RE: [asa] ASA stance

From: Ted Davis <>
Date: Fri May 11 2007 - 17:48:39 EDT

My comments on Don's are inserted below, clearly indicated.

>>> "Donald F Calbreath" <> 05/11/07 4:23 PM >>>
I've been following the discussion about YECs, ID, ASA and who should be in
it as well as all the connected issues for some time now. Let me see if I
have everything straight.

1. You don't really want anybody who supports YEC or ID to be in ASA. You
talk about allowing them in only as long as they don't say much or don't
push their views.

TED: Not true. It is true that most YECs would not be very comfortable
with the fact that ASA members do not believe that YEC is the obvious or
only biblically supported position. That's as far as this would go and be
accurate. As for ID, Don, you would be right that many of the active
posters here are not very sympathetic with ID; some of the active posters
are quite sympathetic. On that issue, this list does not represent very
well the views of members generally. My sense is, that a significant
percentage (perhaps less than half, perhaps more than half) of our members
are either ID supporters or else at least sympathetic with some ID claims.
I am myself in the latter category. Publications in PSCF are consistent
with this observation. Our current VP (Walter Bradley) is a leading ID
advocate. On what do you base your comments? This list alone, or further

2. You want a statement about the age of the earth that does not make any
assumptions about evolution.

TED: Some do, some do not.

3. Many of you seem confused or uncertain about exactly when Adam and Eve
lived, if they lived, or when a soul was somehow placed into humans, or when
they became human, created in God's image.

TED: I've commented often on parts of this one, though not too recently.
Much diversity within the ASA on each of these.

4. You place a strong emphasis on scientific integrity, but seem to have
some problems with placing the same emphasis on integrity of the

TED: Not true, IMO. The conversation about "integrity in science" is based
on one phrase in our mission/identity statement. There are other phrases,
equally (if not more) important, about the Bible and how we understand it.
These, for example:
# We accept the divine inspiration, trustworthiness and authority of the
Bible in matters of faith and conduct.
# We confess the Triune God affirmed in the Nicene and Apostles' creeds
which we accept as brief, faithful statements of Christian doctrine based
upon Scripture.
We talk about those things a lot, but not much in this particular
conversation thread. I would be hesitant to extrapolate too freely from one

5. Various modern theologians appear to be the major sources of your
Scripture interpretation (and they are all very liberal theologians).

TED: Such as, who, precisely? The current theologians whom I like most, on
the science/theology issues (leaving aside many other issues), are John
Polkinghorne and Thomas Torrance. Some might regard either or both of them
as "liberal," but IMO most genuine theological "liberals" would regard them
as too conservative, b/c they both have high views of the transcendence of
God. This is of course a judgement call, and not everyone would make the
same call. Almost all who contribute to this list are not very attracted to
process theism or panentheism (which aren't necessarily identical); I would
call both of those views "liberal" myself, and hardly any (if any) ASA
members find those very persuasive.
Have I left anything out of importance?

TED: See above, please for very important things that have been left out.

Some conclusions I come to:

1. Apparently, you don't support the statements that ASA has made about
positions they take and the importance of inclusion and theological

TED: I gather you have not read many or most of my posts. I am a Council
member. I don't "speak for council" myself -- council does that sometimes
collectively -- but enough members who know my overall attitudes and
viewpoints supported me to put me on Council. That says something, at
least, about who the ASA is, when it comes to inclusion and diversity.

2. You are very disdainful of people in ASA who take different positions
than you do on some of these issues.

TED: Several posters, IMO, fit this description sometimes. That's another
reason I'd like to change the way this list works.

3. I am having a difficult time seeing what distinguishes your position (is
it Old Earth Creationism or Theistic Evolution or what?, I can't really
tell) from the secular scientific community. It is not at all clear to me
where God fits in to your position.

TED: This is very often said, by an adherent of a given view, about an
adherent of another view. With regard to the science itself, however, a lot
of ASA members are satisfied with the evidence supporting nearly all claims
of contemporary science, and don't see God as part of that evaluation. They
would, at the same time, see God as a major part of how they fit those
claims into a larger picture.

4. The recent conversations with AAAS and ASA must have been very
comforting to the secular folks in AAAS (I have not seen anything specific
about what was said in the conversation). My guess would be that they know
now that they have co-opted a major Christian organization and can now get
on with the task of eliminating any talk of God being involved in the world.
 If I am wrong, please let me know. I've raised the question at least once
on this listserv within the last month and never got any response.

TED: Those conversations have only just begun. I doubt that the AAAS
officers believe they have co-opted the ASA. They have rather, quite
respectfully, asked us to talk to them and to share our perspectives with
them. That hardly constitutes co-option, unless we have different
definitions of that word.

5. You are driving another wedge between science and conservative
Christians. You will not convince more Christians to go into science; you
will simply help many of them walk away from a story they already do not buy

TED: I doubt that the ASA, or the AAAS, or TDI, convinces many CHristians
to pursue science. Such motivations usually come from within, not from
without. Sometimes, on the other hand, books/essays by people about
science/religion can turn off people who otherwise might want to do science.
 An example, IMO, is the book, "Moral Darwinism," by Ben Wiker. What he
says in the middle of the book about mathematical science and atoms (both of
which he apparently thinks are not theologically legitimate) might well turn
off young people. That's a genuine concern that I've shared with the
publisher and on this list.

6. After over forty years of being a member of ASA, I will be submitting my
resignation when the "official statement" comes out in June if it reads
anywhere close to what has already been clearly stated on this listserv. I
definitely no longer feel welcome here.

 TED: There isn't going to be an official statement. There will however be
an op-ed piece. If you find it offensive, I would be interested to know
why, and ask for you to tell me once you've seen it.

Thank you,

Don Calbreath


From: on behalf of George Murphy
Sent: Fri 5/11/07 11:18 AM
To: AmericanScientificAffiliation
Subject: Re: [asa] ASA stance

Further comments on the issue, with reference to those who've posted on my
original suggestion:
Ted D: I'm glad that Randy is going to be saying aomething about this in
PSCF. However -
    a) That doesn't have the status of an official position statement of
the organization.
    b) In any case, a concerted PR effort will be needed if we want an ASA
statement (official or not) to have a significant impact.
Speaking of impacts, of course there will also be some negative fallout.
But Dembski & O'Leary may have already gotten about as mileage from their
disinformation campaign as they're going to get.
Bill H: First, I don't think that an endorsement of evolution should be
made in connection with a statement in favor of an old earth. I certainly
accept evolution myself, but it's possible for an honest, intelligent &
scientifically literate person to hold some version of OEC or PC without the
distortions or doublethink that YEC requires. Besides, separating the two
issues has some tactical advantages. It would mean that we wouldn't have to
provoke Christians who react viscerally to the E word.
        Second, adopting a statement on age doesn't mean that we have to
kick YECs out of the organization. That wouldn't be part of the statement
of faith. They could even be advised privately that they were welcome to
stay. But including a welcome to them in the original statement would cloud
the message.
Jack: I agree that "biblical interpretations that claim that the earth
MUST be young, are incorrect," but don't think that we should state this
explicitly. It would be better to stick to a statement about the science.
Among other things, we should remember that most members of ASA are
scientists & not professional theologians. OTOH, on drsyme's comment, I
don't think we should make an explicit statement about their being multiple
valid interpretations of scripture. That's true, but not all
interpretations are valid.
Dave S: The theological commitments involved in our statement of faith
include theological validation of scientific investigation of the world.
(In a way the older statement of faith was stronger in that regard:
"Certain laws are discernable in the manner in which God upholds the world.
The scientific approach is acapable of giving reliable information about the
natural world.")
Dick F & Jack H: I would hope that the council would give serious
consideration to the type of statement I suggested.
David O: I can't say that I really understand the type of "old & young"
view you're proposing but it makes me nervous. Any view that makes sin, or
Satan, or any evil power responsible for the present condition of the world,
including the way fundamental physical processes operate, verges on the
Manichean heresy because it makes something other than God the effective
creator of the empirical world.
James M: Offering fellowship to the few YEC scientists who honestly face
the difficulties of their view would be fine, but we can't do everything. &
at this point I think it's more important to maintain the public credibility
of the ASA & if possible put a spoke in the wheel of the well-financed &
publicized YEC movement whose integrity is, at the very least, open to
Terry G: The previous 2 comments also apply, mutatis mutandis, to your
response. We can respect the fact that some Christians think the authority
of scripture requires a young earth without remaining officially neutral on
the subject.
I disagree with you about the viability of apparent age arguments (see my
earlier post on Oklo) but don't want to get off track on that now.
Jim A: A young earth view is very helpful, though not essential, for
anti-evolution. If the earth has only been around for ~10^4 years then
significant macroevolution couldn't have happened. The type of statement I
suggest would thus remove some support from anti-evolution positions, & so
much the better, but we don't have to point that out explicitly.
Hope there are no stupid typos this time!
George <>

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Received on Fri May 11 17:49:29 2007

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