Science in Christian Perspective

 Letter to the Editor

An Open Letter of Protest
Duane T. Gish 
Assistant Director, Research Creation-Science Research Center 
San Diego, California 92116

From: JASA 24 (June 1972: 77-81.                         Editor's Reply

Statements made in recent issues must not he allowed to pass without challenge. If these statements represent the views of the membership of the Affiliation, then it has lost  its raison d'etre and certainly can no longer claim a Biblical foundation.

In Journal ASA 23, 118 (1971) you review The Returns of Love: Letters of a Christian Homosexual. After quoting the author's statement that "homosexual acts are wrong, with an intrinsic, unqualified wrongness," you state later in your review that "There is perhaps a thesis which can be advanced contrary to the approach of the author, which, it seems, cannot be refuted except on rather specific empirical grounds." You then proceed to develop your thesis, which you claim is based on Romans 13:8-10 (verse 10 of which reads: "Love cannot wrong a neighbor: therefore the whole law is summed up in love" (New English Bible) ). Your thesis can be summarized in the following statements taken from your discussion:

we may then define a Biblically approved sexual relationship between two persons as a relationship based on a loving lifelong commitment of one to the other.
Inasmuch as the Biblical condemnation of fornication does not imply a condemnation of sex within a loving lifelong commitment, the question remains as to whether the Biblical condemnation of homosexual abuses implies a condemnation of homosexual practics within a loving lifelong commitment.
It is difficult, however, to find Biblical support for the condemnation per se of a loving lifelong homosexual relationship involving sex-if indeed i: is possible for such a relationship to exist. And this it an empirical question.

This is clearly an application of situation ethics to the question of whether an act, in this ease a homosexual act, can be judged to be sin. As noted above, however, there was no question in the mind of the author that a homosexual act under any circumstances was sin. The Bible is absolutely clear on that point, and there can be no application of empiricism in an attempt to justify any other conclusion. Leviticus 18:22 states, "Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination" (KJV). In I Corinthians 6:9,10, we read, "Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither the immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God" (RSV).

How could Scripture be any clearer on a point than that? The homosexual relationship is condemned by God under any circumstances, and such a "loving lifelong relationship" would only assure that such defiance of God was a lifelong defiance. Your suggestion was a license to sin. You strip God of every attribute except love. A proper response to this homosexual would be to assure him that not only was he clear concerning what the Scripture taught regastling homosexual acts, but that through complete surrender of himself to Christ he could he cleansed even of the tendency.

In Journal ASA 23, 156 (1971) you review two books: Biblical Cosmology and Modern Science by Henry M. Morris, and Modern Science and Christian Life, by Stanley D. Beck. Your review of Dr. Morris' hook is an example of what has become so typical in the Journal of reviews of publications by creationistsa polemic with little discussion of factual material found in the book. You accuse him of "pouring old wine into old wineskins," of offering "an almost unbelievable manual of pseudo-science esoterica," and of "Flatly rejecting the modem stance of several of the major sciences--all before the reader is apprised concerning any of the hook's contents. You quote Dr. Morris' statement that "Thus the Biblical cosmologist finally must recognize that the geological ages can have had no true objective existence at all, if the Bible is true," without supplying the reader any idea at all concerning why Dr. Morris had reached this conclusion.

\Vhile attempting to make Dr. Morris appear blatantly anti-scientific, you correctly accuse him of rejecting the modern stance of several of the modern sciences. Dr. Morris does not reject modern science, but the modern stance of many scientists. The modern stance of scientists not only require rejection of the Biblical record of creation, the fall of man, and the Flood, but also rejection of the virgin birth of Christ, His blood atonement, and His resurrection, in fact, of the very existence of God Himself. Dr. Morris refuses to emasculate the Scriptures, as Beck does, in order to accept what is fashionable in science.

Concerning the views of Beck revealed in his book, you state that

Beck seems to drift at times into statements not obviously reconcilable with evangelical or Biblical Christian faith, . . He tends at times to speak as though man's sin were only 'tile pull of his biological heritage.' And he indicates he would probably hold a mythological view of such concepts of resurrection, ascension, and the second coming as well as feel that atonement and redemption are 'abstract theological concepts'.

These views not only are "not obviously reconcilable with evangelical or Biblical Christian faith," but they clearly reject all of the cardinal Christian truths. They are anti-Christian. Yet in spite of this you state, "his book is still to be recommended over that of Morris' for the average reader as far as the stated subject is concerned." And that stated subject is the relationship of modern science to Christian faith.

If I have any command at all of the English language, it seems clear to me that you are implying that you would rather see men go to hell with what you consider good science than go to heaven with what Morris considers good science. You accuse Morris of running the risk of leading astray those who look to him as the voice of modern science, but you dare not accuse him of pseudo-Christianity, so clearly embraced by Beck. Setting aside the question of what constitutes good science, let us recall the words of Christ when He said, "And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire" (Matt. 18:9).

In an earlier part of your review you quote Dr. Morris as stating that "If these first eleven chapters are not historical, then our entire Biblical foundation has been removed." The views you have expressed concerning homosexualism, the views expressed by Beck, and your preference for those views over the position of Morris, eloquently testify to the truth of that statement. Both Dr. Beck and yourself reject the historical content of Genesis 1-11, and one must strip away the entire Biblical foundation to accept either your point of view or those of Beck. If these represent the "modern stance of several of the modern sciences," then let the membership of the American Scientific Affiliation reject this stance and stand on the Biblical foundation
of the Christian faith. That the Affiliation should take any other position seems unthinkable as long as it pretends to he Christian.

(Editor's Reply: In his fervor to correct publicly what he considers to be heresy in the Journal ASA, Dr. Cish falls into a number of serious errors. It is important both that these errors he pointed out, and that the readers of the Journal ASA he assured that the Journal ASA and its editors stand squarely on the authority and reliability of the Scriptures as the Word of God, and on the redeeming work of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. We do not claim, however, to be either faultless or infallible. We expect those who differ with us to make use of the open Communications section of this journal, but we are saddened when such complaints and criticisms take the form of personal attacks.

The first error made by Dr. Gish is to identify the opinions of a Journal writer, whether editor or any other, with the position of the majority of the membership of the ASA. We have frequently pointed out that the ASA does not take positions on controversial issues, and the inside cover of the Journal always carries the statement that articles published in the Journal should not and cannot he taken to represent the position of the ASA. The reason for this policy is that the ASA exists as an open forum to discuss the interface of science and Christian faith within the context of a commitment to Biblical Christianity arid to authentic science. In other organizations it may well be that the word of the publication must conform in every respect to the official pronouncements of the hierarchy, and that therefore the word of the publication can be taken to represent the official position of the organization. This is not true of the Journal ASA, never has been true, and as far as I am able to affect it, will not be true in the future. It is therefore always inappropriate to east any aspersions on the Christian orthodoxy of members of the ASA because of a particular publication in the Journal. Disagreements are always welcome and appropriate, but such disagreements should be on matters of fact, not on matters of motive.

The second error made by Dr. Gish is to assume that any suggestion that a perspective contrary to traditional Christian opinion be considered must be apostate and intended to deceive. With reference to the book review of The Returns of Love: Letters of a Christian Homosexual, Dr. Cish correctly quotes my words, "There is perhaps a thesis which can be advanced contrary to the approach of the author, which, it seems, cannot he refuted except on rather specific empirical grounds." (Italics here are added by me now.) Any reader of that review will agree, I believe, that the advancing of this thesis is couched in as many "hedge" words as it is possible to use, and that having advanced the thesis I return to the theme of deliverance from homosexuality as the highest good. Dr. Cish assumes that I am advocating homosexual acts; such a conclusion cannot be reached from the review, which simply proposes an alternate perspective known to be held by a variety of Christian homosexuals and missionaries to Christian homosexuals. I am certainly not dealing in situation ethics. The ethic is clear: any relationship not founded upon a lifelong commitment of love cannot be accepted under any circumstances. There are no situations where a relationship falling short of a lifelong commitment of love can be condoned. The question remains: are there situations in which a lifelong commitment of love can exist, which are different from traditional views? I suggest that this is a fitting subject for Christians to consider from the perspective of Biblical and scientific insight.

The third error made by Dr. Gish is the argument that bad science by an orthodox Christian presents a more accurate picture of the relationship between science and Christian faith than questionable theology by a Christian scientist. Dr. Cish's interpretation of the implication of my position is completely his own; it is certainly not mine. I would be the first to agree that it is infinitely more important for a man to accept the Lord Jesus Christ as his personal Savior and Lord, than it is for that man to have an accurate knowledge of science. But this was not the subject under discussion. The fact remains that a better guide to the interaction between science and Christian faith may well he given by a man who understands the structure of science and Christian faith, although his own formulation of the Christian faith may he defective in part (as gleaned from a few statements out of an entire honk), than is given by a man who is himself a thoroughly orthodox and" committed Christian (albeit with a commitment to a particular eschatological perspective), whose views on both science and the relationship between science and Christian faith are distorted.

The Journal ASA and its editor seek the comments and criticisms of its readers. We shall continue, however, to maintain that which is also clearly stated on the inside front cover of the Journal ASA,
Open discussion of all issues is encouraged in the expectation that the pursuit of truth can only be enhanced by
exposure to conscientious and honest inquiry.)