Re: TE/EC marginalised? #1A

Stephen E. Jones (
Wed, 11 Aug 1999 06:06:45 +0800


On Thu, 22 Jul 1999 21:34:29 +1000, Jonathan Clarke wrote:


>SJ>I thank Jonathan for his polite response. This is a refreshing change
>>from the usual varying degrees of intimidation, denigration and abuse
>>that I am accustomed to at the hands of TE/ECs on this Reflector!

JC>We have all sinned in this regard. Perhaps the medium encourages
>irascibility. A good sense of humour always helps!

I was going to automatically agree with this, but then I thought it is too
simple in this case to agree with platitudes like: "We have all sinned in
this regard."

Of course creationists are not perfect, but in my experience of 4 years on
this Reflector, if there has been any creationist "intimidation, denigration
and abuse" on this Reflector (and off-hand I can't remember any), it *pales
into insignificance* compared to the "usual varying degrees of
intimidation, denigration and abuse" by TE/ECs against creationists (both
YEC and OEC), on this Reflector.

If this level of "intimidation, denigration and abuse" was equally shared by
all positions on this Reflector then it could be blamed on the "medium".
Or if it was confined to the atheists and agnostics, it could be blamed on
their lack of Christian charity. But in fact the YECs, atheists and
agnostics on this Reflector, in my experience, are in the main, polite and
courteous, compared with the TE/ECs.

Now maybe it could be argued that it is just the TE/ECs on this Reflector.
But Johnson on one of his tapes relates basically the same experience he
had with TE/ECs generally. He says that when he started getting into the
Creation/Evolution debate and he let it be known that he had no problem
with a universe that was billions of years old, he was taken aside by
TE/ECs and told that the YECs were "a nasty crew" and the TE/ECs "were
his crowd". But, he relates, it turned out the complete opposite. He
found the YEC leaders like Henry Morris were Christian gentlemen in every
respect, but the TE/ECs he found to be mostly the "nasty crew".

This is not to say that every TE/EC is as nasty as the few who are *really*
nasty. But even the less nasty TE/ECs rarely (if ever) lift a finger publicly
to admonish their more nasty TE/EC colleagues, when they indulge in
"intimidation, denigration and abuse" against creationists on this Reflector.

This TE/EC penchant for "intimidation, denigration and abuse" on this
Reflector, and elsewhere, is a fact that cries out for an explanation. The
only explanation that fits the facts AFAIK is that the TE/ECs are suffering
an inner conflict of trying to "serve two masters" (Mt 6:24), namely
materialistic-naturalism and Christian theism.

And in such a `two master' situation, it is usually the materialistic-naturalist
`master' that wins:

"I do not think that the mind can serve two masters, and I am confident
that whenever the attempt is made, naturalism in the end will be the true
master and theism will have to abide by its dictates." (Johnson P.E.,
"Darwin on Trial", 1993, p169).


>>JC>...professor Sam Berry His trip to Australia has been very
>>>successful and he appears to have been well received among
>>>Christians, the media, and researchers. If this is what it means to be
>>>marginalised, perhaps we need more marginalised people.

>SJ>That Berry has been "well received among Christians, the media, and
>>researchers" in a single visit does not mean that his TE *position* is
>>still not marginalised among both mainstream Christianity and science.
>>Berry has been a leading TE for decades and yet AFAIK he has had
>>very little impact on Christian thought. I would doubt that the majority
>>Christians had ever heard of him. And I would expect that even less
>>scientists had ever heard of his TE views.
>>I checked to see how Berry's books are selling, and
>>they do not list *any, despite their claim to have over 2.5 million titles
>>in their catalog! More on that in the next installment.

I noticed in one of Jonathan's replies that Berry's initials are "R.J." and not
"S" for Sam. I apologise because I have one of Berry's books at home (I
did the search at work). I have now checked under "Berry, S*" with and found the following titles:

Your Book Search Results
for: the author(s) include "Berry, R.J."

15 items are shown below.

Charles Darwin : A Commemoration 1882-1982 : Happy Is the Man That
Findeth Wisdom R.J. Berry / Paperback / Published 1982 (Publisher Out
Of Stock)

Chinese Scientific and Technical Research R.J. Berry(Editor) / Hardcover
/ Published 1995 Our Price: $175.00 (Special Order)

Chinese Scientific and Technical Research R.J. Berry(Editor) / Hardcover
/ Published 1995 Our Price: $175.00 (Special Order)

Chinese Scientific and Technical Research R.J. Berry(Editor) / Hardcover
/ Published 1995 Our Price: $245.00 (Special Order)

Chinese Scientific and Technical Research R.J. Berry(Editor) / Hardcover
/ Published 1995 Our Price: $245.00 (Special Order)

Chinese Scientific and Technical Research R.J. Berry(Editor) / Hardcover
/ Published 1995 Our Price: $175.00 (Special Order)

Environmental Dilemmas : Ethics and Decisions R.J. Berry(Editor) /
Hardcover / Published 1993 Our Price: $92.95 (Special Order) Read
more about this title...

Genes in Ecology (British Ecological Society Symposium Series) ~
Usually ships in 24 hours R.J. Berry / Paperback / Published 1992 Our
Price: $59.95

Genes in Ecology : The 33rd Symposium of the British Ecological Society
University or East Anglia 1991 R.J. Berry, et al / Hardcover / Published
1992 Our Price: $125.00 (Special Order)

High Dose Afterloading in Cancer Uterus (British Journal of Radiology
Special Report, No 17) Thelma D. Bates, R.J. Berry / Paperback /
Published 1980 Our Price: $54.95 (Special Order)

Natural History of Orkney (Poyser Natural History Series) R.J. Berry /
Hardcover / Published 1999 Our Price: $40.00 (Special Order)

The Encyclopedia of Animal Evolution (Encyclopedia of Animal Series)
R.J. Berry, A. Hallam (Editor)

Evolution in the Galapagos Islands (Charles Darwin Foundation for the
Galapagos Isles, No. 363) R.J. Berry(Editor)

Evolution, Ecology and Environmental Stress P. Calow, R.J. Berry

Teach Yourself Genetics R.J. Berry


Copyright and disclaimer (c) 1996-1999,, Inc.

I did not check out the sales ranking of these books by Berry because none
of them seem like they have anything to do with theistic evolution or science
and theology. If Jonathan knows of a current book by Berry which deals with
TE or the relationship between science and theology, perhaps he could post its
title. I have Berry's "Adam and the Ape: A Christian Approach to the Theory of
Evolution," 1975), but that appears to be out of print.

JC>Hmmm..... perhaps we are using differing definitions of what we mean
>by marginalised. To me a marginal position is one which is not where the
>action is. Being marginalised implies being excluded or pushed aside by
>those who represent the main discussion. From where I sit, most of the
>important work on understanding the interface between science and
>theology (of which organic evolution is only a small part) is being done
by >groups such as the Ian Ramsey Centre or Christians in Science in the
>UK, CTNS and the ASA the US, and perhaps ISCAST or the ATF in

I would half-agree with Jonathan's definition of "a marginal position"
being "one which is not where the action is" but we would no doubt
disagree about the "action" part. I would not regard most of these TE
`think tanks' as being "where the action is" because (except for the "ASA"
where IDs and PCs are also strongly represented). The rest I doubt that the
vast majority of scientists or Christians have ever heard of them-I cannot
recall having heard of them, and I have been a Christian for 30 years
interested in Christianity/Science issues and have been debating with
TE/ECs on the Internet for the best part of 4 years.

JC>This is not an exclusive list by any means. The proposition of "God
>and evolution" rather than "God or evolution" is taken seriously by
>most involved in the discussion amongst these groups who represent the
>leading edge of theological research in these areas.

Let's face it, in practice TE/ECs do not even consider "God *or* evolution"!
It is not even on their mental map as a possibility, so totally has
naturalistic philosophy apparently captured their minds (Col 2:8)! To TEs
the only possibility is "God *and* evolution".

JC>Thus I argue that the positions we loosely call "TE/EC does not
>appear to be either marginal or marginalised.

I notice that Jonathan does not propose an objective test to evaluate
whether TE/EC is "marginalised" in science or theology. I have referred to
*three* such objective tests: 1. opinion polls; 2. book sales; and 3) quotes by
leading secular scientists; to support my argument te that TE/EC is only of
marginal importance in both science and Christianity.

And with the growth of the ID movement (evidenced by book sales in both
the Christian and secular world, and mounting attacks by apologists for
scientific materialism), I predict that TE/EC will become further marginalised
and irrelevant in the 21st century, as Deists became irrelevant in past

JC>With respect to the impact of people such as Sam Berry on Christian
>thought, judging this is hard to assess. However seeing that Sam has
>been chairman of the Research Scientists' Christian Fellowship,
>president of Christians in Science, member of the General Synod of the
Church of England and its Board for Social Responsibility, Chairman of
>the Environmental Issues Network of the Council of Churches of Britain
>and Ireland, and chairman, Higher Education Committee of the Diocese
>of London (to name but a few roles he has filled), one can hardly say
>that he has not been in many positions of influence in Christian circles,
>at least in the UK.

I don't deny Berry's achievements at all. But he is just *one man*, from
an earlier generation when it was still thought that TE/EC could effect
a reconciliation of Christianity and evolution. Berry's project has failed
and where are the younger `Sam Berry's' to take over where Berry left

JC>Nor has be hidden his views on God and evolution under a bushel. If
>you still wish to say this represents a marginal influence, so be it. ?

Well on any objective basis, Berry *does* "represent a marginal
influence". He has had some influence in Christianity in spreading the
`gospel' of evolution, but I suspect he has had almost *zero* influence in
science, spreading the `gospel' of Christian theism.

Berry's book sales in the UK over many years have been totally eclipsed by
ID books like "Darwin on Trial" (which he was instrumental in stopping IVP in
UK printing). And despite Berry's high connections, he could not prevent
the Chair for the Public Understanding of Science in Oxford, to be filled
by the world's leading atheist, Richard Dawkins.

JC>>I don't want to say more about Sam Berry (I am not not president of
>his fan club or a self-appointed advocate of his ideas) but will close with
>the comment that if he is marginalised, then I wish there were Christians
>in science marginalised to such an extent.

This comment reveals that TE/ECs have what the great Australian mile runner
Herb Elliott called a "second place mentality" on the part of his opponents.
Elliot's opponents were "psyched out" by his seeming invincibility that they
were happy to come second. TE/ECs have convinced themselves that scientific
materialism is invincible, and so they only aim for a marginalised niche where
they are can survive by being tolerated by the materialists.

Compare this with what the ID movement aims for:

"Phillip Johnson's idea of revolution is not, then, a struggle to control one
corner of the ivory tower. He is playing for all the marbles for the
governing paradigm of the entire thinking world. He believes evolution's
barren rule can be overturned, that it is ripe for revolution. He hopes to
rejuvenate rationality, to turn disagreements into "things that can be argued
about." (Stafford T., "The Making of a Revolution", Christianity Today,
Vol. 41, No. 14, December 8, 1997.

I predict that because TE/ECs are content with the maintaining the status
quo of preserving their `talents' rather than trying to increase them, and
worse still, spend most of their energy attacking their creationist Christian
brothers who aim higher than that, in the 21st century, `even what little
they have will be taken away.' (~Lk 19:26).

JC>Correct me if I am wrong, but you appear to be using two indicators of
>whether someone or a position is marginalised. One is whether or not a
>name appears in's lists, the other is whether or not it is
>widely held amongst the Christian population. I am not sure of the
relevance of the first,

I proposed several objective tests of TE/EC. One was checking with one
of the world's leading secular book-sellers, namely on the
sales of books of prominent TE/ECs that *Jonathan* proposed. If Jonathan
does not think this is an objective test of TE/ECs degree of marginalisation,
then he is welcome to propose another.

JC>and the second is a very doubtful criteria of truth.

Here Jonathan shifts his argument. We are not here discussing the "truth"
of TE/EC (although I am happy to do that elsewhere) but rather the
*marginalisation* of TE/EC. It is always possible that TE/EC is the "truth"
in the Creation/Evolution debate but it is marginalised.

But if Jonathan wants to claim that TE/EC is the "truth" in the Creation/
Evolution debate, then I would be happy to debate that topic!



"Indeed nothing remains except a tactic that ill-befits a grand
master...namely to blow thick pipe tobacco-smoke into our faces. The
tactic is to argue that although the chance of arriving at the biochemical
system of life as we know it is admitted to be utterly minuscule, there is in
Nature such an enormous number of other chemical systems which could
also support life that any old planet like the Earth would inevitably arrive
sooner or later at one or another of them. This argument is the veriest
nonsense, and if it is to be imbibed at all it must be swallowed with a jorum
of strong ale...So far from there being very many indistinguishable
chemical possibilities, it seems that we have an exceedingly distinguishable
system, the best." (Hoyle F. & Wickramasinghe C., "Evolution from
Space", [1981], Paladin: London UK, 1983, reprint, p25