Volume 42 Number 2
by Peter R¸st
Student Bible study groups exist at many universities in eastern Europe. Their witness is often facilitated if they can sponsor "pre-evangelism" lectures at the university. But faculty or university leaders will only give their consent if such lectures are of scientific interest for them. In September, Hansj–rg Baldinger and recently retired biochemist Peter R¸st from Switzerland traveled through Lithuania, Latvia, and Kaliningrad (a Russian enclave between Poland and Lithuania). In cooperation with the local student movements, Peter was invited to give ten lectures and lead some informal discussions at seven universities in Vilnius, Kaunas (Lithuania), Riga, Yelgawa (Latvia), and Kaliningrad.
The topics of the presentations were: (1) The suitability of the universe for human life: Origin and evolution of universe, earth, and life. (2) The origin and development of life: Is the story a purely scientific one? Or is it partially based on faith? (3) Are science and the Bible in conflict? The creation report of Gen. 1:1-2:7.
At each of the lectures arranged with university staff, a few faculty were in the audience and participated in lively discussions of scientific and philosophical points. Some faculty had been very reluctant at first to welcome such lectures, but were sensibly more at ease when they learned that Peter wasn't a recent creationist. Apparently, his statements and answers on the scientific level were accepted, and he was even invited to come back. As a consequence, Hansj–rg and Peter were free to also talk of the Creator, the Bible as God's Word, and redemption through Christ.
Peter took pains to encourage the Christian students to clearly differentiate between facts and interpretations on both the science and the theology side of the creation question, as God's work and his Word cannot be in contradiction. If the creation account is taken really literally (in the original language), Peter considers it clear that all "natural" events are God's doing--even evolution.
The adversary's opposition became very disturbing before and during this trip. The visiting group, as well as their local Christian contacts were variously assailed with robberies, car accidents, technical troubles, customs difficulties, organizational failures, and even strife among themselves. But in all of this, the Lord was gracious in his protection and guidance, and both those visited and the visitors were blessed in his love. Many Christian students and academics in these countries are exemplary in their devotion to serve the Lord, in spite of the extreme poverty in which most of them live.
by Art Battson
John Wiester and I were discussing textbook disclaimers when the thought occurred to try this disclaimer from 1859. Neither of us could come up with better wording. I wonder if the NAS or NCSE would approve?
For I am well aware that scarcely a single point is discussed in this volume on which facts cannot be adduced, often apparently leading to conclusions directly opposite to those at which I have arrived. A fair result can be obtained only by fully stating and balancing the facts and arguments on both sides of each question; and this cannot possibly be here done. Charles Darwin, "Introduction," Origin of Species, (1859)
for Thought and Ethics (FTE) has published Intelligent Design in Public
School Science Curricula: A Legal Guidebook, by David K. DeWolf, Steve
Meyer, and Mark DeForrest. Tom Bradford, Jr. of FTE said that it
"will give teachers and school board members who want to add
intelligent design to their curriculum the ammunition they need to combat
the intimidation of the ACLU." It is available from FTE, at: FTE, P.O.
Box 830721, Richardson TX 75083-0721; tel.: 800-669-3410; e-mail: email@example.com.
The book can also be viewed on the web at: http://law.gonzaga.edu/people/dewolf/fte.htm
"De" law professors DeWolf and DeForrest joined with philosopher of science Meyer in writing the guidebook, and would appreciate knowing of any errors you find in the web document. Send them to: David DeWolf, Professor of Law, Gonzaga Law School, PO Box 3528, Spokane, WA 99220-3528; tel. (509) 323-3767; fax (509) 323-3766; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; web address: http://law.gonzaga.edu/people/dewolf
suitable for the April issue is reference to an article on hoaxes - in this
case, a paper on "Famous Evolution Hoaxes" by David A. DeWitt.
Published last October in the National Liberty Journal, DeWitt has
posted the paper on his apologetics course web page at:
DeWitt is a biology prof. and associate director of Creation Studies at Liberty University.
Anne Foerst (annef@AI.MIT.edu) was a Templeton/ASA speaker last year. (See ASAN, JAN/FEB00, p. 4: "Theologian at MIT AI Lab," for more on Foerst.) As an addendum, the "God and Computers" project continued in the Fall of 1999 with renowned Stanford U. computer professor Donald E. Knuth (see website: http://www-cs-faculty.stanford.edu/~knuth/mit-lectures.html
David Fisher picked up on coverage of Foerst in a leading business and investment magazine. "The Great Convergence" is the theme of Forbes magazine's Big Issue IV. Along with Bill Gates and Mohammed Ali, other article authors of interest to ASA members include:
… Anne Foerst, director of the "God and Computers" project at MIT and research fellows at Harvard Divinity School. She writes about Cog, an "embodied artificial intelligence" robot being developed at MIT's Artificial Intelligence lab. Among her observations:
Cog forces us to reevaluate what it means to be human. What we will ultimately learn, I believe, is that our humanity does not come from our brains or our body but from our complex interaction with the community.
… Richard Dawkins, Oxford professor and author of The Selfish Gene and Unweaving the Rainbow, is an outspoken atheist. In an article titled "Snake Oil and Holy Water," Dawkins says, "Illogical thinking is the only thing joining science and religion together," and "To an honest judge, the alleged marriage between religion and science is a shallow, empty, spin-doctored sham."
The issue of Forbes is available on line at http://www.forbes.com/asap/99/1004/index.htm
* David Fisher, Don Munro
… Michael A. Everest finished his Ph.D. in chemistry at Stanford U. last June. As if that were not enough, he started postdoctoral research at Trinity U. in San Antonio, TX in August of 1999. Mike writes: "I was surprised to learn that my new office is next door to one of the three ASAers in San Antonio: Frank Walmsley!" A San Antonio ASA local section in the making?
… Also moving south is Steven Hall. With Ph.D. and P.E. (professional engineering license), Steve has begun as assistant professor at Louisiana State U. in Baton Rouge. His main research focus is aquacultural engineering and composting (or is that "computing"?), and biological and environmental engineering. Steve welcomes correspondence or visits. His address is: Steven Hall, Dept. of Biological & Agr. Engineering, 143 E.B. Doran Bldg., LSU, Baton Rouge, LA 70803; tel.: (225) 388-1049; email: email@example.com.
… John Walkup of Danville, CA has done what is increasingly common among ASAers; he retired--from twenty-seven years as an electrical engineering professor at Texas U. But that was in 1997. With wife, Pat, he moved near Berkeley, where they will minister with faculty at Bay Area universities, including Stanford, U.C. Berkeley, and U.C. Davis. John also plans to travel, both in the U.S. and abroad, and writes: "We're happy to be serving with Christian Leadership Ministries, the faculty ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ."
… Dick Bube, ever the busy and productive professor emeritus, has written six columns on "A Christian View of Science" for the Professionals Reaching Out (PRO) website, at: www.proministry.org - after giving a talk to the local (S.F. Bay Area) PRO Ministries group last year in April.
Bradley to Address CLM Faculty Conference for University Profs
Besides being one of the founders of Christian Leadership Ministries (CLM) (www.leaderu.com) and reviewer of the book, Finding God at Harvard in the SEP/OCT 99 issue of CLM's The Real Issue, Walter Bradley will be plenary speaker at CLM co-sponsored "God and the Academy," an International Conference for Christian Faculty, June 21-25, 2000 at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta. For more information, see website: www.clm.org/chartthecourse. Among the scheduled speakers are: J. Budziszewski, Phillip E. Johnson, Alister McGrath, and Ravi Zacharias.
New Books by ASAers
New Zealander Gareth Jones has written a couple of books recently. The first is Valuing People: Human Value in a World of Medical Technology (Carlisle, UK: Paternoster Press, 1999). In it, he considers how we can use the Bible to shape and inform our response to often difficult and complex issues. Gareth says:
I consider that many of the ethical dilemmas facing us when considering the entire spectrum of human existence have conflict at their heart. In practice, one set of values and aspirations are pitted against others. We cannot find solitude in black-and-white answers. Nevertheless, Christians can still make a valuable contribution to the on-going debates about the morality of embryo research, the use of material from aborted fetuses, in vitro fertilization, gene therapy, cloning, and the problems of providing for increased numbers of the elderly in our society.
The second book, Speaking for the Dead: Cadavers in Biology and Medicine (Aldershot, UK: Ashgate Publishing, 2000), is academically aimed and addresses issues surrounding the use of human cadavers in scientific research, including the significance of brain death and concepts at the beginning of human life, such as the pre-embryo and brain birth.
Chi-Hang Lee is excited about Paul Chien's new book, writing:
Last week, excitedly I saw the newly published Chinese version of two books, both published by a government publishing house in Beijing. They are Phil Johnson's Darwin on Trial and M. Behe's Darwin's Black Box. Both are in the official Chinese simplified script used in mainland China. These books resulted from Paul Chien's tireless efforts for several years. A team of four translators--among them three ASA members: Paul Chien, Pattle Pun, and Chi-Hang Lee--translated Johnson's book, which was previously published in the full (non-simplified) Chinese script.
Behe's book, Chi-Hang noted, has no added comments by the publisher. Interestingly, the Beijing version of Johnson's book omitted the foreword by Phil specifically written for the previously-published Chinese translation, presumably because Phil had some unkind words to say about materialism in China. The Beijing version has a new preface written by Chien, who hopes readers will keep an open mind. He especially mentions the fact that recent Yunnan fossils were headlined in the official Communist newspaper, the People's Daily on July 19, 1995, and that the Cambrian animal explosion "poses a challenge to traditional Darwinism."
Chien has become "quite an expert on these Yunnan Cambrian fossils; he has done research on site," Lee added. Of course, the Communist government press added their own disclaimer, saying that evolution is not compatible with the idea of creation, and warns the reader to question Phil's objectivity, since he admits in the book that he believes in a Creator!
To buy either of these books, contact Paul Chien by e-mail at: Pkchien @AOL.com
Both Macoskos Busy
U. of MN chemical engineering professor, Chris Macosko, has been teaching a class on evidence for design in nature, as an under-division honors colloquium. Recently, he published an article in the university's staff/faculty newspaper, the Kiosk (at http://www1.umn.edu/urelate/kiosk/1.00text/origins.html), which argues that the Intelligent Design movement is growing out of its infancy. The article states that the seminar had gotten rave reviews from students, and it offers a peer plug: "I wish all classes were like this," said linguistics prof. Jeanette Gundel.
A quote highlighted in the article was:
Macosko, a Christian and a polymer scientist, has doubts himself about the theory of evolution, especially "the step from no life to life" and the origin of the first cell. "No way are we close to getting a theory to the origin of life," he says. The polymers he designs have some similarities to the molecules of life, he says, and he knows how complex they are.
Chris's son, Jed Macosko, is another ASAer on the move, from Wheaton C. back to U.C. Berkeley, to continue a post-doc. Jed says of his Midwest experience: "Teaching at Wheaton was great but if there's ever a good time to leave Chicago it is in the middle of January!"
* Jed Macosko
Harvard astronomer and historian of science, Owen Gingerich, hailed as an important piece of scholarship a new book, The Sun in the Church by John L. Heilbron (Cambridge, MA: Harvard, 1999). Heilbron's research found that observatory findings often contradicted church dogma. "The church tended to regard all the systems of the mathematical astronomy as fictions," Heilbron wrote. "That interpretation gave Catholic writers scope to develop mathematical and observational astronomy almost as they pleased, despite the tough wording of the condemnation of Galileo."
Science journalist William Broad reviewed the book, noting that "The church, like many patrons, wanted something practical in return for its investments: mainly the improvement of the calendar so church officials could more accurately establish the date of Easter." Heilbron is a senior fellow at Worcester C., Oxford, England and professor emeritus and vice chancellor emeritus at U.C. Berkeley.
* Diane Di Massa
In 1984, former NAS President Frederick Seitz and astronomer Robert Jastrow, who started the God-talk among cosmologists, founded the George C. Marshall Institute (GCMI) (www.marshall.org) to research science and public policy. Seitz was becoming "increasingly concerned with how my profession was being misused in the policy arena and in our courts to promote special interests, or to undermine advances in needed technology."
The Institute is funded by private foundations and individuals and has not taken corporation grants, not because of any animosity toward corporate America, but, as Seitz claims, "to maintain a completely independent position on national policy issues."
The Institute earned a reputation for its technical studies of missile defense, but has since turned its attention to the environmental sciences, especially global warming. Seitz comments: "I can offer no better argument why we need the Marshall Institute than the recently signed climate accord in Kyoto." The scientific assumptions underlying the treaty he regards as "shaky." GCMI studies show that burning fossil fuels is not the cause of serious climate change, but rather, changes in the sun's brightness.
On a related front, GCMI released a major study on environmental education in America's schools, evaluating nearly one hundred of the most widely used textbooks and curricula for accuracy. The conclusion? There is "... enormous potential for improving the quality of this popular form of education."
The first issue of the GCMI News appeared Winter of 1998. For more information, contact GCMI at: 1730 K St., NW, Suite 905, Washington, DC 20006-3868; tel. (202) 296-9655; fax: (202) 296-9714.
Dept. of Molecular & Cell Biology,
U. C. Berkeley, and Center for the Renewal of Science & Culture, Discovery Institute, Seattle, WA
On Nov. 5, 1999, I spoke at the Law School of the U. of Kansas (KU) in Lawrence. Law student and former biology teacher Caleb Stegall, of the Christian Legal Society, arranged for the hall on short notice after the KU biology department declined to sponsor the event. About 150 people attended, filling the lecture hall and spilling over into a large lounge.
My topic was "Evolution: Teaching the Controversy," and I began with a quote from the 1998 National Academy of Sciences booklet claiming that there is no controversy among biologists over the basics of evolutionary theory. I proceeded to argue that there is controversy over Darwinian evolution, at every level. I pointed out that mutations provide raw materials for evolution at the molecular level, but not at higher levels such as morphology. I acknowledged the handful of cases in which changes in natural selection had produced changes in gene frequencies, but pointed out that none of these involved evolution above the species level and that one of the most famous of them--the peppered moth--has been discredited, though textbooks continue to misrepresent the truth with staged photos of moths on tree trunks. I also reviewed the story of Darwin's finches, in which Peter and Rosemary Grant observed small, reversible changes in beak size between a 1977 drought and a 1983 El Nino.
Next I quoted Douglas Futuyma's 1998 textbook, Evolutionary Biology (used in the evolution course at KU) to the effect that universal common descent is supported by such overwhelming evidence that it may be called a "fact." I listed three sources of evidence--fossils, molecules, and embryos--and argued that Futuyma's claim was false. Specifically, I noted that the Cambrian explosion is contrary to Darwinian predictions, that recent molecular studies show that no consistent phylogeny emerges from the data, and that the claim of early embryonic similarities (as in Haeckel's embryos) is false. Far from being supported by overwhelming evidence, universal common descent is so questionable that it appears to be more of a philosophical assumption than a scientific hypothesis.
I proceeded to review the history of the homology concept. Originally defined as similarity of structure and position, homology was attributed by pre-Darwinian biologists to construction on a common archetype (i.e., to design). Darwin argued that homology is due instead to biological descent from a common ancestor, although he acknowledged that this suggestion is unpersuasive without a demonstrated mechanism. Neo-Darwinists believe that the mechanism which produces homology is genetic, even though it has been known for thirty years that the expected correlation between homologous features and similar genes is lacking. In the absence of a demonstrated mechanism, modern Darwinists exclude the possibility of design by redefining homology to mean similarity due to a common ancestor.
I argued that empirical questions cannot be answered by definition, and (as all biology textbooks point out) science is supposed to proceed by checking hypotheses against the evidence, not by believing in concepts regardless of the evidence. The history of the homology concept demonstrates that Darwinism excludes design explanations on philosophical rather than empirical grounds. I argued that this is illegitimate, and used Mike Behe's notion of irreducible complexity to show that empirical inferences of design are arbitrarily excluded by Darwinists. I also quoted several statements from Futuyma's textbook showing that Darwin's theory excludes divine creation and undergirds modern materialism. Thus, not only is Darwinian evolution empirically unsupported and dependent on arbitrary definitions, but it is also being used in a public, tax-supported institution to attack religion.
During the question-and-answer session, a KU entomologist and evolutionary biologist objected that the peppered moth story is more complicated than I made it out to be. I agreed, but countered that it is wrong to continue using staged photos and claiming that the story provides evidence for natural selection. Another biologist challenged my claim that mutations provide raw materials for evolution only at the molecular level; he cited sickle-cell anemia and resistance of HIV to antiviral drugs as examples. I replied that both of those were molecular examples, and stuck by my claim that no beneficial morphological mutations have been found. Another scientist (I believe he was a physicist) agreed with me that biology should be based on evidence, but challenged me to provide evidence for intelligent design. I argued that biology journals are full of evidence for design (in the form of, say, irreducible complexity), but authors are prohibited from explicitly drawing design inferences by the Darwinist-imposed rules of the game.
There were friendlier questions, too; but even the critics in attendance were more civil than I expected, since I had been warned that KU faculty were quite hostile toward me. The closest thing to an ad hominem came from the entomologist who had disagreed with my take on the peppered moths. He challenged me to present my views to biology students at the university, suggesting that I would not fare as well among them as with the uninformed lay people who were in the hall that evening. (Of course, my lecture was open to biology students, and posters advertising it had been put up in the biology department.) I answered that I would be happy to do so, and had even tried to arrange something through the biology department, but that they had refused. He responded derisively that he was not surprised, given what I had said that evening.
All in all, the event went very smoothly. Another major factor in its success, I'm convinced, was that several prayer groups in Kansas and in Seattle had been praying for it.
The Triumph of Design and the Demise of Darwin (Video Post Productions, 1999) is an hour-long videotape that addresses the question: "Who or what is responsible for the creation and development of life on earth?" Emmy-Award winning writer-producer Jack Cashill convinced longtime partner Mike Wunsch, president of Video Post Productions of Kansas City, that the question deserved treatment. With animation footage, Triumph also includes scenes taken in Africa, Alaska, and of the controversial school board hearings in Topeka, Kansas. Intelligent Design wedge-edge, Phillip Johnson, is the featured participant, who decided that the videotape makers had the technical capability and depth necessary to capture this difficult subject. After Johnson's involvement, the Kansas school board controversy broke out.
The video is available for purchase through the web site: www.triumphofdesign.com
Eugenie Scott, Executive Director of the National Center for Science Education (NCSE), wrote a letter to the Chronicle of Higher Education in response to Phil Johnson's op-ed piece, published Nov. 1, 1999. In her letter, Scott wants Johnson
to concentrate on his ultimate concern: the longstanding philosophical argument between theism and materialist philosophy. Johnson worries that when evolution is taught, philosophical materialism is taught. He generalizes from anti-religious statements made by prominent atheistic, university-level evolutionists whom he treats as representative of the philosophical views of all evolutionists.
Scott argues that "evolution can be taught in a philosophically neutral fashion and it has been my experience that at the K-12 level, it is virtually uniformly taught this way."
The Editor has discussed the precise relationship between Darwinian theory and "philosophical materialism," or naturalism, with Johnson. While not going so far as to assert that Darwinism necessarily implies naturalism, he describes them as "inseparably entangled." In other words, our culture's understanding connects the two so strongly that Darwinism has become the foundation of support for a naturalistic world view. Richard Dawkins (as Johnson quotes) testifies that Darwin has made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist. Johnson, a lawyer, is mainly concerned with what theories imply and how theories are applied in the larger social milieu. If, as a result of Darwinian teaching, students were not inclined to reject a biblical world view, then Johnson probably would not be concerned. Johnson's campaign is aimed at the social and spiritual consequences of what the scientific community is propagating.
This direction of concern, however, can rankle scientists who hold either naturalistic or biblical world views because scientists, as such, are concerned about whether a theory describes what happens in physical reality, apart from whether it is the only reality or not. The main thrust of the ID movement, which Johnson has cleared the way for, is to push for a wider understanding of science which entails design--an approach that engineers apply and many life scientists assume, to varying degrees, in their understanding of complex systems.
As biochemistry and genetics continue to reveal the machine-like qualities of life, the issue arises as to whether a nineteenth-century view of life based on chance--the absence of knowledge of causal mechanisms in life's development--is of sufficient explanatory power when systems theory, based on design principles, is beginning to do for biology what heliocentric theory did for astronomy.
Distinct from this, however, is Johnson's main concern about the wider view of reality suggested by Darwinian theory. These distinct issues--what is the best approach for life science v.v. naturalism promoted as science--are not well-separated in much of the ID/evolution discussion.
A world-view naturalist and an anthropologist, Scott wants the issues to be separated, and has "urged Johnson to support his theism without trashing a perfectly good science." Scott is beginning to believe that Johnson will eventually distinguish between these issues. However, she still sees a gap:
Unfortunately, Johnson hasn't come all the way; he still bashes the science of evolution in the furtherance of theism. He proposes that teachers "teach the controversy," and that students should be taught "evidence and arguments" against evolution and be able to "make up their own minds." (Alas, in science, there is no controversy about whether evolution occurred, though we argue about details like how it occurred.)
Whether Darwinian theory is a done deal, as Scott believes, is arguable as the first issue--a scientific one. But not in all respects. Johnson points out that it is to the advantage of naturalists to want Darwinism to be a non-issue so that, as Dawkins reveals, it can continue to be used as a support. Many done-deal scientists happen to be naturalists, but not all, including some ASAers, CSCAers, and CiS members.
Scott then brings in the ASA Science Education Commission declaration, to which Johnson referred:
He cites a document from the respected conservative Christian organization, the American Scientific Affiliation, but a careful reading of that statement does not find support for teaching the "evidence against evolution," only for teaching evolution as science, without adding philosophical interpretations. Where the ASA does agree with Johnson is in distinguishing between science and philosophical materialism--but so do I and many other nonbelievers who honor science as a methodologically materialist way of knowing about the natural world.
But to Johnson, Darwinism is already ensconced in a philosophical viewpoint. Whether adverse evidence should be withheld from students will, no doubt, be further debated, as well as the limits of science. Scott concludes by recommending:
Let's separate the philosophy from the science, teach science (evolution) in the schools, and let those who wish to fight theist/materialist battles do so outside the classroom!
The school fight drives much of the social aspect of the controversy. Though Scott, Johnson, and many ASAers share common ground in distinguishing between teaching science and world views, even truly irreconcilable positions can legitimately claim a place in the public forum of government education. Ancient Athenians were appalled by the notion that the state should be allowed to indoctrinate youth. Perhaps no side of this controversy has revealed and attacked the underlying political causes which sustain the issue socially.
The NCSE is found at: 925 Kearney St., El Cerrito, CA 94530-2810; tel: (510) 526-1674, (800) 290-6006; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; web site: www.natcenscied.org Phillip E. Johnson's material can be found at the Access Research Network web-site: www.arn.org
The National Assoc. of Professors of American Law Meddling in Science (NAPALMS) were fired up at their first annual meeting on April 1 of this year. Alternate sessions were conducted on the steps of the Supreme Court building in Washington, DC and within the T. Rex room of the Natural History Museum, a few blocks down the street.
The group was founded out of concern that some within origins science were applying in their field the same kind of bewildering arguments promulgated by members of the American Trial Lawyers Assoc., and that efforts should be taken to maintain ATLA proprietorship of obfuscation, subterfuge, off-point diversion, and evasion tactics.
Not intimidated by lawyers, the National Academy of Sciences board members protested by announcing their own declaration affirming their right, and that of their parent organization, the U.S. government, and its minions in state education, to use whatever kinds of arguments they deem suitable to their field, including world-view extrapolations from it bound to irritate the sensibilities of some students and their parents.
And because it is not entirely tactful to poke fun at lawyers and government officials in the world's most litigious society, the ASAN Editor is disclaiming any prima facie or exculpatory evidence that could even remotely be construed as malicious, libelous, slanderous or damaging of any of the above-mentioned parties, pursuant to the definitions of these words in Black's Law Dictionary, Sixth Edition. And for those of you who still have no idea what this article is about, it might occur to you on the occasion of April 1.
The Editor hopes nobody was fooled last issue by reference to the "new century" and "new millennium." Douglas Babcock wasn't, and informed the Editor that these human designations of time will begin next year, for those of you still counting from one instead of from zero. Was that Pope Gregory's April Fool's joke on the rest of us?
Is the universe self-contained or does it require something beyond itself to explain its existence and internal function? On April 12-15, 2000, this and other questions will be under discussion at a conference at Baylor University, titled "The Nature of Nature: An Interdisciplinary Conference on the Role of Naturalism in Science." For more information, see web site: www.baylor.edu/~polanyi/natconf.htm
Philosophical naturalism takes the universe to be self-contained, and it is widely presupposed throughout science. Even so, the idea that nature points beyond itself has recently been reformulated with respect to a number of issues. Consciousness, the origin of life, the unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics at modeling the physical world, and the fine-tuning of universal constants are just a few of the problems that critics have claimed are incapable of purely naturalistic explanation. Do such assertions constitute arguments from incredulity--an unwarranted appeal to ignorance? If not, is the explanation of such phenomena beyond the pale of science? Is it, perhaps, possible to offer cogent philosophical and even scientific arguments that nature does point beyond itself? The aim of this conference, the overview states, is to examine such questions.
Among the plenary speakers and moderators are Robert Koons, Stephen Meyer, Howard Van Till, Henry F. Schaefer III, conference organizer William Dembski, Alvin Plantinga, Ronald Numbers, Michael Behe, William Lane Craig, Alan Guth, J. Budziszewski, and Dallas Willard.
To present a paper or register to attend, contact The Michael Polanyi Center, Baylor University, P.O. Box 97130, Waco, TX 76798-7130, Attn: Conference Submission or Conference Registration. Papers must be received no later than March 1, 2000. The conference registration fee is $95 for non-students, and $55 for students if received before March 1, 2000.
William A. Dembski is Director of the
Michael Polanyi Center and Associate Research Professor of the Institute
for Faith and Learning at Baylor U.; tel.: (254) 710-4175 (Waco); (972)
fax: (254) 710-3600; e-mail: William_Dembski@baylor.edu
by Donald W. Munro
Let me tell you about an exciting development that can be a wonderful future aid to the affiliation. An anonymous donor has offered us a two- for-one match, up to $10,000, for the endowment fund. In other words, if you give a gift this year specifically marked for the endowment fund, the donor will give two dollars for each dollar donated up to $10,000--a potential of $30,000. If we fulfill this match, we will be close to reaching our goal: to have $100,000 in the endowment fund by the end of 2000. These gifts, of course, must be beyond your usual donations so that we can meet our tight budget. Let us pray and consider what we can do to fulfill this goal and strengthen our future financial base.
Now let me make a correction. In my first paragraph in the last newsletter, I mistakenly typed a twelve for an eight which made the information meaningless. The last fully even day prior to 2/2/2000 should have been 8/28/888--all even digits.
Jack Haas and I with some help from my wife ran a booth for ASA at Congress 2000 in Boston, Feb. 2-4 for our fourth consecutive year. Some 200 people, including several ASA members, stopped to talk. Many were so glad to know that an organization like ours exists. A few wanted to convert me to an exclusive young earth position. Many people were interested in our web site; others said that they had already found us there.
Jack and I distributed old journals, old newsletters, our updated brochure (hot off the press on 2/1/00), a web site announcement, and order blanks for books. Two people signed up for membership on the spot. The load going home was much lighter. We were tired but happy. We need to be at more conferences but the high cost of booths, places to stay, and transportation limits us. Among others, Martin Price had a booth for ECHO, and Reasons to Believe was represented.
Our connection with The African Institute for Scientific Research and Development (AISRED) remains strong. Four ASA members are board members: Kenneth Dormer, Martin Price, Richard Wright, and I. At the Presbyterian Olooseos Centre in Kenya this past year, AISRED hosted Mark Weber, Professor of Clinical Physiology at Grove City C. in PA. He brought two American physicians and several premed students with him. The students were introduced to medical missions and the needs of the underserved, and received an introduction to clinical physiology and medicine. Offering free medical treatment at three locations in Kenya, the group attracted about 2,000 patients in six days. Devotions were given daily and several patients committed their lives to Christ. We hope this type of mission continues.
It is also exciting to report that Au Sable Trails Institute started a summer program at Olooseos in 1999. This program will take place this year from July 12-Aug. 9. The Centre is now attracting interest as a facility for seminars and retreats. Already in 2000, it has hosted four such meetings. Perhaps there are others of you who would like to consider using the facilities. Monies from these conferences will serve to maintain and improve the facilities.
Recently AISRED received a grant of $18,000 to set up a small, medicinal plant demonstration farm at Olooseos. Director George Kinoti says that about 80% of the world's population depends on medicinal plants for their healthcare. It is great to see these things happening and we congratulate George on this expansion of the AISRED program at the Olooseos Centre. He asks for our prayers and support.
The 2000 Templeton/ASA lectures, which number about fifty, are almost set but with a few holes left we have not been able to print a brochure yet. This year's colleges, seminaries, and universities include:
Benedictine (IL), Carson-Newman (TN),
Dominican (CA), Elon (NC), Global Stewardship Study Program (Belize),
Houghton (NY), John Carroll (OH), Lewis (IL), Loyola (LA),
Los Medanos (CA), Malone (IL), McCormick (IL), McKendree (IL), McMaster (Ontario), Pittsburgh Theological Seminary (PA),
St. Bonaventure (NY), St. Joseph's (U. Alberta), St. Mary's (CA), Thiel (PA), Trinity (Toronto), Union (TN),
U. New Mexico, U. Portland (OR),
U. San Francisco, Vanderbilt (TN), and Western Oregon U.
If you need particular information about a lecture series, drop an e-mail to email@example.com and I will let you know the details. Some have already occurred but most are in March, April, May, or Sept.
The good financial news is that we finished 1999 in the black. We received $37.00 more than the budgeted $87,000 for donor gifts. The bad news is that we have no cushion. We need your donations now.
In closing, I must tell you that there are no words to fully express my appreciation to the many of you who sacrificially donate to ASA. Now we are asking you with God's help to do it all over again and for some other members to become donors. We would love to add you to our Sustaining Donor list with a gift of $200 or more. We also need your continued prayers.
Dec. 1999-Jan. 2000
Behling, David -Albert Lea, MN
Davis, Robert -Upland, IN
Douglas, Jr., George -Bethesda, MD
Eddington, Lester -Azuza, CA
Kennedy, Charles -Erie, PA
McKinney, Charles -Fredericksburg, VA
Newman, Kenneth -Edmonton, AB
Powell, Christina -Chestnut Hill, MA
Poynor, George -Wheaton, IL
Riihimaki, Laura -Wheaton, IL
Rohloff, Russell -Bethel, VT
Stroom, Kevin -Duluth, MN
Walhout, Peter -Wheaton, IL
Wendorf, Scott -Dallas, TX
Willie, Jon -Dallas, TX
Young, Bradley -Brookings, SD