Re: [asa] A Message from the RTB Scholar Team (fwd)

From: Stephen Matheson <smatheso@calvin.edu>
Date: Thu Apr 17 2008 - 14:21:09 EDT

It's a nice statement, but I don't share the prevailing opinion of its surpassing excellence.

First of all, the RTB apologists, being apologists, emphasize the apologetic angle -- be nice, so we can more effectively reach scientists with the gospel. Personally, I find this science-as-a-mission-field attitude to be off-putting, and I don't like the implication that scientists are more likely to be skeptics than are others. This is a difference of opinion, albeit a significant one.

More importantly, I find too much of RTB's work to be unacceptably lacking in intellectual integrity. Hugh Ross has concocted numerous scientific falsehoods in his embarrassing writings on common descent, publishing and re-publishing elementary errors in basic evolutionary biology. At least one of his errors, in which he tells a wholly fictitious story ( http://sfmatheson.blogspot.com/2008/03/hugh-ross-shocking-fairy-tale.html ) of scientific discovery by a misnamed "team of physicists," has a strong odor of fabrication and was certainly generated without the most basic attention to professional integrity. And perhaps others who (like me) have read Fuz Rana's attacks on evolutionary theory will share my skepticism regarding RTB's claim that they reject Expelled's allegation "that the scientific community deems certain questions off-limits, particularly any question about the legitimacy of neo-Darwinian evolution." Rana has written precisely this ( http://www.reasons.org/tnrtb/2007/09/27/are-biologists-willing-to-test-evolution/ ), recently.

So, yes, kudos to RTB for eschewing the brainless and suicidal call to culture war. But don't be fooled: Reasons To Believe is an embarrassing repository of potentially dangerous folk science, and their breaches of professional scientific integrity should be cause for significant concern. And don't be too impressed by their claim to respect the scientific community on common descent. Polite contempt is still contempt.

Steve Matheson
  
>>> "David Heddle" <heddle@gmail.com> 04/17/08 12:58 PM >>>
This is excellent. Is is possible to get permission to post this on a blog
(with favorable commentary?) If not, is there a link to this available?

David Heddle
Associate Professor of Physics
Christopher Newport University, &
The Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility

On Wed, Apr 16, 2008 at 2:06 PM, gordon brown <Gordon.Brown@colorado.edu>
wrote:

> Here is a reaction to the EXPELLED film.
>
> Gordon Brown (ASA member)
>
>
> ---------- Forwarded message ----------
>
> Dear RTB Chapter members,
>
>
>
> With the impending release of "EXPELLED: No Intelligence Allowed" (April
> 18), the Reasons to Believe scholar team thought it best to prepare a
> statement of our position, a guide for answering questions from chapters,
> networks, and apologists. Keep in mind that the mission of RTB centers on
> reaching out to science-minded people with two purposes:
>
> 1. to bring the Gospel message to those who would not otherwise hear it,
> and
>
>
> 2. to strengthen the faith of those who fear that science conflicts with
> the
> Christian faith-equipping them for ministry in the process.
>
>
>
> In order to accomplish these purposes, we must first earn the right to be
> heard.
>
>
>
> After previewing the promotional materials provided by the movie's
> marketers, we were concerned that the movie took an adversarial approach
> to
> the scientific community. A number of RTB scholars and staff attended a
> prerelease screening in Los Angeles recently and confirmed that EXPELLED
> definitely does take such an approach. The movie draws an analogy between
> the Berlin wall and the scientific community's response to intelligent
> design. By doing so, EXPELLED implicitly argues that the scientific
> community deems certain questions off-limits, particularly any question
> about the legitimacy of neo-Darwinian evolution. The movie further argues
> that academia, the media, and the courts all conspire as "thought police"
> to
> oppress any and all dissent from the party line.
>
>
>
> Clearly some oppression and discrimination have occurred, but the
> experience
> of RTB scholars and many of their contacts refutes the movie's premise
> that
> the scientific community systemically and unilaterally fosters these
> injustices. While individual scientists and institutions have behaved
> unfairly at times, this charge cannot in all fairness be leveled against
> the
> scientific community as a whole.
>
>
>
> Regardless, from RTB's perspective, the central question is this: when
> injustices do occur, how should we respond? Consider the response of Nate
> Saint to his son's question, as depicted in the movie, End of the Spear.
> Nate, Jim Eliot, and three other missionaries were preparing to make
> contact
> with the notoriously violent Waodani tribe in Ecuador. Stevie asks if they
> will shoot the Waodani if attacked. Nate replies: "We can't shoot the
> Waodani, son. They're not ready for heaven. We are."
>
>
>
> If science-minded skeptics indeed represent a mission field, then we
> should
> not come out shooting. EXPELLED seems to do just that. While an
> entertaining
> movie, its main thrust runs counter to RTB's mission of seeking to engage
> scientists in the scientific arena. Consequently, any endorsement of
> EXPELLED by RTB hinders our ability to spread the Gospel message to those
> we
> hope to reach.
>
>
>
> Therefore, we ask all chapter members and volunteers to refrain from
> endorsing EXPELLED in any official way. This request does not extend to
> your
> personal interactions-only to any actions taken in association with or on
> behalf of Reasons to Believe.
>
>
>
> Thank you for your support and understanding.
>
>
>
> The RTB Scholar Team
>
>
> To unsubscribe, send a message to majordomo@calvin.edu with
> "unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message.
>

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Received on Thu Apr 17 14:23:03 2008

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