Saturday, August 18, 2007

"Christian Faith and Reason"

Around the time the anti-evolution Creation Museum opened back in May, I stumbled upon a new magazine called Christian Faith and Reason. The publisher has an interesting idea: collect scientists, politicians, people of faith, and - really - anyone interested in reasonable discussion about issues related to Christianity to
provide in depth analysis on the most critical matters of faith in a manner that is both intellectually honest and consistent with Christian faith.
Science is an important voice in such analyses. You are thinking, "But I thought science and rational thought contradicts faith." Some of us (25-45%, depending on the survey) scientists don't think that at all. From the Christian Faith and Reason statement of beliefs,
We believe the Bible was divinely inspired, but that it must be interpreted using the faculties of human reason which God bestowed upon us.
The main way I employ the faculties of human reason is with science. I think that providing communities of Christians with a publication that provides multiple perspectives about controversial topics is a great idea especially if science is invited to a legitimate position around the table. And by multiple perspectives, the editors do not just mean all types of Christians: there were atheist and Muslim contributors in August's edition. From the magazine's statement of purpose,
We seek to provide a marketplace of ideas from all sources, especially those which challenge our viewpoint. Our thoughtful responses to those challenges will lead the sincere skeptic to consider the possibility of choosing to believe in God and the message of Jesus Christ.
This represents a moderately evangelical mission, but I appreciate the tolerance embedded in this invitation to contribute. And contributors the magazine is seeking; if after reading the online version, you wish to submit an article, visit this page. The areas covered the most so far have been science (mostly topics in evolution), atheism and topics related to Islam. The fledgling publication has had two online editions and just printed an August edition. I have signed on to contribute scientific articles for the next year, but (importantly for me) will not be responsible for others' content. You can read my primer to stem cells in this month's edition.

I would be interested to know if you think the articles up at this point live up to the ideal of intellectual honesty. It would also be interesting to know how folks respond to the more assertive claims made in a few of the articles - no matter what your background.


Anonymous said...

I took a look through the articles in there, and look forward to reading your article on stem cells shortly. But I noticed a few things that turn me off, and yes, I realize that I am not part of their target audience (being an atheist.)

Leahy's articles and Walton's article are patronizing and insulting. They may feel justified in their anger given the stridence of the RRS, but it beoomes difficult to discern who the fools are when they play "ping pong" with atheists. To consider Kirk Cameron a communicator on par with Reagan is laughable, at best. I didn't watch the entire nightline "debate" between the RRS and Cameron/Comfort because I think such spectacles are foolish at best and resolve nothing. Many atheists were disappointed with the unprofessional representation for "our side," but Comfort's case was very poorly created and presented as well (a mimeograph of Mona Lisa?)

A separate point, but perhaps one which should be addressed by the webdesigners is that the articles were cut-and-pasted from sources incompatible with the server's software. I can't read articles that are broken by "?" in spots, and I am sure that many visitors have been put off by the same problem. If you would please communicate to the site owners that they should convert the articles into a compatible format, I would appreciate it. (I use SeaMonkey/Firefox, and perhaps IE can interpret the markup properly, but standards require that websites be cross-platform compatible.

thomas robey said...

Thanks for your comment, Mike.

I agree with your point regarding ping-pong matches. Framing the atheism debate in terms of two sides is an oversimplification that rarely resolves with movement in the same direction.

I also concur with the anomalous question mark character. I know the publishers can correct it because I complained about my article which is now fixed on my Firefox reader. I will send that along to them.

Anonymous said...

Well, your article is excellent and I expected nothing less. It helped me clarify the issues of adult/embryonic stem cells a bit better than I had been able to glean from the press articles. And it appears just fine when I view it in SeaMonkey.