Science in Christian Perspective
Temporal Consistency rather than Eternal Accuracy
Charles Hatfield, President of the American Scientific Affiliation
From: JASA 21 (March 1969): 32
This past week an instructor in our English department asked whether he could subscribe to our journal. I assured him that being a nonscientist was no barrier. He had been attracted to the journal by recent articles on speaking in tongues and was pleased to see a 20th century point of view supported by farranging data, including those of the Bible. The incident suggests, among other things, that there might be many non-scientists among our colleagues that would find the journal a stimulating contribution to the continuing conversation between Science and Christianity.
Through the years the quality' of our Journal has steadily improved. This is because each Editor backed by his editorial team has been dedicated to the task. I believe that we are agreed that we strive for a more perfect understanding of the world as seen both through science and the Bible.
History should at least temper our extreme judgments in each area. The best we can hope for, it
would seem, is temporal consistency rather than eternal accuracy in this endeavor to relate the two areas. We should remember that history, art, and literature provide other ways of looking at some of the same data of the past. We impoverish our minds as scientists when we fail to expose ourselves to these other disciplines and the lessons they offer. Nevertheless, most of us are caught up in the necessity of selection of a specialty in order to achieve depth of penetration.
Recently I was out in the yard looking for certain birds with some binoculars-the individual focus type. It occurred to me that just as either or both of the eyepieces could be out of focus, so our study of the Bible and our scrutiny of the world via science could involve imperfect focus. It suggests, too, that we seldom have perfect eyesight in both eyes. Hence a correction of one sort or the other is often needed. The historian of science could probably provide various illustrative examples of such pathological situations. In any event, should we not remember the analogy when we are tempted to enter into controversy involving these two areas and at least hesitate long enough to examine both our own eyes and our eyepieces before we precipitate a judgment about another man's sight?
I look forward to serving the membership this year in whatever way I can. Your suggestions are invited, whatever they are. I hope that the same frank exchange of ideas that has characterized most of our past may continue throughout 1969. I shall appreciate your letters presenting dissenting opinion or congruent support, but either is welcome. I hope to be able to reply, wherever appropriate, through the pages of the Newsletter.