TE pastors went public with their convictions there would be a lot of pastors out of work, but there would also be some congregations with their eyes opened. It may be that some pastors avoid the subject for the sake of Pauline unity. But I don't think Paul was one to tolerate bad teaching for the sake of unity.


---- Ted Davis <> wrote:

I know several scientists for whom the second part of this quotation is
somewhat true. That is, they are reluctant to make noise in their churches
about their acceptance of evolution, for various reasons: It's hard to
explain things clearly to nonscientists; it's impossible to answer some
objections to the satisfaction of the person raising them, and thus
pointless to get into an argument that might alienate people; it's not very
important to the life of the congregation, and not worth the argument. Etc.
 Some Christian scienitsts I know simply don't accept the official or
unofficial view of their church on this issue, but otherwise they are happy
with that church and want to remain active in it. In some cases, they could
quite literally be tossed out of the church for their scientific
conclusions. I could go on.

On the other side, I have met scientists who are reluctant to talk about
their religious beliefs at their university or research center. My friends
in the ID movement, ironically, have been known to say or imply that TEs are
cowardly--b/c they don't endorse ID and they want to avoid being looked down
on, so they carefully distance themselves from ID. The truth, IMO, is that
a lot of Christian scientists are TEs (most of them are TEs, in my
experience), and they distance themselves from ID not b/c they are cowards
who are afraid of being looked down on, but simply b/c they don't want to be
looked down on for holding views that they don't hold. The easy cultural
association of Christian scientist = creationist or ID supporter makes some
reluctant to discuss their faith at all, since it is so easily misunderstood
by secular scientists. What scientist wants to be thought of as a
"creationist" by their scientific colleagues, if it is not an accurate label
to apply in their case? Likewise, what OEC scientist would want to be
thought of as an "evolutionist" by their fellow Christians, when it is not
an accurate label to apply in their case? (I am thinking here of the way in
which even an adherent of the old "gap theory" is an "evolutionist" in the
opinion of some hard-core creationists. Very silly, very inaccurate, but
very sadly true.)

The best response to this, IMO, is of the sort that Owen Gingerich provides
in his latest book, "God's Universe." Just clearly state your own faith,
and indicate clearly just what you believe relative to ID -- relative to
both the politics of the movement (which Gingerich and I both disown) and to
the basic idea of a purposeful universe (which Gingerich and I both affirm).

>>> "" <> 03/12/07 4:02 PM >>>
Glenn posted this quotation from Collins: ""While many scientists
ascribe to TE, they are in general reluctant to speak
out for fear of negative reaction from their scientific peers, or
perhaps for fear of criticism from the theological community."
Francis Collins, The Language of God, (New York: Free Press, 2006),
p. 202"

To unsubscribe, send a message to with
"unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message.

To unsubscribe, send a message to with
"unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message.
Received on Mon Mar 12 18:04:09 2007

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Mon Mar 12 2007 - 18:04:09 EDT