New ASA/CSCA Leaders
Dorothy Chappell is our new ASA Council member. She is the academic dean at Gordon C., where both PSCF Editor Jack Haas was a chemistry prof., and where ASA Executive Director Don Munro teaches. Don now reports to Dorothy in two organizations!
Up north, the new CSCA Executive Director is David A. Humphreys, emeritus prof. of chemistry at McMasters U. and adjunct prof. to the divinity college. David has a website ministry at: www.genesisquest.org and corresponding email at: email@example.com.
Haas's glory days as ASA's journal editor are numbered, and in his place will be Roman J. Miller, a biology prof. at Eastern Mennonite U. in Harrisonburg, VA.
Genetics a Topic at CSCA98
Genetic research was discussed at the annual CSCA Meeting of 1998 at McMaster U., where Ronald Cole-Turner, prof. of theology and ethics at Pittsburgh theological Seminary, told 80 attendees that Christians urgently need to be engaged with scientists and government leaders in studying the ethical aspects of genetics. Examples are human germ-line modification, genetic testing and its relationship to abortion, cloning, and the human genome project. While Turner is not simply for or against the research, he fears that it is, as VanderVennen reported in Canada's Christian Courier newspaper, "a blind acceleration into an uncharted future."
Turner also noted that such research is also more technology than science because its aim is to change aspects of the world rather than discover and understand what exists. As bioengineering (and other branches of technology) give humankind more power, VanderVennen wrote: "We need to ask whether technology is an aspect of our human fallenness or whether it is a way to undo the effects of our sinfulness."
Turner identified the key question as: what does it mean to be human. Turner recognized in concluding that "Christian theology needs to learn from science, and it has a lot of catching up to do on genetic research."
Meyer Testifies Before US Commission on Civil Rights
On August 21, 1998, Stephen C. Meyer testified before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights in Seattle, WA concerning the teaching of biological origins in government schools. Meyer had help in drafting the lead of his testimony from Paul Nelson, report and graphics development from Jay Richards, legal briefing from David DeWolf of Gonzaga U. in Spokane, WA, and documentation of non-religiously neutral statements in biology textbooks from John Wiester.
Meyer's testimony argued for intelligent design as an alternative to Darwinian theory, and that evidence for it has greatly increased since Darwin's time:
But is there any scientific evidence supporting the idea that an intelligence played a role in the origin and development of life? In fact there is. During the last forty years evidence (much of which was unknown to Darwin) has come to light that supports the design hypothesis. The breathtaking intricacy and complexity of even the simplest bacterial cell, with its highly specified molecular machines, the fossils of the "Cambrian explosion" which show all the basic forms of animal life appearing suddenly without clear precursors, and the encoded information in DNA which Bill Gates has recently likened to a software code - all these lines of evidence, and many others, suggest the prior action of a designing intelligence.
Meyer then related the rise of an alternative theory to the political issue of how government control of education should respond. He continued:
Is any of this evidence discussed in publicly-funded science classrooms[?] Almost never. As I have documented elsewhere, both high school and college biology textbooks make very selective presentations of the scientific evidence relevant to this issue. For example, only one of the standard high school biology texts even mentions the Cambrian explosion, arguably the most dramatic event in the history of life. Not a single text discusses the challenge that Cambrian fossils pose to Darwinian evolutionary theory, despite extensive discussions of this very point in technical paleontology journals, and popular publications such as Scientific American, Time magazine and ironically, People's Daily in Communist China.
"º a fair result can be obtained only by fully stating and balancing the facts and arguments on both sides of each question." Charles Darwin, Origin of Species (1859, p. 2)
Meyer then posed the leading question:
Why does this selective presentation persist in a nation known for its liberal intellectual traditions?
Very simply the opponents of full disclosure in science education insist, often backed by threat of law suit and other forms of social intimidation, that any deviation from a strictly neo-Darwinian presentation of biological origins constitutes an establishment of religion. They insist that the concept of intelligent design is inherently religious; whereas Darwinism (with its denial of design) is a strictly scientific matter. But how can this be? Darwinism and design theory do not address two different subjects. They represent two competing answers to the very same question: how did life arise and diversify on earth? Biology texts routinely recapitulate Darwinian arguments against intelligent design. Yet if these arguments are philosophically neutral and strictly scientific, why are evidential arguments for intelligent design inherently unscientific and religiously charged?
Meyer concluded his testimony by noting that
In many cases, such discrimination has also entailed the abridgment of academic freedom for teachers and professors and the free speech rights of individual students. I ask the Commission to consider such practical measures as they have at their disposal to help rectify this situation.
Global Warming & Politics
by Trevor Lewis
I read with considerable interest a statement on ground temperature measurements in the article entitled "Wright, Olson Fuel Thoughts on Earth" in the March/April edition [of the ASAN] which arrived yesterday. I have been one of several researchers around the world inverting underground temperatures in order to obtain past ground surface temperatures (GSTs), which are physically coupled to surface air temperatures. Various procedures for doing the inversions have been developed and tested.
In many areas such as Alaska's north slope, central eastern Canada, and the American mid-continent, the GST obtained by inverting borehole temperatures has increased over the last century. Some, if not most, of this observed increase is due to land development, such as permanent deforestation. Kelin Wang and I have a paper in press on this subject in the February, 15  issue of Geophysical Research Letters.
The period during which forests were cleared in southern Ontario to create agricultural land is the time when the GST increased in the surrounding region. This is probably true in other regions as well. The heat used in transpiration to evaporate the ground water which flows up the trunks of trees is a significant part of the energy budget. When trees are cut down, this extra water is added to the runoff. In the Amazon, where significant amounts of forest have been cleared, hydrologists find the stream flows have increased by the equivalent of 25 to 30 cm of precipitation per year.
Many of the sites for which past GSTs are being obtained have been influenced by land development. Unfortunately the very act of establishing a standard meteorological station (creating a flat grassed area) disturbs many a site, and warms a previously forested site! Most of us engaged in this research did not realize initially the significance of site disturbances. Previously I co-authored a paper on the amount of warming in British Columbia, whereas now I know that at undisturbed sites in the Canadian Cordillera there has been insignificant warming over the last century. In North America there is a geographical variation in the observed climatic warming.
Some of the warming previously attributed to increases in greenhouse gases from industrial sources probably is due to land development. The Canadian government has accepted the fact that greenhouse gases are the cause of climatic warming, as a matter of faith, as the Globe and Mail says. This comes back to Olson's argument of the political process rolling on. Politicians do not understand scientific methods, and expect a definitive answer by the time they specify, not when we are ready and able to answer.
Trevor Lewis is a research scientist at the Geological Survey of Canada: Pacific, Pacific Geoscience Centre, Box 6000 (9860 West Saanich Road), Sidney. BC, V8L 4B2, Canada; tel. (250) 363-6565; lewis@pgc.NRCan.gc.ca; Website: www.pgc.gc.ca; and at Sidney Geophysical Consultants, Ltd., 1107 Maple Road, Sidney, BC, V8L 5P5.
NAS Guidebook Responses
In April of 1998, the National Academy of Sciences published 40,000 copies of Teaching About Evolution and the Nature of Science. It is on the Web at:
Now that responses to the booklet are in, what follows are a few highly excerpted comments about it. The main arguments are given in the references to the full texts.
From Donald Kennedy, professor of environmental science and president emeritus of Stanford University, in a commentary in The Chronicle of Higher Education, August 7,1998, p. A48; http://chronicle.com:
ºscience and religion represent different ways of knowing: Science is engaged in testing through experiments and research, whereas belief rests on spiritual convictions that, by their nature, resist such challenges.
ºthe theory of evolution is compatible with most, though perhaps not all, religious views.
ºthe claim that scientists (and thus science) are inherently antireligious is a perennial feature of the creationist case.
From a letter in response, by Michael J. Behe, Department of Biological Sciences, Lehigh University:
Instead of using the controversy as a springboard to motivate students to think through the issues, the Academy seems most concerned that students parrot current orthodoxies. Dissenters are marginalized as "creationists", much as a wide range of political dissenters in the 1950s were tagged as "communists".
To ignore the hard questions, as the Academy seems eager to do, and disallow fundamentally different explanations is a dishonest teaching strategy.
Phillip E. Johnson responded to the NAS Guidebook, in the last of a series of nine opening essays, "A Metaphysics Lesson," in a collection of his essays published by IVP last summer, titled Objections Sustained: Subversive Essays on Evolution, Law & Culture. The quotes given here come from the draft version of the publication:
The debate among mainstream science educators is not over whether naturalism is true, but over how boldly evolutionary naturalism should be proclaimed to the public.
Of course claims of sociobiology and evolutionary psychology are controversial. That is all the more reason for teaching students how to evaluate those claims, and especially how to distinguish between scientific reasoning and ideological prejudice. One can sympathize with public school teachers who would rather encourage students from a variety of backgrounds to appreciate the virtues of scientific reasoning by presenting it in a less ideologically loaded context. But the overall message of the Guidebook is that evolution should be taught regardless of public opposition, and regardless of who is offended by its implications. It seems that the National Academy of Sciences does not have the courage of its own convictions.
And finally, the last word (this time) is from one of the authors of the guidebook, Eugenie Scott, Executive Director of the NCSE in Berkeley, CA. This excerpt is from an email to John Wiester (copied to the ASAN Editor), responding to issues Wiester raised:
We are very clear that "evolution" refers to cumulative changes in the universe (note "cumulative" - an important distinction to keep from confusing fluctuating changes or changes like the rotation of the earth around the sun from evolution.)º Then we define biological evolution (which the rest of the book is about) as a subset of this bigger idea: as cumulative changes in living things -- and SPECIFICIALLY (p. 13) changes in "groups of organisms over the course of generations. Darwin referred to this process as 'descent with modification.'" Descent with modification is the idea of common ancestry - this is what we refer to as "evolution" throughout the book.
I learned from the ASA 1991 resolution and subsequent discussions with you and other ASA-ers about the importance of careful definition and particularly of consistent usage. We have done this.
ASA Creation Commission
In August of 1997, at the annual meeting of the ASA in Santa Barbara, California, the Commission on Creation (ASACC) discussed whether the ASA could cooperate with young-earth groups. The commission, headed by Robert C. Newman, noted the diversity of views on origins even within the ASA, and decided to try to see what statements about creation they could agree on within the ASA.
To this end, a subcommittee was appointed, consisting of Bill Dembski, Keith Miller, Paul Nelson, Bob Newman, and Dave Wilcox. Among them is representing the spectrum of views, from young-earth creation to theistic evolution.
The committee started rolling in early 1998, when Miller proposed a statement of what he thought could be agreed upon theologically. With some minor additions by Newman, the whole subcommittee agreed on this. Newman emailed to the ASA listserver in September 1998: "I don't know whether we will eventually come up with some scientific statements on creation we all agree on or not, but we hope to construct some brief statements representing the various viewpoints in the ASA on these matters."
Newman emphasized that the statement is a work in progress. But here it is, as of September 22, 1998:
Statement on Creation
1. God is the creator of all things.
a. All things were created through the Word. (Jn 1:1-3; Col 1:15-20)
b. God is both transcendent over creation and immanent in creation. (1 Kg 8:27)
c. God continually upholds all of creation. (Col 1:17; Heb 1:3)
d. God is continually creating. (Ps 104:29-30)
2. God is as active in "natural" events as in "miraculous" ones.
a. God is intimately and actively involved in what we perceive as "natural" or "law-governed" processes. (Amos 4:6ff; Mt 5:45)
b. God is in control of "random" or "chance" events. (1 Kg 22:17-38; Prov 16:33; Ac 1:21-26)
3. God actively cares for His creation.
a. God declares all that He has made very good. (Gen 1:31)
b. The earth is the Lord's possession. (Ps 95:1-5)
c. All creation praises God. (Ps 148)
d. God sustains and provides for His creation. (Job, Ps 104)
4. All Creation is part of God's redemptive plan.
a. God so loved the world that He became incarnate. (Jn 3:16-17; Jn 1:1-18)
b. Creation groans in anticipation of redemption. (Rom 8:18-22)
c. Creation rejoices at the promise of God's judgment. (Ps 96:11-13)
5. We humans are given stewardship responsibility over creation.
a. We are uniquely created to be God's image bearers. (Gen 1:27)
b. Old Testament law protected the land and animals.
c. We exercise control over creation as stewards who must give an account. (Gen 1:26-30)
6. Scientific study of the natural world can be a spiritual calling in service to God. (1 Kg 4:29-34)
a. God has created a physical universe which can be understood and studied by us, God's image bearers. (Ps 19:1-4; Eccl 1:13)
b. The call to stewardship includes a call to study and understand the creation.
7. Scientific description and divine action need not be in conflict.
a. A scientific description of an event or process does not diminish God's active control of that event or process.
b. How we describe scientifically God's creative activity is a matter of dispute; that God is creator of all things is not.
c. Evolutionary processes are not a priori antithetical to God's creative action.
Scott Speaks to Moon Issue
Eugenie Scott was prompted by Earle Fox's commentary last issue ("Science, Religion, and Education in America," NOV/DEC98 ASAN, p. 4) to comment on the Moon, PA school lawsuit over creationism. Instead of the "nasty old ACLU" carrying on its crusade against religion in schools, Scott's view of the event was that
Public school officials were violating the required neutrality of public schools, and deserved to be sued. It wasn't a "class discussion of evolution", but a mandatory school assembly in which administrator Warren Kooi presented classical creation science: dust on the moon, dinosaurs and humans coexisting, etc, and sectarian religious ideas such as a six day creation, death being brought about as Adam and Eve ate the apple, Noah's Ark and the Tower of Babel. He further crossed the neutrality line with testimonies to his personal belief in Genesis.
Furthermore, as Scott described the succeeding events,
The next day the biology teacher required the students to write their opinions on the creation/evolution issue. A student who stated "no opinion" was pressed by the teacher to publicly state his views, while another student who stated that he did not believe in God was harassed by students while the teacher did nothing. The student sued (as "John Doe", fearing retaliation) and the ACLU represented him.
Scott's concern is that the affair went beyond whether there was an open forum. As she put it,
The boy didn't sue because he "had to listen to someone else's religious viewpoint." Another's religious viewpoint was being presented as factual, which is quite different from describing a religious view in a neutral fashion, which schools can and should do. The out-of-court settlement required the district to not teach "a literal interpretation of the Book of Genesisº as science or in a science class or as fact" though religious ideas could be taught in social studies. So certainly students in Moon can "listen to someone else's religious viewpoint", but they shouldn't have to sit through proseletyzing.
Perhaps the ASA, NCSE and others should solve this and other problems of government education at the root by working to remove government from involvement in the education of youth altogether.
Politics & Environment
Artificial intelligence researcher and Unabomber victim David Gelernter is vociferous about environmentalism. He wrote an opinion piece in The New York Post (August 27, 1998, Thursday, Post Opinion; p. O37) under the headline, "Religious Leaders' New False Idol; Is Environmental Hypochondria An Excuse To Avoid Their Real Jobs?" Gelernter wastes no time signaling his position about ecclesial backing of the UN Kyoto Protocol:
The protocol commits rich nations such as the United States to fight global warming by sharply reducing the amount of carbon dioxide we vent to the atmosphere. Roman Catholic bishops and many southern conservatives are not on board; Orthodox Jewish groups (as far as I know) are likewise uncooperative. But the rest of our religious mainstream seems to have endorsed Kyoto - thereby executing a startling one-two combination punch that slams science and religion simultaneously, by subordinating both to cheesy politics.
The U.S. Constitution (Art. VI) gives ratified treaties the force of law, so that domestic goals of the federal administration which stand no chance of passing as legislation can be advanced through the treaty route.
Gelernter further opines:
Granted, global warming might turn into an actual, confirmed problem some day. In the meantime, we face an actual, confirmed problem right now. Our natural environment is in good shape, but our spiritual environment is in steep decline. And with every passing year, our religious leadership seems to care less about religion.
While ASA addresses the science-religion interface, the political aspect of this and other issues continue to grow in significance. The range of viewpoints expressed within ASA on environmental issues, in the context of a common commitment to the Gospel, helps to sharpen our discernment on this matter, and to inform non-ASAers of its multiple dimensions. Political scientists in ASA are likely to have an increasing contribution to make to this issue, as it engages the interest and use of the international elite in influencing global economics.
What ASAers Do
New ASAer Sherrie Steiner-Aeschliman graduated last May from Washington State University in sociology (areas of specialization new human ecology and social movements). I have been hired here as Assistant Professor for the year teaching Population, Resources and the Environment while I look for work.
She recently had an article published as the lead piece in Research in the Social Scientific Study of Religion. The article is entitled, "The Religious Construction of Intimacy for Emotional Renewal: The Parallel Protestant Ethic," 1998, Volume 9:1-23.
Her dissertation from school is entitled, "The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Environmentalism" and is currently being considered for book publication by several presses. Sherrie said: "All of my committee members are pragmatists and the chair is atheist. The other committee members are Roman Catholic and Mormon. I have some stories I could tell."
Sherrie is also the Program Chair for the 23rd Annual Meeting of the Association of Christians Teaching Sociology, and puts out the call to other ASA sociologists for papers for the Association of Christians Teaching Sociology. The meeting is scheduled for June 3-6 at Southern California C., Costa Mesa, CA. The theme is "Popular Culture" and the subtheme is "Christianity and Science." Plenary speaker is Tony Campolo.
Submit papers proposals to: Sherrie Steiner-Aeschliman, Assoc. of Christians Teaching Sociology, Washington State U., Pullman, WA 99111-4020; Steinera@aol.com; tel. (509)335-4595; fax: (509)335-6419. The deadline for session proposals is Jan 15, 1999, and for abstracts, Feb. 15.
"It's a small world, isn't it!" said John Osepchuk about the appearance of Vernon Ehlers, congressman from Michigan. Vern was the keynote speaker at the annual Microwave Power Symposium of the International Microwave Power Institute, in Chicago. John invited him after he saw his name in the ASA Newsletter as well as in Science, the publications of the George Marshall Institute, and elsewhere. John, who heads the ASA Industrial Commission, has been addressing microwave safety issues for some time.
Robert E. VanderVennen has been appointed part-time administrative director of Christian Studies Int'l, which is affiliated with the American Int'l Inst. for Christian Studies. Both organizations support evangelical Christian professors to teach in secular universities overseas, especially in countries like Russia and China which are not very open to missionaries. To learn more of opportunities for academic "tentmakers," contact CSI at One Massey Square, Suite 1910, Toronto, Ontario, CANADA M4C 5L4; tel.: (416)690-4774.
Albert C. Strong of Salem, OR submitted a story that he considered a bit out of the ordinary. In 1983, his health was threatened by angina. As Albert tells it, "the cardiologist told me that my hiking days were over, put me on medication and recommended an angiogram to define the congestion in the coronary arteries. Because I have a history of uncontrollable post-operative bleeding due to an inherited deficiency of antihemophiliac factor, it was imperative for me to seek a non-invasive alternative to a coronary bypass procedure. Providentially I became informed about the intravenous infusion of EDTA in the treatment of atherosclerosis, called chelation therapy. Now fifteen years later, at age 73, I continue with an every-six-week maintenance chelation program, enjoy good health and still hike (though not as far and as high as before) with no angina." Albert also related that while on chelation therapy, he went on two more high Sierra backpacks up to 12,000 feet and climbed Telescope Peak (11,400 ft) overlooking Death Valley on a grueling 14 mile day hike. "I was totally exhausted, but had no chest pain," he said.
Albert's experience may be of benefit to others troubled with angina. For a more detailed account of his experience, titled "The Chelation Solution," together with recommended reading, send a legal-size, self-addressed envelope with one dollar to cover materials, postage and handling costs, to: Albert C. Strong, 2047 Manorview Circle NW, Salem, OR 97304-4472.
Old-timers in the ASA will remember Laurence Starkey. From 1945-72, he affiliated with Los Angeles Bible C. and Seminary, the Moody Inst. of Science, Bethel C., and the Encyclopeaedia Britannica (philosophy editor). Recently Laurence gave his paper, "Particle and Astrophysics Challenge Kant's Phenominalism" before the Wolrd Congress of Philosophy in Boston, on Aug. 15, 1998. The paper reviews "a sampling of desperate efforts to rationalize Kant's antinomies - efforts that could only be floundering before the rise of Einstein's general theory of relativity and Hawking's black-hole cosmology." The earliest presentation of Starkey's double-universe theory occurred in a paper delivered at ASA70 at Bethel Seminary.
Last spring Shirley and Ken Lincoln sold their home in the San Francisco Bay Area, spent the summer in Europe visiting friends in France, England, Switzerland and Belgium. They also did a pilgrimage in Germany with Ken's brother, Len, to many of the places where the latter had been held as a POW during WWII. The unexpected was the overwhelming two-day reception they received in the town in the Alsace area of France where Len's plane had come down and he was captured 54 years earlier. Their sojourn was capped by attendance at the CS Lewis Centennial in Cambridge followed by the ASA/CiS conference. Of course, the final touch, ken says, was the enlightening and convivial ASA-sponsored bus tour of the British Isles.
Upon returning to the U.S., Ken and Shirley moved to Santa Barbara and into The Samarkand, a residence for active seniors, therein joining ASAers Alton Everest and Don Noren. Ken hopes that enough "critical mass" develops in the area to ignite some local ASA activities.
ASA 54th Annual Meeting
"Testifying to God's Goodness Through Science and Technology
Plenary Speaker: William Phillips
Nobel Laureate in Physics,
NIST, Gaithersburg, MD
July 30 - Aug 2, 1999
John Brown University
Siloam Springs, Arkansas
"All of you be on the alert." Joshua 8:4
Michael Crichton's early sci-fi novel, The Andromeda Strain, told of an American scientific crisis caused by the introduction of an exospheric pathogen into the Southwest by a reentrant space probe. While actual new health threats have arisen in recent years, the first widespread case of a "machine health" problem is approaching.
The "Millenium Bug" or "Y2K computer problem" is caused by use of only the last two numerals in computer programs to represent the year in dates. When the century rolls over in 2000 AD (year 2k), the numerical value of the year will roll over to 00. If this is interpreted as 1900, anything from government payments to train scheduling of coal cars bound for electric generating plants could be disrupted.
This seemingly simple phenomenon is expected to cause significant trouble, though it is not possible to accurately assess how much. Predictions range from minor inconvenience to the end of civilization as we know it. In an era when crackpots and selective media coverage have dulled the public to Chicken Little stories, many people are not inclined to apply some rational risk assessment to actual threats to themselves and others. What might one do to reasonably prepare for Y2K? It is an exercise in scientific, technological, social, political, and spiritual discernment.
The ASAN will address various aspects of Y2K involving science/technology and wider issues. While news-media focus is largely on the technical aspects, the social, political, economic and legal aspects could well eclipse the technical problems themselves, making this a fitting subject for ASA contemplation and action.
Y2K Problem Recognized
One of the first to call attention to Y2K was Christian economist Gary North (www.garynorth.com), whose predictions lie on the worst-case end of the spectrum. He notes that of the people taking extreme actions, many are computer programmers familiar with the nature of the problem. (www.garynorth.com/y2k/detail_.cfm/284) One well-known software design methodologist, Ed Yourdon, has already moved his family from New York to New Mexico. Last year, he advised fellow software engineers:
If the problem is anywhere near as bad as I think it could be, then you have to think very carefully about your loyalties and priorities. Will your employer get first call on your loyalty, or will it be your family and loved ones? On January 1, 2000, will you be at your keyboard, still converting two-digit year fields? Think about this now, while things are still calm. It won't be so easy two years from now.
While one software engineer's view might be considered anecdotal, the U.S. House has held hearings on the Y2K issue (www.nrc.gov/NRC/NEWS/year2000.html), as has Senator Bob Bennett's special committee. On June 12, 1998, Bennett made a statement to the press based on a preliminary investigation into the preparedness of utilities (www.senate.gov/~bennett/pr0612b98.html). Expecting a positive finding, Bennett instead told the press:
I have some disturbing news to report this morning.º I am genuinely concerned about the very real prospects of power shortages as a consequence of the millennial date change.
(Full report at: www.senate.gov/~bennett/pr0612c98.html)
In a later July 6 hearing on the banking and finance industry, the Senate report stated:
The hearing made it clear that Y2K is a serious and pervasive problem confronting the global economy.
In the report, the Chief Technology officer of the NY Stock Exchange, William A, Bautz, said "that the Securities Industry Association (SIA) refers to solving the Year 2000 computer problem as 'the biggest business-technology effort that the world has ever experienced.'" (www.senate.gov/~bennett/pr0706b98.html)
Though the US finance industry is ahead of the rest of the world in upgrading high-volume transaction computers (for which the dominant company's computer hardware is known to have a Y2K problem), U.S. banks are attempting to protect themselves from less compliant international banks, which could upset global financial activity. The private banking cartel that loans U.S. paper currency, the Federal Reserve Banks, have a Web page full of Y2K references at: www.bog.frb.fed.us/y2k/default.htm.
In the executive branch, President Clinton's Feb. 4, 1998 Executive Order on Y2K conversion (search from http://library.whitehouse.gov) basically tells federal agencies to get busy on the problem and forms a Y2K council. Also related is the President's Comm. on Critical Infrastructure Protection, a multi-agency task force (at www.pccip.gov), established by another Executive Order (EO 13010, in July, 1996).
The primary technical concern posed by Y2K is not to isolated infrastructure systems, but in their possible adverse interactions. Energy, communications, and transportation are interdependent on both a regional and a global scale. As the benefits of computer technology have been exploited, too little consideration has been given to the fragility of the resulting technoculture. Engineers characteristically focus on solving particular technical problems, and few policy analysts are adequate to foresee the subtle possibilities inherent in technology as is the Y2K Bug.
The next installment addresses the problem of what ASAers are doing to prepare for Y2K. If you are actively preparing in some way, let the Editor know, at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jay Budziszewski (pronounced "Bood-cheh-shev-skee") (email@example.com) is an up-and-coming contributor to issues of Christian faith and culture, including science. Check out his "Boundless" Christian apologetics website at: http://www.boundless.org. Jay says: "The first installment of my monthly column, 'Office Hours,' is at:
For those of you who write, BOUNDLESS is looking for new writers."
Mere Creation: Science, Faith & Intelligent Design is a hot book. The first run by IVP of 5000 copies is long gone. So is the second printing, and the third was scheduled for availability in Dec. '98. The book's editor, Bill Dembski, made this recommendation:
ºBorders Books bought 1,000 copies of Mere Creation. This is a major secular bookseller taking a significant gamble on a book by a Christian evangelical publisher. I would like us therefore to encourage people to buy the book from Borders. This may give Borders confidence to distribute more books on intelligent design in the future.
The 475-page book has a forward by Fritz Schaefer, and chapters by many other ASAers: Walter Bradley, Robert Kaita, Steve Meyer, Paul Nelson, Robert C. Newman, Hugh Ross, Jeff Schloss, and Jonathan Wells. Other contributors include Mike Behe, David Berlinski, William Lane Craig, Phillip E. Johnson, J.P. Moreland, and Nancy Pearcy.
The five parts of the book are: Unseating Naturalism, Design Theory, Biological Design, Philosophy & Design, and Design in the Universe.
Inventing the Flat Earth: Columbus and Modern Historians, Jeffrey Burton Russell, New York: Praeger, 1997. Here are excerpts from a review of this book by Jim Parker (firstname.lastname@example.org):
Russell argues that virtually no one from the early Greeks through the Medieval period believed the earth was flat, and many contemporary historians are aware of this fact. If this is true, explains Russell, "the question then is where the illusion - "The Flat Error" - came from and why educated people continue to believe it. The Error is not the alleged medieval belief that the earth was flat, but rather the modern error that such a belief ever prevailed." (p. 3).
After detailing the historical reality with numerous citations Russell concludes that the error lies specifically with a few 18th and 19th century historians, who endorsed the general modern positivist and progressivist ideals, namely, that we have the definitive hold on truth.
Russell's Inventing the Flat Earth is a concise, informative critique of the modern error concerning flat earth. For the 18th and 19th century thinkers, claims Russell, "it came to seem natural, obvious, certain, that medieval people were so superstitious that they must have believed in something as foolish as the flat earth" (p. 71). Russell lays such an unfortunate belief to rest.
Principles of Animal Design, edited by E. R. Wiebel, C. R. Taylor and L. Bolis, Cambridge University Press, 1998.
This book addresses the design of life issue. From the cover:
Animal species show great diversity in design as a result of their adaptation to different life conditions. Is their design optimized? Are animals built economically, with no more structure than that needed to perform their functions, as the principle of symmorphosis predicts? There is considerable scientific controversy surrounding these questions because there is much evidence suggesting that animals are indeed well-designed, evolutionary biology tells us that animals are not "engineered" but result from evolution by natural selection.
In this book these highly controversial questions are
debated by eminent experts on the basis of a wealth of evidence ranging
from molecular biology and biochemistry of enzyme systems through the study
of bone and muscle to the design and function of integrated systems of
energy supply and the nervous system. They are discussed from the point of
view of physiology and morphology, as well as that of evolutionary biology.
Though there is not much science history in it, ASAers interested in the roots of the Anabaptist movement might read the new book by UCSB historian Abraham Friesen. He establishes what was previously a conjecture about Anabaptist origins. The title gives it away: Erasmus, the Anabaptists, and the Great Commission. The book is intended to establish Friesen's claim that Desiderus Erasmus was the intellectual father of Anabaptism. Anabaptist founders Conrad Grebel, Menno Simons, and Balthasar H¸bmaier used Erasmus's Latin Bible translation and commentaries, which familiarized them with his distinctive ideas, later to become Anabaptist distinctives. Zwingli's Reformation influence on the early Swiss Anabaptists led them away from Erasmus's Platonism. The book is heavily documented with footnotes, comprising 53 pages. This paperback was published in 1998 by Eerdmans, 255 Jefferson St., Grand Rapids, MI 49503.