The View from Shepherd's Knoll

"Beyond the Edge

From Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith 53 (March 2001): 1.

After reading "world view" papers written by senior undergraduate students in my Philosophy of Science and Ethics class, I was troubled by the disclosure of two students, who described their passage from orthodox Christianity to a reality that no longer esteems the God of the Bible. While questions challenging faith and presuppositions are part of the liberal arts education experience, Christian educators hope that students will emerge as stronger, thoughtful Christians by considering new ideas. When the experience turns a tender Christian faith into an agnostic, it gives one pause. Though I enjoy debating controversial ideas, I do not want to be the instrument through which others reject the God of Truth. A phrase from "Dover Beach" written by nineteenth-century English agnostic poet Matthew Arnold comes to my mind: "The Sea of Faith was once, too, at the full ... but now I only hear its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar." How far can the "edge be pushed" so that the outcome is still profitable? Falling off the precipice is not the desired outcome.

As your journal editor, I struggle to evaluate the morass of divergent submitted manuscripts that pass over my desk. Which ones are most profitable? Should we entertain manuscripts that "push the edge" of orthodoxy or established science? Within the pages of this journal, we solicit manuscripts "dealing with the interaction between science and Christian faith in a manner consistent with scientific and theological integrity." Does theological integrity require adherence to Christian creeds written centuries ago? Is it restricted to literal interpretations of Christian Scripture? Can process theology bring any insights to issues of faith and science? Do water dowsing and morphic resonance have any scientific integrity? I recently rejected, without using peer reviewers, a submitted well-written manuscript that advanced an interesting theory about the Star of Bethlehem based on astrological signs and a careful literal reading of the Gospel passages. Should that article have been made available to our readers?

I believe a balanced intake is the key to a healthy developing maturity. We need experiences that challenge perceptions, as well as thoughtful doctrinal insights that secure foundations of faith and experience. Maybe this journal can provide both.

Roman J. Miller, Editor