RE: [asa] On telling the truth about science

From: Dehler, Bernie <>
Date: Fri Jan 18 2008 - 18:41:39 EST

I think someone can be lying, but it is counter-productive to say so.
Rather than say so and so is lying, why not just explain that the idea
is false and why. Charges of lying just lead to personal attacks, back
and forth. Sometimes people like personal attacking because it is so
much easier, hoping your listeners simply take your side because of
"authority." I think it is best to simply ignore all personal attacks,
like claims of lying, and just address the issues.

I once saw a debate with Hugh Ross and (I think) Hovind. The thing
degenerated into who is a heretic or not, and why. It circumvented the
whole scientific debate, so it was nothing but heat without light...
unless you are there to learn more about who is a heretic and why.

-----Original Message-----
From: [] On
Behalf Of Stephen Matheson
Sent: Friday, January 18, 2008 3:11 PM
To: David Opderbeck
Subject: Re: [asa] On telling the truth about science


Thanks for the thoughtful reply. You make some important points, and
your voice is a critical one here, IMO.

I guess I thought "a generous spirit toward fellow humans" encompassed
most of what you said. In particular, the log/splinter issue amplifies
what I was getting at -- namely, that central principles of Christian
conduct apply to our dealings with everyone, not just with Christians.
My concern, based on a small number of things I've seen here on this
listserv, is that some Christians tend to wax eloquent on logs and motes
when a fellow Christian is being criticized or rebuked, but go
strikingly mute when a non-Christian (or anti-Christian) person is the
subject of the analysis. The "generous spirit" I would encourage
captures the best of our many expectations of Christians in their
conduct toward others, and is distorted into something that I find
repugnant when it's applied to subsets of God's image-bearers. I sure
don't mean to imply that you've done this, but selective application of
your comments would move in the wrong direction, IMO.

Regarding concerns for unity, I find that argument downright
uncompelling, since the subject is not doctrinal diversity or opinions
about this or that, but *integrity*. In that context, your questions
about truth and correctness are largely irrelevant. People aren't being
rebuked for being wrong. They're being rebuked for being dishonest. I
find a world of difference there. After all, I can be dishonest about
what I know but still be correct in what I know, and I can be utterly
mistaken in my theorizing while honestly characterizing my position and
the evidence it explains. And never mind clear scriptural directions
regarding correction and rebuke. I'm sure you don't mean to suggest
that dishonesty be ignored for the sake of unity, but without the
balancing emphasis, it would be easy to misunderstand. Would you agree?

And although I wasn't envisioning "strong, public accusations of
dishonesty" against anyone, I think that your legitimate concern for
everyday Christians should not lead you to seek the avoidance, at any
cost, of hurt / offense / threat. I think you know this, and I don't
mean to suggest that you would aim to avoid such things at any cost.
But I think it's important to add the balance.

Should we tread with extreme caution when suggesting that anyone,
Christian or otherwise, has engaged in dishonesty? Yes, of course.
Should we spare Christians moral accountability, under any
circumstances? No, of course not. Are we tempted to engage in
teambuilding, especially when we feel like we're under assault? Of
course we are.

>>> "David Opderbeck" <> 01/18/08 4:41 PM >>>
I don't know that the reluctance to accuse fellow Christians of lying is
either "a generous spirit toward fellow humans" or "teambuilding." In
case, at least, it's (a) a concern for the unity of the body of Christ;
(b) a hesitancy to pluck splinters out of others' eyes before tending to
logs in my own.

As to (a), I wouldn't disparage that as "teambuilding." I have no
in supporting the YEC program and no concern about unbelievers seeing us
engage in honest, civil debate. However, many of the regular, decent
I fellowship and minister with would likely be hurt / offended /
by strong, public accusations of dishonesty against some YEC leaders.
will not be convinced by those accusations, and making such statements
hinder our fellowship and ministry. IMHO, scripture and experience are
clear in circumstances like this: the wise and loving action is to
your opinion sparingly (see, e.g, Prov. 12:18: "Reckless words pierce
a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.").

As to (b), let's say there are some hucksters out there who are actively
dishonest in selling YEC. YEC can be a lucrative business, like many
"Christian"-related products. But would we also agree that most YECs --
both professional and lay -- are not lying but rather are taking what
believe is the right approach to reconciling science and scripture? And
we also willing to recognize that none of us has this exactly right and
figured out? Don't we all have a few areas in which we're not
comfortable with our own views? Are we secure and mature enough in our
beliefs to gently admonish and encourage our YEC brothers and sisters to
consider looking at things differently, without anger or accusations?
Or do
we really think it's all about *us* and what *we *think?

On Jan 18, 2008 1:48 PM, Stephen Matheson <> wrote:

> I don't see how Menton's abuse of Tiktaalik can be anything but
> fabrication:
> But this is what we get when science mutates into folk science, and
> its purpose is not exploration or understanding, but apologetics.
> Having said that, I'm baffled by the reluctance to suggest that
> can lie. If the hesitation is a general one, born of a generous
> toward fellow humans, great, but if it's some kind of teambuilding
> ditch it as fast as you can. (That's an overall comment, not
> addressed to Ted. Who looks like Michael Keaton, don't you think?)
> Steve Matheson
> >>> "Ted Davis" <> 01/18/08 1:27 PM >>>
> I changed the heading of this thread to reflect this particular
> A couple of years ago, in the wake of the Kitzmiller trial (ID), I
> attended
> Kent Hovind's seminar, in the auditorium of Dover Senior High School.
> I'll
> skip the details on how it was arranged, and who declined an
invitation to
> "debate" "Dr Dino," (not yours truly), and cut to the chase. Forget
> Hovind told the audience -- most of whom did not live in the Dover
> district (there was a show of hands about this during the seminar).
> Forget
> creationism. Forget the Bible. Just focus on the "lies" in the
> textbooks.
> All from a man who is now in jail on a criminal offense. Hovind still
> likes
> to use some of the arguments that creationists themselves say you
> shouldn't
> use, esp the howler about the retrograde rotation of Uranus disproving
> big bang. Hello? A few details would be appreciated, to help me
> those dots. That one, as Pauli or Dirac or someone (I've forgotten
> exactly
> who) once said, isn't even wrong. He has to know that some of his
> is
> more than out there on the fringe and entirely unsupported even by his
> fellow YECs. He has to. I just don't think he cares. Whether his
> will change after he gets out of prison, we'll just have to wait and
> I
> hope it does, literally for Christ's sake.
> The closest that most YECs come to deliberate lying, IMO, is when the
> present the big bang as an atheists' theory. That one also isn't even
> wrong. It's such a profound distortion of the history of the theory
> how
> it is often viewed even by religious sceptics today. A profound
> distortion.
> It absolutely enrages me when I hear it, so I do make a big point of
> telling my students why I get angry about that one. Here's a little
> of
> what I tell them:
> On the other hand, I get comparably angry when Scientific American
> an issue to the multiverse and present it without blinking an eye as
> hard science that challenges religion. Of course--with Michael
Shermer on
> board there now, they are advancing the old warfare thesis of religion
> science. I know quite a few people who've canceled their
subscriptions in
> recent years for similar reasons.
> Ted
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Received on Fri Jan 18 18:43:23 2008

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