Science in Christian Perspective



The ASA Periodical: 
The First One and One-Half Decades

From: JASA 15 (March 1963): 3-4

The show window of an organization is usually its publications. Internally, a periodical is the glue that provides the cross-linking of information between members, and contributes to the progress of the society.

The minutes of the first annual meeting of the American Scientific Affiliation contains references to the importance of a periodical and the need for proceeding with such a project. The first results of this endeavor were in the form of annuals. The 1946 and 1947 Yearbooks contain some of the papers given at the respective conventions. News items, business meeting minutes, and membership lists~-there were 65 members in 1946 and 73 in 1947-are included. Nine papers were presented at the 1947 Convention, of which four were published. The Yearbooks were compiled by M. D. Barnes, who was Secretary-Treasurer of the A. S. A. They were mimeographed with hand-drawn covers.

The next step was taken in 1949 by printing three issues of The Bulletin of the American Scientific Affiliation, the first of which was dated January 7, 1949. Dr. Barnes was the editor of the Bulletin. The 1949 issues were labelled Volume 1 and the numbering has continued since then with one volume each calendar year. In 1950, the Bulletin was changed to the journal. It was embellished with printed covers but continued to have mimeographed inside material.

Dr. Barnes asked to be relieved of the Editorship and D. N. Eggenberger became editor beginning with the September 1951 issue.

Printing of the journal was initiated with the March 1952 issue. The page size continued to be the same as in previous issues, namely, 81/2 by 11 inches. Two years later the size was reduced to 8 by 101/2 inches to conform more nearly to other technical periodicals. There were requests to reduce the size to pocket dimensions. However, the trend in technical journals as well as in religious and other periodicals was to a page size of about 8 by 10 inches. It was felt that a larger page size was more desirable, not only for conformity with periodicals in general, but also because binding was easier and printing costs were less. At the same time the type size was increased in response to some complaints over the difficulty of reading the earlier printing.

Regular columns were instituted in the June 1953 issue in an attempt to fulfill several needs: 1) to communicate to people outside of that particular field something of what is going on, 2) to stir up some thinking on problems in the field, and 3) to provide a wider field of content for the journal, particularly in those issues in which the papers are all on one theme.

An index was published in the March 1956 issue covering the previous seven years by both author and analytical subject. This was followed in December 1959 by a supplement.

The largest single issue was the 59-page September 1955 journal in which the papers from the joint ASAETS (Evangelical Theological Society) meeting held that year were published.

Through 1961 there were 189 papers published, not including columns nor the Yearbooks, for an average of 141/2 papers a year. Most of the Papers have come from conventions and local meetings. Excluding the first year, when three issues contained seven papers, and 1955, when the ASA-ETS symposium was printed for a total of 25 papers, the number of papers varied from nine to twenty annually.

Of more interest, perhaps, than raw statistics of milestones are trends in the nature of material discussed. For comparison, the percentage of papers in given fields for the years 1949-52 and for the years 1958-61 are
shown below

                                               Table 1  JASA Article Topics

                                          1949-52     1958-61

Anthropology ........................4                  5
Archaeology...........................5                 0
Astronomy ........................... 9                  2
Biology.................................11                 17
Chemistry...............................0                  9
Geology .................................5                  3
Mathematics...........................5                   7
Medicine and Physiology ........7                  5
Physics................................. 11                  0
Philosophy............................  5                  15
Psychology ..... ......................5                   3 
Sociology...............................5                   17
Miscellaneous and Theology...28                  25

Although there may be differences of opinion as to where some papers should be assigned, the trends seem reasonably clear. Large increases in activity are noted in Sociology, Philosophy, and Chemistry. Notable decreases occurred in Physics, Mathematics, and Archaeology. It is difficult to generalize, for activity often reflects the in-

*Mr. Eggenberger is a research physicist at Argonne Nati.nal Laboratory. He served as editor of this journal from 1951 to 1962.

terest of only a few persons, sometimes only one, in a particular topic. To some extent, editorial selection affects the results, although they have not appreciably modified significant trends.

Some subjects were active in the earlier years but have waned because they were pretty well threshed out at conventions and in papers. Editorial selection prevented later duplication of the same material. An example of this is flood geology. Other subjects have continued at a fair level of activity over the years, evolution being an example.

The marked increase in sociology papers is probably tied in to some extent to the general awakening in evangelical circles toward social responsibilities of Christians. On the other hand, the increase in chemistry papers is to some extent due to the generation of interest within the organization by one or more chemists who are pursuing the connections between chemistry and Christianity.

As the Affiliation grows and more activity is evident in papers at section meetings as well as at annual conventions, trends become clearer. In earlier days selection was difficult because there was little more than enough material available to publish each issue of the journal. With more material, editorial direction into more important subject matter becomes possible, as noted in some more recent issues where the main papers have been devoted to a single theme. The future will likely see more of the benefits of editorial guidance in the content of the journal.

The journal, being the only regular medium of information until 1959, carried some news items of temporary interest. In that year the Newsletter, edited by F. A. Everest, was started. The Newsletter now carries nearly all of the material of more immediate or brief interest, while the journal contains material of more permanent value.

In 1961 the writer resigned from the editorship, effective June 1962, and was succeeded, beginning with the September 1962 issue, by D. 0. Moberg of Bethel College. At the same time an editorial staff was formed, consisting of the editor, three associate editors, a book review editor, and a managing editor.