Science in Christian Perspective



Annual Convention of 1958

From JASA 10 (December 1958): 9-10.

This year's Convention resembled its predecessors in many ways-stimulating papers, lively discussions (some of them far into the night, and some still going on through correspondence), close fellowship in the Lord Jesus Christ-but it will also be remembered for several innovations that set it apart from previous Conventions. For example, this was the first Convention in the history of the A.S.A. to be held on the campus of a state-supported school. Some apprehension may have been expressed originally that the surroundings might alter the mood of the Convention; but if any change at all was felt, it was a reminder that we are called to be witnesses in the world of men and particularly to the world of scholars and students. All of the facilities of the Memorial Union of Iowa State College were at our disposal, and the hospitality was as warm as that we have experienced on other campuses.

Also, more effort was made at this Convention to let the local community and the general public know about our activities. Much of the publicity centered around the nightly "Sermons from Science" demonstrations sponsored by the Convention, but the actual sessions also received some publicity. George Speake did a very effective job, speaking at the Rotary Club of Ames the day before the Convention started, and being interviewed on both radio and television. Art Schulert was also interviewed on TV, and newspapers in Ames and Des Moines carried stories on the Convention. "Sermons from Science" drew many interested people from town and campus, attracted by posters, notices in church bulletins, and a letter addressed to all faculty members at the College. At least one magazine of national circulation, Chi4stianity Today, was sufficiently interested in our Convention to report on it in some detail.

On Monday evening before the Convention officially began, early arrivals saw the Moody Institute of Science film, "Red River of Life," while the Executive Council held the first of a series of meetings devoted to completion of the proposed revision of the A.S.A. constitution. R. P. Dilworth, chairman of the constitutional revision committee, was fortunately able to attend part of the Convention on his way back to California from Europe; he also gave us his personal comparison of the U.S. and Soviet exhibits at the World's Fair at one of our meals together.

At the opening session, the President gave his report, followed by F. Alton Everest's first full report on local section activities, a very encouraging look at what is going on and an outline of future possibilities. Then Harold Hartzler and Dave Moberg focused our attention on patterns of higher education in the U. S. and Europe by reporting some personal observations. That afternoon was devoted to an informative panel discussion on biological classification organized and chaired by Frank Cassel. Frank Marsh presented his paper on the possible relationships of the Genesis "kinds" to modern taxonomy, and other members of the panel discussed the meaning of species and higher categories from their own points of view-Don Robertson as a geneticist, Russell Mixter from the viewpoint of paleontology and anthropology, and Wilbur Bullock from the viewpoint of taxonomy. Wayne Frair and others then contributed to a general discussion which emphasized the difficulties of defining species adequately and also of interpreting properly the Biblical creation narrative.

Wednesday morning was devoted to field trips and this year offered more variety than at any previous convention. Most popular was the outdoor trip to the Ledges, a lovely little State park near Ames; the weather was delightful and the comments of Dr. Gwynne of the College geology department and the naturalists in the group made the trip very informative. A somewhat more spectacular trip was the one through part of the Institute for Atomic Research, where members of the staff demonstrated facilities for handling highly radioactive materials. The most unusual trip was to the Woodward State Hospital-School for mentally retarded children; several participants said they had never had such an impressive experience. Several families saw how dairy products are maniifactured in the College dairy, and a small group of biological specialists also took advantage of the opportunity for an ecological trip with an expert that afternoon.

Theodore Tahmisian presented the first paper on Wednesday afternoon, arguing for a Divine Designer from the magnificent design seen in living cells and showing exciting examples of some of the design he himself has discovered. H. M. Spinka gave a very complete description of leprosy with slides of the lesions observed at various stages of the disease, and showed that the Biblical descriptions are accurate. At the annual business meeting that afternoon, two brief services were held, one honoring Dr. Frank Allen for his distinguished contributions to physics and his services to the A.S.A., the other commemorating the death this year of Dr. Paul DeKoning.

On Thursday morning, Dave Moberg presented some of his original research on the extent to which religious practices in family life are changing in this country, indicating that his study in the St. Paul area showed no, evidence of a decline. Herb Meyer gave a good review of the history of our calendar and recommended adoption of the World Calendar, a proposal which some religious groups have opposed. Harold Hartzler's challenging paper on what Christians and scientists should be doing to promote world peace brought on a very lively discussion which revealed a wide variety of viewpoints about a Christian's responsibility in world affairs.

The final afternoon of the convention was devoted to two most excellent papers of timely interest. Art Schulert summarized the actual physical data on radioactive fallout (which he has had a prominent part in gathering), its extent and the possible dangers, and then discussed the problem in the light of the world political situation. Then Robert M. Page, Director of Research at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington (and the first man to send a message by ref lecting it off the moon, he casually informed us during his talk), presented a fascinating picture of what science has learned about extra-terrestrial phenomena through different types of research. His talk was beautifully illustrated with slides, some of them taken from historic (but recent!) research papers. We were impressed by the majesty of our Creator's works in what was really a devotional as well as an intellectual experience.

The organized (?) discussion groups were devoted to scientific problems on Tuesday night and to Biblical interpretations on Wednesday night, with considerable overlap. Problems to be considered at future conventions were suggested and there was a healthy exchange of information and opinion. Most of those attending the convention took part in these discussions. 

Registration for the convention slightly exceeded 70, but attendance at "Sermons from Science" probably averaged 400 for the three nights and reached 500 Wednesday night. Sponsorship of these evangelistic demonstrations seemed to be a very successful experiment, and we were grateful for George Speake's at tractive presentation of the Gospel "with a method as modern as tomorrow."
Another innovation not mentioned above was a series of exhibits of books, literature published by A.S.A. and other organizations, and other material of interest to members; these exhibits attracted much at tention and it is hoped that this sort of thing can be continued and expanded at future conventions.

The chairman, Walt Hearn, was kept busy during the convention, but he was ably assisted by Wayne Frair, who took charge of registration, and Dick Hendry, who did much of the "chauf feuring"; Deane Roth, Earl Worthington, and several others served as ushers for the "Sermons from Science" programs, and many others contributed in many other ways to the success of the convention.