The Freedom to Think Otherwise  and to Build Bridges

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

From: PSCF 46 (September 1994): 149.

Our Newsletter and the pages of PSCF have chronicled the recent struggles of various individuals with the scientific establishment over real or potential deviation from biological orthodoxy. We are rightly outraged at the suppression of academic freedom and seek to hold up to the light of day the actions of those who would force their view of scientific orthodoxy on those who teach or write. The doyens of secular science, stung by the attacks of the creationist movement, feel it necessary to sweep the plate clean of those whose faith might cause them to question its canons. It seems that the plenary authority, credibility and political power of science are at stake.

There is, however, another equally repressive orthodoxy that holds sway in the Evangelical academy and conservative Christian community. This one is seldom mentioned except when it emerges in denominational courts or faculty dismissals. How many people have lost their positions or been forced to leave their church over their views on origins? However many this has been, I suspect that their number is small compared to those who keep their views on God and nature to themselves when in the house of God. Sadly, some religious orthodoxies find little place for the voice of nature. Here, plenary authority, credibility and political powerˇthe Protestant hegemony of an earlier dayˇare at stake.

It will require more than editorial comment to change the mindset of a religious people who see evolution as intimately involved in immorality and the secular humanism which pervades American culture. The issue is deeper than "the Bible alone" or particular "integrations" of science and scripture.

If this analysis rings even partially true, the ASA needs to reexamine its strategy. For almost five decades this Journal has offered weighty discussion of issues in fields ranging from archeology to zoology, and has included lengthy excursions into theology and philosophyˇyet there has been little concern for how to communicate this information to the publics we seek to serve. We have seen ourselves as a bridge over troubled waters between church and science. Today that bridge must be upgraded. We need to consider ways to push through the persistent, growing barriers at each end. Please join me in dialogue on these critical matters.