Volume 43 Number 4
From the Executive Director
ASA Local Section Meeting
by Paul Arveson
ASA Washington-Baltimore Section
The quarterly local meeting of the Washington-Baltimore Section was held at my house on April 7, 2001. This is the second year that we have been hosting meetings in a new format, inviting local ASA members and friends via email and a web site.
A good roomful of people have attended these meetings, with considerable turnover. Tim Chen has been a faithful supporter of ASA and a helper at these meetings. This time he brought two of his young (and smart) Chinese relatives to add to the discussion. We also had Mary Vander Maten, a long-time ASA member, and Richard Lambert, who recently retired from the National Science Foundation. (His daughter is a violinist in the National Symphony, which last week performed Messiaen's Turangalila Symphony, one of the longest and most difficult works in the repertoire.) A few new visitors also attended.
To enjoy dinner and conversation together, we have found it convenient to order a Chinese food carry-out, which eliminates a lot of the extra work associated with the traditional pot-luck dinner.
The agenda of these meetings is to discuss the main articles in the latest issue of Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith. For the March 2001 issue, we only had time to get through two articles: the one about John Henry Newman by Mark Kalthoff, and the one titled "Chiasmic Cosmology and Creation's Functional Integrity" by George Murphy. I decided it would be logically better to cover the Kalthoff article first, since it deals with earlier and more familiar ideas on theology and science.
Most of the group was familiar with the basic arguments of the current Intelligent Design (ID) movement. Of course, Mark Kalthoff's approach - being the good historian that he is - was to bring a nineteenth-century theologian and scholar into the discussion. Based on Newman's published and unpublished writings, Mark was able to infer the opinions of Newman on various aspects of the ID arguments. His views would have been mixed--"a genuine ambivalence." Our group tended to agree, realizing that the Intelligent Designer is a long way from the Christian God.
On the question of the value of ID to lay the groundwork for the Gospel, opinions were mixed. Also, one person noted that a lot of water has gone over the dam since the time of Newman. The historical approach has this inherent caveat.
At this point, we moved to the Murphy article. Everyone agreed that Murphy and [Howard] Van Till need to come up with some better terminology to name their views. If not, this will probably be done by others, for better or worse.
Murphy is interested in the question, "How does God work in the physical world?" Van Till (in his book The Fourth Day) agrees that evolution is valid if interpreted as God's way of "making all things make themselves." However, it is certainly not adequate to classify this as "theistic evolution." Murphy's whole focus is on Christ on the cross, the "self-emptying" or kenosis of God. This self-limiting of God is what makes a self-evolving universe feasible within a Christian theology.
The group struggled with these concepts. Theologians over the centuries have developed numerous analogies for the Creator-creature relationship: ruler-kingdom, clockmaker-clock, workman-tool, parent-child, agent-action, person-body, and leader-community. Like all analogies, they fall short in some ways, and it is unclear which one, if any, Murphy is advocating. James Houston (in "I Believe in the Creator") rejected all such attempts to box God in.
To understand Murphy's article, the reader must have a solid background knowledge of science and theology. We didn't have all this knowledge, but we did agree that this view is "original." At least, it appears to be a new approach in our time.
The emphasis on the Cross and the Incarnation, and the consequent focus back on Christ, answers the objection from some (like Arthur Hill in this issue) that the creation/ID/evolution debates don't often mention Jesus Christ. This aspect of Murphy's approach was refreshing to us.
After meetings like this one, I am always encouraged and convinced that they are worth it. It is so rewarding to meet new people, and to have fellowship with old friends. The more the Internet takes over our lives, the more we need to meet "in the flesh," which is the only way to really bond with each other.
ASA people in our area seem to expect local meetings, even though they often are unable to come. As a leader in the Washington-Baltimore Section of ASA for many years, I have run many meetings and tried to get others involved in doing the same. In the absence of such assistance, my strategy has been to try to reduce the meeting preparations to an absolute minimum, so that I won't keep asking myself, "Is this worth the trouble?"
I am approaching an optimum solution. We advertise these meetings via a web site and an email list, they are hosted at my home, and we get carry-out food. Tim Chen helps in the arrangements. I look forward to hosting more such meetings, and if they don't grow larger than my living room can accommodate, that is just fine.
The tentative date for the next meeting is July 7. For more details, please visit www.christianmind.org.
Upcoming ASA Annual Meetings
July 20-23, 2001: Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS
Aug. 2-5, 2002: Pepperdine University, Malibu, CA
July 25-28, 2003: Colorado Christian University, Lakewood, CO
2004: Trinity Western University, Langley, BC Canada
Aug. 5-8, 2005: Messiah College, Grantham, PA
July 28-31, 2006: Calvin College, Grand Rapids, MI
ASA AAAS Report
by Walt Hearn
[Hearn, former editor of ASAN, was "called out of journalistic retirement" by Origins & Design editor Paul Nelson to cover the AAAS meeting for that journal. Here is his report for the ASAN.]
This year's meeting of AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science), held in San Francisco, CA, February 15-20, 2001 celebrated the complete sequencing of the human genome. ASA member Francis Collins of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), leader of the public sector DNA-sequencing consortium, gave a major address.
After showing a video of how the work was done, Collins ticked off the "top ten" most unexpected findings, including the now well-publicized fact that humans have only about 30,000 genes instead of the 100,000 expected. J. Craig Venter of Celera Genomics, who led the private-sector sequencing effort, also gave a plenary address. With Celera applying for patents on the genes it identifies, the second lecture had a sort of "Venter-capitalist" ring to it.
The Feb. 16 issue of Science published Celera's map on a big wall chart under an unusual arrangement leaving the data under control of the corporation, to which profit-making entities must pay royalties. A map based on the publicly funded data, which were added to NIH's GenBank website as obtained, appeared in the Feb. 15 issue of Nature. Besides masses of technical information, both issues contain accounts of the rivalry and disputes over publication and patenting.
Among other ASAers spotted at AAAS were former ASA president Sara Miles, Vice-President for Institutional Effectiveness at Eastern C. (PA). Chemist/theologian Barbara Pursey, retired from teaching at Dubuque Seminary (IA), was there with physicist husband Derek. Both Purseys are active in PASTCF (Presbyterian Association on Science, Technology, & the Christian Faith), one of the denominational groups comprising the Ecumenical Roundtable on Science, Technology, and the Church. The Purseys helped staff a Roundtable exhibit booth, advertising member groups and a few other science/faith groups contributing to the booth's cost (about $5,000), including ASA.
Nearby, the John Templeton Foundation also had a booth. Paul Wason, formerly of Bates C. and now Director of Science and Religion Programs at the Templeton Foundation in Radnor, PA, attended the meeting. A big Templeton-sponsored reception was arranged by the AAAS Dialogue on Science, Ethics, & Religion (DOSER), at which various groups participating in the dialogue were introduced. A press release was circulated on ethical questions related to the human genome project from Ted Peters and Robert J. Russell of CTNS (Center for Theology & the Natural Sciences).
With the Episcopal group of the Ecumenical Roundtable, the Episcopal Diocese of California, and CTNS, DOSER also sponsored a pre-meeting event at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco on Feb. 14. A panel from various disciplines and faith positions responded to a talk on "Genomics, Robotics, and Nanotechnology" given by Bill Joy, co-founder and Chief Scientist at Sun Microsystems. Joy worries about unanticipated effects when technology becomes increasingly life- like and capable of producing cascading effects. His lecture, videotaped by technology-whiz Adrian Wyard, went up almost immediately on Wyard's web site at: www.counterbalance.com.
Ethics of Animal Research
An ongoing area of interaction between science and the biblical world view is over the care and treatment of animals, especially in regard to animal use in research. The Bible places humanity in a dominant role over the creatures of the earth. This is an observable fact. It also provides guidelines in this role; the law of God forbids indecent treatment of animals. How does this apply in the biology laboratory?
An introduction to animal research from a Christian perspective can be found on the web at: www4.nas.edu/cls/ijhome.nsf/web/Sideris_4001. The article is entitled "Roots of Concern with Nonhuman Animals in Biomedical Ethics" by Lisa Sideris, Charles McCarthy, and David H. Smith from the Institute for Laboratory Animal Research Journal, Vol. 40 (1), 1999. It surveys the history of ethics applied to animal research, and then widens the discussion to Christian theology:
Traditional Judeo-Christian teaching on divine creation has emphasized that only human beings, of all God's creatures, are made in God's image and likeness. Humans are therefore understood to be superior to animals. The Genesis description of Adam exercising the authority to "name" animals is typical of passages that are understood to mean that God has given animals to humans for their use and discretion. However, in the wake of criticisms of the Judeo-Christian attitude toward animals (see especially White 1967), many religious scholars have attempted to redefine the human nature relationship as one of stewardship and care, rather than despotism or dominion. Humans' godlikeness has been reinterpreted to entail a responsibility for trying to understand, care for, and order all of creation. According to this interpretation, human creation in the image of God is understood as responsibility rather than license. Animals are not given to us as subordinates but are to be celebrated as our companions and partners in creation.
The New Testament teaching of Paul that calls for us to restore all things in Christ, and liberation theology, are also considered. * David Fisher
Religion on the Brain?
Have scientists found a biological basis for religious experience? See: www.smh.com.au/news/0105/10/world/world8.htm and bibleandscience.com/godpartbrain.htm
These URLs came from the Institute for Biblical & Scientific Studies (IBSS) (http://bibleandscience.com) e-mail newsletter. IBSS is headed by Stephen C. Meyers of Philadelphia, PA. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org * Steve Meyers, IBSS
Global Warming Revisited
"It will without doubt have come to your Lordship's knowledge that a considerable change of climate, inexplicable at present to us, must have taken place in the Circumpolar Regions, by which the severity of the cold that has for centuries past enclosed the seas in the high northern latitudes in an impenetrable barrier of ice has been during the last two years, greatly abated." President of the Royal Society, London, to the Admiralty, 20 Nov. 1817, www.john-daly.com/polar/arctic.htm
The preponderance of opinion from the scientific community is that the average temperature of the earth has been increasing for some time. Because it has global significance, the issue is being driven strongly by political organizations such as the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and affiliated nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). "UNEP continues to be the environmental voice of the United Nations, responsible for environmental policy development, scientific analysis, monitoring, and assessment." See www.unep.org/unep/eia/geo1/exsum/ex2.htm. Also, see www.unep.org/SGE.
The IPCC is a panel of scientists brought together by UNEP to examine the warming issue. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has issued a report of which the summary (written by UN personnel and not IPCC panel climatologists) makes the dire predictions now familiar in the mass media.
IPCC and the Science of Climate
The IPCC report itself has a guarded tone characteristic of scientists exploring new ground with tentative hypotheses. The predicted rise in global temperature is based on mathematical models that include numerous complicated factors still being studied. (One such factor is the extent of the effect of soot.) While the models are continually being improved as climate-related mechanisms become better understood, the empirical data are sufficiently complex to be pulled into the service of differing hypotheses.
The IPCC is forthright in admitting that there is "low" or "very low" scientific understanding for nine of the twelve factors thought to affect global climate, and "medium" understanding for two factors. A "high" level of understanding is placed on greenhouses gases, such as carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide.
The MAY/JUN 2001 ASAN article on the topic drew from climatologist John Christy, a member of the IPCC panel, as reported in Discover magazine. In a subsequent issue of Discover, Christy elaborated on his position in a letter to Discover, in which he wrote:
Additionally, there is one thing I would like to correct: The article's subtitle says I insist that "there's no such thing as global warming." In fact I have said publicly that Earth's temperature has risen, and that I think part of the 20th-century warming is most likely human-induced.
To clarify his position, the ASAN Editor inquired and received the following email (excerpted below) from Christy about the Discover article:
Over the many months of interviews, I had consistently stated that I felt a small part of the warming of the past century was human-related. I have stated so in public as recorded, for example, in official transcripts of House and Senate Hearings. I have been consistent with my views since I became involved in this issue.
The bottom-line point, however, is that I do not believe the warming will be sufficient to be a problem and that a greater problem will be created by centralized-planning of a free-market system. I have shown (see my latest testimony before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee at www.atmos.uah.edu/atmos/christy.html) that energy efficiency has improved every year since 1970, so that we will continue to produce the vital things the world wants and needs (its food, medical advances, technology, defense, etc.) with better efficiency. When energy costs are regulated to higher values (based on poor climate model projections) real people suffer.
I thought it interesting that the only critic [that Discover article writer Elizabeth] Royte cited was a paid lobbyist for a special interest group: Brandon MacGillis of the National Environmental Trust. He is not a climate scientist at all, but simply a lobbyist paid to spin everything to fit an agenda of his employer.
Environmental issues that really matter are water pollution, habitat destruction, and toxic emissions to the air (CO2 is not a toxic emission). These kill thousands of people (especially children) every day, mostly in poor countries.
"Globally, however, the satellite data show a cooling trend of 0.03 degrees Celsius per decade since the first NOAA TIROS-N satellites went into service." From "Using Satellites to Monitor Global Climate Change," Christy and Spencer, Earth System Science Laboratory, U. of Alabama, Huntsville
The Politics of a Science Question
Scientists show a kind of social usefulness in offering predictions about events that might affect the whole of human life and civilization. If the earth is indeed warming (or cooling), the normative question is whether this is good or not, and what, if anything, should be done about it. At this juncture, the scientific aspect of the issue becomes dominated by political considerations.
Whether the earth is warming or not, the issue has been pressed into the full service of the global power structure, for grand political purposes, as described in an article in the National Post (Toronto), Jan 24, 2001, entitled "Global Superscare" by David Wojick, who writes about global climate-related policy-making:
Indeed, as French President Jacques Chirac said clearly, when kicking off the failed Hague conference, Kyoto is the indispensable first step toward a system of "global environmental governance." Compliance with the Kyoto Treaty, if it ever comes into force, will be enforced by the UNEP-run Conference of the Parties.
This time the release of the IPCC Summary for Policymakers coincided with the Second Global Ministerial Environment Forum of UNEP. The meeting took place at UNEP headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya, from Feb. 5-9.
Calling this meeting a "global forum" fit its focus on global governance. UNEP's assertiveness has been growing, as it becomes more explicit in its agenda of "international environmental governance." ASAers and others will likely be pondering to an increasing extent the emerging political role of environmentalists and the UN. Political abuse in the name of science has aroused response from some eminent climatologists.
Among the critics of global warming ecopolitics are well-established meteorologists such as MIT Prof. Richard S. Lindzen, whose rather revealing story on the issue can be found in his article, "Global Warming: The Origin and Nature of the Alleged Scientific Consensus," at: www.cato.org/pubs/regulation/reg15n2g.html
Lindzen was pulled into the wider debate over the politicization of the issue, both outside and even within scientific circles. He gives personal testimony of this politicization in the above article:
Outside the world of meteorology, Greenpeace's Jeremy Legett, a geologist by training, published a book attacking critics of warming - especially me. George Mitchell, Senate majority leader and father of a prominent environmental activist, also published a book urging acceptance of the warming problem (World on Fire: Saving an Endangered Earth). Sen. Gore recently published a book (Earth in the Balance: Ecology and the Human Spirit). Those are just a few examples of the rapidly growing publications on warming. Rarely has such meager science provoked such an outpouring of popularization by individuals who do not understand the subject in the first place.
Earlier IPCC studies used a narrow range of "business as usual" scenarios to estimate future greenhouse gas emissions from future human activity. They estimated a temperature rise of up to 3.5ƒ in 100 years. More recently, IPCC scientists wisely decided to avoid predicting future human activity. Instead, they devised forty widely differing human futures. With the wider range of possibilities, the temperature predictions also widened, to a maximum of 5.8ƒ C. This larger temperature figure is popularly and politically being treated as an increased global threat.
Unfortunately, scientists are just as susceptible to political maneuvering as are politicians. Linzden continues his testimony:
As most scientists concerned with climate, I was eager to stay out of what seemed like a public circus. But in the summer of 1988 Lester Lave, a professor of economics at Carnegie Mellon University, wrote to me about being dismissed from a Senate hearing for suggesting that the issue of global warming was scientifically controversial. I assured him that the issue was not only controversial but also unlikely. In the winter of 1989 Reginald Newell, a professor of meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, lost National Science Foundation funding for data analyses that were failing to show net warming over the past century. Reviewers suggested that his results were dangerous to humanity. In the spring of 1989 I was an invited participant at a global warming symposium at Tufts University. I was the only scientist among a panel of environmentalists. There were strident calls for immediate action and ample expressions of impatience with science. Claudine Schneider, then a congressman from Rhode Island, acknowledged that "scientists may disagree, but we can hear Mother Earth, and she is crying.'' It seemed clear to me that a very dangerous situation was arising, and the danger was not of "global warming'' itself.
Global warming politics intersects both science and religion, as ecopolitics and pagan notions of the ecosphere have become intertwined. ASAers looking for a ripe area to exercise scientific, Christian, and political discernment - a multidisciplinary challenge - have it in global warming.
World Forum Participant Offers Sci/Rel Grants
Joe Carson, an attendee of the Millennium State of the World Forum 2000 (see the APR/MAY01 ASAN report at www.asa3.org), met the Director of the Philadelphia Center for Religious Studies, William Grassie, last year at the Forum, held in conjunction with the Millennium Summit at the United Nations in NYC last September. (See www.worldforum.org.) He was a key organizer of the Future Visions Consultation, a religion-science dialogue that occurred during the Forum. Joe said he also had opportunity to meet many of the "leading figures" in this dialogue and that the Local Societies project is a direct result of that meeting.
From the website www.pc4rs.org/localsocieties, the Philadelphia Center for Religion and Science has begun the Local Societies Initiative, and is requesting proposals for funding three-year $15,000 matching grants to cover start-up costs "for dialogue groups exploring the dynamic interface between religion and science. While focused on colleges, universities and seminaries, the program also welcomes applications from a wide spectrum of interested parties in other venues worldwide."
As stated in the Initiatives announcement, its purpose is, in part, to
encourage thoughtful and dynamic exploration of the interrelationship of science and religion, to promote greater appreciation of these issues and to enhance increased cooperation between science and religion. This three-year project is designed for established or newly formed groups to be catalysts for progress in diverse communities worldwide. The program seeks to create long-term networks for vibrant and broadly significant exchange.
If a proposal is rejected, the applicant is invited to resubmit a revised proposal. The Initiative is a project of the PCRS/Metanexus with special funding from the John Templeton Foundation www.templeton.org.
PCRS is a nonprofit institution dedicated to education, research, and outreach on the constructive engagement of science and religion. PCRS is part of a growing network of individuals and groups exploring the dynamic interface between cosmos, nature, and culture in cities and campuses throughout the world.
PCRS is also host to Metanexus; The Online Forum on Science and Religion with over 4,000 subscribers in 57 countries (at www.metanexus.net). Stacey Ake was recently hired as its associate editor. Contact information: The Local Societies Initiative, PCRS/Metanexus, 650 Brandywine Creek Road, P.O. Box 490, Unionville, PA 19375, tel: 610-486-1176; fax: 610-486-6897; email: email@example.com; web: www.pc4rs.org/localsocieties
Comm2 Calls for Scanners
Paul Arveson heads the ASA Communications Commission (Comm2), and writes:
Years ago my ambition was to scan [every] ASA journal and put them on CDs. That project stalled when I realized how expensive it would be to get a high-volume scanner/document feeder, do all the OCR and then manually clean it up. Text in the journal is small and my test runs indicated that it would take a lot of manual cleanup to make it readable. If you have any suggestions for a scanner, let me know. Also, maybe I could put together a team of people to help with the file editing. As Chairman of the Communications Commission, I am going to try again this year.
Do any of you readers have access to a high-speed scanner that could be used to digitize the journal? Once it's done, it's (presumably) done for good. If so, contact Paul at: firstname.lastname@example.org
What ASAers Do
There hasn't been much news about ASA commissions, but some are publishing newsletters and web sites.
"Science Ed on the Web" was the title suggested by John Wiester that Craig Rusbult and Bill Cobern used in late 1999 for a web site under development by the ASA Science Education Commission. Rusbult is developing and coordinating the web site.
Its three main goals are: (1) to help teachers in public, private, and home schools to more effectively teach science concepts and thinking skills; (2) to provide Christian perspectives on science, nature, and education in seven areas; and (3) to describe and compare Christian and secular approaches to education, showing the broad areas of overlap - where they are similar, and where they differ.
In the area devoted to origins, a "multiple positions" format will reflect the diversity of views in ASA. The goal is to handle disagreements in a productive way, with critical thinking in an atmosphere of respectful attitudes and accurate understanding. According to Rusbult, after emphasizing the important ways in which we agree, three main views (young-earth creation, old-earth creation, and theistic evolution) will be clearly expressed by their proponents, along with an explanation of how Intelligent Design differs from, yet overlaps with, each of these views. In addition, lively debates among the major positions will help to clarify concepts and promote critical thinking. If you have comments or suggestions for improving this web site, including useful information (especially on the web) or personal expertise, send them to email@example.com. The site will be moved to the ASA server by mid-June.
The History & Philosophy of Science Commission put out its fourth newsletter last fall, edited by Ted Davis of Messiah C. (firstname.lastname@example.org). It included an extensive report on the Baylor U. Conference from Chris Stewart of Houghton C., a biography of Mark Kalthoff's life and work as a historian of science (see www.hillsdale.edu/dept/History/faculty/kalthoff.html), extensive book reviews, and coverage of Davis's exchanges with Intelligent Design leader Phil Johnson, first published in the National Center for Science Education's Reports (Jul/Aug 99).
The fifth issue of the Creation Commission's newsletter, "Creationews," went out in January 2001. Most of the material was about the creation statement of the Commission - or rather statements, from young-earth (recent creation) and intelligent design. The commission is chaired by Bob Newman and the board includes Tony Gerard, Mark Hartwig, George Murphy, Perry Phillips, and Dave Wilcox. Murphy has lined up a symposium for ASA01 on the topic, "Evolution as a Work of the Trinity," with speakers Denis Lamoureux, Bob Newman, Howard Van Till and George himself.
Physicist Karl Giberson of Eastern Nazarene C. is now also an editor, not of a newsletter, but of the John Templeton Foundation's (JTF) new Research News & Opportunities in Science and Theology newspaper (email@example.com). The 36-page paper has some pages in color and is part of the overall JTF strategy "of bringing scientists, philosophers, researchers, psychologists, and theologians together." The premier issue was dated Sep. 2000. Three-month subscriptions are free. Contact: John Vogeler, Editorial Office, Eastern Nazarene College, 23 East Elm Avenue, Quincy, MA 02170, or call (617) 745-3931.
Hessel Bouma III is presently head of ASA's Bioethics Commission, but before him was James C. Peterson, whose new book, Genetic Turing Points: The Ethics of Human Genetic Intervention, lays out the central ethical questions raised by rapid advances in biotechnology. It is recommended as one of the most "accessible discussion of bioethics today" by the Center for Bioethics (www.cbhd.org).
Here is more evidence that scientists have a "right brain." Joseph Lechner, a chemistry prof. at Mt. Vernon Nazarene C., OH, presented a dramatic monologue, Democritus, Father of the Atom, at the Power Center for the Performing Arts in Ann Arbor, MI, on Aug 2, 2000, as part of the 16th Biennial Conf. on Chemical Education at the U. of MI.
Allan Harvey recently contributed a talk on "Science and Christian Apologetics" to a series on apologetics for an adult Sunday School class at First Presbyterian Church of Boulder, CO. He stated that science was a bigger apologetic problem than it should be, and that Christians bore some of the blame for that. He suggested that many of our problems in the area would be solved if we could just remember two fundamental things: (1) The Bible is not a science textbook; and (2) God is sovereign over nature. The full text of the presentation is on the web at: http://members.aol.com/steamdoc/writings/apologetics.html
Barbara A. Pursey and her husband Derek will be giving a seminar on "Worshipping the Creator in the Contemporary Cosmos" at Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu, NM, Aug. 13-20, 2001. The Presbyterian Assoc. on Science, Technology, and the Christian Faith (PASTCF) is putting on this opportunity to reflect, in a Reformed way, on how the two "books" of God's revelation go together. For more information, see: www.newmexico-ghostranch.org/index.html or email firstname.lastname@example.org; tel. (505) 685-4333. Derek is PASTCF sec/treas, with email address: email@example.com * Walt Hearn
The long reach of ASAN into the past dusts off an article in Christian Leadership Ministry's The Real Issue (Mar/ Apr 2000) of an interview (p. 10) with Otto J. Helweg of Fargo, ND, on "The Secular/Sacred Balancing Act." In an out-of-the-way place like North Dakota State U., where he is engineering dean, you might not suspect that Helweg was selected in 1983 as the ground water Scientist of the Year for the U.S. and the outstanding civil engineer in TN in 1994. When at the U. of Memphis in '95, he received the Distinguished Research Award. In the interview, Helweg says: "We have an obligation to become much more theologically literate than the average Christian in the pew because we're dealing more with the mind than the heart."
… Before the Big Bang: The Origins of the Universe and the Nature of Matter by Ernest Sternglass (Four Walls Eight Windows, 2001 - www.4w8w.com), is issued as a paperback, and surveys the ideas behind much of the development in cosmology and unifying force theories. The author has a long history among such figures as Einstein, deBroglie, Bohr, and Feynman, with firsthand exchanges woven into the telling of the physics. It's readable by the nonspecialist, covering both the physics and physicists. 328 pages.
… Del Ratsch is a philosopher of science at Calvin C. who has written a new book, Nature, Design, and Science (SUNY Press, 2001 - www.sunypress.edu) that provides fairly thorough philosophical coverage of the place of design in science. The book's introduction puts it this way:
Recently, however, there are some signs that barriers against design theories are eroding just a bit. A few legitimate scientists are experiencing a bothersome suspicion that the apparent fine-tuning for life exhibited by the cosmos is just a little too exquisite to attribute to blind coincidence. A number of philosophers of science now suspect that the conceptions of science underlying prohibitions on supernatural design are conceptually inadequate, and that making such prohibitions stand up may require work which no one at present knows how to do. And a very few professional scientists have even begun developing ideas concerning specific phenomena for which legitimately empirical cases for supernatural design can, they believe, be made.
Surprisingly, virtually none of the foundational work essential to exploration (pro or con) of key issues has been done. Such foundational work is the focus of this book.
… Ancient Christian Commentary on Scriptures: Genesis 1-11 is edited by Andrew Louth. This book contains quotes from first century to the twelfth-century Christian leaders, showing what they believed about Genesis 1-11. It would have been helpful to add some explanatory remarks, for example, that Augustine's view reflects a Platonic view of the world. You can read what some early church fathers wrote about Genesis One at http://bibleandscience.com/genesisone.htm from the IBSS newsletter (firstname.lastname@example.org).
With the Lord
Joseph H. Boutwell Jr. of Atlanta, GA, died September 14, 2000. He was a medical doctor interested in the history and philosophy of science.
by Donald W. Munro
There is still a little time left to register for the ASA Annual meeting at Kansas State U. on July 20-23, 2001. The final details are falling into place. The latest news is that a professional company is planning to video tape the plenary lectures and audiotape the sessions through Sunday. Attendees can order them and pick them up before they leave the conference. It is not clear yet whether these can be available to people who are not in attendance. We will let you know later. At this meeting, several organizations will have tables to present their materials and ideas. This is our first embryonic attempt at booths.
The ASA web site editors have moved into new territory. You will now find at least ten videos of Templeton/ASA lectures on the site. You need Real Player to view them, and a wide-band link will give you the best results. Streaming video is a fairly new medium. We think that you will be pleased with the results. Among others you will find such ASA luminaries as Owen Gingerich and Howard Van Till. We plan to continue adding or substituting more videos as storage space permits. Please try it out (www.asa3.org), and send us your comments or suggestions.
One of my big projects is finally finished after untold hours. I surveyed the old journals and newsletters to find the dates when people joined. I went through thousands of names. The listing of new members ended in 1979 so that is as far as I could go. Since then, our data base should be more accurate because that was after the ASA fire which destroyed our records.
One finding is that at least 600 people who joined between 1941 (only F. Alton Everest can claim that) and mid-1979 are still active members. I think that says something very positive about an organization. We will have copies of this list available for perusal at ASA 2001. One caveat is that I cannot know whether a person joined, then dropped out, and rejoined. Also, there may be women who became members using their maiden name and may now be a member under a married name. If you fit that category, please let me know. I know of at least one member whose name I never found, and yet she has been a long-time member. Probably none of these complicated projects reaches perfection. I want to thank all of these 600 people for their long and faithful sojourn with ASA. We need your wisdom and continued support.
Now it is time to honor a group of those members. In this newsletter, I list the names of twenty people who joined in 1966 according to our literature and thus are celebrating 35 years of membership. Congratulations to each of you: Epiphanes K. Balian, Roger K. Bufford, Richard E. Carlson, Bryan L. Duncan, Lester C. Eddington, Vernon J. Ehlers, Peter D. Esser, Donald A. Josephson, Tomuo Hoshiko, Richard L. Humphrey, Kenneth E. Kinnamon, Vernon P. Magnuson, William B. Monsma, J. Terence Morrison, Robert C. Newman, Ghillean T. Prance, Richard L. Ruble, Lloyd R. Schoen, and John M. Vayhinger. It is especially noteworthy that Sir Ghillean Prance will be one of our plenary speakers this summer while he celebrates his 35th year of membership.
For the first time, ASA has an Advisory Council. The formation of this group was approved by ASA Council at its last meeting. Eventually we will print the names of the Advisory Council members on our stationery and other outreach materials. The following have graciously agreed to serve: Dorothy Chappell, Francis Collins, Vernon Ehlers, Ann Hunt, Randy Isaac, Sara Miles and Charles Townes. We will tap into this group for advice. They also serve as role models. It is important for our younger members to realize that a Christian can be an outstanding scientist. Among the members of this council are two industrial researchers, an outstanding geneticist, a Nobel Prize winner in physics, a U.S. congressman and two college administrators. They represent a portion of the many facets of ASA. We deeply appreciate their willingness to help ASA in this capacity.
Since I last wrote you, part of a journal collection of an ASA member has been donated to a seminary library in CA. That leaves the rest of his collection (1980s to the present) and a full collection of ASA journals from a New Hampshire member waiting for new homes. They wish to donate them. The only cost is the shipping charge unless you live close enough to pick them up. Do you know an academic library or other place that would delight in receiving such a gift? Let me know!
Special thanks to those of you who have sent gifts during these past two months. Among other things, costs for mailing, insurance, printing, and office supplies keep rising and strain ASA's budget. We work hard to make sure that your money goes as far as it can. We know that some of you are sacrificing to help us continue God's work among the science and church communities. For those of you who can, we ask for your generous gifts to ASA's operating budget so that this November we do not have to consider raising the dues. I hope you have some good summer breaks. I look forward to seeing many of you at Kansas State U.