Putting Things Into Perspective

From: Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith 45 (June 1993): 79.

In this issue our lead article offers a revealing portrait of an astrophysicist/theologian's search for personal meaning, and desire to think and act out of a Christian world view. Christopher B. Kaiser's "The Creationist Tradition in the History of Science" describes the origin of this tradition in the early Christian era and the ways in which it nurtured the rise of modern science. The themes of the comprehensibility of nature, the unity of all things, and the relative autonomy of nature were critical in the development of western science. The latter theme has been distorted by modernity's distancing of God from nature. Kaiser's final theme, the ministry of healing and restoration, still offers a means for differentiating between good and bad science.

In our second article, Kurt Wood examines a Muslim approach to understanding the relationship of science and scripture which closely parallels some evangelical approaches. Science plays an important role in modern Islamic apologetics, as seen in French surgeon Maurice Bucaille's The Bible, the Qur'an and Science, a Muslim best-seller since 1976. Wood demonstrates the Muslim proclivity toward eisegesis, a sin not unknown to evangelicals. His deft analysis of Muslim apologetics should cause us to examine anew our own traditions.

Altruism is an important topic this spring with conferences at the Evangelische Akademie at Loccum, Germany and St. Paul, MN. Colin Grant's "The Odds Against Altruism: The Sociobiology Agenda" focuses on the inadequacy of evolutionary-biological explanations to account for the fact that "there are individuals who apparently sacrifice themselves, and a fortiori the transmission of their genes, for the sake of others." He concludes "how different our present prospects might be, if sociobiologists were to relinquish their obsession with selfishness and give sufficient scope to the cooperation and apparent altruism that they themselves are constrained to mention."

In our first Communication, Robert Kaita provides a plasma physicist's view of the opportunities and obstacles for Christian witness in the scientific work place. Recent political and economic changes offer new chances to offer a cup of cold water to those in need. Kaita offers examples from his own recent experience.

"Recent creationists" have argued that the velocity of light (c) has diminished over a 10,000 year period from an infinitely large value at the point of the "big bang" to the current estimate of 299,792.4561 km/sec. Gene Pennello's Communication evaluates this assumption using the statistician's "sign test" to examine c values obtained over the last three centuries.

The Book Review section is headed by James Moore's essay review of John Brooke's pacesetting Science and Religion: Some Historical Perspectives (1991). This is one of those works that truly belongs in the library of every ASA member. There follows a large selection of book reviews on a diversity of topics related to the mission of the ASA.

Letters to the Editor provide a fitting close to a wide-ranging issue.

John W. Haas, Jr.
Gordon College
Wenham MA 01984