Re: [asa] Denyse's advice

From: Robert Schneider <>
Date: Thu May 03 2007 - 15:10:45 EDT

Denyse writes: "> "Cease the campaign against the young earth creationists.
To the extent that YEC is a doctrinal position, just don't get involved."

The problem with this advice is that is it virtually impossible to separate
YEC doctrine from YEC science. I am not referring to work by persons like
Kurt Wise, but to those from Morris to the RATE participants, all of whom
make it crystal clear that the purpose of their science is not to learn what
one can about the world as it is but to defend the validity of their young
earth interpretation of Scripture, ie, their doctrine. I'm one with Ted on
"the integrity of science" issue. If a conclusion from RATE that radioactive
decay rates have changed, and the only reason for such a conclusion is
because a young earth requies it (something suggested in the preface to the
RATE volume), then the integrity of science is thrown out the window. On the
other hand, when YECs read modern scientific concepts (e.g., a spherical
earth; the expansion of spacetime) in Scripture, concepts that Morris claims
to find in the Book of Job, for example, then the integrity of scripture is
also violated by eisegeses that in some cases have no relationship
whatsoever to the plain sense of the text that Morris purports to be
defending. I think we believers also have to speak up for the integrity of
the Bible.

I agree that sometimes some of us may cross the line into disrespect, and I
confess the sin, but the temptation is rather great when confronted with (1)
a conception and expression of science that rejects the very nature of the
modern scientific enterprise, and (2) sometimes vicious ad hominen attacks
by YECs that call into question the integrity and Christianity of their
critics. I think it is quite proper to subject to criticism both their
claims about Scripture as well as their claims about science.

Bob Schneider

----- Original Message -----
From: "Ted Davis" <>
To: <>
Sent: Thursday, May 03, 2007 1:50 PM
Subject: [asa] Denyse's advice

> I'm back from my therapist. Yeah, it was a pretty short meeting--they had
> to fit me in between a TE who was losing her faith in evolution after
> reading "Icons of Evolution" and a YEC who had already lost his faith in
> God after seeing a story about new stars forming, right now, before our
> eyes. It was ugly. I'm glad to say, my therapist convinced me not to
> join the AAAS, and my Christian beliefs are still intact. Whew--that was
> close.
> I want now to respond to one of Denyse's suggestions for the ASA. I've
> already gone on record that we need to do exactly what she suggests here:
> "Change the name of the "ASA list", take it private, or shut it down." I
> fully agree, but my opinion is not the only one worthy of consideration.
> This is the one I want to comment on now:
> "Cease the campaign against the young earth creationists. To the extent
> that YEC is a doctrinal position, just don't get involved. If YEC
> scientists are subjected to persecution based solely on supposition about
> their point of view and not on failure to perform work to standard, defend
> them as one would defend any Christian subjected to persecution."
> In passing, I will note that the document Denyse implicitly refers to
> here, the one from Jack Haas that Bill Dembski quoted on UD, did not
> ultimately lead to an official ASA publication of any kind. Nor does it
> seem likely that it will, at this point. I also restate the point that
> the ASA is always interested in showing ordinary Christians various ways
> in which to approach origins issues. It is abundantly clear from Jack's
> letter that our concern as an organization was to find ways to help
> Christians see that the spiritually viable options extend beyond YEC. I
> would be surprised if Denyse herself did not agree with the final 6 words
> of the previous sentence.
> But this is incidental. As for the suggestion itself, that the ASA ought
> not to "campaign against the YECs," I would have several things to say.
> First, the ASA has to weigh any "official" response on such an issue
> against two key principles, as follows:
> (1) The ASA as an organization "does not take a position when there is
> honest disagreement between Christians on an issue." By itself, this
> suggests that we should not get involved directly in opposing YEC beliefs,
> just as we have neither officially supported nor opposed ID, TE, or
> various other approaches to origins that Christians hold. By itself. But
> it isn't "by itself."
> (2) We must also realize that ASA members "share a commitment to integrity
> in the practice of science." A very large majority of our members (nearly
> all, to the best of my knowledge) believe that the way in which YEC views
> are *usually* advanced (there are notable exceptions) violates "integrity
> in the practice of science." We do not believe, e.g., that scientific
> evidence at all supports a "recent" creation of the earth and universe in
> the past 10-20K years; more to the point, we believe that many creationist
> materials badly misrepresent this conclusion, in ways that do raise
> questions about "integrity in the practice of science." To be even more
> specific, the "RATE" project released in Nov & Dec 2005 by ICR & CRS, and
> strongly supported by AiG
> (, appears to
> mislead the ordinary person in the pew about the enormity of the challenge
> posed to the YE position, even though the YE scientists who conducted the
> study are ful!
> ly aware that the evidence is very strongly against their conclusions.
> Much more will be said about this in a forthcoming issue of PSCF. For
> the moment, I note only the bald contradiction between what is said *in
> the technical publication* of the RATE project (volume II, 2005), which
> most laypeople will never read, vs what is said in the popularizations of
> those views that continue to tell people in the pew that the evidence
> supports a "recent" creation. Furthermore, the very selective and (again)
> highly misleading way in which certain data are treated in the technical
> publication raises serious questions about "integrity in the practice of
> science."
> Several ASA members are committed to the YEC position. I think esp here
> of Kurt Wise, who candidly states that scientific evidence does not
> presently support the YEC position. He and some others hold out hope that
> future discoveries will alter that state of affairs, and in the meantime
> he believes what he does on the basis of Scripture. But Kurt does not
> misrepresent the scientific facts. The ASA as an organization does not
> oppose the YEC position, per se, even though nearly all of our members
> think it is very far from the truth. We do think that Christians should
> be shown other options in a favorable light (not as straw men to knock
> over), and that's what Jack's letter was about. We also believe that the
> YEC position is very often presented in ways that do not uphold "integrity
> in the practice of science." The individuals who engage in this might
> believe sincerely in what they are doing, but we do not believe that
> scientific integrity is upheld in many instances.
> As for viewpoint discrimination, I have no doubt that this happens for
> many reasons to academics--esp I suspect in the humanities, where
> viewpoints are more clearly seen and usually more directly relevant to
> intepretations made by scholars. The National Association of Scholars, a
> highly secular organization, likes to document such cases and call people
> to account for it. Whether the ASA should add this to its agenda, in
> cases involving our own members, is I believe a fair talking point. We
> presently lack financial resources to do it on an ongoing basis--it does
> take time and energy to do this--but if we were in a stronger financial
> situation it might perhaps be possible for us to act formally in certain
> cases. Informally, I know that I am not the only ASA member who defended
> Guillermo Gonzalez in public and private ways (the latter are often no
> less important), and I also defended Rick Sternberg on PT (a rare
> exception to my rule to avoid blogs). Whether not YEC scienti!
> sts should also be defended in this way, is much harder for me to say.
> See above. If a geology professor (e.g.) tells her students that the
> scientific evidence for an old earth is not very strong, I think the
> institution would be in a good place to deny her tenure. Ditto for an
> astronomy professor who tells his students that star formation is not
> going on in the universe right now.
> Ted
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Received on Thu May 3 15:11:54 2007

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