Re: [asa] ASA stance

From: Bill Hamilton <>
Date: Fri May 11 2007 - 22:31:17 EDT

Hi George

I certainly agree that we don't have to assert any support of common descent, and I probably should have said that. Certainly we don't have to tie evolution and an old earth together, and we shouldn't. However, as I understand it, the definition of evolution as used in biology includes what the creationists call variation, and its study is very important for understanding things like bacterial resistance to antibiotics, operation of the immune system, etc. Maybe it's asking too much to try to teach the correct definition of evolution in a policy statement (yeah, it is), but in ASA's role of teaching sound science to Christian lay people, some mention of evolution as variation should be made. Otherwise we just assent to perpetuating the reluctance of a good many Christian college students to major in biology.
Bill Hamilton
William E. Hamilton, Jr., Ph.D.
248.652.4148 (home) 248.821.8156 (mobile)
"...If God is for us, who is against us?" Rom 8:31
"A theory that you cannot explain to a bartender is probably no damn good"
--Ernest Rutherford

----- Original Message ----
From: George Murphy <>
To: AmericanScientificAffiliation <>
Sent: Friday, May 11, 2007 2:18:56 PM
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.

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


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


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


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


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 question.


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




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Received on Fri May 11 22:31:35 2007

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