Re: [asa] An open letter to Bill Dembski and Denyse O'Leary

From: Vernon Jenkins <>
Date: Tue May 01 2007 - 11:22:22 EDT


One would have supposed the pubication of Vladimir shCherbak's Arithmetic
inside the universal genetic code in the peer-reviewed journal BioSystems
[70 (2003) 187-209], together with the more recent realisation that his
findings closely match my own (among the 7 Hebrew words of Genesis 1:1),
that ID is already a slam dunk in the minds of those of this forum who have
read and assimilated the email report and page which pertain to these

Since no member of the forum has been able to offer a naturalistic
explanation of this interesting and potentially significant conjunction, it
is hardly likely that Richard Dawkins can! Ted, I trust you would agree with
me that these facts need to be brought to RD's attention, at the highest
level, and at the earliest possible convenience.



----- Original Message -----
From: "Ted Davis" <>
To: <>
Cc: "William A. Dembski" <>; <>
Sent: Thursday, April 26, 2007 5:50 PM
Subject: [asa] An open letter to Bill Dembski and Denyse O'Leary

> Dear Bill and Denyse,
> I do not think it is fair to criticize the leadership of the ASA on your
> blog, "Uncommon Descent," for calling attention to the following issue,
> which one of our members worded as follows:
> "The young-earth message has bitten deeply into the evangelical culture,
> and people trust this message. What will it take to show people believably
> that the young-earth view is not the only possible one, without
> undermining the Christianity or sincerity of those that hold that
> position?"
> In the context of the ASA and its history (since 1941), Jack Haas' letter
> is simply a matter of looking over our shoulders at the inroads that YECs
> have made in conservative churches since the 1970s, while we are engaged
> in our primary mission of advancing the cause of Christ in the scientific
> community. To the best of my knowledge, neither of you holds to the YE
> view, and it cannot be too difficult for you to understand the concern
> stated above. How one could construe this as an effort to attack fellow
> Christians is beyond me. The language is very clear; many in the ASA are
> concerned about "the young-earth view," but we are no less concerned to
> speak to that "without undermining the Christianity or sincerity of those
> that hold that position." I fail to see how one can fairly accuse the ASA
> of wanting to attack fellow Christians, on the basis of this document.
> Trying to convince people that there are multiple views about origins
> within the Christian community is hardly !
> equivalent to attacking fellow Christians. Indeed, would it not be fair
> to say that some ID advocates try to do precisely the same thing? Don't
> they want some fellow Christians to think that there are alternatives to
> TE? Or YEC?
> As for scientific materialism (here you picked up on Jack's words, where
> you apparently ignored them above), you need to understand two highly
> relevant points. First, ASA was founded at Moody Bible Institute by five
> men, a mix of OECs and at least one YEC (the late Harold Hartzler). Their
> concern was similar to that of leading anti-evolutionist Harry Rimmer at
> the time: to use what they took for genuine science to help uphold the
> faith of the youth. An excellent purpose then, and I still think so now.
> To the extent that you try to accomplish the same goal, I applaud. The
> problem was that their view of genuine science was far too Baconian, what
> I call the "Dragnet" view of science: "Just the facts, ma'am." The
> powerful coherence found in larger "theories" did not qualify in their
> minds as legitimate science, even though this has been a key part of
> scientific reasoning since the early 17th century. In the 1950s and
> 1960s, as people like Bernard Ramm, Elving Anderson, Ri!
> chard Bube, and many others moved into the ASA, and as a much larger
> number of professional scientists joined, the Baconian view no longer
> dominated the ASA. Most of us do not view H-D science, including the
> historical sciences, as inherently suspect; we don't identify them pure
> and simple with "materialism." This is what Jack was probably referring
> to. This context is vital to understand the point. If the ASA moved, it
> wasn't recently, it was at some point in the 1950s and into the 1960s.
> It's no accident that Henry Morris and some others left the ASA in the
> early 1960s to form the Creation Research Society. Whatever may be said
> about the ASA as we find it today, it is not possible to say that it is a
> "creationist" organization in the usual (popular) sense of that term. It
> isn't clear that it really ever was such, but it was friendlier to
> creationism in that first decade. It is also true that, especially since
> the 1970s, many in the ASA have primary interests in ar!
> eas other than "origins," although there is no lack of interes!
> t in tha
> t topic even today. I myself would say that is a primary area of
> interest, but many of my friends are much more interested in stewardship,
> bioethics, genetics, HPS (which is obviously my number one interest), or
> even theology. We're very interdisciplinary and more widely ranging than
> we were a few decades ago.
> As for genuine materialism, we have not lost our way, not at all. In
> response to claims that we don't confront atheism, for whatever stated or
> implied reasons (I won't review them here, except to say that gutlessness
> is not left out of the mix), I have several times in various places
> responded to this. Just this morning on the ASA list, I reiterated
> comments I have made before about multiple visions of Christian vocation
> among ASA members (including those members who advance ID) and different
> strategies that are used to respond to the larger cultural claims that God
> is a fiction and religion is not something that smart people believe. We
> entirely agree, you and I, about the offensive and dangerous nature of
> this claim. You have your ways of responding, I have mine, and other ASA
> members have theirs.
> But respond we do. I could literally fill this blog with examples, but
> let me limit myself to a few prominent, recent ones that many in
> cyberspace have probably noticed. Owen Gingerich's recent Noble lectures
> at Harvard (the same place where Pinker and others have prevented students
> from even taking one course on religion, perhaps the most secular
> university in the nation), published as "God's Universe", directly
> challenge a nihilistic interpretation of the universe, and even appeal to
> "design" in doing so. Francis Collins' many activities, which you have
> (apparently somewhat grudgingly) acknowledged on UD, are so very important
> for their high visibility and for the contradiction that Collins himself
> represents to Dennett and the "brights." Not to be missed is Randy
> Isaac's important essay in the current issue of "Phi Kappa Phi Forum,"
> which we will shortly be adding to the ASA website. That is a very
> secular venue, but Randy's message is clear and to the point about D!
> awkins, Dennett, and Provine, not to mention the falsity of the "warfare"
> thesis about the history of science and religion. Speaking of the warfare
> view, my entire scholarly career has been devoted to debunking it, piece
> by piece and bit by bit, and to providing very helpful (I hope)
> alternative understandings of the rich and multifaceted historical
> relationship between science and Christianity. That is my own vocation:
> to undermine Dawkins and company historically, while at the same time
> providing ideas and examples (ie, examples taken from history since the
> mid-17th century) of Christians doing science and interpreting science to
> larger audiences in ways that are faithful to the science and faithful to
> Christ. I speak about this anywhere I am invited, including top research
> universities. (Next month, Owen Gingerich and I will be on a panel at a
> theater in Philadelphia, where another panelist is Harvard evolutionary
> psychologist Mark Hauser. We do what we can.) Sever!
> al other ASA authors have written very helpful defenses of Chr!
> istian t
> heism, including rebuttals of scientific atheism; and I don't need to
> remind you that quite a few ID authors are ASA members themselves. They
> have apparently found our journal, annual meeting, and networking helpful
> to advancing their visions of science as Christian vocation. On a
> different level, there are the apologetics ministries of Fred Heeren and
> Hugh Ross, both of whom are ASA members.
> In this context, it is vitally important not to miss the significance of
> teaching, mentoring, and being public witnesses on highly secular
> campuses. This goes under the radar screen most of the time, unless you
> know those campuses. But it's extremely important, since it influences
> lives and minds at crucial points of intellectual and spiritual
> development. These activities need to be seen, and credited, and the role
> of the ASA in helping these members carry out their vocations, by linking
> them with others of like mind and heart, is vital. Loren Haarsma, whose
> essay "Does Science Exclude God?" in Keith Miller's book ("Perspectives on
> an Evolving Creation") is one of the best I have ever read, has taught
> with his wife Deborah Haarsma courses on Christianity and science at
> secular colleges like Haverford and in China. They both teach at Calvin,
> which is not a secular school, but their enormously helpful and thoughtful
> materials are partly available online, and are being ma!
> de available soon in printed form to churches. Many others ASA members do
> similar things*again, perhaps not on your radar screen, in which case you
> might want to adjust the frequency. Ian Hutchinson teaches a terrific
> course about "the Faith of Great Scientists" at MIT; Walter Bradley, David
> Vader, Martin Price and so many others help initiate their students into
> meeting the basic needs of impoverished people around the world. (What I
> want you to see here is the power of this type of witness, in response to
> the empty morality of Dawkins and company. Actions really do speak louder
> than words.) You know of course about Walter's strong pro-ID stance; it
> is worth noting that he will be president of the ASA next year, when I
> will be VP. For much of his career (he is now retired), Dick Bube taught
> Stanford students about science and Christianity, wrote about it in
> several books, and edited the ASA Journal. Bob Griffiths and Gary
> Patterson teach courses at Carnegie Mellon, !
> David Snoke brings religious speakers to Pitt, Bob Kaita mento!
> rs stude
> nts at Princeton. And Nobel laureates Bill Phillips and Charles Townes
> (the latter not a member, but on our advisory board) speak against
> scientific atheism all the time; they just aren't as "in your face" as
> some others, and not as widely publicized.
> I could keep going all day, which I haven't got; I've left out so many
> others, even top names like Fritz Schaeffer and Elving Anderson. These
> are all ASA people who courageously bring Christian perspectives on
> science to very secular places, in various ways. They may not get on the
> radio opposite Dawkins or on the cover of Time magazine, but they count.
> Some prefer ID to TE, some prefer TE to ID, and some would say they like
> both. As for those who prefer TE, you may believe that a more aggressive
> response to scientific atheism, such as that represented by ID, would be
> more effective in the long run. If so, that would be simply a difference
> of opinion about strategy, not a failure on the part of ASA members to
> confront and engage the claims of Dawkins, Dennett, Harris, and company.
> Some of us agree with you that methodological naturalism should be
> directly refuted, and some of us don't; but we all agree that metaphysical
> naturalism is a false religion, based on false as!
> sumptions about God, humanity, and the creation, and we all try to show
> the weaknesses of atheism while providing a more thoughtful alternative.
> Simply b/c most of us don't publish in "Salvo" magazine or get invited to
> debate Michael Shermer, does not mean that we don't confront the atheists.
> You have stated on your blog, Bill, that you won't let anyone "insult"
> Denyse there, and that those of us who participate in the ASA list (which
> you can post to anytime you wish) need to "watch your step" if we respond
> to her charges. You say that you are ready to "boot anyone at the least
> provocation." I can't imagine that any fair-minded person would regard
> this post as provocative, in the sense you seem to have in mind. I ask
> you, therefore, to post this entire message on your blog, as an
> appropriate response to Denyse. As you know, Bill, technical problems
> with your server have prevented my posts from going through. I'm sure
> your moderators can put this post directly onto the blog; or you could do
> it yourself. Please take care of this for me.
> For my part, this is all I wish to say, but I'll watch for any further
> comments on UD or the ASA list.
> Ted
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Received on Tue May 1 11:23:38 2007

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