Science in Christian Perspective

Letter to the Editor

Poverty in Understanding Roman Catholics

From: JASA 28 (September 1976): 141-142.

I was both surprised and saddened to see once again in the pages of the Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation (March 1976) a rather unbecoming reference to the position (or non-position) of Roman Catholics in the Christian community. Mr. Mixter in his article "Scriptures and Science with a Key to Health" refers to the fact that "Healing enthusiasts claiming marvelous healings are matched by Mormons, Spiritualists, Roman Catholics, Mesmerizers and others. . .--rather dubious company indeed! Now I do not know whether such a placement of Roman Catholicism reflects the position of Mr. Mixter or Mr. Porcella, nor am I particularly concerned about their personal opinion of Roman Catholicism; I call this statement to your attention only because it is representative of statements which appear frequently in the JASA. As a Roman Catholic I find such statements offensive and very unfair; as a Christian I find them very much against the spirit of understanding and love which is the supposed hallmark of our community.

I cannot count the number of times I find ASA members lamenting the pitiful understanding of Christianity possessed by their non-Christian colleagues in the sciences. Yet their own statements betray a similar poverty in their understanding of Roman Catholicism and other non-Evangelical perspectives on the Christian faith. To hear fellow Christians speak of the Evangelical perspective as the only Biblical perspective in the Christian community is really quite sad. Such parochial and sometimes bigoted statements are certainly unbecoming to a group of scientists (Christian or otherwise) and the journal which officially represents them. 

I can only encourage the ASA and its members to consider carefully the statements made about non-Evangelical Christian communities in the future.

We are exhorted in the epistle of James to restrain our toungues; I have as yet found very few statements in the JASA concerning Roman Catholicism to reflect either the restraint of a scholarly understanding of it or the restraint of brotherly love toward it. If the ASA is determined to take on the task of reconciling the scientific and religious communities, such restraint must be demonstrated. Until it is, I cannot renew my membership in your community. In Christ's peace,

Douglas Hamill
University of Washington
Seattle, Washington

Editor's Note. We deeply regret any statement in the Journal indicates a lack of understanding and brotherly love. In the future we shall make every effort to increase our sensitivity.