American Scientific Affiliation
|Purpose||Christian fellowship among scientists|
|This article relies on references to primary sources. (November 2012)|
The American Scientific Affiliation (ASA) is a Christian religious organization of scientists and people in science-related disciplines. The stated purpose is "to investigate any area relating Christian faith and science." The organization publishes a journal, Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith which covers topics related to Christian faith and science from a Christian viewpoint.
Members of the American Scientific Affiliation are from various movements, such as evangelicalism, and represent several Christian denominations including the Lutherans, Catholics, Methodists, Presbyterians, Baptists, and the Orthodox.
Scientist-Christians who had concerns about the quality of Christian evangelism on the subject of religion and science formed the ASA in 1941. Irwin A. Moon originated the idea of a group; he talked Moody Bible Institute president William H. Houghton into inviting a number of scientists of known orthodox Christian views to Chicago to discuss its formation. F. Alton Everest, Peter W. Stoner, Russell D. Sturgis, John P. VanHaitsma, and Irving A. Cowperthwaite attended, and the ASA formed from this meeting.
Everest, a conservative Baptist electrical engineer at Oregon State College in Corvallis, served as president of the Affiliation for its first decade. Under his leadership the ASA grew from 5 to 220 members. By 1961 its membership had grown to 860.
During the 1940s and 1950s the group provided the main evangelical forum for discussing the alleged merits and drawbacks of evolution, and for evaluating the works of prominent creationists such as George McCready Price (1870-1963) and Harry Rimmer (1890–1952). The influence of an inner circle affiliated with Wheaton College led it to reject "strict" creationism in favor first of progressive creationism and then of theistic evolution, encouraging acceptance of evolution among evangelicals. This group was led by Russell L. Mixter (later editor of the Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation from 1965 to 1968) and J. Frank Cassel. In the words of Ronald L. Numbers, the sub-group "did for biology what Kulp was doing for Geology". (Also see the section on coverage of evolution in the ASA's journal, below.)
- H. Harold Hartzler
- Robert Herrmann (1981–1994)
- Donald W. Munro (1994–2005)
- Randall D. Isaac (2005–)
Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation
The ASA's original constitution provided two goals for the ASA: "(1) to promote and encourage the study of the relationship between the facts of science and Holy Scriptures and (2) to promote the dissemination of the results of such studies." The establishment of the journal was seen as being in context of these goals. The journal is indexed in the ATLA Religion Serials Database.[relevant? ]
Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith (PSCF) began publication in 1949 as the Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation (JASA). In its first year the journal was subtitled The American Scientific Affiliation Bulletin. In its first issue it announced its purpose as being:
It is intended primarily for the benefit of the A.S.A. members, and interested friends, and it is hoped that it will be instrumental in helping the organization achieve its primary purpose of witnessing to the truth of the Scriptures and elucidating the relationship of both the ideology and fruits of science thereto. Furthermore we confidently expect that in the publication of papers presented at the convention and others received from the membership at large, a real service will be rendered each of us in creating an enlarged appreciation and understanding of the Christian position in other fields of science than that of our own specialization. Also thru the A.S.A. Bulletin, we plan to give every interested member the benefit of a constructive criticism and Christian evaluation of papers presented and of reviews of books of great interest or strategic importance.—Marion D. Barnes, Forward, JASA 1 (January 1949): 1
From its beginning the journal included divergent views, and the editorial objectives of the journal, published in December 1950, were a clear indication of the ASA's non-doctrinal focus.
The editors of the JASA/PSCF have been as follows:
- Marion Barnes (1949–1951), Research Chemist, Lion Oil Company
- Delbert N. Eggenberger (1951–1962), Research Physicist, Argonne National Laboratory
- David O. Moberg (1962–1964), Professor of Sociology, Bethel College, Minnesota
- Russell L. Mixter (1965–1968), Professor of Biology, Wheaton College, Illinois
- Richard H. Bube (1969–1983), Professor of Material Science, Stanford University
- Wilbur Bullock (1984–1989), Professor of Biology, University of New Hampshire
- John W. Haas, Jr. (1990–1999), Professor of Chemistry, Gordon College, Massachusetts
- Roman Miller (2000–2007), Professor of Biology, Eastern Mennonite University
- Ari Leegwater (2008–2011), Professor of Chemistry, Calvin College
- James C. Peterson (2012–), Charles and Helen Schumann Chair of Christian Ethics, Roanoke College and Roy A. Hope Professor of Theology and Ethics at McMaster Divinity College, McMaster University
Debates on the creation–evolution controversy
The ASA journal published various views in the creation–evolution controversy. It carried Bernard Ramm's view that the theory of evolution had logical weakness, a 1949 article on "presuppositions in evolutionary thinking" by Young Earth creationist E. Y. Monsma, J. Laurence Kulp's 1950 indictment of "Deluge Geology", and Henry M. Morris's anonymous reply to it.
Kulp's paper, Deluge Geology execrated flood geology, which he stated had "grown and infiltrated the greater portion of fundamental Christianity in America primarily due to the absence of trained Christian geologists." He asserted that the "major propositions of the theory are contraindicated by established physical and geological laws" and focused on "four basic errors":
- The "confusion that geology and evolution are synonomous [sic]"
- Assuming "that life has been on the earth only for a few thousand years, [and] therefore the flood must account for geological strata"
- Misunderstanding "the physical and chemical conditions under which rocks are formed"
- Ignoring recent discoveries, such as radiometric dating, that undermined their assumptions
Kulp's conclusion was that a Christian was faced with two choices. Either: (1) the earth was created millions of years ago; or (2) God has apparently deceived humanity in providing data which does not support a 6,000 to 10,000 year-old Earth. He viewed "flood geology" as offering no third choice, that it was unscientific, ludicrous, and "has done and will do considerable harm to the strong propagation of the gospel among educated people". He also accused George McCready Price of ignorance and deception, including misrepresentation of geological data when defending flood geology. The paper failed to evoke the fireworks that Kulp and ASA president F. Alton Everest expected it to generate. In the opinion of at least one of the attendees at the annual convention where Monsma's and Kulp's papers were first presented, Monsma had lost the debate to Kulp, and Kulp was appointed that year to the executive council seat that Monsma had vacated. Kulp's influence was largely responsible for isolating flood geologists within the ASA, and Deluge Geology caused them considerable discomfort for years to come.
During the editorship of David O. Moberg (1962–1964), the ASA journal had a heavy emphasis on the creation–evolution controversy, with the subject being mentioned in the majority of issues, and the September 1963 issue being almost entirely devoted to it.
In 1964, JASA featured a pair of hostile reviews of John C. Whitcomb's and Henry M. Morris's The Genesis Flood (introduced by book-review editor Walter R. Hearn, who stated that they had been "edited extensively ... to tone them down a bit"), and in 1969 published a highly critical commentary by J. R. van der Fliert, a Dutch Reformed geologist at the Free University of Amsterdam, who called Whitcomb and Morris "pseudo-scientific" pretenders. "To ensure that no readers missed his point," the journal "ran boldfaced sidebars by evangelical geologists applauding van de Fliert's bare-knuckled approach."
The following organizations are related to the ASA:
- Sister organizations
- Affiliation of Christian Geologists
- Affiliation of Christian Biologists
- Christian Engineers and Scientists in Technology
- US Postal Service Statement of Ownership, Management, and Circulation, American Scientific Affiliation, Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith,57:4, December 2005. p. 300.
- Numbers, Ronald L. (1993). The Creationists. University of California Press. p. 160. ISBN 9780520083936. Retrieved 2014-02-20. "Thanks largely to Everest's diplomacy and persistence, the ASA during its first decade grew from 5 to 220, over half of whom came from Mennonite, Baptist or Presbyterian churches and resided in in the middle Atlantic or midwestern states. By 1961 membership had soared to 860."
- Numbers(2006) pp180-181
- Numbers(2006) p195
- BAAS, 1994, 26, 1604
- American Scientific Affiliation appointed Randall D. Isaac, Christianity Today, August 01, 2005
- PCSF, 2008
- PCSF. Volume 61, Num. 3. Sept. 2009. pp.137-138.
- The Harmonious Dissonance of Evangelical Scientists: Rhetoric and Reality in the Early Decades of The American Scientific Affiliation, PSCF 50 (December 1998): 241-249
- "OCLC - Results of periodical search by title". Online Computer Library Center. Retrieved 2009-10-05.
- Library of Congress records for:
- Forward, Marion D. Barnes, JASA 1 (January 1949): 1
- Webb(2002) pp157-158
- Webb(2002) p157
- Some Presuppositions in Evolutionary Thinking, JASA 1 #3 (June 1949): 15-30
- Numbers(2006) p187
- Deluge Geology, J. Laurence Kulp, JASA, 2, 1(1950): 1-15
- Numbers(2006) pp 188-190
- Numbers(2006) p188
- Numbers(2006) pp 191-192
- Numbers(2006) 231-33; J. R. van de Fliert, "Fundamentalism and the Fundamentals of Geology," Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation, 21 (September 1969): 69-81.
- PSCF: a retro- and prospective, Randy Isaac, PSCF, September 2008
- ASA Related Groups