RE: [asa] Focus on the Family supports the YEC nonsense

From: Austerberry, Charles <cfauster@creighton.edu>
Date: Thu May 24 2007 - 13:58:55 EDT

 
Dick, on the one hand I agree with you about the need to refute some
young-earth claims. But on the other hand, need the ASA, as an
organization, refute the young-earth position itself? Today we see
Dobson defending, and DefCon and other secular groups attacking, Ham and
the AiG museum with neither side qualifying or nuancing their positions.
What's to emulate in that?

YEC proponents sometimes admit that the scientific data is against their
position, and then use either apparent age or the possibility of yet
unknown science to justify sticking with what they see as the only
position faithful to the Bible. That sort of honesty should be
tolerated, and indeed we should commend the RATE authors and all YEC
proponents when they admit to the unresolved problems in their position.

As long as we continue to have many ASA members individually speaking
and writing against young-earth errors (often in the ASA journal itself
- see Randy's excellent critique of RATE II in the latest issue of
Perspectives), what more will be gained by the ASA taking a stronger
official position? Here is Randy's conclusion at the end of his review
essay ("...the ASA neither endorses nor opposes young-earth creationism
which recognizes the possibility of a recent creation with appearance of
age or which acknowledges the unresolved discrepancy between scientific
data and a young-earth position. However, claims that scientific data
affirm a young earth do not meet the criterion of integrity in science
... The ASA can and does oppose such deception." - from "Assessing the
RATE Project" by Randy Isaac, p. 146 of Perspectives on Science and
Christian Faith, Vol 59, #2, June 2007).

If the ASA loudly trumpets a simple sound-bite stand against the YEC
position itself, I see two problems. One is relatively minor: the risk
of being misunderstood. As someone on the list warned, people
unfamiliar with the ASA would wonder, why now? Many will assume that
only recently did the majority of ASA members finally reject YEC.

The second problem is more significant, and also has been raised by
others on this list. As it is now (and I think should continue to be),
not taking official positions when there is honest disagreement among
Christians is simply perceived as ASA policy. But if the ASA starts down
the road of taking positions, not opposing a position would then mean
endorsing it. We would need to maintain something like a Christian
"Talk Origins" site, but with official ASA positions defined.

For example, what good is it to accept that the earth is old if one is
still refusing to accept another huge data set showing that humans share
ancestry with nonhuman primates? Apologetics Press and other YEC web
sites have claimed that humans could not share common ancestry with
nonhuman primates because humans are "missing" a pair of chromosomes
present in chimps and other primates - and each chromosome in a species
has many genes essential for life. Of course, the claim that those
genes would necessarily be lost if the chromosome number shrank is
simply false. Chromosome number diminishes through chromosome fusion,
not through loss of lots of genetic material. The genes are still there.
Even the tell-tale remnants of what once were chromosome end-caps
(telomeres) are still there, in the middle of the human chromosome that
resulted from the fusion event during evolution. This is but one
example of the overwhelming genomic evidence for common human-primate
ancestry. To me, it's just as clear-cut as the evidence for an old
earth.

I heard OEC Hugh Ross debate YEC (Henry or John) Morris once on James
Dobson's Focus on the Family. Dobson probably learned then to stay away
from OEC vs. YEC! Ross and Morris went at each other pretty
ferociously, and Dobson kept trying to find common ground between them.
The only thing the three of them could agree on is that evolution,
including common ancestry of humans and nonhuman primates, is
scientifically unsupported and theologically of the devil. (Now I am
not sure if Dobson has been consistent in his refusal to accept common
ancestry, but at least on that program, he did not distinguish his own
views from the strident anti-evolution position shared by Ross and
Morris). If we come out in some general way for an old earth, what
about common ancestry? Can we really say the evidence for common
ancestry is less strong than the evidence for an old earth? If we take
a position on one (age of earth) but not the other (common ancestry),
what will distinguish our position from that of Dobson?

Personally, I'd love to see a new national organization similar to the
state-level religious coalitions that have sprung up to both defend
evolution as science and oppose the promotion of atheism as if it were
science. I guess the Clergy Letter Project comes the closest, but it's
built around clergy, not scientists. The new organization would probably
have lots of ASA members, but it should be distinct from the ASA, whose
role is to provide a forum for honest discussion among all scientists
who are Christians.

Charles (Chuck) F. Austerberry, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Biology
Hixson-Lied Room 438
Creighton University
2500 California Plaza
Omaha, NE 68178
 
Phone: 402-280-2154
Fax: 402-280-5595
 
e-mail: cfauster@creighton.edu
 
Nebraska Religious Coalition for Science Education
http://nrcse.creighton.edu
 
************************
Date: Wed, 23 May 2007 20:21:35 -0400
From: "Dick Fischer" <dickfischer@verizon.net>
Subject: RE: [asa] Focus on the Family supports the YEC nonsense

This is a perfect of example of where ASA's self-inflicted neutrality
puts us on the sideline making these issues a far-left, pro-science,
anti-religious attack against the poor Christians who are only trying to
defend the truth of the Bible. By being silent we are an irrelevant,
toothless tiger where, If we had an official position on YEC as many of
us have lobbied for, the ASA could lead the condemnation against those
who through their ignorant and misguided Bible interpretation cause all
Bible-believers to appear to be as misled as they are. We enlightened
pro-science, God-loving Christians sit quietly on our hands while the
"real Christians" duke it out with the Satan-worshipping heathen.
Valiant King George against the dreaded dragon. YECs get to clothe
themselves in righteousness and revel in the publicity. And for us
lurking in the shadows, just another opportunity lost .

Dick Fischer

Dick Fischer, Genesis Proclaimed Association

Finding Harmony in Bible, Science, and History

http://www.genesisproclaimed.org

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Received on Thu May 24 14:01:00 2007

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