Science in Christian Perspective
"THE PAST is PROLOGUE
new editor already has put his shoulder to the task. By the time you receive
this copy of the Journal, he will have completed most of the work of editing the
September issue. All editorial
correspondence should be addressed to him:
Dr. Russell L. Mixter
Department of Biology
Wheaton, Illinois 60187
Professor Mixter is admirably qualified for the editorship. He joined the ASA (American Scientific Affiliation) in 1942, a year after it was founded. He was the general chairman of the first national convention, which met in 1946 at Wheaton College. He served as a member of the Executive Council from 1945 to 1955, part of the time as secretary and from 1951 to 1955 as president.
Dr. Mixter has been at Wheaton College forty years; first as a student, receiving his B.A. degree with a major in Literature in 1928, and then as a faculty member. He earned his M.S. degree (Genetics major) from Michigan State College in 1930 and his Ph.D. in the field of Anatomy from the University of Illinois in 1939. He has been Professor of Zoology and Chairman of the Department of Biology at Wheaton College for many years. He also serves as a science consultant for Christian Life Magazine, and this year he is the Director of Wheaton College's NSF-supported Summer Institute in Biology and Geology for elementary teachers at the Wheaton College Science Station in the Black Hills of South Dakota.
Experience has prepared Dr. Mixter well for his new task. He wrote ASA Monograph 2, Creation and Evolution. The Darwin Centennial Year, 1959, saw publication of the first edition of Evolution and Christian Thought Today (Eerdmans, 2d ed., 1960), a symposium by thirteen members of the ASA which he edited. He has served as chairman of the Publications Board of the ASA since its establishment in 1960. He is the author or co-author of six articles in past issues of this Journal, and he has several articles to his credit in other periodicals.THE PAST
In the eight issues under my editorship, the following materials have been published:Original major papers (including some by editors) 43
Published with only minor revisions 28
Published after major revisions (including two held for the September 1964 issue) 21
Returned for revision, not yet resubmitted 14
Refereeing still in process 4
The contributing editors have solicited many contributions, submitted items of varying lengths, and helped in many other ways. The associate editors, book review editor, and managing editor have been of great assistance in many ways besides performing their primary duties. They have gladly given of their time to help resolve matters of comparative triviality as well as those of major import. The editorial board also has been very helpful and very generous in allowing the editor a great deal of freedom in establishing and upholding editorial policies. At least 51 referees have been of direct help in elevating the quality of the Journal by evaluating an average of 2.1 manuscripts each. If there has been any improvement in the Journal during these two years, it is due chiefly to the efforts of these many helpers.
With the help of the editorial board, editorial staff executive council of the ASA, and numerous friends: editorial policies were established in 1962 which have served as a guide to the editor's work. ("Where there is no counsel, purposes are disappointed; But in the multitude of counsellors they are established. " -Prov. 14:22, ASV.) All contributions became subject to refereeing at the discretion of the editor. The criteria which have been used in evaluating contributions submitted for publication include the following in addition to the requirement that they constitute a new contribution and not merely repeat the same ideas which have appeared in the Journal in the past:
1. All articles, book reviews, news, and notes should focus upon "the philosophy and findings of science as they are related to Christianity and the Holy Scriptures," for the primary purpose of the ASA is to investigate these. This has been interpreted as including implications of scientific findings, theories, interpretations, and methods for Christian faith and practice.
2. All materials published should be scholarly, but they also should be readable by the ASA membership in general, not solely by persons trained in one or a few of the specialized sciences represented in the membership.
major areas of the sciences, as well as relevant aspects of philosophy and
theology, should be represented. (The clustering of published articles in certain
subject areas has reflected the major thrust of recent annual ASA conventions.)
4. No contributions should contain errors of scientific fact.
5. Writers should be charitable toward scientific and theological interpretations with which they do not agree but which others believe to be consistent with the Bible and with science. In order to stimulate intellectual and Christian growth, ASA members should systematically cultivate an openness to divergent view points, giving them a fair hearing before drawing conclusions. The viewpoints of critics of Christianity should also be recognized, although it is not our purpose to disseminate their ideas without the counter balance of Christian defenses against their attacks.
6. Letters to the editor are encouraged to stimulate the interchange of ideas among ASA members and friends.
7. The Journal should be as attractive as possible. The new format represents an effort to achieve its purposes
more effectively. Now it should serve a significant portion of the objectives of the proposed popular ASA
magazine on Christianity and science. (See Everest's Challenge 11, 16: 10-11, March 1964.) The Journal is
now attractive enough to invite the subscriptions and associate memberships of educated laymen and clergy
in Christian churches. I hope that the present immediate circulation of about 1,600 will soon be ten times
that great! Many present limitations would be solved by the increased revenues that would result.
These past experiences provide the foundation upon which Dr. Mixter will build. We hope the foundation
proves to be solid rock and not wood, hay, or stubble.
This issue tempts me to comment extensively on some of its contents. Instead I will only raise a few questions for discussion which it brought to my mind.
What, if any, practical responsibilities do Christian scientists have in regard to race relations at home and abroad? How can they discharge their responsibilities? Should they promote racial integration? (See contributions by Stipe, Horner, and the Websters.)
Do Christians seem as rigid, dogmatic, and inconsistent to agnostics and skeptics as confirmed Soviet
Communists seem to us? (See Kamm's paper-)
Is it possible to distinguish clearly and sbwply between "fact" and "opinion,"knowledge and "assumptions," "revelation" and "interpretation," "perception" and 'Intuition," or "truth and error" when we all tend, not to see first and then to define what we see, but rather to define and defineto see, as Walter Lippmann made so in his "classical" Public opinion (Macmillan 1922)? (See the article by Gill.)
Does belief that God created the earth relatively recently with the appearance of great age commit one to believing that God is a deceiver? Does the Bible indeed provide us "the true framework of historical and scientific interpretation?" To what extent? If "the real issue is . . . simply what God has revealed in His Word concerning [geological and other scientific] matters," why fuss with scientific data at all? (See the book reviews.)
Who or what is a "fundamentalist?" Does that concept include many phyla, classes, orders, families, genera, species, and varieties, as the concepts of "animal" and "plant" do in the field of biology? Can anyone be "too biblically minded?" (See Roux's letter.)
Underlying many of the above questions is another which may be more basic: How can we consistently distinguish between Scriptural facts-what the Bible says-and interpretations of Scripture-what "I believe the Bible means when it says . . . ?"
Thus do the "answers" of today give rise to the questions of tomorrow. Truly the ASA has a tremendous task!CHRISTIANITY AND SOCIAL WORK
1. The place of the Christian in the field of social work is little different from that of the Christian as he enters any vocation: He should enter his work with passion and reflection. He should strive to understand himself and his work in relation to his theology.I
2. One area in contemporary social work which is in need of careful attention is the philosophy of social work. As might be expected of a professional whose history barely stretches three-score years, many of the more abstract and theoretical aspects of this field are yet in the formative stage. But it is imperative that the pressure of practical demand not detract from the important work of examining the philosophical foundations upon which such practical activity is predicated.
3. Without question most of the social work in this country is being done under public auspices. One authority poignantly stated that it seems very likely that social welfare will become almost exclusively a function of the state. Although I personally believe the private agency could make a very important contribution to the future of this field, I must realistically state that contributions of the private agency are mainly a concern for historians.
4. Upon careful scrutiny, I believe that the philosophy implicit in contemporary social work is in sharp apposition to that of the conservative Christian tradition. The philosophy of contemporary social work is that of Scientific Naturalism. By definition, this philosophy is opposed to any theological considerations.
5. Someone has said that contemporary social work is more concerned about professionalism than about people. There is some truth in this observation. Regardless, professional social work training in an accredited school of social work is an unquestioned prerequisite for anyone entering this field. However, because of the nature of contemporary social work thought, I feel that Christian higher education has an obligation to supplement this training. Graduate-level seminars dealing with the specific problem of social work and religion ought to be established. -Raymond Herje, Probation Officer, Hennepin County (Minn.) Dept. of Court Services.SCIENCE AS A NEW RELIGION
The emphasis of present-day orthodoxy in the sciencereligion is, like that of the Middle Ages, directed toward a "non-human world," and the justifications of the religion are those of "the glory of science" . . . former religions promised the faithful that they would be rewarded in the next world; the new religion of science focuses on this world but not on the people who live in it . . . the perversion of science can ruin society, but society must not attack science blindly; it should attack the irrational approach to science and the irrational approach of science . . . "inhumanity is bred into the scientist from the very beginning" . . . "most of the scientific work you can think of in any area is at best a negative contribution" . . . if we cannot bridge the chasm, we will be judged very harshly by history as having been the sickest society of all time. -Richard Bellman, RAND Corporation, in "Notes for a Journal," The Center Diary, No. 2, Jan. 1964, p. 7.
(Reprinted by permission of the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions, Santa Barbara, Calif.)CORRECTIONS
On page 19 of the March issue reference is made to "Fig. 2" which was omitted because of technical problems in reproducing the photograph.
On page 31 a line of type was omitted from Irving W. Knobloch's "Clarification." He stated, "Miles does not believe in an infallible Jesus, but I do. I am sorry that my original choice of words was poor."