Volume 42 Number 4
ASA/Templeton Lecture on Wonder and Mystery of Life
Gayle Woloschok (firstname.lastname@example.org) presented the ASA/Templeton lecture "Beauty and Unity in Creation" at Thiel C. in Greenville, PA the evening of April 5, 2000. Clearly at home with genetics, she gave a motivated presentation on some intriguing mysteries of life.
She described how homeobox (or "hox") genes code proteins that enable other genes to produce organ-specific proteins. Only the liver, for instance, produces albumen because a hox gene codes a protein that enables genes in all cells to do so only in the liver. Similarly, only the bloodstream produces hemoglobin. The human genome has about 400 hox genes. The unveiling of the human genome should illuminate how these mysterious genes work.
Despite the vast difference in genomic complexity from bacteria to humans, there are genetic coding similarities that correspond to morphological features, such as legs and arms, feet and antennae, among different creatures. The fruit fly (Drosophilia) genome has now been completely mapped, and gene coding determined. If a gene known to produce an antenna is replaced by a foot-producing gene, a fly foot will appear where an antenna otherwise would. Comparison of the fly genome with the partially mapped genome of mice indicate that functionally equivalent hox genes occur in the same pattern in both.
Despite common genomic patterns from mice to men, the difference in gene sequences between humans and apes is only a fraction of a per-cent, yet the mental capabilities are enormous. Minor genomic variation, in this case, results in major variation in functions transcending morphological characteristics. Though, as the Scriptures say, we humans are but dust - a dust with the same chemical composition as an equivalent weight of bacteria, in fact - there is something wonderful in the mysterious coding of the human genome that allows us to transcend dust and commune with God.
About 100 attended Gayle's motivated and clearly presented talk, consisting mainly of students and some faculty members. The presentation was videotaped. Holmes Rolston III also presented an ASA/Templeton lecture in the same auditorium earlier in the day, titled "Value in Nature and the Nature of Value." ASA literature was available at the table outside the auditorium.
Wiester Launches New Book at Rocky Mountain ASA Meeting
by Dennis Wagner, Colorado Springs
What's Darwin Got to Do With It?: A Friendly Conversation About Evolution was the name of the keynote address given by John Wiester to a packed-out room at the February 5th meeting of the Rocky Mountain Section of theASA. It is also the title of his new book, published in January by InterVarsity Press, along with co-author Robert C. Newman and illustrators Janet and Jonathan Moneymaker.
John spent two days whetting appetites as a guest on Bob Grant's Colorado Christian Radio talk show. Only 20 people had pre-registered for the Saturday ASA meeting at Colorado Christian University, but over 50 showed up for the event. Many were college science students who had heard John on the radio and were intrigued by his approach to the origins controversy.
John teaches the origins class at Westmont C. and has taught geology at Biola. He passed out several handouts that he uses in class. Stressing the importance of good definitions, he recommended that instead of using "creation" and "evolution," we frame the issue as "Intelligent Design" vs "Darwinism" (or "neo-Darwinism") because it is Darwin's mechanism of natural selection that replaced the otherwise obvious design of organisms. It is also important to distinguish between microevolution, macroevolution, and common descent. His handout provided brief definitions of each. Another handout was a critical thinking skills exercise that analyzed the NABT Statement on Teaching Evolution. This exercise showed how poor definitions and hidden assumptions can lead to confusion.
The day-long session also included a science education panel discussion with Wiester, Terry Gray from Colorado State University, David Williams from Colorado Christian University, and Mark Hartwig with Focus on the Family. Wiester reported that, in spite of public promises to delete ideological statements, Kenneth Miller's (and Joseph Levine's) high-school textbook, Biology, continues to state that "Evolution is random and undirected" and "without plan or purpose." (2000 ed., p. 658)
The panel discussion was followed with a demonstration by Terry Gray of the ASA web site, and a slide show by Jack Vayhinger on his work with Rocky Mountain sheep. Jack works for the Colorado Department of Wildlife and had some fascinating stories of his effort with the Department to protect the sheep population from diseases common to domestic sheep.
Dennis Wagner and Elton Wolter from Access Research Network in Colorado Springs hosted a book table and just about sold out a box of Wiester's new book which had arrived hot off the press a few days before. Wagner and Wolter have also been working with a Christian High School in Colorado Springs to get his book adopted as a supplemental text in an earth science class in the fall. The pictorial format and debate-style presentation is sure to be a big hit with the high-school students.
Reports from "The Nature of Nature" Conference
The Nature of Nature Conference, an interdisciplinary conference on the role of naturalism in science, was held April 12-15, 2000 at Baylor University in Waco, Texas and was hosted by the Michael Polanyi Center (MPC) at Baylor, directed by William Dembski. About 160 were in attendance.
As an interdisciplinary meeting, not only did attendees have differing positions on naturalism in science, they also came at it from different perspectives. A few of them, attendees Bryan Cross, Forrest Mims, and Glenn Morton give their (excerpted and edited) personal accounts here.
by Glenn R. Morton
The interdisciplinary conference examined the question of whether nature alone could generate what we see or if an outside designer was required. The speakers included philosophers (among them Plantinga, Toole, and Koons), historians (Numbers and Mendelsohn), physicists (like Weinberg, Guth and Van Till), biologists (among them de Duve and Ptashne), mathematicians (Dembski and Zalta among them), paleontologists (like Simon Conway Morris) and those involved in the study of mind (like Searle and Murphy).
The most dramatic moment was a spontaneous debate in a question and answer session between Stephen Meyer, Mark Ptashne and Sahotra Sarkar concerning exactly how the designer manufactures new DNA. Ptashne asked the question: if every time a new DNA sequence appeared on earth was the designer responsible for having produced it directly. The ensuing repartee revealed a poorly thought out aspect of the Intelligent Design movement. Exactly how does God interact with the material world? (The transcript is available at: http://www.flash.net/~mortongr/wacoconf.htm )
The quality of the participants was excellent (two Nobel Prize winners, world famous historians, physicists and paleontologists) and the best advocates of Intelligent Design were there. The papers of the naturalists were exceptional, interesting, challenging and useful in these debates. In general the theistic papers were not of the same caliber. The exception was a paper Paul Nelson presented. It concerned the evolutionary problems involved in altering biological developmental information and maintaining a viable creature.
Discussions this author had with numerous lay people showed that the conference was not as successful as the organizers might have wished. While there were people attending whose minds could not be changed, and thus were not changed, several lay people commented that they thought the presentations by the theists were less compelling than they would have wished. One agnostic who writes for the NSCE was approached by a young man who essentially apologized for one of the theistic talks. Another was appalled that the naturalists seemed to be winning and one person came to a realization that the approach Christians are taking in apologetics are not a sufficient preparation for our children.
In spite of its shortcomings, the conference was well worth attending and it is a shame that the Baylor University Faculty Senate has voted to disband the Polanyi Center possibly eliminating a repeat conference there. [See "Polanyi Center Under Fire."]
by Forrest Mims
Having never attended a conference so dominated by philosophy, I was intrigued as much by how they spoke as what they said. Perhaps that's because I understood so little of what some of them said. Or maybe it was the complete absence of overheads, the rote reading of the papers and the use of formulas so simplistic that even I understood them.
The talks on the history of naturalism by Everett Mendelsohn, Ronald Numbers and Ernan McMullin were much easier for this layman to understand than were the more esoteric papers on the compatibility of evolution and naturalism by Alvin Plantinga and William Talbott. Mendelsohn and Numbers are good speakers - I mean readers. They are friendly enough to ID to appear and speak. But they are certainly not advocates. While generally diplomatic, one stated that only a "tiny minority" of the scientific community advocates intelligent design, and that most of that "tiny minority" was probably present in the room. While the audience laughed in response to prior asides, this bit of sarcasm was met with a murmur of "Oh"s.
Some 45 or so were present at Session 5, where Bruce Gordon discussed, "Does Quantum Theory Pose a Problem for Naturalistic Metaphysics?" and Walter Bradley spoke on, "Information, Entropy and the Origin of Life." These guys actually used transparencies and spoke extemporaneously. Both were above my head, but even I could get an intuitive feel for what they had to say. I especially liked Bradley's point about the minimal amount of information required for the self-assembly of crystals as opposed to the vast quantity of data required for life.
Also in session 5, I spoke on "Solar Ultraviolet Radiation is Finely Tuned to Enhance the Survival of Many Forms of Life." This paper discussed the positive implications of UV as opposed to the prevailing paradigm, that "UV is universally bad for people." I showed measurements of the very high correlation of influenza cases and the ratio of non-pigmented (potentially pathogenic) to total count airborne bacteria with diminished UV-B in Brazil during burning season. I also discussed measurements of the UV response of certain mosquitoes and how diminished UV may increase the number of available nursery sites.
Weinberg asked if my fine-tuning hypothesis (explained in the talk) ruled out an evolutionary scenario, and I responded that it does not. But since all of life is fine-tuned, it really does. The Darwinists have co-opted biological fine-tuning and call it adaptation. I can't seem to explain that to the yucca moths who, and only who, pollinate our Texas yuccas.
Some kind of TV documentary is being made of the conference. A crew interviewed a number of the speakers. They said they didn't understand a few of the philosophers any better than I did. Deep thinkers and sound bites are mutually incompatible.
by Bryan R. Cross
In the Wednesday night session moderated by Notre Dame philosopher Alvin Plantinga, Rob Koons presented a paper arguing basically that naturalism and realism are not compatible. Someone asked him if it was possible to be a methodological naturalist without being an ontological naturalist. He answered, "Of course. But why would you want to? I maintain that our method should follow our ontology, and vice versa." He handled the Q&A very well.
Everett Mendelsohn, historian of science from Harvard, argued
that the history of science shows the filling in of gaps, things previously
thought to be caused by supernatural agents, later explained by natural causes
(e.g. synthesis of
urea from inorganic compounds). He proposed that we are very close to creating simple life-forms from non-life. Then Ernie McMullin talked about the different sorts of methodological naturalism. His talk seemed to be aimed at showing that theists, for theological reasons concerning the nature of God, have very good reason to believe that the natural order was made in such a way that it does not need any "causal supplementation" from God during its development.
Ronald Numbers gave a talk in which he argued that (methodological) naturalism was originally motivated by Christian theism, because Christians believed that God had set up secondary causes. He described how, during the 19th century, it had become increasingly unacceptable for science to appeal to divine or supernatural causes in scientific explanations. He argued that what primarily contributed to scientists' conversion to Darwinism during the 19th century was not the evidence per se, but the ability of Darwinism to give a natural account of the origin of species. The definition of science changed from "finding the best explanation" to "finding the best natural explanation."
Finally, he argued that it was T.H. Huxley, among others, who in the later 19th century co-opted methodological naturalism into an anti-religious ontological naturalism. Then came the concurrent sessions. I attended Paul Nelson's and then Bruce Gordon's. Paul's was very well done. I think even the non-scientists among us could follow it, and the room was packed. He showed that given the particular way in which organisms develop from embryo to adult, and given the empirical fact that all mutations of genes significant in the initial stages of development are lethal, natural selection cannot account for multiple body plans on the basis of common ancestry. In Bruce Gordon's talk he proposed that certain features of quantum phenomena cannot be explained within a naturalistic theory. Steven Weinberg spoke up in the Q&A and seemed to object to Bruce's whole idea.
The final plenary session was Weinberg and Henry "Fritz" Schaefer. Weinberg started out by saying that he doesn't even understand what naturalism is. If it is defined in terms of supernaturalism, then, unless supernaturalism is defined as members of a set (Jesus, Jehovah, Allah, etc.), then any definition of naturalism in terms of supernaturalism would be circular. He thinks that everything can (in principle) be explained without reference to any supernatural beings (which he called "fairies"). He said that naturalism is not a philosophical position taken by scientists, but more of an attitude. His evidence for this claim is from the history of science in which gaps have continually been filled naturalistically. At one point toward the end of his talk he basically said that this whole conference is a waste of time because it is not motivated by an open-mindedness concerning naturalism, but by an ideology (theism).
Much of Schaefer's talk was spent giving quotations on overheads from Christian scientists concerning their Christian faith. I learned later that his intent here was to provide counterexamples to Weinberg's insinuation that naturalism is the scientific position, and that religion is for the soft-minded. Schaefer did interact some with material from Weinberg's book, but in my view he seemed to praise Weinberg a bit too much. Michael Shermer [of MIT] was sitting just in front of me, and he was visibly annoyed by Schaefer's talk. Shermer was the first to ask a question during the Q&A, and he launched about four or five quasi-rhetorical questions at Schaefer in dramatic fashion. Schaefer just dealt with the last question "Why do you believe in God?" by describing how he came to believe in the truth of Christ's resurrection.
Someone asked Schaefer how his belief in Intelligent Design informed his work as a chemist. He seemed to back away from the description of himself specifically as an ID proponent or expert (not that he was opposed to ID of course). In answer to the question, however, he said that he had had suspicions about the claimed results of the Urey-Miller experiments even before the current failings of such methods were shown. Schaefer had given some quotations from Weinberg's book suggesting that Weinberg thought that it was very hard not to believe that the universe was designed. Weinberg responded that what he meant in those quotations was that humans naturally desire to escape death, and it is very hard for humans to accept that our existence ends at death.
Plantinga asked a good question of Weinberg to the effect
that one could be a (methodological) naturalist of the sort Weinberg was
advocating without abandoning belief in God, so what was the problem? Weinberg
responded by claiming that that move was basically retreating to a version of
God that was so anemic that the position wasn't significantly different than
Another of the attendees summed up the conference this way:
For those who supposed that this conference was a "Trojan horse for creationists," the reality was that naturalism was very well represented. In terms of numbers and prestige, I think the naturalist viewpoints were dominant, at least in the plenary sessions. But the challenges to naturalism were of very good quality, and got a good hearing, I think.
Polanyi Center Under Fire
In the wake of the Nature of Nature Conference (see previous article), the newly-formed Michael Polanyi Center at Baylor U. is under fire. This was evident around the time of the conference, and local observer Forrest Mims has reported on it as follows:
Not everyone at Baylor is happy about a conference that has attracted some of the country's leading philosophers and two Nobel laureates. Even though a number of these people oppose the ID movement, the top headline on the Baylor Lariat this morning read "[Baylor President] Sloan: Administration reviewing Polanyi."
President Sloan was quoted as saying, "It is important for us, at a university, to be able to ask questions about the relationship between science and religion. That is what being an established university is all about, having the freedom to ask these questions."
For several decades those of us who are both Texans and Baptists have watched Baylor go the way of the great Eastern universities that were founded by Christians. Yet it's still quite troubling to read about faculty members whose credentials come nowhere near those they are criticizing call for the elimination of the forum established by Dembski, et al.
Mark Wingfield in the Associated Baptist Press (12MAY00) reported:
President Robert Sloan and other university administrators created the Michael Polanyi Center at the Baptist-affiliated school in Waco, Texas, in October 1999. º Faculty members, particularly from the sciences, have complained they were not consulted about formation of the center, even though it relates to their areas of study. Some science professors have expressed fear that negative perceptions about the center's work will hurt the reputation of Baylor's science departments.
Some Baylor faculty members refused to attend the Center's conference, labeling it as "creation science." The Baylor faculty senate voted 27 to 2 on April 18 to dissolve the Polanyi Center, but Sloan refused to do so, citing that the center was created in the same way that other Baylor centers have. Sloan and the faculty have a history of disputes, replete with a multitude of lawsuits. As one observer assessed the Baylor situation:
High priests can sometimes afford to be magnanimous and tolerant. But the under-priests don't want to be found insufficiently zealous for the [current preponderance of opinion]. I think something like this is going on at Baylor. And this may lie at the heart of the battle over the MPC.
Conferences of Late
With a recent deluge of sci/rel activity, the following conferences were not wedged into previous ASAN issues, but should be noted. Perhaps readers attending either conference might be good enough to submit reports on them to ASAN.
The Chicago Summer Workshop of the CTNS "Science and Religion Course Program" (June 23-27) had as its theme "Evidence for Design: Finding New Ground for Dialogue." The six presentations were: Ian Barbour, "Concepts of Design in Evolution"; Owen Gingerich, "Dare a Scientist Believe in Design?"; James Moore, "Process as Design: Theology and Evolution"; Mary Hunt, "Designer Theology: A Feminist Perspective"; Gayle Woloschak, "Harmony in Creation: Unity and Diversity"; Philip Hefner, "The Created Co-Creator as Testimony to Design"
"Design" was also the topic of the European Society for the Study of Science and Theology (ESSST) conference in France, running at the same time as the Design and its Critics conference in Milwaukee, the God and the Academy conference in Atlanta, and a Hugh Ross conference in California.
The Design And Its Critics conference took place June 22-24, 2000 at Concordia University, Mequon, WI. As a popular movement, what is coming to be known as "intelligent design" is growing rapidly. Nonetheless, its status as a scientific and intellectual program is increasingly coming under scrutiny, and there are many misgivings, especially in the academy. This conference sought to articulate the best criticisms of Intelligent Design theory and to allow its proponents to address these concerns. Confirmed speakers included Michael Behe, William Dembski, Paul Nelson, Ken Miller, Michael Ruse, Brian Josephson, Ronald Numbers and many others, both supportive and critical of Intelligent Design. For more on this conference, contact: Angus.Menuge@cuw.edu
"It was so much easier to philosophize in the '70's when there was so little DNA sequence known." David A. DeWitt, Dept. of Biology & Chemistry, Liberty University, Lynchburg, VA email@example.com
Contribute to Sci/Rel Book
John Ashton, editor of the recent (1999) book, In Six Days: Why 50 Scientists Choose to Believe in Creation has a new book project. He is seeking 50 professors in science, employed (at present or retired) by non-church-based universities to write a short article on why they are Christians. Please prayerfully consider contributing to this book, which is planned to be sold and distributed in major bookstores in the US, UK, and Australia by the (major) non-religious publisher Harper-Collins.
If you know Christian professors at non-church-based
institutions, please alert them to this announcement. The production of the book
is on a tight schedule, so time is of the essence. This book may yield dividends
for the Kingdom of God, as one
of the target audiences is university students in the US, UK, and Australia. Please contact John Ashton directly in NSW Australia with any information or questions regarding this book: firstname.lastname@example.org tel.: ++ 612 49802841 office; ++ 612 49705319 home; fax: ++ 612 49 772490
Lamoureux In Headlines
by Harry Spaling, CSCA Exec. Director
Our own Denis Lamoureux was prominently featured in a front page story and picture, "God's in the equation" in the Edmonton Journal on Easter Sunday (April 23, 2000). U. of Alberta physicist Don Page was also quoted.
Here's a quote from Denis: "We live in an unbelievably huge and complex universe and if there is one thing that science points out to me, it is a creator and a designer," says Lamoureux. "That designer is Jesus Christ." (For the full story see http://www.edmontonjournal.com and search for "Denis Lamoureux.") Congratulations Denis! * Dan Osmond
What ASAers Do
Mike Keas's Negotiating Science project, reported last issue, is now on the Web at:
http://www.okbu.edu/academics/natsci/keas.htmRodger Bufford and his colleagues presented the following at the Christian Association for Psychological Studies annual meeting in Tulsa, OK (March, 2000): (1) Bufford, R. K., & Spradlin, J. D. (2000, March): "Religious, Spiritual, Theological Knowing: Implications for Integration," a poster presentation; (2) Payton, J. T., Spradlin, J. D, & Bufford, R. K.. (2000, March): "A Measure of Grace: Preliminary Development of a Grace Scale," a paper. The first is a portion of Rodger's developing work on the philosophical foundations for relating psychology and Christian faith. The second is an initial step in the development of a measure of the experience of grace.
Kansas Evolution Education Report
by Keith B. Miller,
Department of Geology, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS 66506
Since the ill-conceived action of the Kansas Board of Education, I have become quite active in issues of public science education and in the public understanding of science/faith issues. As part of that involvement I have been elected to the board of directors of Kansas Citizens for Science, a group of scientists, educators, teachers and interested citizens dedicated to the establishment of quality science teaching in the state's public schools. (The organization's website www.kcfs.org contains detailed information about the science standards issue in Kansas including line-by-line comparisons between the document approved by the KBOE and the rejected document written by a committee of 27 scientists, educators and science teachers.)
I have had the opportunity to speak in various contexts about
both the science of evolution and my own theology of creation. Last November I
participated in a debate on "God or Causality? A Creationist-Evolutionist
Debate" in Kansas City, sponsored by the Campus Freethought Alliance,
arguing a "compatibilist" position. In February, I gave a "Darwin
Day" lecture at Kansas State University, and in April, I participated as a
workshop leader in a AAAS conference on "Science, Teaching & the Search
for Origins" at Kansas University and spoke at the
annual conference for Kansas public science teachers.
In all of these formal opportunities, as well as in many informal ones, I have had the privilege of articulating my evangelical Christian faith in a way that is very natural. I have found many people, both Christians and non-Christians, who are eager to hear a position that treats both the scientific enterprise and the Christian faith seriously and with integrity.
Dembski Wins Writing Awards
The news reached him one evening at church that Bill Dembski's book, Intelligent Design, received the first-place Christianity Today award for 1999 in the category of "Christianity and Culture." Bill also learned that this news was announced in the Dallas Morning News on Friday, March 31, 2000.
Dembski also took first place in the critical review category of the Evangelical Press Assoc. annual awards. Bill's winning article was "The Last Magic" in Books and Culture. Phil Johnson, leader of the Wedge involving Dembski, took fourth place with "The Robot Rebellion of Richard Dawkins" in Christian Research Journal. Another Intelligent Design promoter, Nancy Pearcey, wrote the cover article, "We're Not in Kansas Anymore," for Christianity Today (May 22, 2000, p. 42) on the ID movement. This issue also had related articles on "What is Intelligent Design?," "Inherit the Monkey Trial," by Karl Giberson and Donald Yerxa, and "Your Darwin is too Large," by John Wilson. * Mark Hartwig
Physicist Freeman Dyson Wins Templeton Prize
Physicist Freeman Dyson has won the prestigious Templeton Prize, but he's not sure why. At the $948,000 award announcement, Dyson, 76, admitted that he was "baffled" by the award. As emeritus prof. at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, NJ, Dyson is largely recognized for his contribution to the unification of quantum electrodynamics theory.
Dyson views science and religion as complementary "windows" through which a fuller reality can be viewed. His five-minute speech at the prize announcement drew heavily on Francis Bacon, an early philosopher of science, and included the following excerpts:
[My] message is simple. "God forbid that we should give out a dream of our own imagination for a pattern of the world." This was said by Francis Bacon, one of the founding fathers of modern science, almost four hundred years ago. º Bacon saw clearly what science could do and what science could not do. He is saying to the philosophers and theologians of his time: look for God in the facts of nature, not in the theories of Plato and Aristotle. I am saying to modern scientists and theologians: don't imagine that our latest ideas about the Big Bang or the human genome have solved the mysteries of the universe or the mysteries of life. º
Trouble arises when either science or religion claims universal jurisdiction, when either religious dogma or scientific dogma claims to be infallible. Religious creationists and scientific materialists are equally dogmatic and insensitive. By their arrogance they bring both science and religion into disrepute. º the great majority of scientists treat religion with respect so long as religion does not claim jurisdiction over scientific questions.
In an interview on the National Public Radio program, All
Things Considered (March 22, 2000),
Dyson elaborated on his understanding of religion: "But, of course, I should say, for myself, religion is a way of life and not a set of beliefs, so I consider myself quite an agnostic as far as details of religious belief are concerned."
Interviewer Robert Siegel asked Dyson: "I'm still curious by the fact that, as a Templeton laureate, that you are an agnostic recipient of a prize for the advancement of God and spirituality." Dyson answered: "Yes. I am totally astonished that this happened because I always thought if you want to get a Templeton Prize, you have to be either a saint or a theologian, and I don't qualify on either ground. I'm simply a scientist who writes books for the general public which touch on religious questions. That's really all I do. And so I still hope that I shall deserve the prize one day. I haven't deserved it yet."
AAAS Internet Resources
The American Assoc. for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) project, Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion, has a website at: www.aaas.org/spp/dser/evolution/
The website purpose is to examine current issues of the theory of evolution and provide educational materials about it. Materials include links to the complete text of three federal court decisions ruling about teaching of evolutionary theory in government schools, and the National Academy of Sciences' National Science Education Standards. J. R. Burch Jr. of Cumberland College assesses the current-issues aspect of the site:
Unfortunately, its examination of current issues is woefully inadequate. In the battle joined in the U.S. between the teaching of evolution and of creationism, this site focuses solely on the Kansas Board of Education's decision to eliminate macroevolution and Big Bang cosmology from its science education standards.
Perhaps ASAers could contribute to this website, to help alleviate some of its early inadequacies.
Christian Engineer Website & Carson's DoE Battle
Joe Carson has sent along the website of his new organization for Christian Engineers:
For those interested in professional engineering and Christianity, check it out and send any useful critiques of it to Joe for improvement. He has big plans in mind for ACE.
Carson is also winning his long legal battle for moral accountability from the Dept. of Energy (DOE), which oversees federal nuclear facilities such as Oak Ridge National Labs, where Carson has worked. DOE's petition for review of Judge Miller's April 1999 decision, which found that DOE had engaged in reprisal against Carson for raising safety issues in its independent safety oversight program, was summarily dismissed. The agency was ordered to restore Carson to his former position and duties within 20 days.
Additionally, the Board has referred its decision to the Office of Special Counsel for its consideration in taking disciplinary action against the blameworthy managers. Carson will now seek attorney fees, other reasonable costs and consequential damages from the agency, probably in an amount of about $350,000.00.
Also, the Board's decision informed the parties that its review of Carson's contentions of malicious bad faith on the part of the agency in evading compliance with a "fault-determining provision" of a February 1994 settlement agreement was continuing. In January 1998, the Board found the agency to be in "material breach" of the same settlement. * Joe Carson
Books and Tapes
Algorithms: Beyond Logic
Advent of the Algorithm by David Berlinski was featured
on the main page at Amazon.com,
and has been ranked 25th in sales - rather unusual for a technically-oriented book to be selling so well among the populace. He argues that algorithms supercede logic and that neural, fuzzy logic will supercede algorithms. Reviews and info are at:
ARN Offers Colin Patterson's 1981 AMNH Lecture
Access Research Network is making available copies from the actual audio tape of Colin Patterson's famous November 1981 lecture at the American Museum of Natural History. The tape will be released along with an edited transcript, which includes illustrations, historical notes, and a bibliography. See the ARN website for purchase details: www.arn.org
Paul Nelson offers a couple of cautionary notes about other transcripts of the Patterson lecture:
As the audio tape reveals, earlier transcriptions omitted much of what Patterson said, and completely dropped the lengthy question-and-answer period (where scientists such as Niles Eldredge, Steve Farris, and Stanley Salthe commented in depth on Patterson's arguments). The bootleg transcripts also contain numerous errors, as they have never been corrected against the original tape. ARN has invested many months of effort to create an accurate, carefully-edited transcript, which it hopes will become the standard reference for Patterson's historically significant lecture.
With the Lord
William Douglas Morrison was born to homesteading parents in Provost, Alberta, Canada, on October 16, 1927, and died of cancer on April 6, 2000. He graduated from the U. of Toronto in 1949, and got his PhD from the U. of IL in 1955. He then directed research for Maple Leaf Mills, Ltd. until 1971, when he became professor and chairman of the dept. of animal and poultry science at the U. of Guelph. His research area was the nutrition of animals. Doug had a foundational role in the CSCA and was also recent (1999) CSCA Executive Director. Doug's obituary noted that "His faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour was the central theme and primary philosophy of his life and determined his decisions and actions."
Doug addressed the Guelph graduating class two months before he died, wishing them success as he defined it: "Over 2,000 years ago, a Hebrew writer penned what I believe to be a true description of success. He wrote: 'And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.' º This definition acknowledges God and presupposes absolutes." He then explained these three character qualities. Gary Partlow noted in passing the word of his death to ASA that Doug "epitomized Micah 6:8," the verse of his commencement address.
John W. Brabner-Smith of Vero Beach, FL died Feb. 22, 2000 at age 99. Born to Methodist missionary parents in 1900 in Little Falls, MN, he graduated from Yale U. (1925), Yale Law School (JD, 1927), and Northwestern Law school (JSD, 1931), practiced corporate law, then taught at Northwestern. He then moved to Washington, DC to become special assistant to the Attorney General of the US. He worked on the historic Lindberg kidnapping case and the prosecution of Al Capone. He was also elder and trustee of the National Presbyterian Church in Washington.
While in the US Army, he was promoted to colonel. He practiced international law during WW II as chief of the Provost Marshal General's legal office. He was involved in the Allied Control Council in Germany and the War Crimes Trials in Japan. In 1972, he became founding dean of what later became the George Mason U. law school. He also authored many articles on constitutional law.
The Executive Director's Corner
by Don Munro
Do you buy books? I am sure that most of you do. Now you can help ASA while buying them. If you go to our web site, http://www.asa3.org, and click on the link to Barnes and Noble, not only do you get the usual, large discount on your book but ASA receives a small percentage of the cost. This can occur only if you go through ASA's web site. A few members and friends have already ordered satisfactorily.
For a modest late fee, you can still register for the ASA/CSCA meeting at Gordon C. Be sure to look on our web site for an almost complete program. The tour of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island is full, but we are keeping a waiting list.
There will be some special gatherings at meals during the meeting. On Saturday, Aug. 5, those interested in brainstorming about ASA's publications will meet for breakfast with the editors. Also on Saturday, ASA President Jay Hollman will preside over a Fellow's luncheon where we hope to have a wide-ranging discussion concerning how the ASA Fellows can participate even more in helping the evangelical world better understand the implications of scientific discovery for the life of faith. Dick and Ann Wright will host a Sunday morning breakfast and reunion for those who traveled on their bus for the ASA tour around the British Isles two years ago. At the Sunday noon meal, participants will sit together by areas of the country to meet each other and discuss how they might communicate with one another and other local ASAers during the year. Ted Davis and Bob DeHaan anticipate the formation of a new local section in the eastern Pennsylvania area.
Hopefully all eight of our commissions and all three of our affiliations will meet. As usual the meetings of the two groups will not overlap. I have been pleased to see many of them moving ahead with newsletters.
We also have some outstanding speakers lined up for devotions and for our Sunday morning Bible study and worship service. There will be another fine panel formed by Terry Morrison to talk about professional development, spiritual growth, and outreach. Even the ASA business meeting will feature a talk by the ASA president and a question and answer period. I hope that you are as enthused about all this as I am.
We are hard at work on the new ASA Directory. The newly approved ASA Constitution and Bylaws will be a part of it as well as the useful features from last time. Address, telephone, and e-mail changes keep pouring into the ASA office so a Directory is already starting to be out-of-date the moment we download the database.
Perhaps by the next directory, two things will happen: (1) most of our members will have web access; and (2) material posted on the web will be more secure. The latter will be the most difficult. One "love letter" virus did corrupt us but fortunately since we have Outlook Express instead of Outlook, it did not go to those in our address book. A program cleared up the files and nothing important was lost. It continues to help us realize how vulnerable we are to sabotage. Also, we try hard to protect our members from unwanted solicitation. I think that I can count on one hand the number of times our data base has been offered since I came here six years ago. These were all Christian organizations. Although it is a way that some organizations make money, we shy away from that. If you think someone is using your ASA address to contact you, please let us know the details right away.
Recently, I had the privilege of attending a two-day conference at MIT sponsored by the Whitehead Institute, George Washington Univ., and the American Society of Law, Medicine and Ethics. It was entitled: "Genes and Society: Impact of New Technologies on Law, Medicine, and Policy." Among the participants were Supreme Court Associate Justice Stephen Breyer, Daniel Callahan, Arthur Caplan, Eric Lander, Lee Silver, and Harold Varmus. Discussions focused on how the upcoming genomic revolution will bring incredible changes in agriculture, business, forensics, medicine, and pharmacology (now sometimes called pharmacogenomics). It brought home to me again how complex our genome is but how, for the first time, we are getting some handles on it. This is a prime area on which ASA needs to concentrate, since it presents many ethical and spiritual dilemmas. Are you ready for the revolution? God has allowed us this information. What will we do with it?
Pray for ASA Council as they meet before ASA 2000. For the first half of 2000, we have kept our head above water financially, thanks to God's hand upon ASA and the wonderful generosity of so many of you. If we receive the usual amount of donations for the second half of the year, we will experience another year in the black. I am counting on you to be God's helpers.
The two-for-one $10,000 match for the endowment is progressing well but we still need some very significant gifts to complete it. Our goal of $100,000 in the endowment by the end of this year is mission possible but not mission easy. We will see what God wants to do.