Putting Things Into Perspective
J. W. Haas, Jr.
From: PSCF 42 (September 1990): 137.
Robert John Russell opens this issue with an eloquent account of his personal odyssey to the leadership of the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences at Berkeley. Bob's spiritual and educational experiences parallel those of many of us and offer challenge and encouragement to younger readers who are experiencing the same rites of passage. He offers pointed commentary on various questions in modern physics and words of encouragement to those who seek to bring together the religious and scientific cultures.
Sorting out the events of the past has been an enduring and often unproductive quest on the part of the scientific community. In his article, biochemist Gordon Mills examines the scientific presuppositions of workers in the field of `chemical evolution.' He warns of the speculative nature of origin research and argues that God must be taken into account when addressing presuppositional questions.
Christians in making ethical judgments may feel that they must make choices between what they view as an absolute norm and a relativistic ethic which appears to have shifting foundations. In siding with the absolutist approach, there is a tendency to understate the complexity of a situation. Those who probe more deeply may, as author Richard Bube suggests, be accused of "sliding down the slippery slope from initial inconsistency to ethical chaos." In seeking to address this tension, Bube argues that we need to evaluate particular cases from a viewpoint which emphasizes appropriate human compassion, distinguishes between biological and personal life, appreciates the realistic limits of responsible action and offers compassion without opening the door to injustice. He characterizes this approach as illustrating the "Spirit-guided maturity of Galatians 3:23-25." Application is made to central questions of "life and death."
Evangelicals have always talked and sung of peace, yet have paid little scholarly attention to its antithesis-oppression until the last decade. Sociologist Lowell Noble outlines some recent thought and examples of Christian efforts to promote the cause of justice in this life. He gives high marks to the charitable works of the modern evangelical church but feels it continues to lag in promoting specific social reforms and, more fundamentally, "reconstruction of the entire society, a revolution of values."
With this issue we offer a new category of communication: "Dialogue." Here we encourage discussion of important questions in a way that allows a more rapid turnaround than Papers and Communications, yet more space (one to three pages) than that allotted for Letters to The Editor. We invite the reader to both initiate and continue "Dialogue." Preference will be given to emerging issues and innovative approaches to old problems. Brian Fraser begins the dialogue with a counter to S. W. Hawking's book A Brief History of Time. Then, David F. Siemens, Jr., and Dick Fischer discuss Fischer's understanding of biblical passages cited in his March 1990 article "The Days of Creation: Hours or Eons?"
Richard Bube's "Word Maze" calls us to clarify our
definitions of the familiar words "creation" and "evolution." He
forcefully reminds the Christian of the dangers in misinterpreting these words in a
desire to "defend the faith."
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Wenham MA 01984