RE: [asa] taking a hiatus

From: Dehler, Bernie <>
Date: Tue Jan 06 2009 - 11:43:02 EST

Dennis- some pro/con.

To do as you suggest would make it a top-notch Christian science journal. But it would also result in fewer submissions, and fewer dialogues on science/religion.

To do "as is" would provide a platform to critique and review what a prominent Christian (Groothuis) has to say. There is probably no other forum for this, and if ASA didn't do it, it wouldn't get done. Therefore, a learning opportunity would be lost for everyone, including Groothuis and the ASA organization leaders/members.

From: [] On Behalf Of Michael Roberts
Sent: Tuesday, January 06, 2009 6:42 AM
To: Dennis Venema; Ted Davis;
Subject: Re: [asa] taking a hiatus

First I am not a member of ASA as I am a Brit hence in the CIS which is very similar. Thus I speak more as an observer and don't speak for the ASA at all. Clearly if I were transported across the pond I would join.
I both strongly agree with and strongly disagree with you!
The ASA (and here I am also speaking about the CIS and ISCAST) is for scientists in the broad sense who are more or less evangelical.  When it was founded it was basically oldish earth and anti-evolution (see Mark Kalthoff's article in PSCF 1991? - on website, or in my book reviewed in the latest PSCF). They were essentially Gappists and more akin to Hugh Ross than Francis Collins. However they opened up science and religion for evangelicals and criticise them how you like but they did a great job. They tried to be inclusive of OE and YE but that came to nought as Whitcomb and Morris published the Genesis Flood in reaction.
When ID came on the market (partly as a response - unstated- to the Chicago statement on Inerrancy which accepted OE but not evolution) numbers of ASA members who were OE but not TE empathised with ID. As I see it the ASA tried to keep both strands going with varying degrees of success. ID has always been divisive and the ASA leadership has tried to lead a middle course, reflected in what is published in PSCF.
This is a matter of editorial policy and has been criticised on all sides. Even though I mutter something when I read some papers, I would defend the policy.
Further when I first came across ID-type ideas (Bradley Olsen Thaxton The Origin of Life 1984) soon after it was published I thought it reasonable and much better than YEC as it seemed a variant of the old earth creationist position.
ID became controversial in the 90s and especially since 2000. I cant summarise it here.
Hope this helps
The bottom line is that many (poss 40%) of ASA members favour ID to TE.
----- Original Message -----
From: Dennis Venema
To: Ted Davis ;
Sent: Monday, January 05, 2009 6:25 PM
Subject: Re: [asa] taking a hiatus

Hi Ted (et. al)

Just a quick comment on this point here:

"Let me urge all ASA members to consider making a financial gift to the ASA
this winter.  Let me also urge non-members on this list to become members."

When I first considered joining the ASA, I was hesitant because I did not want to join an anti-evolution organization. As I learned more about the ASA, I decided it was worth my dues, as it were.

Then, this month, I am treated to Groothuis' article, that, in the abstract, proclaims that "ID is a legitimate scientific research program" (!) that  "should be taught as such at the state university." (!!) My first thought, before seeing the response article following it, was "how the heck did this make it through the peer review process??"

As a frequent reviewer (for a different journal) myself, I am very disappointed that this article appeared in PSCF. Articles with glaring errors of fact should not have rebuttal articles following them- they should be returned to the author for revision.

Some examples:

"If ID arguments are allowed to enter into academic debate at the university level, scientific categories will be rightly expanded..."

My review comment: In the abstract the author asserts that ID is science, yet in this sentence he suggests that ID requires "an expansion" of scientific categories. He needs to explain this discrepancy. If ID requires a change to the basic assumptions of science, the author should provide rationale and support from the scientific literature. This section also should include an interaction with other key discussions of the nature of ID and scientific categories, such as the testimony of Behe and Fuller in Kitzmiller vs. Dover, for example. This point should not be allowed to stand by bare assertion.

"ID... gives science another tool for empirical discovery"

My review comment: This point should be supported with examples from the scientific literature. If the author cannot support this position then the point should be withdrawn. Articles cited should have examples where ID has been used as a framework for empirical research (to make testable predictions, design and perform experiments, etc). Again, the author is making points on bare assertion alone (and the key points on which his thesis rests, at that).

In short, why should I continue to a be a member of the ASA if PSCF is going to publish unfounded articles like this? Why, as a young-ish scientist, should I recruit new members for the ASA if it is so spineless that it won't  stand up and refuse to publish nonsense like this?

Don't get me wrong- if ID can come up with something valid I'd be the first to want it published. If it could stand up to the rigors of peer review, then fine, let's have it in PSCF. If not, then why publish it and tarnish our reputation? If we're going to allow baseless assertion for key points of an article, then why does AiG need a journal? We seem quite willing to provide this service.

I'm looking for an organization that supports solid science from within a Christian framework. If I want to read baseless pro-ID rhetoric I can find it elsewhere - the Discovery Institute puts it out almost daily.


On 05/01/09 7:23 AM, "Ted Davis" <> wrote:
I will be on the road a good bit in the next few months, so I will be
signing off the ASA list shortly, though only temporarily.  If anyone posts
something that they really want me to see, please send it separately to me.

Let me urge all ASA members to consider making a financial gift to the ASA
this winter.  Let me also urge non-members on this list to become members.
Our single greatest need at the moment is for a few hundred more permanent
members.  Enlarging our membership to that extent would enable us to be much
more pro-active in helping our two primary target audiences (Christians and
professionals in scientific fields) develop better understandings of science
and faith.  That's an important job, and I do hope that you will all help us
do it!

Ted (ASA Vice President)

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Received on Tue Jan 6 11:43:46 2009

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