Science in Christian Perspective



Cordelia Erdman

From: JASA
, 2
, 1(1951): i-ii

"Unusual weather" highlighted the opening on August 22, 1949, of the Fourth Annual Convention of the American Scientific Affiliation, Inc. As startled Los Angelans tried to appear nonchalant beneath dark skies and undeniably wet rain, some 26 (?) delegates to the convention were registering in the lounge of the Bible Institute of Los Angeles, convention headquarters. Miss Leota Akey of Biola presided at this desk and rendered valuable service throughout the week.

This first informal contact at registration time renewed old acquaintances and began new ones, thus adding to the keen anticipation with which all of us had come. We were not disappointed. The climatic conditions proved to be only the first of many events which marked this convention as unusual. For example, enthusiasm so pervaded the atmosphere that the first paper was presented half an hour before schedule. This phenomenon occurred following appreciated words of welcome by Dr. Samuel H. Sutherland, Dean of Biola, a concise report on the status quo by Mr. Everest and an appetite-whetting preview of the convention program by Dr. Hartzler.

Discussion ran high as the program then began to unfold, and as always, there were spontaneous groups which carried on the discussion after each session. The several bus trips admirably-provided time en route for us to expand the thoughts aroused by the papers. The new five-day span of the convention was thus extremely advantageous in that it provided a balance between formal and informal technical activity.

On Monday afternoon we initiated the series of bus trips to local points of interest. During the ascent to Mt. Wilson our emotions pivoted from tremendous scenic enjoyment to a certain wistful desire not to be quite so close to the edge of the scenery. The observatory itself revealed wonders to us, both from the standpoint of scientific data and of the instruments with which they are obtained. One of the most beautiful sights of all was purely incidental--Pasadena, far below, when dusk had come and the lights had gone on in the city. The trip closed with visits to two television stations where we were permitted to view the equipment necessary for telecasting.

The La Brea tar pits were the object of our attention on Tuesday afternoon. Dr. Hildegard Howard lectured to us with great clarity as we toured first the Los Angeles County Museum fossil exhibit and then the actual famous site of excavation whence the fossils had come. It was easy to visualize how the unlucky animals had been lured into the tar long ago, and had been trapped and preserved for posterity as skeletons.

Our one advertised public meeting (on Tuesday evening) was most favorably received. Dr. MacRae spoke at that time to a large audience in the Church of the Open Door on "New Light on the Old Testament." This type of lecture proved once again to be a valuable means of bringing the work of the ASA before the Christian public.

On Wednesday we journeyed to Palomar Observatory, stopping along the way to visit the old mission San Juan Capistrano, home of the swallows. The Pacific Ocean along highway 101 was obscured that day by a heavy mist, but as we turned inland and climbed upward we were treated to superb views of California scenery. During this time the executive committee braved bus sickness and held session in the very back while the rest chatted animatedly about astronomy, psychology, geology and theology.

The beautiful structure of the two hundred inch telescope awed even those of us who were not astronomers. We were privileged to see men working to polish a final two-~millionth of an inch from the mirror. The machinery of the telescope was also shown to us, and we crawled into the mirror-silvering apparatus in a most undignified manner. In addition the group was taken to see the Schmidt telescope. Here were demonstrated the movement of the 'telescope and of the dome with its shutters, as well as the photographic technique.

By this time dinner was beckoning us quite urgently. Unfortunately Knott's Berry Farm was so distant that in spite of valiant driving we missed both the anticipated chicken dinner and the opportunity of seeing the Ghost Town; nevertheless tasty ham and hot biscuits at 9:30 P. M. atoned amply for our disappointments.

On Thursday evening our president welcomed us as visitors to the Moody Institute of Science. Messrs. Keith Hargett and George Speake demonstrated some of the amazing equipment with which they present*their programs all over the country. Next was a preview of the forthcoming film, "Dust or Destiny", which we were permitted to criticize with the purpose of making it completely clear and accurate. The final event of the evening was a conducted tour of the buildin g which helped us to understand some of the processes which take place behind the scenes of film making,

Thanks are herewith proffered to all who had any part in the arrangements for all of these trips. Every convention delegate felt that they added a large measure of profit and enjoyment to our coming together.

Throughout the week we continually reaped the benefit of two other innovations, namely, the attractive individual name cards and the extremely helpful program folders. It is to be hoped that these have set a precedent for succeeding conventions.

The technical sessions need not be discussed here, as that phase will be fully presented elsewhere during the year. Those who acted as chairmen were admirable in the role, and they set an example for the future in keeping the discussion to one point. The absence of several of the authors of papers was a source of regret inasmuch as we thus failed sometimes to comprehend the full impact of their work and discussion was impeded. The presence of non-scientific visitors also tended to present difficulties in this line.

A word must be devoted to Clifton's restaurant. Circumstances for the most part prevented us from eating together as a group, but many did go to Clifton's for their meals. Thus some had the totally new experience of eating beside an indoor waterfall. Another ASA "first"!

Much more could be added to this reminiscence: the trials and tribulations engendered by the microphone by which the proceedings were being recorded; the attitude of true scientific investigation which was constantly in evidence; the spirit, of friendliness; the satisfaction of knowing one another better; the convenience of accommodations; the joyous power of the early morning prayer meetings. This was a smoothly run, well planned and extremely profitable convention. The deepest appreciation of all the delegates is extended to Mr. Everest, Mr. Stoner, Dr. Taylor, Mr. Spaulding, Mr. Rex, Dr. Hartzler and Mr. Ramm, as well as to all others who gave of themselves on behalf of the affiliation, and succeeded in making this our fourth convention a memorable one. And, of course, our thanksgiving rises to the Lord for making the meetings meaningful both to us, and, we trust, to all who are in sympathy with our endeavors.