Re: [asa] Francis Collins shows mild signs of dementia, NA snark

From: George Murphy <>
Date: Tue Oct 20 2009 - 19:55:11 EDT

Gregory -

Of course I can't speak for Bob Russell but I'd guess that the name of CTNS is simply an honest statement about the primary focus of the center. Bob himself has his doctorate in physics & a lot of the people who've been associated with the center are either theologians or in the physical scientists - or both. There's no inconsistency between that & recognition that there's significant contact between those areas with technology & ethics. Those latter fields just aren't where CTNS's emphasis has been primarily (though not exclusively). As has already been noted on this thread, one could also add politics and the arts, & I'd add, of course, philosophy, so an entirely "accurate" name would get a bit clumsy!

& there's also the matter of "brand recognition" & attendant problem with changing a name of a firm that's built up a reputation. Witness, e.g., the oddness today of the "National Association for the Advancement of Colored People"!

As far as you & ASA are concerned, there's simply no question of the eligibility of a sociologist to join. There are members & fellows in the social sciences (although they are not as numerous as we'd like). I think I've mentioned before Dave Moberg, a sociologist who's now an emeritus propf at Marquette. I'm thinking he may have been president of ASA at some point in the relatively distant past - Ted would know more accurately.

I've encouraged you several times before to join because I think the organization does need more emphasis on the social sciences. As a Canadian you could join the sister organization, CSCA (whose separate existence is, I've been told, largely a matter of tax issues), but some Canadians prefer just to join ASA.

Having said all that on what I think is a positive note, I'll add that your closing suggestion that ASA has to "prove" that it's worthy of you is more than a little silly. But maybe you were just running out of steam at the end of your post.


  ----- Original Message -----
  From: Gregory Arago
  To: Ted Davis ; ASA ; Dave Wallace ;
  Cc: David Opderbeck
  Sent: Tuesday, October 20, 2009 4:58 PM
  Subject: Re: [asa] Francis Collins shows mild signs of dementia, NA snark

  Hi Ted and George,

  The 'echo' may be great on its own, but it is muted by the reality that Bob Russell's 'organisation' is *still* called "The Centre for Theology and the Natural Sciences." In other words, if Russell *really* wanted to involve 'ethics' and 'technology' at a deeper level, he would then *logically* choose to rename his 'organisation' something like 'CTPSSNS' - Centre for Theology, Philosophy, Social Sciences and Natural Sciences. Not doing so is a passive acknowledgement of the argument that I am making. And you both know this in exactly the way I am saying it!

  Let me just add that I now work (just recently signed - hurrah!) at an organisation that focuses on 'science and technology.' So I certainly do support the intention of Bob Russell that 'science and religion' is often too narrow a conversation for holistic thinkers in our current era. Following the catholic 'sage of the wired age,' we are confronted with 'simultaneity' in our 'environment' and cannot escape 'involvement' in such things as ethics and technology. The 'new atheists' profoundly fail on precisely this front. (note: still to respond to Ted's challenge in another thread on this)

  Young people today are conditioned to look beyond mere 'science and religion' dialogue as echoed by their surroundings. You are not challenging me, Ted, but rather pressing against the reality of the 'wired age.' Religion is something wonderful and inspiring that 'makes our hair stand on its end,' rather than being a mere relic (read: outdated according to universal evolutionism) of 'ancient' thinking, feeling and experience (e.g. liturgy). It is no surprise that 'spirituality' is consistently one of the leading 'categories' of books sold in North American markets. In this sense, I agree with what was recently said here on the list about not taking the NA's too seriously for their impact on people and societies.

  All of the other things you both write in the messages below i agree with. including the good things in your journal and at meetings (some of which through recordings and texts i've heard and read). but to become a 'member'? it in many ways doesn't seem that i would qualify. there may be a fundamental 'shift' waiting in the wings at ASA before you could accept someone like me at such a non-natural sciences level. there is much that remains to prove that you can potentially overcome your americo-centric (ASA) view of 'science' to include the multi-lateral views of 'others' as nevertheless legitimate and therefore relevant to the conversation you are having and may still wish to have in the future...


  From: Ted Davis <>
  To: ASA <>; Dave Wallace <>;; Gregory Arago <>
  Cc: David Opderbeck <>
  Sent: Mon, October 19, 2009 6:38:37 PM
  Subject: Re: [asa] Francis Collins shows mild signs of dementia, NA snark

  I echo George' point, Gregory. I don't think you are an ASA member. If you were (say) a member for a few years (or more), you would realize that the ASA has for decades been about a much broader range of issues related to science and religion than you seem to be aware of. Also, a broader range of disciplines and perspectives than is often reflected on this list. You ought to consider becoming a member, Gregory. A lot of good things have been published in our journal and discussed at our meetings.


>>> <> 10/19/2009 10:29 AM >>>
  Bob Russell pointed out some years ago that the area usuaully referred to as "science and religion" is more accurately "science-religion-technology-ethics," a point I've tried to bear in mind. & one weakness of the position of many atheists is that they have no clear basis for their ethics. Of course that doesn't mean that they can't be nice people but their worldview provides no reason why they should be nice.


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Received on Tue Oct 20 19:55:29 2009

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