Science in Christian Perspective



Lars I. Granberg


From: JASA 16 (December 1964): 122

Robert Maynard Hutchins is credited with commenting, "Whenever I feel the urge to exercise I lie down until it goes away." This seems to be the principle by which I conduct my correspondence. This dilatory approach has choked off literally hundreds of letters to editors and authors-largely to the benefit of mankind. But this does make it seem appropriate to begin this shakedown cruise of my contributing editorship with long overdue acknowledgement of my indebtedness to those whose articles, commentary and letters have made this journal frequently so profitable. Special appreciation goes to my predecessors, Philip Marquardt and Stanley Lindquist, for the many stimulating ideas and helpful suggestions I gained from their contributions.

Perhaps this is the best time to purge myself of an idea that has been slithering about in that primeval ooze I call my mind. It has to do with the adequacy of perspective shown by many ASA members toward our avowed task: "to study those topics germane to the conviction that the framework of scientific knowledge and a conservative Christian faith are compatible."

The quote is from the inside of the journal cover. The nagging concern I have is this. Much has been said in the journal concerning origins as set forth in Genesis and in contemporary scientific thought. Some excellent material on issues in philosophy of science has appeared. Both emphases are a needful expression of the aims of the ASA. Yet it seems to me that our major task should not be conceived as apologetic. To get at what I am groping for, I must expose my naivete6. Recently I was gripped by the National Geographic's account of the experiment in undersea living directed by Jacques-Yves Cousteau. Hints concerning the possibilities inherent in learning to read the DNA code likewise tantalize. Information of these and other important scientific work frequently appears in the pages of this journal, but unless it bears on origins or some issue in philosophy of science it is not always clear whether or not it has a bearing upon the Christian world view. What I'm getting at is that I remember an article Edward Carnell wrote for His Magazine several years ago. Its title, as I recall, was "Beware the new Deism," and Carnell built a case for the thesis that except for some preoccupation with correlating the Genesis account with scientific discovery, Christians in the sciences tended to handle the data of their field with an uncritical acceptance of many of the ways of thinking in science which made God an unnecessary hypothesis. No small number of ASA members took personal unbrage at this, and yet it seems to me Carnell has a point. Is there a tendency among us to view our task too much in terms of apologetics and too restrictedly as the defense of the Biblical account of origins? Do we otherwise not let our scientific left hand know what our Biblical right hand is doing? Do we perhaps need to spend as much time during the next two decades working out the implications of new information for a positive Christian world view?

Now that I have thus purged myself, permit me to say a bit about myself and this department. Psychologists divide into those with an experimental attitude and those with an applied attitude. The former regard themselves as scientists and in turn frequently regard the latter group, by and large practitioners of some sort, as an incumbrance. The largest group of applied Psychologists include those variously labelled "clinical" and "counseling" psychologists, whose principal professional activity is involved with the healing of disturbed persons. Since I fall into this latter category I am not equipped to give the experimental side of our discipline its due. (This also accounts for my unseemly propensity for adopting a personal tone in a journal devoted to science.) To fill in for my deficiencies I hope that this column can become something of a clearinghouse. May I urge my professional colleagues in the ASA to send in ideas, letters, articles, or just informal memorandums commenting on this and that. I shall do my best to incorporate these when possible giving full credit to all save those who prefer to remain anonymous. A little help, please.