Science in Christian Perspective



Christian Responsibilities in Science*

Department of Materials Science and Electrical Engineering 
Stanford University Stanford, California 94305

From: JASA 21 (MARCH 1969): 2-8. 
A Christian active in science has responsibilities that are peculiarly his because of his commitment to Jesus Christ, and through Him, to the scientific investigation of the natural world. These responsibilities lie in the areas of (1) philosophy-motivation and purpose; (2) practice-professional and personal integrity; and (3) service-social and political involvement. Some of the questions that must be faced are the following. Is the scientist called to describe and understand nature, or is his function only to control and manipulate? How is the support of science related to the potentialities for purely practical results? Can science be properly used apologetically in Christianity? What is the scientist's responsibility in view of likely applications of his work? Is the development and support of science a necessary application of Christian principles to a world of need and suffering? Some suggestions for answers are offered, but the significant answers must be worked out by the interacting scientific and Christian communities. The ASA belongs in the center of this interaction.


Character of ASA

The ASA is an affiliation of men and women who have made a commitment of their lives and energies to the Lord Jesus Christ, and who, in the course of working out this relationship, have made a commitment of their lives and energies to the scientific investigation of the natural world. This character of the ASA establishes a unique opportunity and a unique responsibility for its members, who are part of two usually mutually exclusive communities. It is the view of this paper that the members of the ASA, and the ASA as an organization, are called to be a bridge between the scientific community and the Christian community. The fulfillment of this calling requires twoway traffic across the bridge: effective communication.

Competing Views of ASA

There are many members of the ASA, who, I believe, would accept this statement of the character
and purpose of the ASA, at least in general outline. But there are also many members, I fear, who regard this view of the ASA to be in competition with what they consider to be a more primary and historically justified view of the ASA. Such members regard the ASA as an affiliation of Christians who are determined to use their association with science as a means of defense for the Christian faith. Thus the ASA is viewed more as a militant apologetic force far Christianity, than it is as a reconciling intermediary between scientific and Christian communities. I believe that it is important to realize that not only does the view of the ASA as a bridge between communities include the view that the ASA should be a vital force in Christian evangelism and defense of the faith, but it offers a way of procedure that is more likely to be met with success. It also offers ASA members an opportunity to participate in that aspect of reconciliation that is uniquely theirs.

Need for a Central Position

The fact of the matter is that if ASA members and their colleagues throughout the world do not play
this reconciling role between scientific and Christian communities, there is no one else to play it. They are the only ones who know from the inside what it means to trust oneself wholly to Jesus Christ and to partake of the sacraments signifying our union with Him, and at the same time know from the inside what it means to properly evaluate the potentialities of scientific investigation for an understanding of the natural world. Theologians who attempt to evaluate science, or scientists who attempt to evaluate theology, are under the best of circumstances simply unequal to the full demands of that task. Once we obtain a vision of our position in the scheme of things as Christian men of science, we cannot do otherwise than thank God for the central position to which He has called us.

Categories of Problems

In its function of reconciler between Christian and scientific communities - ultimately of course involving the reconciliation of individual men with God through faith in Christ - the ASA is called upon to face questions and problems in a number of different categories. For the sake of our present discussion, we have chosen to summarize these in terms of three categories: (1) philosophy - or what is the purpose and motivation for scientific activity from a Christian point of view; (2) practice-or how does a Christian man of science maintain professional and personal integrity; and (3) service - or what social and political concerns have n legitimate claim upon the Christian man of science. It should be clearly recognized once again that these areas of activities are not offered as alternatives to Christian evangelical efforts, but at all times assume a basic evangelical motivation. They extend beyond this particular orientation, however, to the realization that Christian commitment conveys a Christian responsibility, not only in evangelization, but also in the working out of Christian principles in the world. To achieve this we need not become all things to all men; we need only to be what we are: Christian men of science. We need only show that Christian men of science take this world as seriously as the next, and are willing not only to preach Christ but also to live Him.

Basic Questions

What good is science? What is the connection between a scientific theory and the real world? Can the scientific method lead to truth? Is a scientist a committed investigator of the workings of the natural world, or is he a high-grade technician only, seeking to manipulate and control the natural world, but never able to understand and describe how it really is? These are typical of the many questions that have been raised as to the real purpose and motivation for pursuing science. Since appreciating the purpose for any discipline or activity is a necessary step in evaluating its success and defining its potentialities, it is essential that we consider the purpose of science from a Christian point of view.

Philosophical Positions

Because the questions posed above are hardly new, there are a number of attempts to answer them in different ways from different historical positions and presuppositions. There are the empiricists or positivists who argue that science consists simply of the ordering and arrangement of sense data, with no correlation between this activity and the "real world," which is usually considered an irrelevant concept. There are the idealists who argue that the concepts and descriptions of science are purely subjective, being the creations of the mind rather than any objective description of the natural world itself. There are the linguistic analysts and the operationalists who insist that the most important thing to ask is not, "What is the meaning of a scientific statement?" as though the statement really had cognitive significance for the real world, but to ask instead, "How is that scientific statement being used?" None of these positions does real justice to the Christian and the scientific perspective. The positivist underestimates the theoretical side of scientific activity, the contribution of the scientist's creative ingenuity. The idealist underestimates the experimental side of scientific activity, the necessity of correspondence with experimental data. The operationalist underestimates the capability of science, the bona fide potentiality that science has of providing approximate knowledge, but definitely knowledge nevertheless.

The possibility that operationalism could fulfill the role of a Christian philosophy of science has received special attention during recent years in evangelical circles because of the advocacy of Cordon H. Clark. In correlation with the thesis that true knowledge comes only through Scriptural revelation, Dr. Clark has denied that knowledge can be obtained through science about the natural world. He has argued that "the laws of science do not describe the workings of nature," and that "the laws of physics therefore are neither discoveries nor descriptions." Dr. Clark defines his view of operationalism as follows,

"Operatioualism identifies the purpose of science not as description but as manipulation. Laws are not cognitive statements about nature, but are directions for operating in a laboratory. They do not say what nature has done; they say what the scientists should do . . . . With or without a priori concepts, science is not a cognitive enterprise."1

There is unfortunately not the space here to devote to analyzing Dr. Clark's line of argument in arriving at these conclusions. It seems to me, however, that these are arguments and conclusions that could be reached only with great difficulty by one who had actually practiced science. Whereas the claims and potentialities of science must be carefully defined and its limitations understood, the claim that science does not at least provide a description of nature, albeit an approximate description, is alien to any scientist with whom I have ever discussed this question. A second point worth noting in passing is Dr. Clark's use of the concepts of linguistic analysis in
interpreting scientific laws as directions for operating in a laboratory, not as statements about the real world. Now it is common practice for consistent linguistic analysts to apply these principles to all forms of language, particularly to theological language. The statement "I believe in God," is taken to state nothing about the reality or existence of God, but only to assert a particular orientation of life views on the part of the speaker that may be expected to guide him in a given course of action. That this should be the only function of language in the ease of theology would, I am sure, be immediately and properly rejected. It seems to me that the statement about the absolute noncognitive nature of scientific language should be similarly tempered.

As opposed to these various philosophical positions that are inconsistent with a fully biblical and a fully scientific perspective, I would suggest the position of Christian realism. This is a position which fully integrates the limitations and the potentialities of science. It recognizes that the scientific enterprise is limited by the finite capabilities of the human mind and the finite capabilities of human experimentation, and thereby recognizes that a scientific description must always be an approximate description. As I have written elsewhere,

"Change and correction, however, are of the very nature of science. Science increases in understanding of the physical world and of man by establishing proper conceptions and eliminating improper conceptions. At no time does science claim to he in possession of the whole truth; in fact, science is quite clear in insisting that it is never able to be in possession of the whole truth. But the process of science is a building, a growth, and an evolution that builds upon that which is established and does away, with that which is an improper description of nature,"2

Or again the limits and the possibilities of science are summarized,

"Not everything can he understood by the scientific method. Mao cannot approach God ultimately through the application of scientific methodology. Nor can man derive God by reference to the facts of experience. Science is not an independent method of knowing God, or of becoming like God by understanding all things. Rather, it is a valid instrument in interpretlog revelation. The techniques of science are those that are suitable for interpreting the natural revelation of God."3

Christian realism recognizes that science must describe in terms of natural categories, and thereby by definition excludes large areas of life and experience from its legitimate domain. It recognizes that science can never achieve that perfect understanding of the natural world that would be properly described as having attained the truth. But it also recognizes that science is a legitimate enterprise for establishing knowledge about the natural world in terms of natural categories, and that this description comes progressively closer to a reliable description of the workings of the natural world as science advances. Christian realism thus acclaims science as a worthwhile endeavor in understanding God's creation as well as in controlling it, affirms the mandate of Genesis to man to have dominion over the world, and prevents the profession of science from degenerating into a mere practice of technology.

Purposes of Science

The purposes of science are threefold: (1) to describe the natural world in an orderly and useful fashion, so that it becomes possible (2) to understand in terms of natural categories the workings of that world, and so that it becomes possible (3) to control and change that world according to the needs of men and the knowledge given by God.

The description of the world follows from a feedback relationship between theory (man's creative assimilation and proposal for models of the real world) and experiment (man's creative investigation of the actual phenomena of the real world). Such a description must always be in terms of an idealized and simplified system that falls short of the real situation in complexity and completeness. But this is a deliberate limitation on the description of the natural world, which the scientist himself imposes, and which at least to some extent is at his disposal to extend or reduce. I cannot see that this situation, in which a scientific model is an approximate description of the natural world, is greatly different from the theological models derived from the Scriptural revelation. If the physicists' idealized pendulum model is not exactly reproduced by any real physical pendulum (because of the existence of factors that the physicist usually neglects, although he need not do so if he wishes to expend enough mathematical effort and computer time!), then the Scriptural model of God as father is also not exactly reproduced in either human fathers or in the full attributes of God. We understand that certain significant attributes of the real pendulum are describable in terms of the idealized model; this is sufficient for us to recognize the partial truth in this model also. Truth is that which conforms to reality. The scientist checks his partial truths by contacting the reality of the natural world through experimentation. The theologian cheeks his partial truths by contacting the reality of the whole Scriptural Word of God through study, exegesis, and synthesis.

We need not become all things to to all men; we need only to be what we are: Christian men of science. We need only to show that Christian men of science take this world as seriously as the next, and are willing not only to preach Christ but also to live Him.

The scientist's description of the natural world is usually not an end in itself, but is directed toward two goals. The one goal lies in the area of the mind and of knowledge: the understanding of the world.
The other goal lies in the area of activity: the control of the world.

The goal of understanding the world has a time-honored history in Christian thought. The possibility of "thinking God's thoughts after Him" has given dignity and encouragement to the profession of science. One of the strongest drives that man has, and one that can be legitimately associated with his creation in the image of God, is the drive to understand. Non-human animal species may attempt to control their environment, but I think it is safe to say that no nonhuman seeks to understand the world. It is of course necessary to remember that a scientific understanding is only a partial understanding, only an understanding in terms of natural categories. But to argue that a scientific understanding is no understanding is as grievous an error as it is to argue that a scientific understanding is a complete understanding.

The goal of controlling the natural world also has a time-honored position in the area of Christian service. Of this area we shall have more to say a little later. The impiication is that just as faith must lead to works if faith is not to be reckoned dead, so knowledge must lead to service if knowledge is to be reckoned wisdom.


Basic Questions

By whom should science be supported? To what extent should science be supported? What is the relative value of basic research vs. technological applications of science? To what extent should imminent possibility of practical results be the criterion for the support of a scientific endeavor? In what ways does the scientist bear personal responsibility for the uses to which the results of his work are put? These 'cry practical questions, of interest to Christian and non-Christian scientists alike, all offer a challenge for the application of Christian principles to the responsibilities of science. Since decisions on all questions of policy of this type are based ultimately on basic presuppositions derived from a general world view, these are questions about which the Christian man of science must be concerned.

Support of Science

Up until the last century the scientists of history have either been independently wealthy or have been the recipients of financial aid from some patron who was wealthy. This was a workable system when scientists numbered only a small minority of the total population. Today, however, we are told that 90% of the scientists who have ever lived are alive now. Many of these scientists are supported by private industry in this country, and presumably are paid out of profits made as a result of their scientific work-at least over the long period. But a large proportion of scientific work is supported directly by the federal government out of tax money, i.e., by the ordinary tax payer. What fraction of the national economy can safely be committed to the support of science, and what fraction must be committed to maintain desired progress in the future, are questions that are currently the subject of debate all over the country as well as in the Congress.

Basic Understanding vs. Immediate Results

The relevance of our previous consideration of the purpose and potentialities of science becomes more evident in our present discussion when it is realized that the mood in the country today seems to be strongly against major support for basic understanding and more and more directed toward immediate results and hardware. Why, it is argued, should the taxpayer's Money be spent for studies that may never amount to anything; is it not far better to support those aspects of technological development that promise some immediate practical results? If one's philosophical view downgrades the role of science in obtaining understanding and views science only as a technique for the manipulation of nature, then the practical argument is strengthened by the philosophical framework.

There are at least two reasons why a definite balance must be maintained, however, between the effort to obtain a basic understanding and the effort to obtain practical applications. The first reason is that science is a valid technique for gaining understanding, and the increase of understanding must always he to some extent the concern of the collective society as well as of individuals. The second is that continued technological advancement can occur only on the basis of a continued growth in understanding.

Nuclear Physics: A Case in Point

The need for a balance between support for the sake of basic understanding and for the sake of technological advancement is illustrated by the case of nuclear physics. Every year brings the request for a larger and more energetic instrument to probe deeper into the heart of nuclear structure. Needless to say, each new instrument requires a greater and greater investment of financial capital. How can this continued escalation be justified, and how long can it be accommodated? Has not the pursuit of nuclear physics already given mankind sufficient power to destroy himself and his world in the hydrogen bomb? To what extent is it justified to pursue, perhaps endlessly, the chase for the smaller "particle", the more "elementary" constituent of matter, the nature of the forces between such constituents? When the next requested nuclear engine requires a major fraction of the national economy to be committed to produce it, will that be the time to call a halt?

National Defense: A Major Science Supporter

A large fraction of scientific research in the country today is supported under the aegis of contribution to the national defense. It is a well known fact that it has been far easier to obtain funds for research if it could be correlated with the defense program, than if only a vague correlation with general human welfare could be established. The unfortunate result has been that much research that might more properly have been supported as a basic contribution to understanding, has been, as a practical matter, supported as a contribution to the military defense effort. This means that the choice of research subjects and the direction of research effort tends to be more or less directly influenced by the military needs of the country. Is this an issue about which Christian men of science should be concerned?

Space vs. Earth Programs

Let us consider just one more example: the space program. A substantial financial investment has been devoted for a number of years by the national government to activities designed toward putting a man in space for some extended period of time. To what extent is such a program ethically defensible, when such great needs persist here on this earth? Can the expenditure of billions to put a man on the moon be justified when the expenditure of millions would prevent men from dying here on earth? It is sometimes argued that valuable byproducts occur as fallout from space research that are useful for life here on earth. Some of the research my own group carries out at Stanford is supported by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The issue is whether or not the present concentration on space projects is not a very expensive way to produce these fallout beneficial results, and whether or not this is a fruitful way to utilize the nation's resources.

Responsibility of Scientists

Being a scientist is a difficult task, especially today. For a time it seemed that scientists could be simply scientists, investigating the marvels of the natural world with scarcely a thought for the results of this investigation, trusting to the "innate goodness" of human nature to put the results to a humanitarian and productive use. There was a kind of Pollyannish optimism that the problems of the human race could be rather immediately solved by the application of scientific research and technology, and that once a few of the more serious materialistic needs of the human race could be removed, this same "innate goodness" would express itself in appropriating the results of science for the good of all mankind. It is difficult to see how anyone can retain this misguided optimism today. It has become abundantly clear that every advance with potentiality for good has a potentiality for evil that is proportional to that for good. It has also become clear that while men of good will are attempting to harness the potentiality for good, others are more busily proceeding to harness the potentiality for evil,4 The scientists, the producer of the potentiality, can no longer sit back and let the non-scientist make all the decisions about the uses of it. Scientists resist becoming politicians and activists; but do we today have any real choice?

But it must be noted that the responsibility of the scientist goes beyond even the continuous effort to
preserve the beneficial use of his work. For there are an increasing number of cases in which the bestintentioned applications of scientific research have nevertheless resulted in severe problems for the human race. Such applications fall in the area of scientifically-induced changes in the environmental conditions to alleviate need and suffering, which in themselves become threats to human welfare. Success in reducing the death rate and in prolonging the lives of the elderly produces problems of overpopulation that can be met only by complementary success in birth control and re-utilization of the elderly in meaningful capacities. Success in providing jobs and conveniences through industrialization produces smog and water pollution that can be met only by strict controls and the constant search for solutions. Emphasis on the value of the human being as opposed to the value of the "things" of the natural world (forests, mountains, rivers, canyons etc.), as discussed earlier in this meeting5-an emphasis strengthened by some of the strains of the Christian perspective-has led to serious interference with ecology and a loss of both practical and aesthetic benefits. In all of these areas the Christian man of science is called to exercise his it's conciliative and redemptive function as an ambassador for Christ.


Science in the Service of Evangelization

The presentation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the unregenerate man is at once both an extremely simple and an extremely complex responsibility. It is simple in that the message is one that anyone can understand and appropriate for himself with the uncluttered faith of childhood. It is at the same time complex because the message must be brought to those in need, it must be brought in a fashion and snider conditions in which its true meaning is clearly discernible, it must triumph in spite of the caricatures of it that exist in most minds today, and it must overcome all the abuses and misuses to which men have subjected it in the past. Because of his position as a member of both the Christian and the scientific community, the Christian man of science has a unique responsibility.

The Christian scientist is called to serve the Christian community particularly by participation in education and in propagation. Through education he has the job of making sure that the Christian community has an accurate understanding of the limitations and of the potentialities of science. There are as many caricatures of science in the Christian community as there are of Christianity in the scientific community. He is responsible for budding an understanding of the differences between pseudo-science, science, and scientism. The ability must be developed to discriminate both against pseudo-science, the attempt to use scientific form without scientific integrity to defend Christian ideas, and against scientism, guilty of the same error in attempting to discredit Christian ideas. He has the opportunity of using the scientific perspective on the relationship between objective reality and natural law to combat the prevalent tendency to subjectivize and relativize all experience and values today.

The Christian man of science is also called upon to he the possessor of "beautiful feet" (Isaiah 52:7; Romans 10:14-17) as he assists in the propagation of the Gospel: The Church still lags far behind in its utilization of modern means of communication for bringing the Gospel to that vast majority who will never (humanly speaking) he found inside church walls. Missionaries at home and abroad have constant need for help from scientifically knowledgeable people for the solution of daily problems. Fortunately there are such organized efforts as VITA (Volunteers for International Technical Assistance, Inc., College Campus, Schenectady, New York 12308) and MARC (Missions Advanced Research and Communication Center, 919 W. Huntington Drive, Monrovia, California 91010) which serve as focal points for Christian service in these areas. Members of the ASA are called upon as individuals and as a corporate body to support and to become involved in activities in which the knowledge of science is put to work to present and interpret the Gospel to men in need of both physical and spiritual salvation.

Science as an Expression of Christian Life

It is historically true that to a large extent the development of science in the Western world has had close links with the perspective on the world derived front the judaeo-Christian faith. It is the emphasis on the objective rational reality' of the natural world that gave rise to the philosophical presuppositions that nurtured science, it is the Judaeo-Christian emphasis on the value of the individual and the value of work that fostered the industrial revolution and the development of scientific technology.

The responsibility for a Christian confronted with need and suffering allows for no other response than to alleviate it. The fact that human nature will pervert the best in life does not mean that the best should not be sought. There is after all no hope for human nature, with or without science, if left to its own devices.

I believe it is also a valid thesis that the development of science is a necessary Christian response to the existence of need in the world. There are those who sometimes argue that we would all be better off if the first scientific advance had been nipped in the bud, and we had been allowed to continue as a peaceful agrarian society. Recognizing some of the evils that the pursuit of science has introduced, as we mentioned in the previous section, they argue that the potential evils far outweigh the potential good. If medicine has saved lives, it has produced overpopulation and starvation. If physics promises new sources of power through nuclear energy, it has produced the hydrogen bomb that is able to destroy' us all. If the automobile represents a major emancipating factor in the life of the individual, it has fouled the air he breathes through its exhaust. If improved crop control has increased the harvest yield to feed more people, it has endangered lives with insecticide poisoning. If our homes are more physically comfortable and attractive, the pace of life accompanying an industrialized society gives us less time to enjoy them and contributes to the disintegration of the family. If sensitive detectors are developed to improve X-ray diagnostics, the same technology has been used to produce gun sights that permit people to kill at night. The list can be continued at great length, each example illustrating our previous point that the creativeness of human nature in fashioning evil from good has no limit.

And yet I would argue that the responsibility for a Christian confronted with need and suffering allows for 110 other response than to alleviate it. The fact that human nature will pervert the best in life does not mean that the best should not be sought. There is after all 110 hope for human nature, with or without science, if left to its own devices. When science in service to mankind is viewed as a redemptive instrument on the natural level in the hands of a man committed to Christ, the purpose and practice of science is established in the context where it belongs. Even as the kingdom of God exists here and now in the hearts and lives of those who are committed to Christ (Luke 10:9) even though the full realization of the kingdom yet awaits (Hebrews 2:8), can we not suggest that the physical redemption of that kingdom is committed here and now to the banns of those who are committed to Christ, even though the full physical redemption also awaits (Romans 8:19-21)?

If therefore the Christian response to human need requires the development of science as one way to meet that need on the natural level, do not Christian men of science have a double responsibility? First they have a responsibility to see that the pursuit of science is directed toward the alleviation of need and sufferbig, and second they have a responsibility to see that the evil effects of scientific advance that must inevitably occur in our imperfect world, are counteracted and neutralized.

Perhaps I may be forgiven if I conclude this discussion with one further quotation from an earlier writing: 6

''Christianity affirms that the response of the Christian to suffering in the world should he like that of Jesus, who came to heal the world from sin and all its effects. His response to suffering was to declare the good news of the gospel, that salvation and healing were being brought to the world through Him and through His disciples both then and after Him. His call to the Christian is to face the existence of suffering in the world, to recognize that God can use even suffering for the good of His children, and to do everything in one's power to bring an end to every kind of suffering in the lives of men. One of the great privileges of science is to play a role in this program; one of the great tragedies is that sin so consistently corrupts these same findings of science. The Christian man of science has a commission to work for the utilization of I nature in the alleviation of suffering in the name of Jesus Christ."


There is a parallel between the Christian church and the ASA. The conservative Christian church has for a long time been concerned in minute detail with matters of such sophisticated theology that their relationship to daily life ceased to exist. I suppose that I will tread on someone's toes (but I tread lightly!) if I indicate that such matters as sprinkling vs. immersion; infant vs. adult baptism; pre- vs. post- vs. amillenialism; infra- vs. supralapsarianism; pretribulation vs. post tribulation rapture; church laws against playing cards and attending movies; dispensationalism vs. historic orthodoxy; open vs. closed communion; women preachers vs. women silent; yes-even the classic outlines of the historic Armininian-Calvinistic controversy-all of these have exercised the strength and ability of the church in controversy to such an extent that the relationship of the church to the problems that people in the ordinary walks of life were daily asking was almost forgotten. Today we are experiencing a vital re-awakening of evangelical Christians, an awakening not so much attributable to the church as in spite of the church, an awakening forced upon evangelical Christians by the events of the day. Christians are realizing anew that the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is not meant to be a verbal exercise, with preaching leading to salvation through intellectual assent to doctrine alone. They are realizing that the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is a message to people in need, a message that offers both physical and spiritual help through faith in Christ. We, of the comfortable middle-class white Protestant congregations, realize how often we have said in effect, "Go in peace, be warmed and filled," (James 2:16) but have not involved ourselves in their need. And, as God gives the strength, we are changing if ever so slowly.

In many respects the ASA has often acted in a manner similar to that of the conservative Christian church. Conceived to be an instrument of that church, albeit with the special weapons afforded by some familiarity with science, the ASA has often exhibited the characteristics of a closed community, debating issues that few outside of the closed community of the hyp-erorthodox church continued to consider vital and meaningful. Mistaking science for scientism, pseudo-science has been called in to do battle. Accepting a mode of biblical interpretation, those concerned have sought to combat scientific developments that appear to be in contradiction. While the fruits of science continue to challenge the most creative contributions of Christian men of science, with the front pages of today's world covered with concerns related to the hydrogen bomb, radioactive fallout, population explosion, smog and water pollution, waste of natural resources, threatened destruction of forests and rivers, social effects of computer technology, organ transplants, possible freezing for future survival, mental disease, the genetic code and the understanding of life, continued harnessing of science for military purposes, extrasensory perception and the validity of research in parapsychology-still we have too often been guilty of refusing to face up to our role in the world today. As members of the church, we love to retreat from the sinful unpleasantness of the secularized world around the church into the sinful pleasantness of self gratification. So also as members of the ASA, we love to retreat from the monumental task that staggers us as Christian men of science, into the safer areas of evolution, Adam, and flood geology. I hear voices from all quarters of the ASA saying, "Yes, we must move out into the world as Christian men of science," If the ASA is to fulfill more than a tiny fraction of its unique opportunities, I believe these voices must prevail.7-11


1   The Philosophy of Gordon H. Clark, R. H. Nash, Editor, Presbyt. and Reformed Pub. Co., Phil. (1968), pp. 37-43.
2The Encounter Between Christianity and Science, R. H. Babe, Editor, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, Michigan (1968), p. 35.
3Ibid., p. 69.
41t is somewhat remarkable how the fallacious optimism about the "innate goodness" of human nature lies at the root of so many of mankind's attempts to solve its problems. The liberal Democrat believes that if the causes of poverty and hunger are removed, then the innate goodness of men will assert itself and remove the causes of strife and discord. The conservative Republican believes that if the individual is left free of control to develop according to his individual initiative, the innate goodness of his human nature will load him to share with others for the benefit of all. The Communist is relying on the innate goodness of human nature to finally pull off the ideal of the socialist state. In religions thought, Modernism and Christian Science presuppose a basic goodness of the human heart upon which religious understanding and progress can be based. It seems to me that neither the biblical nor the historical record offers much support for such optimism.
5Panel Discussion of "The Historical Roots of Our Ecological Crisis," L. White, Science 155, 1203 (1967) by W. Frair, E. S. Feenstra, D. Munro and F. Cassel.
6R. H. Bribe, Ibid. p. 64, 65.
7Barbour, Ian, Christianity and the Scientist, Association Press, N.Y. (1960)
8Moberg, David 0., Inasmuch: Christian Social Responsibility in 20th Century America, Eerdmaus, Grand Rapids (1965)
9Pollard, William C., Physicist and Christian, Seabury, Greenwich Coon. (1961)
10Schaller, Lyle E., Community Organization: Conflict and Reconciliation, Abingdon Press, N.Y. (1966)
11Yaroold, C. D., The Spiritual Crisis of the Scientific Age, Macmillan, N.Y. (1959)

*Presidential address, AS±t Convention, Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Michigan, August 22, 1968.