[asa] The ASA and the Soft Sciences (ASA focus for the

From: Preston Garrison <pngarrison@att.net>
Date: Sat Jan 03 2009 - 00:49:19 EST

David wrote:

>1 -- yes, there are a variety of religious / Christian distinctives
>on economics. There is an enormous body of Catholic social teaching
>on economic justice; there's another strand of vigorous social
>critique running from the early anabaptists to Bonheoffer to MLK to
>Yoder to Hauerwas; there is the neo-Calvinist tradition which
>largely undergirds many current evangelical approaches; and so on.
>If you don't care about this from a theological / spiritual
>perspective before it hits your 401K directly, then your theology
>and spirituality probably need some work.
>2 -- I'm so tired of hearing that the Church is in crisis because of
>evolution. The Church of Jesus Christ in many ways has never been
>more robust in all the history of Christianity. The gospel is
>exploding in Asia, Africa and South America; the average Christian
>has never been more educated and literate (at least in North
>America); there is wealth, aid, and support being transferred to
>needy people in the name of Jesus in greater volume than ever; and
>so on. Crisis-talk is myopic and is usually mediated by our own
>personal sense of crisis.
>The science of evolution is presenting a painful challenge to one
>small segment of the Church at present -- educated Western
>evangelicals. This is an important segment of the Church, arguably,
>because it is so wealthy and influential. And it is important to
>those of us who live and minister in well-educated Western contexts.
>But it's hardly a "crisis" in the Church universal.

This is true right now, but the whole world is becoming more highly
educated, particularly in places like China and India that are well
into the development of a modern economy that can afford more
education. That means that the intellectual problems that American
evangelicals are facing today about evolution, the relationship of
descriptive and theoretical economics to prescriptive economics
(Biblical teaching, historical Catholic teaching and other moral
voices on economics), environmental issues etc. are quickly going to
be facing evangelicals all over the world.

As on many other things, they will look to the U.S. because we are
both highly educated and have a large evangelical population. It
looks like to me that the ASA has a large role to play, because we
have a number of people (some of them participate on this list) who
have their lives centered on Christ and who are very well informed in
multiple areas including the history of Christianity, theology and
more than one area of science.

There do seem to be areas of science (areas that are only "soft"
[meaning not as mature as say physics or chemistry] because their
subject matter IS so complex) where the ASA is weak. I suggested that
our leaders should look at alliances with evangelical groups in these
other areas because some of these big issues obviously involve more
than one science. A joint meeting that included sessions on
environmental issues with evangelical climate scientists and
economists would be fascinating and very useful, after you got past
the initial shouting that usually goes on between people speaking
different languages. I think simple minded biochemists like me would
probably go away thankful that we deal with things as simple and
experimentally tractable as mere enzymes and cells, but the long term
results for the church would be good. We should pay some attention to
our Catholic brothers and sisters, too. They have been doing this
kind of thing for a very long time.

Preston G.

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Received on Sat Jan 3 00:50:02 2009

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