Re: [asa] Adios, ASA List

From: Don Winterstein <dfwinterstein@msn.com>
Date: Thu Mar 19 2009 - 05:21:37 EDT

I don't read everything on this list, but I read enough--including a lot that David O. has written--to conclude that he's overreacted. I've seen very little in response to his posts that would justify his characterization: "...anger, arrogance, and self-indulgence of the flame wars that characterize this space." I may have missed important instances. But he departed immediately after one of my responses, and my response was not of that kind.

As I see it, everyone on this list writes as an individual, not as a representative of a particular point of view that's trying to overwhelm or shut down all other points of view. A few contributors--e.g., Vernon Jenkins and Janice Matchett--have been discouraged, but the discouraging I think had more to do with their tactics than their ideas. Apart from them there have been strong disagreements among participants but no real attempt to exclude anyone. I doubt anyone wanted to exclude David O. In fact, I think everyone respected him and his views. But there's a difference between respecting and agreeing.

People with a background in science pretty much uniformly recognize that some Christian teachings of the past, including many still strongly held by conservative Christian groups, require at a minimum some reinterpretation in view of scientific discoveries. Most participants here have that much in common. What we do not have in common is agreement on the degree to which teachings need to be reinterpreted. But once you recognize a need to reinterpret, it's hard to draw a line on where to stop.

People who minimize the need for reinterpretation are obviously going to come into conflict with those who think a lot of reinterpretation is necessary. They may indeed constitute a minority of the list's participants and feel they don't belong. Perhaps they don't.

I myself am a minority of one, and I could easily conclude that I don't belong here either. Some years back Richard Faussette fingered himself, Vernon and me as the real oddballs on this list. But I enjoy the list and find the interaction valuable. I'm confident enough of my beliefs to put up with any amount of "abuse" that's likely to come my way.

Scientists often speak bluntly, but bluntness does not in itself constitute personal attack. It's a way of clearing the air and coming to the point. Ad hominems and insults are never appropriate, but I see relatively little of that happening here. Participants need to distinguish between expressions of disagreement, valid criticisms and ad hominems. That's at least partly what Dick Fischer must have meant when he said, "If you can't take the heat get out of the kitchen." Nobody's perfect, and sometimes criticisms miss the mark. Then you can defend yourself. But excessive politeness can be a barrier to communication.

People who are confident of their views should be able to take criticism and tolerate disagreements. Whether they want to or not is a separate matter.

Don

  ----- Original Message -----
  From: Gregory Arago<mailto:gregoryarago@yahoo.ca>
  To: ASA<mailto:asa@calvin.edu> ; David Opderbeck<mailto:dopderbeck@gmail.com>
  Sent: Wednesday, March 18, 2009 10:25 AM
  Subject: Re: [asa] Adios, ASA List

        David O. wrote:
        "the ASA, particularly as characterized by this list, is hobbled by some kind of myopia."

        What kind of myopia, if any, could ASA *possibly* be hobbled by?

        It might be an excellent exercise in self-reflection for someone out there (e.g. an ASA regular or insighful on-looker) to grapple with what David might mean in saying this, instead of simply dismissing it and carrying on discussion in a form of 'collective' myopia, if such a thing might indeed exist.

        Now don't get all defensive (and offended) out there folks and roll your eyes at his suggestion! Why not take it seriously, since David has been contributing to this list for a couple of years faithfully, has demonstrated exceptional spiritual perception to all of us, and knows some of the features of ASA-list discourse rather well? I share his frustration with being belittled and occasionally ridiculed (most recently by Allen Harvey in this very thread!), etc.

        ~~
        Thanks for all of your inspiring, critical, discerning, sometimes conservative, constantly even-handed (even when I made a crack about your use of the term 'evangelical' to describe ASA's orientation not long ago), attempts, David, to engage natural science discourse with your legal studies knowledge and the tradition in which it participates...and for many other things related to Christianity! You have been a role model of forum communication for me and I am sad that your words won't be gracing my screen so regularly.

        Fare thee well, David!

        Gregory

        p.s. the bolding below is not David's, but mine; the thought is his and it is a shared one...

        --- On Mon, 3/16/09, David Opderbeck <dopderbeck@gmail.com> wrote:

          From: David Opderbeck <dopderbeck@gmail.com>
          Subject: [asa] Adios, ASA List
          To: "ASA" <asa@calvin.edu>
          Cc: "Ted Davis" <TDavis@messiah.edu>, "Randy Isaac" <Randy@asa3.org>, Walter_Bradley@baylor.edu
          Received: Monday, March 16, 2009, 3:56 PM

          The recent discussion on this list about embryonic stem cell research has finally pushed me over the edge. I'm tired of being belittled, ridiculed, subjected to ad hominems, etc. every time I express an opinion that bears even a whiff of a "conservative" or "traditional" approach to a Christian worldview. I'm exhausted of having to defend the position that the Bible really does communicate truth about human history and the human condition in some meaningful sense. I'm sick of the culture of suspicion and scoffing that runs through our discourse. I need to break from the anger, arrogance, and self-indulgence of the flame wars that characterize this space.

          In the past, I've defended the ASA and this email list against attacks by various ID folks and others. I still don't think that all of the criticisms that have been levied against the ASA by those folks are fair. However, I think they are right that the ASA, particularly as characterized by this list, is hobbled by some kind of myopia. Yes, I know this list isn't representative of the ASA in an absolute sense, but it's an ASA-sponsored public discussion space, which is often a travesty. I've wasted too much time on it, and it's become spiritually not only unproductive, but a liability. Via con Dios.

          David W. Opderbeck
          Associate Professor of Law
          Seton Hall University Law School
          Director, Gibbons Institute of Law, Science & Technology
       

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Received on Thu Mar 19 05:22:23 2009

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