Re: TE/EC marginalised? #1A

Jonathan Clarke (
Wed, 11 Aug 1999 16:31:44 +1000

Hi Steve

Stephen E. Jones wrote:

> Reflectorites
> 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."

What a pity. I thought that it is an important first step in humity theology to
recognise our own fallibility.

> 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.

Steve, I know you believe you have suffered indignities and am saddened by it. I
sincderely hope that I do not add to them. However, but I fail to see their relevance
to the question of whether TE/EC is marginalised.

> 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).
> [...]

Again, irrelevant to the issue at hand, to even if true (which I don't believe it is
in my case or in the TE/EC folk of my acquaintance). Who has appointed you as judge of
another's spiritual state?

> >>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:

Happens to the best of us Steve (so you too suffer from the annoyance of having the
crucial books or references at work when you write from home, and at home when you
write from work).

> -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> 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
> (Editor)
> 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.

Books on science and theology by Sam Berry include Adam and the Ape (1975), God and
Evolution (1988), God and the Biologist (1996), Science, Life and Christian Belief
(1998) (with M. A. Jeeves), editor of Real Science, Real Faith (1991). As you point
out, some of the earlier ones are are 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
> >Australia.
> 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.

I am glad to see we half agree, at least. If you have not heard of these authors,
perhaps you should read more widely (as we all should). I have been aware of some of
them for decades. They are household names amongst those who work in the field.

> 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".

Steve, you have no basis for saying this. You cannot be so certain of the spiritual
state of people you don't know. The TE/EC folk I know have thought about this very
deeply. Their conclusions are justified in their own minds, even if you disagree with
them. Sweeping condemnations that they have been captured by naturalistic philosophy
and quoting the Bible out of context to their condemnation does not advance your
cause. Colossians 2:18 (GNB) says "Do not allow yourselves to be condemned by anyone
who claims to be superior because of special visions and who insist on false humility
and worship of angels". Other translatations say things in similar ways. This is a
clear reference to the gnostics and the mystery cults. It says nothing about science
or even the theology of creation.

> 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.

I have addressed this issue, although apparently you have not yet read it, by listing
the range of publications of a few TE/EC scientists (mostly those of my immediate
aquaintance) and a survey of papers favourable to TE/EC in a range of theological
journals. All of these have been in the relevant fields, mainstream science and
theology. I have also looked at the diversity of roles in science and the church filled
by one TE, RJB. Opinion polls of the general public, book sales to the general public,
and selective quotes of a few scientists (who do not and cannot speak for the
profession as a whole) have nothing to say to this issue, although they are highly
relevant in other discussions.

> 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
> centuries.
> 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
> off?

We are to be found wherever there are Christians in science.

> 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.

What objective basis do you have to say that he has had "almost zero influence"? You
only "suspect" - Does this mean you have no idea? You have said he has had zero
impact, yet in an earlier paragraph you said that you do not wish to deny his
achievements. Either acknowledge them or deny them. If the first we agree, if the
second, please list criteria which indicate a greater degree of achievement in
mainstream science and theology (as opposed to folk science and theology).

> 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.

Like you, I was sorry to see Dawkins appointed to the chair. However I have heard it
said that this is an endowed chair and the appointment of Dawkins was a condition of
the endowment. Be that as it may, Dawkins in adequately counterbalanced in the UK by
the advertised chair in science and religion at Oxford (I don't think that has been
filled), Fraser Watts in the Starbridge (sp?) lectureship in science and religion at
Cambridge, and the presence of Michael Poole as Senior Research Fellow in science
education at Kings College London.

> 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.

If you regard what Sam Berry has achieved as indicating second place mentality, please
define what you mean by a first place mentality. In addition to achievements noted
earlier he has been treasurer of the Mammal Society of the UK (1981-81) and then its
president (1995-97), Vice President, Zoological Society of London (1988-90),
President, Linnean Society (1982-85), President, British Ecological Society (1987-89),
President European Ecological Federation (1990-92), member of the Human Fertilisation
and Embryology Authority (1990-96), and been editor or on the editorial boards of the
Biological Journal of the Linnean Society (1978-90); the Biologist (1976-92) (Chairman
1980-92), Journal of Zoology (Chairman, 1986-95), Biological Journal of the Linnean
Society, (1992- 96), Ethics & the environment, and Science & Christian Belief.

> 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 have in a previous post said we are discussing enough different topics. ID is
peripheral in this conversation, please address the question of whether TE/EC is
marginalised in mainstream science and theology with relevant facts.

> I predict that because TE/ECs are content with the maintaining the status
> quo of who aim higher than that, in the 21st century, `even what little
> they have will be taken away.' (~Lk 19:26).

TE/EC are out there carrying out research, publishing papers, sitting on ethical and
scientific committees, teaching in universities and seminaries. You may not like this,
let alone agree with it but how can you possibly regard it as indicating "preserving
their `talents' rather than trying to increase them, and worse still, spend most of
their energy attacking their creationist Christian brothers". You have repeated this
allegation of attacks many times, and I would like to turn it round: what proportion of
your time and talents are devoted to constructive research in science and theology and
what proportion is spent attacking fellow Christians who acknowledge God as creator but
see him as working by evolution? Certainly all the TE/EC of my acquaintance spend most
of their time constructively, when they critique (not attack) fellow Christians, it is
out of a desire to be constructive, not destructive. I cannot presume to speak of
TE/EC people who are not of my acquaintance.

> 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.

I have done so.

> 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!

I was making an aside, let us stick to the main point.

> [continued]
> Steve

I look forward to continued discussion and increased understanding of your position
(especially as you have explained in part #5). However, unless you can present more
concrete evidence, I don't see how we can. So in the end we may have to agree to
disagree. I trust we can do so with the courtesy you rightly value so highly. Be that
as it may, until next time,

God Bless (as always)