God's World: Fifth Biennial Joint Meeting
of the ETS and the ASA

H. Harold Hartzler, JASA Vol 15 (Dec. 1963) 110-114.

The fifth joint meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society and the American Scientific Affiliation was held June 19-21, 1963, at Asbury College and Theological Seminary, Wilmore, Kentucky. From the opening welcome by Dr. Cecil B. Hamann to the closing paper by Dr. John R. Howitt, the attendants were continually made aware of the theme of the convention, "God's World."

Asbury College is a Christian school located in a beautiful setting in rural Kentucky. The college, through its staff members and administrative personnel, went all out to make each person feel at home. A special vote of thanks needs to be given to Dr. Johnson, its president, and Dr. Hamann, chairman of the Science Division. There is great value scientists get together to lems. This was evidenced in having theologians and discuss their common problem at the meeting in Kenucky. Many of those present think that this type of meeting should continue. In fact, only with the help of theologians can the ASA adequately carry on its task. The following resolution was drawn up by the Executive Committee of the ETS, December 27, 1962:

The Executive Committee of the Evangelical Theological Society expresses its regret at the suggestion that the joint meetings of ETS and ASA are held too frequently. The ETS has felt these meetings to be profitable, and would be happy to see them continued on a biennial basis. It is felt by the Society that the meetings have been of mutual benefit to both groups. The ETS, on its part, has greatly appreciated the opportunity provided by these meetings for evangelical theologians to follow the progress of recent scientific thought.  It is the desire of the Society that these meetings be continued with the hope that they might take on an even more meaningfu1 character. 

Some persons present were disappointed that very few officers of the sponsoring organizations were in

*Dr. Hartzler is Prof. of Physics, Mankato State College, Mankato, Minnesota. He is the Executive Secretary of the ASA.

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attendance. It is hoped that this difficulty can be overcome at the next joint biennial meeting. There was a meeting of minds from different viewpoints with a resultant discussion which was quite stimulating. May God grant that these meetings may continue in the future.

The following abstracts of papers presented at the conference give but a small glimpse into the heart of the program. They were collected through the generous cooperation of Dr. William J. Tinkle, program chairman, and the authors.


Natural theology is the witness which we receive about God by looking at nature. We see that the world is very intricate, it is very large, the minute parts of plants and animals are nicely adjusted to each other, :md there is much harmony in the world. A world which suggests purpose and design must have had a Designer.

Job and the Psalms contain a great deal of natural theology. Not only the heavens declare the glory of God, but also the mighty beasts and even storms. Paul told the people at Lystra that God witnessed to all people by giving them rain and fruitful seasons (Acts 14: 17). He writes also that God's eternal power is clearly seen in the things which he has made, so that they who do not recognize God are without excuse (Romans 1:20).

It seems, therefore, that God's revealing of Himself in nature is very inclusive, but it also is only preliminary. If one should stop with these observations, he might become a deist. Furthermore, such a view of Deity is not very exacting in the requirements it makes for one's loyalty to God.

The heart of God's revelation was the definite and personal act of sending His own Son into the world. This act clarified the fact that while God has power :md knowledge, His true nature is personal, a fact which we may overlook in the study of nature. A recognition of God's love in sending His Son makes man responsible for accepting this Son as Savior and Lord.

G. Douglas Young, Dean Trinity Theological Seminary


Forty years ago very little was said about scientists starting with ideas which they assumed to be correct. Even now some scientists do not recognize that assumptions have been made, while others see clearly that certain ideas are taken to be self-evident and need no proof.

A scientist starts with a conviction that the material world has an actual existence. On the other hand, many philosophers have doubted its reality. Scientists believe also that the human mind is able to observe correctly by means of the senses and to interpret sense data in such a way that correct conclusions are formulated. While it is true that false observations are made sometimes even by normal individuals, these are corrected by the use of instruments and by the checking of results by other scientists.

Faith in other workers is manifested by trusting the labels on bottles and by trusting that the image of an object under a microscope truly represents that object, although a lens requires special grinding to keep it from distorting; for instance, chromatic aberration surrounds the object with a ring of rainbow colors.

One of the deepest assumptions is that the world is regular; if certain causes give certain results today, they will do the same tomorrow. This conviction is based only partly upon observation, for it is manifestly impossible to observe events before they occur.

The more certain we are that our assumptions are true, the less we mention them. We certainly do not need to give them up because of their lack of proof, but we should admit that scientific principles are not on a pedestal of veracity, looking down upon other disciplines.

Robert Fischer, Prof of Chemistry,  Indiana University


This title sounds very good, but it is understood in an interpreted sense. Truth does not actually do any leading. We follow people, and they may lead us rightly or may lead us astray.

As a young man, the author was at a camp where a path up a ravine crossed a stream a number of times; at these places stepping stones had been provided. Following the path at night, each camper trained his flashlight on these stones to ensure a safe step. The author was wearing boots and did not find it necessary to step on every stone, but behind him were boys shod with tennis shoes. If they followed his steps they were led astray, although he did not intend to mislead. It was necessary that they throw the light on each stepping ,tone for themselves.

A certain commentator has said that mankind is like a mountain climber half-way up a steep cliff. Religion urges him to make an upward spurt, but he can not see his way and is likely to fall. He had better hold on to a rock until science finds a safe way to the top. This plan might lead to starvation. A better figure is of the climber equipped with a walkie-talkie and a friend at a distance of a few rods with similar equipment. The friend can see that the way to the left leads to a sheer vertical cliff, but he informs the climber that if he takes the right climb he can reach the summit in safety. Our Friend is Christ, who reveals the way to go. The way to follow truth is to follow Him who said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life."

Allan A. MacRae, President Faith Theological Seminary

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The teachings of Scripture form a unit. Creation, the fall, redemption, and eternal life are all linked together. Man was created perfect, fell into sin, and needs a Redeemer from that sin. The doctrine of creation is mentioned repeatedly in Scripture. There are over 65 passages in the Old and New Testaments which refer to creation. Some go into great detail; others are general, but even these are written against the background of Genesis 1 and 2. We owe God honor, worship, and obedience because He created us.

The doctrine of Creation is intimately related to the supernaturalism of the Bible. The Bible proclaims an all-powerful God who has created every material thing and who has established all the natural laws which govern the universe. This God is a personal God. He is both immanent and transcendent. The scientist does not deal with the supernatural. He has deliberately limited himself to the things which can be touched, felt, and handled. But science per se does not deny the reality of the supernatural. The doctrine of Creation postulates an absolute God. Ours is an age of relativity. Christians are committed to the idea of absolutes, at least so far as God is concerned. The New Testament accepts the Genesis account literally and builds on it. Jesus refers to the Creation account in Matthew 19 and Mark 10. In Romans 5 and I Corinthians 15, St. Paul speaks of one Adam and one Christ. Here we have powerful testimony to the historicity of Adam. St. Paul refers to the details of man's creation in I Timothy 2 and I Corinthians II.

The philosophy of evolution runs counter to Christianity. In the struggle for existence and the survival of the fittest there is no place for Christian love. Naziism was definitely Darwinian in its orientation. Christianity emphasizes the importance of the individual; evolution implies that society is more important than the individuals that make it up.

John W. Klotz, Prof. of Biology,  Concordia Senior College


It is sometimes alleged that the Biblical picture of the WorId is quite outmoded. The Bible's cosmology is said to involve a flat earth with subterranean waters and a solid firmament or sky through whose windows rain comes (see Hasting's Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, on "Hebrew Cosmology"). This view has been considered by the author in the ETS Bulletin, 5: 11-17, 1962.

The misconception arises from poor interpretation which literalizes poetic expressions and brings them together in a weird construction. The "ends of the earth" are the extremities of a particular area. The "four corners of the earth" are merely directions. "Waters under the earth" are seen from Deut. 4:18 to be lakes, rivers, and seas below the shore line; fish dwell there. The "firmament" is used for the air where birds fly (and is therefore not rigid) and also for the place of stars and the abode of God. "Windows of heaven" are figurative, as Mal. 3: 10 shows. The Bible clearly states the obvious fact that rain comes from clouds. The "pillars of earth" are likewise a figure; God hangs the earth on nothing (Job 26:7).

Actually in New Testament times a common view was that the earth was round. A mosaic from Pompeii in the Museum in Naples shows the earth pictured as round in 79 A. D. A coin of Augustus does likewise. In 280 B. C. Eratosthenes calculated the circumference of the earth to within 10% (Encyclopedia Brittanica on "Eratosthenes"). Even heliocentrism preceded the Ptolemaic theories. Copernicus and Galileo rediscovered the ancients (and were not as persecuted as some would allege. In discussion, Dr. John W. Klotz pointed out that the Copernican theories were first published by a Lutheran in very good standing).

The weird cosmology sometimes attributed to the Bible more often comes from false parallels to Babylonian thought.

R. Laird Harris, Prof.of Old Testament Covenant Theological Seminary


The heliocentric theory of the universe, which seems so logical to us, was lacking in objective support when espoused by Copernicus. The beautiful theoretical structure of Aristotle was far more closely related to observation than is generally conceded today. It was said that if the earth were moving, an object dropped from a great height would seem to move horizontally because the earth would move from under it. Another objection was the absence of stellar parallax; stars should appear in different positions as the earth moves through its orbit of 186 million miles. Observations provided no evidence whatsoever of stellar parallax for nearly 200 years; the only possible defense for Copernicus was the nonempirical assertion that the stars must be at such an enormous distance that parallax is negligible.

Galileo proved by experiment that a moving body continues to move until impeded, and thus the dictum of Aristotle that movement requires a mover was disproved. Galileo's observation of the movement of the satellites of Jupiter gave examples of movement which was not geocentric. The success of these men was not due to their empirical observations so much as to their simplifying of the astronomical system.

Being aware of the opposition, Copernicus delayed publication until the year of his death. Galileo was opposed, tried, and forced to recant; but this opposition arose, not in the Church, but among other scientists.

The popular idea that the Bible opposes the heliocentric theory and modern progress is not borne out by history. The geocentric theory rested upon philosophy rather than the Bible.

Joseph 1. Spradley, Physics Dept. Wheaton College (Illinois)

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At the beginning of the nineteenth century there was widespread belief that the "kinds" mentioned in Genesis are the same as the "species" of the taxonomist and that the Bible states that these species cannot change. Had they read more carefully, they would have seen that the Genesis "kinds" may have been large categories which have split into smaller groups. But when Charles Darwin and others made observations which did not agree with their idea of scripture, the upheaval started.

J. B. Lamarck at first believed in fixity of species, but about 1800 he wrote of changes as a direct result of the environment and as a result of use and disuse. Darwin agreed with Lamarck, although he did not always claim to do so. Among the few followers of Lamarck today we find a group of Russian scientists.

The first twenty years of the nineteenth century were dominated by Baron Cuvier, Louis Agassiz, William Buckland and William Paley, whose science supported the Bible. This harmony was broken in 1830 by publication of the Principles of Geology by Sir Charles Lyell. Strangely enough, Lyell did not deny Cuvier's arguments but turned attention from them by claiming that all geologic forces in the past have acted at the same rate as at present.

Charles Darwin, after studying medicine and theology at Cambridge, spent five years in exploration and made observations which did not agree with extreme fixity of species. During the twenty years when he was adding to his data, materialism was at its height and there was drastic competition in manufacturing and trade. The Origin of Species, published in 1859, reflects these conditions. Darwin advocated change without limit and mentioned the Creator in only its first edition.
Irwin A. Wills, Chairman Div. of Natural Sci., John Brown Univ.


Always there have been those among the community of saints who seek to ease tension by yielding up some of the distinctiveness of the Bible-founded separatism to which they were called. It is not surprising that the same spirit of compromise is moving strongly today among erstwhile Bible-centered Christians.

Biblical history records many instances of God's people compromising with evil, always to their own weakening. On the other hand, the heroes of faith, men like Elijah, Josiah, Jeremiah and David, firmly believed and acted upon the Word of God.

It is certain that no one can know anything of the prehistoric past or of the eschatological future with any certainty unless these matters are revealed by God. Science can measure, correlate, and evaluate present processes but has no way of knowing that these have always been the same or that they always will be the same. The principle of uniformity, which assumes this, is not a scientific law but rather an act of faith. Modern intellectuals, using this principle, say that science has disproved the Bible. Some Christians try to regain worldly respectability by modifying their own interpretation of Scripture. This compromise always has been the prelude to apostacy.

Examples of these accommodations are (1) a gap between the first two verses of Genesis, in which an unrecorded creation took place; (2) the day-age theory of creation; (3) gradual development of all living things from the firs.t organism, the whole process being guided by God; (4) an allegorical interpretation of Genesis which rejects it as valid history.

None of these compromises is accepted by atheistic scientists, and none is needed to explain actual facts.

Henry Morris, Head, Civil Engineering Dept. Virginia Polytechnic Institute


The various amino acids formed from water vapor, methane, ammonia and hydrogen by electric spark activation merely show that these compounds, like urea, may be made outside of the cell as well as inside. As George Wald says, organic chemists are also living organisms and therefore sooner or later should be able to make organic compounds from inorganic substances in the same way in which simpler organisms now make them. Without the chemist, i.e., either simple organisms or man, they would not spontaneously originate either now or in the past.

Natural selection is based on the concept that variation is continuous, each generation showing the same range and capability of variation as the one preceding. Modern genetic studies indicate that limits of variability are soon reached in any breeding program, after which either artificial or natural selection is powerless to effect any further change.

Mutations now appealed to by evolutionists as the basis for natural selection are mostly harmful. The occasional beneficial ones in unusual environments, such as penicillin-resistant bacteria, also have a lower metabolic ratio and so are at a disadvantage. There is no evidence that various resistant strains ever achieve metabolic or reproductive ratios superior to the original types.

The various experimentally produced amphi-diploid species are defective either in vigor or reproductive potential. Muntzing's Galeopis Artificial Tetrahit is shown to be more logically explained as a result of diploid merogony. The difficulties involved in attempting to infer homology by the degree of chromosome pairing are indicated. Though the various experiments designed to show that species with higher or lower chromosome numbers and amphi-diploids have failed to show the possibility of their natural or evolutionary origin, they do however indicate possible ways by which God may have adapted the originally created species to present

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conditions of environmental stress resulting from the various curses and the flood.
Walter E. Lammerts, Director of Research Horticultural Research Div., Germain's, Ine.


Karl Marx (1818-1883) was one of the few persons who wanted to correct the cruel working conditions which followed the Industrial Revolution. The church missed a big opportunity to protest against child labor and kindred evils. The life of laboring people has been improved, but Marx's panacea, communism, has led to the enslavement of 900 million people.

Marx received ideas from Georg Hegel who died in 1831 and his popularizer, Ernst Engels who died in 1896. All three of these men believed in the natural growth of ideas; that concepts follow each other in a predetermined order, the last ones being the most useful. Thus, changes are desirable because new ideas and new orders of society are of a higher order than preceding ones.

In addition to this general idea of evolution, Marx postulated that systems of economic production follow each other in natural sequence: hunting, slavery, feudalism, capitalism, and lastly communism. Each of these systems over-throws its predecessor because it is naturally better, and thus the final success of communism is assured, resulting in a classless society.

Charles Darwin applied the same idea of progress through struggle to the organic world. Darwin's followers shook off all recognition of God in the origin and development of the universe. Charles Smith, former president of the American Association for the Advancement of Atheism, has said, "Evolution is atheism."

Free enterprise is not perfect; it has failed to solve distribution, but communism is based upon materialism and covetousness.

(In the discussion it was reported that Russian factory executives and scientists receive ten times as much wages as the workers, according to Klaus Mehnert, Soviet Man anf Hid World, 1958. The dream of equality has faded.)

John R Howitt, M.D. Toronto, Canada


A missionary must know how to care for himself and is family in a strange and inhospitable environment. If he does not stay in health, he cannot do the work for which his board is supporting him. Again, if the care of his own health takes all of his time, the missionary has no value as a worker.

Realizing these needs, Dr. Culley conducts a camp in the mountains where prospective missionaries are trained in the skills of simple living. They learn to build log cabins, make simple beds, boil drinking water, dress and cook wild animals, raise vegetables, and revive other skills which our mechanized civilization has allowed us to forget.

The American Scientific Affiliation can help in mission work. Among our 1,300 members should be a number of volunteers to do work for which they are trained. The Peace Corps now sends out many workers, and the Mennonite and Brethren Churches have been sending workers for a number of years. While most of these volunteers are young, there is a need for persons of more years and experience.

Paul G. Culley, M. D., Director Grad. School of Missions, Columbia Bible College


The modern psychiatry movement had its origin in behaviorism and psychoanalysis, both of which are non-Christian. Therefore we should use caution in applying psychiatry. It is possible to suppress symptoms without curing the mental disease. A person is not cured until he is in right relationship to God.

Not a feeling of perfect felicity, but a certain amount of stress against the world is normal for most occasions. We should have, not Christianity and psychiatry, but Christian psychiatrists.

Donald F. Tweedie, Jr., Visiting Research Specialist Veterans Adm. Hospital Lexington, Ky.

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