Science in Christian Perspective


H3 Reminisces
Mankato State College Mankato, Minnesota 56001

From: JASA 24 (March 1972): 23-25.


A group of Christian men and women, each trained and active its some area of science, met for the first time in Chicago at the Moody Bible Institute during the week of September 2-5, 1941. At the invitation of Dr. Will H. Houghton, who was then President of the Moody Bible Institute, five men met for a week of discussion. The inspiration for this meeting came from the work of Irwin A. Moon who had been giving his Sermons from Science demonstrations throughout the country. Many young people came to Mr. Moon after one of his demonstrations, asking whether modern scientific knowledge rules out Christian faith.

Those who attended the Chicago meeting were Irving A. Cowperthwaite, Russell D. Sturgis, Peter W.. Stoner, John P. Van Haitsman and F. Alton Everest. After several days of deliberation, it was decided that an organization was desirable so that many Christians might work together in order to help correlate the facts of science with the tenets of the Christian faith. Officers elected were F. Alton Everest, President and Irving A. Cosvperthwaite, Secretary-Treasurer.

Soon after this meeting, war broke out between the U.S. and Japan. Because of severe travel restrictions, the first national meeting of the newly organized group was not held until 1946. In the meantime Dr. Everest was able to contact many potential new members of the American Scientific Affiliation through his war-time activities. Growth was slow but certain with the principal activity during the early years being the gathering of material for a symposium volume to be entitled Modern Science and Christian Faith. This book, the purpose of which was to help students struggling with problems relating science and Christian faith, was published in 1948; it consisted of ten chapters, each written by a different author in nine areas of science. The first annual convention of the Affiliation was held at Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois in August 1946. It was a great inspiration for me to be able to attend this meeting and to meet Christian men from various backgrounds, all of whom were interested in correlating various areas of science with their Christian faith. It was there that I first gained some insight into the real potential of the ASA. It has been my privilege to have been able to attend every annual convention of the ASA.

Annual Meetings

Since 1946 annual meetings have taken place throughout the country from as far east as Boston to as far west as Los Angeles. These meetings are attended by members and others who are interested in the work of the Affiliation. They are usually held on the campuses of Christian colleges, although they have also been held on University campuses. One of the outstanding conventions of the early years was the one held at BIOLA (Bible Institute of Los Angeles) in August of 1949. Five full days were packed full of inspirational speeches and activities. One whole day was taken for a trip to Mount Palomar to see the 200inch telescope. At this convention George McCready Price was present to defend his ideas of "Deluge Geologv," and so was J. Lawrence Kulp of Columbia Universitv, who presented a paper to show the many shortcomings in the theory of "Deluge Geology." Los Angeles seems to be filled with many kinds of "isms" and a number of spokesmen were heard at this meeting. In addition to thoroughly enjoying the meeting, I had the interesting experience of traveling from Los Angeles to Chicago with Hendrik Oorthuys and Roger Voskuyl, both of whom have been active in the ASA.

Another outstanding convention was held at King's College, Briarcliff Manor, New York, in 1965. This meeting was jointly sponsored by Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship and the American Scientific Affiliation. Prior to the meeting a number of members and friends attended the New York World's Fair. John Alexander, then the newly elected Director of IVCF' took an active part in this meeting.

A review of the annual conventions of the ASA may he in order. The first meeting held at Wheaton College August 28-30, 1946 was under the chairmanship of Russell L. Mixter, who later served as President and then as Editor of the Journal ASA, The second meeting held at Taylor University August 27-29.

1947 was directed hy Irving A. Cuwperthwaite and ended with a discussion on the topic, "Looking into the Future with the American Scientific Affiliation" led by our president F. Alton Everest.

The third annual convention was held at Calvin College September 1-3, 1948. I will always remember the wonderful hospitality shown to all guests by Mr. and Mrs. Edwin Y. Monsma and by Mr. and Mrs. Martin Karsten. It is interesting to note that a discussion was held on the topic "What Shall be the Rule of ASA in the Study of Evolution?" It was at this convention that copies of our symposium volume, Modern Science and Christian Faith first appeared.

The fourth annual convention held at the Bible Institute of Los Angeles August 22-26, 1949 was the first one where extensive field trips were held. These included trips to Mount Wilson Observatory, Rancho La Brea tar pits, Palomar Observatory and Moody Institute of Science. The fifth annual meeting was held at Gnshen College August 29-Sept. 1, 1950. It is interesting to note that the ASA was already interested in a topic of eurent interest. "Conservation, A Christian Responsibility" was discussed in a paper by Alta Schroek, then a Professor at  Goshen College.

From a small city in Goshen, Indiana, the ASA moved to a large city for its next annual meeting. This was held at SheltON College in New York City, August 28-31, 1951. Among many interesting papers the author well recalls the one entitled, "The Philosophy of Science" By Gordon II. Clark of Butler University. 

The Wheaton College Science Station located near Rapid City, South Dakota was the site of the seventh annual convention. This was held August 26-29, 1952 and afforded many opportunities for field trips.

The eighth annual meeting was held at Grace Theological Seminary, September 1-3, 1953. William J. Tinkle served as General Chairman of the convention. Among controversial papers was one presented by Henry Morris entitled, "Biblical Evidence for a Recent Creation and Universal Deluge." 

One of the few conventions held south of the Mason and Dixon line was held at Eastern Mennonite College, Harrisnnhurg, Virginia, August 24-27, 1954. This ninth annual meeting was chaired by Maurice T. Braekhill, who served as a very gracious host. I recall with a great deal of pleasure the farewell devotions conducted by Walter R. Hearn.

As a new experience for the ASA the tenth annual convention was held at a ranch in Colorado. This took place August 23-26, 1955 at Young Life Camp, near Colorado Springs. It was at this meeting that definite plans were made to publish a book an evolution to appear in 1959, the centennial year of Darwin's hook, The Origin of Species'. This symposium volume, under the editorship of Russell L. Mixter, was published in 1959 with the title, Evolution and Christian Thought Today.

For the 1956 meeting the ASA returned to \Vheaton College. This was held August 21-24 under the chairmanship of Paul NI. Wright. At this meeting an interesting symposium was held on the subject of ExtraSensory Perception. Gordon College and Divinity School was the site of the twelfth annual convention. This was the first meeting of the ASA in which several members of the group openly advocated theistic evolution as a live option.

After some discussion the ASA Executive Council decided to hold an annual meeting on the campus of a University. The thirteenth annual meeting was held at Iowa State College August 26-28, 1958. At this meeting an added attraction was the presentation by George E. Speake entitled "Sermons From Science". Interesting discussions followed each evening lecture. An innovation was a special program for wives arranged by Walter R. Hearn who served as General Chairman of the convention.

The fourteenth annual convention was held June 9-12, 1959 as a joint meeting with the Evangelical Theological Society. The ETS is an association of Evangelical Christian scholars who, have been meeting annually or oftener since 1949, for mutual stimulus and fello\vship. This group of theologically trained persons encourages Biblical and theological scholarship. This joint meeting, held at Trinity Seminary and Bible College in Chicago, was the third joint meeting of the ASA and the ETS. Earlier meetings had been held at Grace Theological Seminary at Wheaton College. The theme of the 1959 meeting was, "Toward an Evangelical Philosophy of Science."

Seattle Pacific College acted as host for the fifteenth annual meeting held August 22-25, 1960. At this meeting plans were made for the establishing of Commissions. These Commissions were useful for a number of years in the development of programs for annual conventions, but after a period of ten years seemed to have outlived their purpose. The Executive Council, at their meeting on April 17, 1971, decided to eliminate all Commissions by August 31, 1971.

The sixteenth annual convention held August 22-25, 1961 at Houghton College was arranged by Henry D. Weaver, Vice-President of the ASA. The entire conference was on the theme, "The Christian's Responsibility Toward the Increasing Population." Again, it seems that the ASA was in the forefront of a current world problem.

  Bethel College in St. Paul, Minnesota was the host institution for the seventeenth annual convention held August 20-24, 1962. This was the first meeting under the supervision of one of the Commissions. The theme chosen by the Psychology Commission was, "Modern Psychology and the Christian." Paul C. Davis, Dean and Professor of Psychology at Los Angeles Pacific College, served as Program Chairman.

The eighteenth annual convention was held August 19-23, 1963 at westmont College, Santa Barbara, California. "Expanding Horizons in a Shrinking World" was the convention theme. This annual program was arranged by the Social Science Commission under the chairmanship of Paul Peachey. The ASA was happy
to have wil Rose, President of Data International Assistance Corps present to present an address on the subject, "The Role of the Individual in International Technical Assistance." Again the ASA went south for the nineteenth annual convention which was held at John Brown University in Arkansas. The dates were August 24-27, 1964. The theme of the convention was, "Panorama of the Past." Irvin A. Wills served as most gracious host at this convention.

The twentieth annual meeting was held August 23-27, 1965 at The King's College, Briareliff, New York. This meeting was sponsored jointly by the American Scientific Affiliation and by the Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship. The theme of the meeting was, "Christian Commitment and the Scientific Attitude."
North Park College of Chicago was the host institution for the twenty-first annual convention. Again this meeting was under joint sponsorship by the ASA and the ETS, A highlight of this meeting was the Twenty-fifth Anniversary address by the first president of the ASA, F. Alton Everest, from the Moody Institute of Science.

For the second time in the history of the organization the ASA met on a secular campus August 28-31, 1967. Stanford University served as a very fine host with Richard Bube serving as local arrangements chairman. On this occasion the program was arranged jointly by the Psychology Commission and the Biological Science Commission. The theme chosen and carried out was, "A Christian Approach to Human Personality: A Psychological and Biological discussion." It is my conviction that God does have a great work ahead for the ASA.

The ASA returned again to Calvin College (this time on a new campus) for its twenty-third annual convention. This was held August 20-23, 1968 and each of the Commissions, (Social Science, Psychology, Physical Sciences, Biological Sciences, and History and Philosophy of Science) had a part in arranging and carrying out the program. A special meeting was held on Monday, August 19 to discuss purposes of the ASA and possible cooperation with other groups. The ASA was very happy to have William G. Pollard, of the Oak Ridge Associated Universities, present to take part in a discussion and to present a public address with the title, "Man on a Space Ship."

The second meeting of the ASA at Gordon College took place August 18-21, 1969. This was the twenty-fourth annual meeting and the program was arranged by all Commissions. A workshop in Science and Religion in the High School Classroom was arranged for high school teachers by V. Elving Anderson of the University of Minnesota. A highlight of this meeting as the banquet address given by William E. Pannell of Detroit, who spoke on the subject, "Science, Scripture, and Race." Most of the papers presented at this meeting have appeared in an ASA publication edited by Gary Collins entitled, Our Society in Turmoil.

The ASA met again at Bethel College for its twenty-fifth annual convention. This was held on the new campus of Bethel College, August 17-20, 1970. Dewey K. Carpenter served as Program Chairman. Two major addresses were g iven by Charles Hatfield who spoke on "Man, Models, and Mathematics" and Richard II.
Bube speaking on "Whatever Happened to Scientific Prestige?"

Personal Friendships 

It has been my privilege to have been able to at tend every annual convention of the ASA. Many very wonderful friendships have resulted. The fellowship with many fine Christians who are engaged in the scientific enterprise has been a source of real joy and comfort. Perhaps the mention of a few names would be in order. At that first convention atWheaton College two persons stand out, Dr. Walter L. Wilson from Kansas City, a fine Christian physician and lay minister, presented a paper which has been remembered to this day. Paul DeKoning, from Michigan State University, vas there and shared a room in the Wheaton dormitory with the author. What a wonderful man of prayer! 

It was at the second annual convention that the author first met F. Alton Everest. Dr. Everest has been a tower of strength from the beginning of the ASA. After serving as president for a period of ten years, during which time he also edited the first symposium volume of the ASA, he became the first editor of the ASA Newsletter. This association continued for another period of ten years.

Another name must be mentioned. Irving A. Cowperthwaite served as the first secretary of the ASA and for many years had a perfect attendance record at national meetings. Besides being a fine Christian, he is a man of excellent judgment and has served the ASA well through the years. I am deeply indebted to both F. Altmi Everest and Irving A. Cowperthwaite for the
splendid historical papers which have appeared in the Journal ASA. Dr. Everest's article on the first decade of the ASA appeared in 1951, and Dr. Cowperthwaite's article on the twenty-year history appeared
in 1961.

Local Sections

  Very early in the history of the ASA it was felt by, some members that local sections should be established. The first one started in the Los Angeles area. Later local groups were organized in Indiana, Delaware and Washington, D.C. At present there are twelve local sections which meet two or more times a year. The names of the local sections are as follows: Central Pennsylvania, Chicago, Indiana, New England, New York City Area, North Central, Oregon, San Francisco Bay, Southern California, Washington-Baltimore, Western Michigan and Western New York.

  Scattered as they are throughout the United States, most of the members can attend at least one of the local meetings. Many members consider the local meetings to he one of the most important activities of the ASA.


Publications of books, Monographs, and the Journal ASA have been the principal means of letting the public know of the work of the ASA. The first issue of the Journal ASA appeared in 1949 under the editorship of Marion Barnes. After two years this position was taken over by Delbert Eggenberger. More recently David Moherg and Russell Mister have served as editors. At the present time Richard H. Bube, of Stanford University, is doing a superb job as editor of the Journal ASA. With the exception of the first year the Journal ASA has been published as a quarterly. Beginning in 1959 the ASA Newsletter has appeared five or six times a year. For eleven years F. Alton Everest served capably as editor. Since 1969 Walter R. Hearn, of Iowa State University, has been the editor of this important publication. The ASA Newsletter has served an important purpose in keeping members informed concerning the work of the organization and in many eases it has helped members to keep informed concerning the activities of other members. A publication for which the ASA has received very little recognition is a tract entitled Ten Scientists Look at Life. This was edited by Alfred Eckert and contains the personal testimonies of ten men of science, most of whom are ASA members.

The ASA has published three monographs: Chris tian Theism and the Empirical Sciences by Cornelius Jaarsma; Creation and Evolution by Russell L. Mixter, ed.; The Eye as an Optical Instrument by Frank Allen.

In order to publicize the ASA the Executive Council has authorized two brochures. The first entitled The Story of the American Scientific Affiliation briefly describes the organization and contains the Constitu
tion. The following is taken from the introduction: "Nineteenth and twentieth century science has brought forth some remarkable evidence substantiating the reliability of the Holy Scriptures. This same science has also brought in a materialistic philosophy which is leaving a scar upon our civilization. An excellent method of combating the latter is to make known the former, and to this task this organization of Christian men of science brings its rigorous, specialized training, and humble faith." The second publicity brochure is entitled American Scientific Affiliation and briefly tells of the following: Publications, Organizations, Past, Present, Future, Objectives, Doctrinal Statement and Activities. It also states how one may become a member of the ASA.

On the front of each annual program from 1946-1968 the following statement appears: "A group of Christian scientific men, devoting themselves to the task of reviewing, preparing and distributing information on the authenticity, historicity, and scientific aspects of the Holy Scriptures in order that the faith of

many in Jesus Christ may he firmly established." Beginning with the 1969 annual program a statement on the front of the program appears as follows: "The American Scientific Affiliation is an association of men and women who have made a personal commitment of themselves and their lives to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, and who have made a personal commitment of themselves and their lives to a scientific understanding of the world"


The ASA has had a steady growth in membership through its thirty year history. In 1941 the membership was 5, by 1946 it had grown to 73, by 1951 to 2020, by 1961 to 860 while today, the number is 1750. Nonmembers who subscribe to the Journal ASA have increased steadily through the years. Today the number of such non-member subscribers is 850.

Executive Secretary

In 1961 a major forward step was taken by the Executive Council with the appointment of a parttime Executive Secretary. The duties involve the supervising of all activities having to do with the national office. The Executive Secretary is also charged with promotional activities of the organization and with the general supervision of the annual program. The Executive Secretary attends all meetings of the Executive Council and helps the officers carry out their work.

As of this date, 1971, the Executive Council is planning to hire a full-time Executive Secretary so that the work of the ASA can continue to grow and he of greater service to the cause of Jesus Christ.

The Future

Cod has been faithful through the years. May each member of the ASA be faithful in carrying out the objectives: (1) To investigate the philosophy and finding of science as they are related to Christianity and the Holy Scriptures. (2) To disseminate the results of such studies to both Christian and secular worlds.

It is my conviction that God does have a great work ahead for the ASA. May we join together in this great enterprise of showing that Cod's Word and God's World show a marvelous harmony which deserves our continued study. May we never depart from the faith as expressed in our doctrinal statement. (1) The Holy Scriptures are the inspired Word of Cod, the only unerring guide of faith and conduct (2) Jesus Christ is the Son of God and through His atonement is the one and only Mediator between God and man.

* Dr. H. Harold Ilartzler has been Executive Secretary of the American Scientific Affiliation for the past 10 years. Paper presented at ASA Convention in August 1971.