American Scientific Affiliation &
Canadian Scientific & Christian Affiliation
Volume 50, Number 3 MAY/JUNE 2008
The Annual Meeting of
the ASA and the CSCA will be held August 1–4 at
Optional pre-meeting activities on Friday
include six field trips and a workshop. The field trips are: (1) visit
We included some of the university’s history in our
last newsletter. One remarkable program there today involves students
participating in service projects. Hundreds of students each year participate
in winter and spring “Serve Trips” throughout the
Who was George Fox?
George Fox (1624–1691) was an English itinerant preacher and missionary and founder of the Society of Friends (Quakers). Because of his denunciation of sin and hypocrisy, he and his associates were arrested and imprisoned many times. One biographer said the name Quaker was attached to Fox and his followers because he spoke with such powerful conviction that men quaked as they “came to scoff but stayed to pray.” Fox traveled to
The Executive Council and Executive Director Randy
Isaac met to conduct ASA business on March 29, at the
The Council was impressed with the clarity and integrity of our accounting procedures, and encouraged by our continued financial improvement and the slow but steady increase in membership that we are seeing.
There are still challenges to be met, and the
Council calls on our members to help us meet them. For long-term stability,
another 500 members would be ideal. If you know someone who shares our mission
and who would benefit from networking with others of like mind and spirit,
please consider bringing them with you to the annual meeting at
One of the most interesting items of business involved a telephone conversation with David Stevens, the CEO of Christian Medical and Dental Associations. Stevens has approached us about the possibility of partnering with the ASA in recruiting people to teach basic science on short-term, self-funded missions. Council authorized Randy to explore this further.
We also discussed how we might reach a new audience with a new ASA publication that would be intermediate between the present level of PSCF and the newsletter. Members will soon receive an electronic survey about our publications, and we ask that all members provide thoughtful responses to help us sort this out. * Ted Davis
Susan Daniels has been elected to the Executive Council for a 5-yr.
term that began
The ASA Executive Council met in
The stipulation that the Council be comprised of five members originally stemmed from the fact that there were five founders in 1941. For various personal reasons, one of the founding five resigned from the Council each year starting in 1943 and was replaced by another member. This practice of replacing one council member each year was formalized in the first constitution ratified in 1950.
A total of 67 people have served on the Council since its founding. Each one has devoted personal time and effort to carry out the organization’s fiduciary responsibilities as well as to set the strategic directions of the organization. All of them deserve our gratitude for their contribution. Council members are elected from the pool of ASA Fellows. Are you interested in serving the ASA as a council member? Please send me a note if you would consider such a role.
Council meetings are now structured to devote about half a day or less to operational issues and the rest of the time to strategic directions. At our latest meeting, operational issues included the transition to the new fiscal year approved through the change in the bylaws this past year. The finance/ audit committee reviewed the investment strategy for the endowment fund as well as ensuring proper controls for office procedures.
The strategic directions of the ASA included several different areas. An important aspect of ASA is scholarship in the field of science and Christian faith. The quality of our peer-reviewed journal and articles on the website are key factors in our effectiveness. When ASA was founded, there were few, if any, professional programs in science and religion. The ASA was a unique contributor to assessing such issues. Today, it is possible to obtain a degree in science and religion, and many have carried out a thesis in this field. Our role continues to be to encourage such academic scholarship, to disseminate key concepts, and to foster the exchange of ideas among leading scholars and the ASA membership.
Another key role of the ASA is the fellowship of Christians in science. Faculty and students in a Christian college or institution have opportunities for Christian fellowship. However, in secular institutions, such fellowship is less likely to be with other scientists. Our strategic focus is to provide a network of people in the sciences who have declared their commitment to Christ as found in our statement of faith. Joining the ASA is a step toward offering such fellowship as well as expressing the desire to receive it. Our thrust to organize more ASA chapters is an effort to encourage Christians in science to get to know each other and to support each other in their faith.
The ASA has an important mission in providing resources and education to those in Christian ministry. Pastors and lay leaders need a basic understanding of issues relating to science and faith. It is important that they understand the resources that are available to them. We have an opportunity to prepare relevant material and to distribute it for their use.
A large but difficult audience for ASA to reach is Christians in science who have little interest in discussing the relationship between science and Christian faith. They are more comfortable keeping their faith and their vocation as two separate realms with little interaction. They are often reluctant to engage in what could become controversial topics. Through ASA, they could effectively serve as a vital testimony for their faith just by joining us as a public statement of their faith.
Carrying out these roles is not something that the ASA office can do by itself. These challenges can only be met by the work of our members throughout the world. Our goal is to equip each of you to be able to minister to the needs of your church, your scientific colleagues, and your community. We plan to provide materials that you can share with your pastors as well as your colleagues. We intend to invest in advertising to raise awareness in the communities of what we offer. Above all, we need your help. Nothing is as effective as the personal sharing with a friend. Please encourage your colleagues to join us as part of the broad network of Christians in science. With your help, we can make a difference.
Abendroth, Lori J. –Ames, IA
Anderson, Erik T. –Seattle, WA
Arnold, Thomas P. –Arlington Heights, IL
Buratovich, Michael A. –Spring Arbor, MI
Dillon, Kyle A. –Augusta, GA
Driesenga, Jessica –Grand Rapids, MI
Dunion, Tom –Lincoln, NE
Dykstra, David W. –Batavia, IL
Felch, Douglas A. –Grand Rapids, MI
Fruechting, Pamela –Wichita, KS
Fuson, Ernest W. –Louisville, TN
Gavitt, Paul H. –Tucson, AZ
Henrich, Curtis J. –Rockville, MD
Holder, David –Oklahoma City, OR
Jarvis, John F. –Augusta, GA
Joseph, Diana R. –Waco, TX
Labonte, Jason W. –Baltimore, MD
Leeds, William B. –Columbia, MO
Manley, Obadiah –Baltimore, MD
McNew, J. T. L. –College Station, TX
Perez-Marquez, Victor M. –Tehuacan, Puebla, Mexico
Peterson, Michael –Wilmore, KY
Prigel, Donald W. –Golden, CO
Rice, Andrew –Riverside, CA
Runion, Donald F. –Glen Allen, VA
Salomon, Daniel A. –Rockville, MD
Savelli, Cindy –Los Gatos, CA
Stefaniak, Chad M. –Duncanville, AL
Stenberg, Mark –Ames, IA
Stevens, Syman O. –New York City, NY
Stewart, J. Patrick –Edmonton, AB, Canada
Summers, Michael E. –Clifton, VA
Tandy, Jon P. –Independence, MO
Woodson, Robert D. –Madison, WI
Wright, Emmett G. –Blacksburg, VA
Michael Heller, professor in the Faculty of Philosophy at the Pontifical Academy of Theology in Cracow, Poland, has been chosen as recipient of the 2008 Templeton Prize. Heller’s prolific production included more than 30 books and nearly 400 papers on topics such as unification of general relativity and quantum mechanics, multi-verse theories and their limitations, geometric methods in relativistic physics, and the philosophy and history of science.
During much of his career, he worked in an
environment hostile to his faith and to intellectual activity. His parents set
an example of survival in difficult circumstances. Before the family fled the
Nazis in 1939, Heller’s father sabotaged the chemical factory where he
had worked to keep it out of the hands of the invaders. During the first ten
years of his life, he had moved from
His current work focuses on noncommutative
geometry and groupoid theory, attempting to remove the problem of an initial
cosmological singularity at the origin of the universe. He states on the
Various processes in the universe can be displayed as a succession of states in such a way that the preceding state is a cause of the succeeding one. If we look deeper at such processes, we see that there is always a dynamical law prescribing how one state should generate another state. But dynamical laws are expressed in the form of mathematical equations, and if we ask about the cause of the universe we should ask about a cause of mathematical laws. By doing so we are back in the Great Blueprint of God’s thinking the universe. The question on ultimate causality is translated into another of Leibniz’s questions: “Why is there something rather than nothing?” When asking this question, we are not asking about a cause like all other causes. We are asking about the root of all possible causes.
Heller and the John Templeton Foundation have launched an online discussion of the question “Does the universe need to have a cause?” at www.templeton.org/questions/universe/
The 820,000-pound sterling (approximately $1.6
million) award will be presented at
Time’s Dec. 24 issue included an item on the ten biggest religion stories of 2007. Number 6 was “Green Evangelicals. Global warming, along with poverty and torture, have become hot issues to a maturing conservative Christian movement.”
Churches Going Green
The Falls Church (VA) Presbyterian Church now prints its Sunday bulletins on 100% post-consumer recycled paper, using vegetable-based inks for the logo. Their printer was the first to be Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified. The FSC is backed by 14 major environmental organizations, including The Nature Conservancy, World Wildlife Fund, and the Sierra Club.
The church has formed an Environmental Ad Hoc Committee to help it be more environmentally conscious. A lighting audit resulted in initial steps to replace incandescent light bulbs with Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs and to install twelve motion sensors with timers and some solar-powered floodlights with built-in motion sensors.
The church has an engagement of recycling and waste contract with a private sector recycling contractor. They have set up a five-year master environmental plan. They have posted reminder notes near light switches, are using reusable tableware, and are monitoring water usage.
Before it’s too late, we need to make courageous choices that will recreate a strong alliance between man and Earth. We need a decisive “yes” to care for creation and a strong commitment to reverse those trends that risk making the situation of decay irreversible.
A group of Southern Baptist leaders said their denomination has been “too timid” on environmental issues and has a biblical duty to stop global warming. A declaration, signed by the president of the Southern Baptist Convention, among others, shows a growing urgency about climate change. This is the largest Protestant group in the
ISSR was established in 2002 to promote
education through the support of interdisciplinary learning and research in
science and religion—conducted, where possible, in an international and
multi-faith context. Arthur Peacocke said, “As we face the universal
claims of science and confront its new challenges together, may we find a
common spiritual ground among ourselves.” The ISSR office is at St.
ISSR recently adopted a statement on “Intelligent
Design.” The several authors of the statement include Denis Alexander of
Other chapters include two historical presentations by Edward J. Larson, and a chapter by theologian Ted Peters of the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences (CTNS) advocating theistic evolution. Walt’s involvement stems from Peters recommending him to editor Robbins as someone who could write sympathetically about Christians who read the Bible literally. Walt accepted the challenge, telling Robbins openly that he prayed about writing his chapter which he finished in record time just before receiving news of his son’s death. Hearn interpreted that timing as a sign of God’s concern for his chapter and for the whole project. Robbins added a tribute on the dedication page: “To thoughtful people everywhere … in memory of Russell Houston Hearn.”
Walt’s chapter includes multiple references to the ASA, including the story of Teaching Science in a Climate of Controversy, a description of the ASA, the organization’s web address, and a picture of Francis S. Collins. * Walt Hearn
The article cites a statement by ASA fellow Jack Swearengen, in his new book Beyond Paradise: Technology and the Kingdom of God (Wipf & Stock, 2007): Our industrial civilization is “not physically sustainable in its present” way of operating. Wood and Strong interpret,
Atmospheric and Earth-systems scientists are still discovering basic and fundamental facts about how the world works. But waiting until we have all the information in hand would foolishly risk the lives and livelihoods of millions of people, not to mention creatures too. From our perspective the science is clear enough to begin taking action.
getting around that some details in the movie are wrong or exaggerated, and
some of us have decided we can safely ignore it. Frankly, Gore has overstated
some details, but it would be a mistake to dismiss the entire question of
climate change based on those flaws.
The article is available online at www.evangelicalfellowship.ca/NetCommunity/Page.aspx?pid=5305&srcid=5303
Science (May 4, 2007, p. 676) noted (with a photo) that Francis was a strong supporter of the need for the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA), the original version of which was introduced more than 12 years ago. This bill “bans group health plans and insurance companies from denying coverage or charging higher premiums to healthy individuals based on genetic information.” It also prevents employers from using genetic information in hiring, firing, or job-placement decisions. Collins told a House of Representatives hearing, “Unless Americans are convinced that the information will not be used against them, the era of personalized medicine will never come to pass.”
On March 30, Francis discussed how he reconciles
scientific knowledge and his Christian faith at the Adat Shalom Social Hall,
Collins spoke as usual about his journey from unbelief to faith in Christ. A milestone in his journey was reading C. S. Lewis’s book Mere Christianity. He said that the first three pages of this book refuted his prior skepticism, which was that of a schoolboy. Collins attended the Institute’s Fellows program in 2001–02 and reported that it was of great benefit to him.
He went on to describe the excitement of being a scientist and a doctor in the emerging new field of genomics; in fact he led the effort to sequence the human genome, an achievement that he predicted will shed light on practically every disease in 20–30 years. He repeated his conviction that there is no fundamental conflict between modern science and Christian faith. He affirmed both creation and evolution as works of God, although he rejected the reductionist claim that behaviors like altruism can be explained by natural causes.
S. Lewis Institute began in 1975 as a project by five couples, encouraged by
the leadership of James Houston. (My wife Kathy and I were one of those
couples.) The intent was not to create a literary society but an endeavor to
bring Christ and professions together, as exemplified by C. S. Lewis. It is
gratifying to see how God has blessed the Institute; tonight they filled a
ballroom with 500 people. The Fellows program now provides free (but demanding)
discipleship training and mentoring to “fellows” of all ages. The
Institute continues to grow; its Fellows are beginning to have an influence on
Their website is cslewisinstitute.org.
Geologist Carol A.
Hill, an ASA Fellow and adjunct professor in the geology department of the
Carol has been involved in research on the
Using the uranium/lead dating evidence, they
found that the western
Carol’s husband is physicist Alan E.
Hill, Distinguished Scientist of the Quantum Physics Institute at
As part of the mission of the new “Center for the Understanding of Origins” at Kansas State University in Manhattan, KS, an undergraduate general education course titled “Origins: Humanity, Life and the Universe” was developed and implemented in Fall 2005.
The objective of the course is to provide students with a truly interdisciplinary learning experience in which the conclusions of modern science are taught in their historical and cultural context. Its aim is to foster bold and scholarly interdisciplinary research addressing issues of origins, especially of the physical universe, the Earth, of life, of intelligence, and language. A major goal is to help students understand the nature and limitations of science, and the similarities and differences between scientific investigation and other ways of knowing. Faculty from the Departments of Biology, Geology, Physics, English and Philosophy are involved.
The Center sponsors academic and public speakers with the aim of transforming the discussion of various topics such as evolution to become informed debate rather than hostile argument. Keith Miller, Research Assistant Professor, was one of the group which developed the syllabus and is on the team of faculty who teach the course. Keith says,
The most challenging aspects of implementing the course were overcoming the inherent problems with a team-taught course (six teaching faculty), and helping students see connections between the diverse topics and ideas presented.
My newsletter co-editor, Dave Fisher, joined Trans World Radio (TWR) as a missionary in June 1963. The organization presents Christian radio broadcasts in more than 200 languages across the world. TWR’s latest magazine, vol. 29, no. 1, contains the following text:
Milestones: Join us in thanking God for these TWR colleagues who celebrate
an anniversary milestone. David & Doris Fisher,
As noted in the May/June 2007 Newsletter, Dave’s current assignment is writing the “Truth in the Test Tube” program, which TWR currently broadcasts in Mandarin Chinese and three other languages. Since that article was published, downloads of this Mandarin program have grown to 1.2 million per year, and 18 additional language departments have expressed at least tentative interest in using it.
One of Dave’s prayer requests is “For discernment regarding subjects and angles to use in opening conversations with people who have no previous knowledge of God.” * Margaret Towne
International Institute for Christian Studies (IICS) is accepting abstract submissions for papers to be presented at the “Engaging Our World: From the Ivory Tower to Global Impact” conference, July 17–19, at the Kansas City Airport Hilton. The conference features Paul Marshall, Elaine Storkey and David Naugle.
Over 60 papers will be presented on the theme of a Christian worldview and its application. Papers receiving priority consideration will address the following tracks: (1) understanding and communicating a Christian worldview, (2) applying a Christian worldview and (3) the role and impact of a Christian worldview on specific disciplines. Submit a 300-word abstract and your C.V. to firstname.lastname@example.org Deadline for abstract submission: May 23. For more information, visit www.iics.com or call 1-800-776-4427.
Apr.–Nov. 30. Human Evolution exhibit at the University of
May 13–28. “Israel at 60. Explore the Past, Celebrate the Present.” A trip to Israel featuring lectures and on-site tours with Bible scholars and archaeologists. Complete details and registration are available at www.biblicalarchaeology.org/israel2008
June 20–21. The Biblical Archaeology Society will have a seminar in Charleston, SC, titled “God, the Bible and Human Suffering.” Bart Ehrman and Julia O’Brien are the speakers. See www.biblicalarchaeology.org, email: email@example.com or call 1-800-221-4644 for more information.
June 21–27. “Spiritual Formation and the Academic Life,” InterVarsity Christian Fellowship Midwest Regional Faculty Conference, Cedarville, MI. Speakers: Dallas Willard, Kelly Monroe Kullberg, Mary Poplin, and Steve Simmons. See http://2008.facultyconference.org
23–24. An International Interdisciplinary Conference on Natural
Theology, “Beyond Paley: Renewing the Vision for Natural Theology”
June 27–29. “The Heart of the University,” National Faculty Leadership Conference, Crystal City, near Washington, DC. Christians in academia are called to follow Christ into the heart of the contemporary university. Details at www.intre.org/event/info.php?s=43. * Walter Bradley
10–13. The Ian Ramsey Centre for Science and Religion in the
6–12. St. Olaf College Seminar,
July 17–19. “Engaging Our World,” International Institute of Christian Studies, Kansas City Airport Hilton Hotel. See “Call for Papers” above.
1–4. ASA/CSCA Annual Meeting,
Sept. 26–27. The Biblical Archaeology Society will have a seminar in
Oct. 19. Mini-Conference
on “Faith, Integration and the Life of the Christian Scholar,” , Rivendell House,
Oct. 23–25. “Bottom-up Approaches to Global Poverty: Appropriate Technology,
Social Entrepreneurship, and the Church,”
Nov. 21–13. The Biblical Archaeology Society will have “BibleFest XI” with dozens of scholars. See: www.biblicalaarchaeology.org for more information.
Dec. 27–31. “Human Flourishing through the Good News of the Gospel,” InterVarsity’s Graduate & Faculty Ministries’ third Following Christ Conference, Chicago. Details at http://facultyministry.org
There are still some
spots left in
Donald LaClair Riggin died
The ASA’s Rocky Mountain Section held its 22nd Annual Meeting at Colorado State University (CSU) on February 23. The theme of the conference was “Where is Technology Taking Us?” Two plenary lecturers answered that question: Jack Swearengen (ASA Fellow) spoke on “Technology and the
The plenary sessions were followed by four
breakout sessions, seeking to apply the conference theme to specific
technological issues. Discussion groups addressed the following topics: Energy
and Climate Change; Food and Water; Cell Phones, Ipods and Internet; and
Medical Technology and Ethics. Each discussion group was led by an expert in
the field. Attendees included ASA members from the
The conference ended with a brief business
session with all the board members of the
The ASA’s OK-TX Section meets every two months. The March 8 meeting centered on
Leader Scott Robinson is making progress in producing a Sunday school course
to equip students to present an effective, credible apologetic defending Christianity and the Bible in the complex creation-evolution arena of the current culture wars; to help students define their own method of reconciling science and Scripture that is true to both; and to equip students with tools to refine their view as more information comes to light.
Encouragement to complete it has come from homeschoolers who tell Scott “they think it’s God’s timing to give this course, because they’ve seen the curricula out there for homeschool science and they are looking for alternatives.”
Scott and a friend both have Masters degrees in geoscience, so the class will have academic credibility. * Scott Robinson
David S. Barnes
Stephen J. Barnhart
Paul F. Blattner, Jr.
Roger D. Griffioen
John S. Haverhals
Fred S. Hickernell
Christopher B. Kaiser
Yi Li Liu
Helen E. Martin
Ellen W. McLaughlin
Donald V. Noren
Robert C. Olsen
John L. Orchanian
Evelina Orteza y Miranda
W. Thomas Schipper
Kenell J. Touryan
John B. Van Zytveld
The Newsletter of the ASA and CSCA is published
bimonthly for its membership by the American Scientific Affiliation. Send Newsletter
information to the Editors: David Fisher, 285 Cane Garden Cir.,
Please send Canadian matters to: CSCA,
Send address changes and other business items to the American Scientific Affiliation, P.O. Box 668, 55 Market St., Ipswich, MA 01938-0668. Phone: (978) 356-5656; FAX: (978) 356-4375; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Website: www.asa3.org