ASA Lectures Big in Bozeman
Two Templeton/ASA lectures were held recently. Philosopher William Lane Craig spoke at Montana State U. on Feb. 25. Craig has gained considerable acclaim for his well-reasoned debates with atheists.
Craig was followed on March 10-11 by ASA "fireball" and renowned chemist, Henry Francis "Fritz" Schaefer.
Pat McLeod sent the following (edited) report to ASA's Executive Director, Don Munro on April 5:
Greetings from snow-covered Bozeman. Schaefer and Craig were incredibly well received here in Bozeman for this year's lecture series. In fact, Schaefer was so impressed by the turn-out for this event that he encouraged me to do this brief write-up for the ASA newsletter.
For four weeks, everywhere you went on campus you were confronted by advertisements for the 2nd annual Science and Religion Lecture Series: on every classroom chalkboard, on banners posters, fliers, table tents, classroom announcements by students and professors, in the school and local paper, on radio (including three interviews and one one hour call-in talk show) and even on TV.
The University officials tried to persuade us to give up the large meeting room we had reserved for one of the lectures so that they could use it for a world-famous rap singer named Ice-T. They expected us to only draw 200.
Were they blown away the first night of the lecture series when we packed our room out! Every seat was taken and 50 people were left standing. As one of our staff scrambled to haul in more chairs, he overheard them saying about our crowd, "Can you believe what is going on over there? I thought this was just one of those conversion things, but this guy sounds like a real intellectual."
Topics in this year's lecture series included Craig's lectures: "Are there Objective Truths About God?", "Naturalism and Contemporary Cosmology/The Existence of God and the Beginning of the Universe," "Are Science and Religion Mutually Irrelevant?", "Is there Scientific Evidence for God?" and "Is the Universe Designed?" Schaefer addressed the topics: "Scientists and their Gods", "The Big Bang, Stepehen Hawking and God", and "Climbing Mount Improbable: Evolutionary Science or Wishful Thinking?"
At the final lecture, a scientist came up to the microphone during the Q &A time and said:
I just wanted to thank you and the sponsors for exploring the topic of I guess what we thought was a conflict of science and religion. I am a chemist, too, and became a Christian a couple years ago and when I did that I just thought that despite what I had been taught I was just gonna take the leap of faith and believe. And since then it has been a great joy to learn that maybe there is harmony between my scientific training and my faith.
She went on to share that when she attempts to integrate her science with her faith, her Christian friends react skeptically and say, "We'll pray for you."
One of the highlights of this year's lecture series was having both Bill Craig and Fritz Schaefer speak at faculty luncheons. Every faculty on campus received invitations to these luncheons and the attendance at both was over 100. The total attendance at all of this year's events was estimated at over 2,500.
We want to say thanks to the ASA and Templeton Foundation for sponsoring this event and hope that we can continue to work together to engage the brightest minds in the academy in critical reflection on the person, values and teaching of Jesus Christ - especially as he relates to the world of science.
* Pat McLeod
What ASAers Do
Manuel Moncel is on leave from Spain, has a Ph.D. in physics, and bumped into Walter Hearn at the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences in Berkeley, CA, where he is engaging his interest in the history and philosophy of science.
At CTNS's spring '99 public forums, visiting scholar and physicist George Murphy spoke March 18 on "The Cosmos in Light of the Cross." He focused upon God as revealed in vulnerability and suffering in the cross of Christ, and its relationship to Christ's presence in creation. George, recently a pastor for 15 years, is also interested in encouraging development of resources for education, preaching, and liturgy, for clergy and congregations.
Then on May 3, biologist Jeff Schloss presented "Recent Evolutionary Accounts of the Christian Love Command: Theoretical Controversies and Emerging Possibilities." (See CTNS at: www.ctns.org) Pauline Rudd and Nancey Murphy also gave forum talks.
In spring 1999, Loren and Deborah Haarsma team-taught ten lectures on science and Christian faith at Haverford and Bryn Mawr Colleges. The lectures were sponsored by an organization called GreenTree Working in parallel with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, their goal is to engage the campus communities in conversations about worldviews and religion. GreenTree seeks to counter the trend of relativism, which often removes discussion of religion from the academic arena.
Here's an abbreviated version of the advertising blurb sent to all the students at those colleges:
Science and Spirituality: Is Harmony Possible?
Who owns science? Some people claim that the truth of science exclusively supports the atheistic worldview and eliminates the need for God. Others say that the truth of divine revelation eliminates the need for science. And some argue that science and religion are merely social constructions which cannot claim to know any truth. We disagree with all of the above. We will examine the philosophical assumptions necessary to do science, and discuss a resolution of some apparent conflicts between science and the Christian worldview. Then we will discuss some real points of tension raised by cosmology, evolution, neuroscience, the environment, and bioethics.
About 60 students, roughly half Christians and half non-Christians, attended the first lecture. By the third week, the "curiosity factor" had diminished and the students' workload had increased, dropping attendance. After the third week, the audience had become a core group of about 20 students (mostly Christians) who came every week, plus a few who came on particular weeks for particular topics.
Simply giving these talks on campus, combined with GreenTree's advertisements, probably had an impact beyond those who attended the talks. They heard several second-hand reports of students discussing these topics with each other and with faculty, both in the dorms and in classes.
More information about the series, including detailed outlines of the lectures, is available at:
C&EN, a chemical and engineering trade journal, has had an ASAer as senior correspondent - until recently, when Wil Lepkowski retired in February. He had been covering national and international science and technology policy. Wil was commended for persistently getting to the underlying truths of situations and not accepting anything at face value. A full-page article in C&EN (1 MAR 99, p. 59) covered the event and noted that Wil will still be involved as a contributing editor.
Elving Anderson and Francis Collins plan to be among ASAers attending the American Society for Human Genetics convention in San Francisco in October. There will be a gathering of an as-yet untitled "Human Genetics Christian Fellowship" on the evening of Friday, October 22. Lutheran theologian Ted Peters of CTNS is well-known for writing on the ethics of research on the human genome, and will be the speaker.
Lepkowski is not the only recently retiring ASAer. Robert VanderVennen, at age 70, is retiring from leadership at the Institute for Christian Studies in Toronto. Bob has been around: Trinitiy Christian C., The King's C., Redeemer C., and ICS. Bob was praised by Hendrik Hart in an announcement in the ICS Perspective newsletter (Mar. 1999) for his "single-hearted devotion to the cause of reformational Christian higher education" and for his style of leadership, as a servant, through service.
Bob created and maintained the ICS-University Press of America book series, "Christian Studies Today." Besides this tribute, ASAers could add that Bob has also made significant contributions to the development of CSCA, where we look forward to his continued involvement.
Physics and astronomy professor Howard Van Till is seen smiling in front of a model of the solar system in Calvin College's Spark alumni magazine (Spring 99, p. 25). The article reports on Howard's winning the 1999 Faith and Learning Award, given since 1992 to Calvin professors for excellence in teaching, spiritual impact, concern for students, and lasting influence. Most of his students were non-science majors, which offered him a challenge in finding new approaches to teaching. His goal was to instill in them a new appreciation of the relationship of science and Christianity. He recounts: "It looked to many of them like an obstacle to overcome and in many cases a wonderful transformation of attitude occurred."
This jives with the Editor's recollection from ASA80 at Taylor U. in Upland, IN. Still experiencing somewhat the insecurity of youth, I felt immediately at ease around Howard; he had a down-to-earth way of coming across that would alleviate mentor-student barriers.
Howard is perhaps best known for his book, The Fourth Day, relating science and Christianity. As a low-key guy, he was surprised by the heated controversy it generated. Increasingly dissatisfied by the adversarial positioning of science and Christian belief in the creation-evolution controversy in North America, he joined the discussion. Numerous Calvin alumni have expressed appreciation for his sincere attempt to bring Christian belief and science together.
And, after 30 years of teaching, Van Till is another recently retired ASAer, spending time working on sci/rel issues with the John Templeton Foundation.
Charles Thaxton sure gets around for a man who is down to one leg. In April, he was off to Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Poland, to expand the outreach he and his wife Carole have developed in Europe over the years. His latest lecture has had great appeal, titled "Ten Reasons Why Darwin Wouldn't Write the Origin of Species Were He Alive Today." Meanwhile, Carole is explaining how to do home-schooling since the Czech government is now allowing it on a limited basis for a trial period. Their work is being funded through Konos Connection, 111 Bethea Road, Fayetteville, GA 30214; tel: (770) 719-9549; fax: (770) 460-1559; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thaxton was cited, along with Bill Dembski, Mike Behe, Phil Johnson, and Michael Denton in an article, "Scientists Find Evidence of God," in Insight (April 19, 1999, pp. 14-15, 46-47) by Stephen Goode. The account relates Thaxton's co-authored book (with Walter Bradley and Roger Olsen), now an early Intelligent Design "classic" titled The Mystery of Life's Origin. "When we wrote it, it was like being a lone wolf out there," Thaxton told Insight. "Hard-core materialists aren't going to tolerate intelligence in nature. Then I got lots of calls from scientists and mathematicians who did."
Dembski comes into the article as one of those who contacted Thaxton. Insight called Dembski's new title, The Design Inference, "a closely argued book," and makes note of his extensive scholarly achievements ("the perpetual student"). The article ends by announcing that:
Thaxton, who will chair a seminar on "Detecting Design in Nature" at the annual gathering of the American Scientific Affiliation in July, compares the situation Intelligent Design now is in with where quantum physics was a century ago. Max Planck, the quantum theorist, despaired somewhat about getting his theory accepted by his fellow physicists ...
David Snoke, a physics and astronomy professor at the U. of Pittsburgh, and an elder in the Presbyterian Church of America, has been motivated by the age-of-the-earth controversy in the PCA to write a book showing the young-earth position to be not as biblical as it is usually thought to be. Snoke deals with his own assumptions and the scientific case for an old earth, but mainly with theological implications such as animal death before the fall, the Sabbath week, the flood of Noah. The 76-page paperback is available exclusively from IBRI, P.O. Box 423, Hatfield, PA 19440-0423 for $7.95 US postpaid.
Also speaking through IBRI is ASAer Bob Newman. In January, he was at the U.C. at Davis for an apologetics weekend lecture series, "Holy Cosmos!" The first lecture, "Cosmos and Contact: the Religion of Carl Sagan," attracted 250-300 students with good questions. He also spoke with interested faculty and grad students in the physics department.
Nearby, at Grace Valley Christian Center, he presented "The Cosmos and the Bible" and two other well-attended lectures. Bob asks for prayers for those at U.C. Davis and Grace Valley as they try to get a campus study of the Bible and science going in the wake of the lectures.
Another IBRI ASAer, John Studenroth, is transitioning from pastor to missionary to college faculty and grad students, by Jan. 2000. John is at: email@example.com
*Walt Hearn, Jack Haas/Don Munro, Don DeGraaf, Charles Thaxton, Bob Newman
Phillips NIST Videotape
Alan J. DeWeerd has informed the Editor that NIST has a videotape, available free of charge to physics teachers, of the Jan 24, 1998 talk by scheduled ASA99 speaker and NIST physicist, William Phillips, as reported by Paul Arveson in the MAY/JUN99 ASAN. (The videotape is announced on the last page of the SEP 1998 issue of The Physics Teacher.) Copies may be obtained by contacting Linda Joy of NIST by fax at: (301) 926-1630. Alan highly recommends it.
(firstname.lastname@example.org) * Alan DeWeerd
The joint ASA Press/IVP book, Being a Christian in Science, written by former ASAN Editor Walter Hearn is back in the news, as it continues to get good reviews. As a consequence, ASA has been getting some free publicity.
A two-page review by R. David Cole, prof. emeritus of molecular and cell biology from U.C. Berkeley (who now lives in Santa Barbara) appeared in the CTNS Bulletin (vol. 18, no. 1, 1998). Cole writes that Hearn wrote Being partly from " a more general perspective on the absence of a Christian worldview from academic conversation, and to the steady rise of 'scientism,' the philosophy that all reality can be described by the natural sciences."
He also points out that "Hearn encourages Christians to consider that a life in science might be their 'call' to ministry. Science is regarded by him as a mission field for folks with appropriate gifts and interests." Cole recognizes that the book is generallu useful in helping Christians live cross-cultural lives.
The second review appeared in SciTech (Feb. 1999, p. 2) by Barbara A. Pursey, a Board Member of the Presbyterian Assoc. on Science, Technology, and the Christian Faith (email@example.com). She cited Walt's biochemistry background before joining his wife, Ginny, to become a writing team. ASA is cited in the review, and Pursey says of the author: "º he goes on to deal frankly and hopefully with how a Christian can participate wholeheartedly in the scientific enterprise while remaining a committed Christian." And that "He is descriptive rather than prescriptive in dealing with controversial matters, such as 'intelligent design.'" The book draws heavily on Walt's personal experience as a scientist, and he profiles other Christians in science, as role models for science students. The reviewer highly recommends the book to young Christians interested in science, and pastors, concluding that: "It is good, enlightening reading."
PASTCF is one of a half-dozen mainline denominational groups comprising the Ecumenical Roundtable for Science, Technology, and the Church. For almost a decade, the Roundtable booth at AAAS meetings has displayed member organizations' and ASA literature. In April '99, the Roundtable met in Oakland, CA, hosted by Methodists in Science, Technology, and Theology and with help from nearby CTNS and a grant from the John Templeton Foundation. Being author Hearn was invited to address the banquet on "Science as a Christian Vocation," where he managed to plug both the book and ASA. Walt observed that "With many Roundtable participants holding leadership positions in their denominations, and with quite a few asking for a copy of Walt's address, good vibes may continue to resonate in strategic places."
Long-time ASAers might remember Walt's "Scientists Psalm," card, which was a banquet souvenir. Its many verses include (with slight editing):
Atoms of increasing mass,
Nuclei from solar gas,
Orbital electrons twinning:
Praise the God who set you spinning!
And finally, the last stanza relates our moral need to our ability to observe and appreciate the creation:
God of whom these words are penned:
Against you only we have sinned.
Almighty Author of creation:
Visit us with your Salvation.
Lest another round of poetry from ASAers breaks out again in the newsletter, another of Walt's (shorter) poems, "A Psalm of Almost Solomon," was written as an adult Sunday-school class assignment, to write a poem in the spirit of the biblical Psalms. It will be archived for future re-publication, but four lines in it have worked their way into this article:
O God of complex systems, God of all,
I praise you with but dim imagination;
Help me to worship in this crumbling hall,
Lest Hallelujah lose in my translation.
How to Stay Christian in College, J. Budziszewski, NavPress, 1999, 143 pages (www.navpress.com) This "interactive guide to keeping the faith" Jay has taught philosophy at the U. of Texas for over 15 years, is a Sunday school teacher and a counselor. (See his Christian apologetics website: www.boundless.org) He abandoned Christianity shortly after he entered college, only to come back ten years later. His personal awareness of the nature of the problem gives him an awareness of the struggles Christian students face when they leave behind their spiritual support and enter a world with different perspectives, responsibilities, and expectations. Chapter topics include worldviews, campus myths about knowledge, love and sex, and politics, how to cope with campus social, religious, and classroom life, and the place of Christ in your life - or more to the point, fitting your life into Christ. The book is full of advice well-geared to the new undergraduate. Find out more about Budziszewski's interesting background at:
Origins, Icons and Illusions, Harold R. Booher, Warren Green, Inc., tel: (800) 537-0655; web: www.iwc.com/whgreen
This book was reviewed by Gordon Mills as "provocative" and he liked Booher's "manner of critically examining not only the scientific data but also the presuppositions that underlie the various questions." The book was also plugged by Santa Fe Institute's John Casti as "one of the best guided tours that I've seen" of human origins and destiny.
Three Views on Creation and Evolution, J. P. Moreland & John Mark Reynolds, Eds., Zondervan, 1999. (www.zondervan.com) This book, in the Counterpoints series, presents young-earth (John Reynolds, Paul Nelson) and old-earth (Robert C. Newman) creationism and theistic evolution or the "fully gifted creation perspective" (Howard Van Till) Each view is critiqued by various scholars, including Walter Bradley, John J. Davis, J. P. Moreland and Vern S. Poythress. Final reflections on the dialog are offered by Richard H. Bube and Phillip E. Johnson. The editors summarize five different views of the relationship of science and Christianity, Arthur Peacocke and Karl Giberson are brought in, and a nice historical overview of the issue follows, starting with Plato and including ASA:
In the 1940s the American Scientific Affiliation (ASA) brought a small but growing number of evangelicals together who had training in the sciences. At the very least, this group tended to be cautious about Darwinism. It allowed both theistic evolutionists and critics to dialogue in a sustained and responsible manner. The ASA created a respectable forum and some peer review to critics of evolutionary thought.
This book would be excellent reading for young college students exposed to a limited view of the issues.
Another book in the Counterpoints series is Three Views on the Millenium and Beyond, edited by Darrell L. Bock. Pre, post, and amillenialism are hashed about at a US Federal Reserve Note less (at $16.99) than the above book.
The Virgin and the Dynamo: Use and Abuse of Religion in Environmental Debates, Robert Royal, Eerdmans, 1999. Plugged by Calvin DeWitt on the back cover as "calling to task Al Gore º and affirming the utilization of nature and the distribution of good through efficient economic arrangements (the Dynamo), Robert Royal builds in this ideologically inspired book the expectation that an answer to some environmental questions may still be found in the classicial religious view of the West (the Virgin)."
Royal is a VP for research and a senior fellow in religion and society at the Ethics and Public Policy Center in DC. He addresses the ethic question of how to relate the tremendous expansion of science and technology with belief that the earth is God's creation. He recognizes that "enlisting religion in environmental discussions has proved to be a two-edged sword," that religious beliefs are sometimes misused in these debates, and he explores how they might be more faithfully used to restrain excesses in the environmental movement and inspire sound ecological practices. This book appears to do a good job of attempting to reconcile some of the discord among those who accept the value of both technology and the environment.
Joshua's Long Day: the Sequel
Robert C. Newman wrote a tract titled "Joshua's Long Day and the NASA Computers" (IBRI, P. O. Box 423, Hatfield, PA 19440-0423; $0.25 each, $0.15 for ten or more) about an old urban legend, originating ostensibly from a Mr. Harold Hill, president of Curtis Engine Co. in Baltimore, MD, who told the story of how NASA computations of celestial mechanics revealed Joshua's long day as "a day missing in space in elapsed time." One biblical chap on the NASA team seemed to remember the story of Joshua. But the computations (somehow) showed the day was forty minutes short. But the remaining time was accounted for by 2 Kings 20, of King Hezekiah, the prophet Isaiah and the 10-degree retrograde motion on the sundial. Since orbital mechanics computations consist of differential equations which know nothing of long days nor retrograde anomalies, the story was immediately suspect among physicists and engineers but gained a wide distribution among some churches.
Newman's write-up also notes that the story is suspiciously similar to an old Harry Rimmer account, which he reprints in the tract. Newman concludes that deceptive apologetics for biblical miracles is "doing God's work using Satan's tactics!"
In The Evening Star (May 1, 1999), an article by David N. Benson titled "Have NASA scientists found Joshua's long day?: A 30-year-old rumor finds new life on the Internet" notes that some cyber-versions of the story even attribute the original to the "Evening Star, a newspaper published in Spencer, IN" itself! Well, the Star has been getting e-mail inquiries from all over America, but it is in Auburn, not Spencer.
Hill's autobiography was found in a 1974 title, "How to Live Like a King's Kid." He was a fast-rising star at the Curtis Engine and Equipment Co., but when made president at age 46, became despondent over the lack of fulfillment it brought. Turning, in succession, to drink, suicide and then God, he was led to Christ by a fellow engineer from Alcoholics Anonymous.
On the Christian lecture circuit, Hill's favorite topic was "Science, Philosophy, Evolution and the Bible." The Star reports that "That might have been his topic at a Christian camp in Oklahoma in 1968, which is where Hill believed the legend's written history began. Someone - we'll never know who - found his story about NASA scientists finding Joshua's long day so irresistible that this person typed it up and passed it along." A copy made its way to Mary Kathryn Bryan in 1969, a writer for the Evening World, a local newspaper of western Indiana with a circulation of about 3,000. She published the Hill story in her column and requests began to flood in from around the world. The story got its next boost when the Bible-Science Newsletter of Caldwell, ID picked it up.
Bryan maintained a long correspondence with Hill, who by 1974 estimated he had received nearly 5,000 inquiries, and over 10,000 by 1984. He regarded the many requests as a nuisance, according to Bryan. When asked for story details, Hill did not have them, but also did not consider the information to be reliable. Neither did he back down from it as authentic. Hill died in 1987 at 81 years. Nowadays, the Bible-Science Newsletter, now published under Creation Moments in Zimmerman, MN, refutes the truth of the story.
When asked for references, Rimmer referred to a book written by C.A. Totten in 1890. Hill however denied having heard of Totten until after the controversy erupted.
Retired U. of Utah urban-legends researcher Harold Brunvand addresses the legend in two forthcoming books, Too Good to Be True and The Truth Never Stands in the Way of a Good Story, to be published next year.
Though debunked years ago, the Missing Day story is far from dead, and continues to circulate, now aided by that great medium of gossip propagation, the Internet. The legend has appeared on numerous websites that can be found by searching for keywords "Curtis Engine" or "Evening Star." NASA's response is at:
The spectacular success of science in explaining natural phenomena and its evident usefulness in technology place it in a position of respect, intellectual authority - and political power. The outcome of legal trials can depend on the testimony of a scientific "expert witness." The U.S. and Canadian governments heavily fund scientific research. And beliefs involving scientific subject-matter can lead to government and private-sector policy decisions with a wide range of effects.
With such powers, science is apt to be abused. "Junk science" is misinformation that has the form but not the power of scientific truth, and is usually motivated by a social or political goal. Its use raises moral issues, especially for Christians in science, who care about both. Junk science, and allegations of it, are appearing in a wide variety of sometimes unexpected places.
For example, the Gun Owners of America (www.gunowners.org), an organization supporting private gun ownership, put out an e-mail notice titled, "Expose Anti-Gun Junk Science," (1 APR 99; firstname.lastname@example.org), accusing the federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB) of "phony science used to justify many restrictions on firearms ownership." The science connection is through the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). GOA accuses the CDC of popularizing anti-gun "junk science" through findings published in medical journals (JAMA, NEJM).
Apart from the veracity of the allegation, GOA recognizes that when these journal articles are popularized in the press, that the original data supporting the conclusions is omitted. GOA is pressing for a rule that would "force the Federal government to turn over all the data and research behind the 'studies' used to support Federal intervention in our private lives."
Last year, Sen. Richard Shelby included a provision in the Omnibus Appropriations Act for FY 1999 (PL 105-277) that would allow public access to raw data from research studies funded by the U.S. government through grants and agreements with research universities and other institutions. GOA comments that:
The new law is of critical importance to the American public. For the first time the public would be able to obtain, through the Freedom of Information Act, the raw data collected and analyzed under federal research grants and agreements. Instead of being presented with only the conclusions of research studies, the public would be able to obtain for the first time the basis for those conclusions.
Some of the areas of American life affected by federally-funded research are: the environment, health, safety, crime, drugs, guns, tax rates, economic policies, and government spending. GOA argues the moral point that "Put simply, the taxpayers who paid for the research should be able to see it."
In a commentary in an electronics trade journal, Electronic Products (http://electronicproducts.com) titled "'Junk science' in the courtroom," editor Rodney Myrvaagnes was rejected during jury selection for a civil product-liability suit. He questioned the proposed use of expert witnesses.
The event raised for him the question of what jurors can reasonably decide when opposing expert witnesses of similar credentials testify. The editor was scientifically knowledgeable enough to realize that he did not know enough (for this case) about different kinds of asbestos to judge the matter. And those with lesser scientific understanding, such as jurors and judges - well, "the better actor would seem more convincing." Such suits become an expensive coin toss.
Not content to merely complain, Myrvaagnes proposes an alternative approach. The court appoints a "master" competent in the scientific issues of the case to examine and cross-examine the experts called by both sides, in pre-trial discovery. Appeals of the master's decisions about expert testimony occur before jury involvement.
While a court-appointed expert could cut through some of the pseudo-science, a recent Supreme Court decision gives federal judges more of a role in filtering junk science out of the courtroom by overturning a circuit court ruling that applied a strict burden on exclusion, but not inclusion, of scientific testimony. Rulings can now be overturned only for "abuse of discretion."
A problem in allowing such filtering without jury involvement is that it exacerbates the trend for courts to take over the jury's role in deciding admissible evidence and the law. And yet, juries are often incapable of reasonably deciding cases resting on scientific judgment. Public ignorance of science thereby endangers those under trial.
The problem of scientific discernment is not limited to judges and other non-scientists, but involves ostensibly scientific organizations, such as the American Psychological Association (APA), which published in its journal an article concluding that pedophilia is not as harmful as previously thought and might even be positive for "willing" children.
Talk-show host Laura Schlessinger blasted the report on March 22, 1999 as "garbage science" and compared it to the American Psychiatric Association's decision to take homosexuality off the list of mental disorders. The paper, by Rind, Tromovitch and Bauserman ("Male Generational Intimacy," Psych. Bull., July, 1998) was strongly criticized in a paper ("The Problem of Pedophilia") published by the National Assoc. of Research and Therapy of Homosexuality, based in Encino, CA. In this instance, the science battle is not merely between opposing "experts" but between "professional organizations."
The study of human sexuality seems to be particularly riddled with pseudo-science, evidently because of its significant social and moral implications. Alfred C. Kinsey's Sexual Behavior in the Human Male (1948) has been debunked, though its conclusions continue to affect public policy. While the APA has backtracked from this published paper by stating that child sexual abuse is harmful, and that publication did not imply endorsement, others have been critical of the APA in its selectivity of which causes it promotes.
In 1996, the APA reclassified sexual deviancies; sadists, exhibitionists, masochists and voyeurs are now regarded as disordered only if they "experience a subjective sense of distress" (DSM-IV manual, "Criteria for Pedophilia"). (cf: "APA and Pro-Pedophilia Propaganda," Washington Watch, Family Research Council, vol. 10. no. 6, APR 99, p. 1 ff.) The larger problem these classifications impose is that they are often used as a basis for court opinions, counseling, and policy proposals affecting society generally.
Other examples of scientific claims affecting wider decision-making involve Christians in science, especially in the natural history debate about origins and development of life. Major new areas ripe for junk science are bioethics, health, and the environment.
ASA's mission to investigate any overlap of religion and
science is broadening from a historic focus on creation-evolution to a wide
range of issues. ASA invites non-ASA Christians interested in
science/technology issues to join and contribute to the investigation and
discussion of your area(s) of interest.
* John A. Shaffer
The Council for Christian Colleges & Universities announces a new grant program titled "Initiative Grants to Network Christian Scholars." The grant program will award $15,000 grants to research groups composed of 3 to 6 scholars for networking activities as they work on individual or collaborative research projects related to a common thematic focus. At least one member of the team must be a faculty member at a CCCU institution. The initial round of applications will be due August 15. Contact: Dr. Harold Heie, Center for Christian Studies, Gordon College, Wenham, MA 01984; e-mail: email@example.com; website: www.cccu.org/projects/
With the Lord
Deryl F. Johnson of Knoxville, TN is no longer with us. Some of us will remember Deryl from his frequent attendance at ASA Annual Meetings. Deryl was a physicist with an interest in the history of science.
C. Davis Weyerhauser passed away peacefully in his sleep at age 89 on Tuesday, April 27, surrounded by his family. The memorial service on Sunday, May 2, celebrated his life, and he was remembered as being "a good husband, father and a true servant leader in the Christian Community of the Northwest." George Kovats of the Stewardship Foundation in Tacoma, WA requests that our prayers for Davis's family and the Directors of the Stewardship Foundation in the days ahead would be very much appreciated.
Dave was born in 1909 in St. Paul, MN, graduated from Yale U. in 1933, and joined the Weyerhauser Timber Company (founded by his father, Frederick) at its Longview, WA branch. In 1953, after several interim assignments working at a pulp mill and managing reforestation, he was elected to the Board of Directors, and retired as Vice President in 1958.
Dave gave generously through his own trust, focusing exclusively on Christian needs, and through the Stewardship Foundation, created in 1962, to include community activities. He served as an elder at the Skyline Presbyterian Church in Tacoma.
His children, Terri, Bill, and Janie, have enormous respect for their father, who they remember praying at his bedside each morning. When young, Dave became interested in astronomy to such an extent that his family built an observatory in their home. Later, he took up sailing an E boat, ham radio, and playing the saxophone and clarinet in a small band. At age forty, he took up flying, and also golfed, played tennis, and skied.
Dave is described by friends as a generous man who loved to debate others on the finer points of religion and world events.