Science in Christian Perspective


Concerning An Isthmus
William J. Tinkle
Anderson College, Anderson, Indiana

From JASA 10 (March 1958): 18-19.

It was some time in my sophomore year in college that I was first taught that no truth can contradict another truth. If there is a real conflict, one idea or the other is not true. Or perhaps the ideas are not well understood and do not contradict each other after all; for no idea that is true can be at variance with another true idea, even though they seem to be in diverse realms.

I recall quite well the deep impression made upon my mind by this principle and the stimulus it gave to investigation. No truth that I might discover in science, philosophy, or any other realm could rob me of the cherished verities which my soul already possessed.

But to remove the specific barriers between the diverse groups of thinkers and find the narrow straits which connect the di fferent oceans of thought has taken much time. A small, narrow, and otherwise unimportant body of land may hold two mighty oceans apart. Recall how the Isthmus of Suez separated the Mediterranean Sea from the Indian Ocean for many centuries. Because of this barrier, see the caravans toiling slowly along with their burdens of silks and spices from India. See the Portuguese as they fearfully but daringly explore the western coast of Africa seeking a waterway to India. See the Genoese mad man, as he was called, setting out boldly with his three ships across the Atlantic to find a new route to that same country.

Later, see Ferdinand de Lesseps as he dips out the sand to remove that barrier, and so connect the Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea by means of the Suez canal. Stimulated by this example, George Goethals cleaved a mountain range and united two larger oceans.

In the realm of learning there are areas which seem small, but like an isthmus, are important far beyond their size. In such places the American Scientific Affiliation works. The barriers which divide the devotees of revelation and of investigation are largely assumptions and denials and they can be scooped away. For this work the A. S. A. was organized, rather than to extend the borders of science, which is being done by other groups. If we wish to conduct research as individuals there is no objection but there is no reason to form a new organization for such work.

Furthermore we already have enough men and women to accomplish our task if we will work at it. While a membership of 700 seems small as compared with some organizations, the ratio is greater than that of the Suez Canal to the Mediterranean Sea.