Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Seriously though, Andy, “tribal,” “primitive,” “mindless”?

My review of the summer issue of Spectrum produced a response from Wes Kime that resulted in the following letter to Sean Pitman, and an email from Wes, posted here with his permission.

Dear Dr. Pitman,
My name is Andrew Hanson. Until 5 semesters ago, I was an Education Professor at Cal State Chico. I am a friend and admirer of Wes Kime. He suggested that I contact you.

He mentioned that your views regarding a young earth are being trashed by both the left and right. The left, because of your scientific argument for a young earth and your literal interpretation of Genesis 1. The right, because you use science to support your position and your belief that evolutionary theory should be taught and challenged “scientifically” in SDA universities and colleges.

Wes and I disagree, sometimes passionately, about whether the Genesis stories of creation are literally true, but we both agree that the creation debate should be a debate in which Adventist scientists, biblical scholars, and laypersons present their evidence and arguments in a public, uncensored, collegial, respectful, and loving arena in which name calling and mud-slinging are not tolerated. In this conversation, there would be no winners or losers; “agree” and “disagree” would be the official substitute for “right” and “wrong”.

In my recent review of Spectrum Magazine, I characterize the Ted Wilson faithful as a primitive Adventist tribe who openly declare science as an enemy of Truth in the evolution/creation debate, at least that was my intent. Wes interpreted my characterization differently, and referred me to your very impressive website in an attempt to prove that “Genesis 1 people” are not ignorant or stupid. Wes and Sean, that was never my intention.

My position is that scientific debate is exciting and informative. It is an arena in which there can only be winners as long as the intent of all concerned is to extend our knowledge of God’s Second Book and bring Adventist theology into conformity with the best present understanding of inspiration.

I stand in awe of the natural world. Its mysteries amaze, confound and inspire me, and I want to understand it as completely as my intellect permits. However, scientific discoveries in no way influence my personal religious beliefs. They are moral choices, influenced primarily by my understanding of the life and teachings of Christ and an inner voice.

By the way, in my attempt to understand of the natural world, I have included “Nature” as a title under the SECTIONS rubric on the right side of my blog. I have included 4 natural occurrences that seem to me to challenge the explanations of both creationists and evolutionists. Sean, if you would like to take a shot at an explanation or two, I would be further in your debt.

I look forward to your reply and hope that it will lead to an ongoing conversation.

Andrew Hanson

Dear Andy,
Funny thing happened on your way to the Advent Forum the other day, when you stopped off at my house to reminisce the old days at the old Burbank church when you were editor of the original Adventist Perspective, back when Spectrum was only a glint in Molleurus Couperus’s eye, that long ago, and I was your art director. You reminded me (I’d forgotten) that I had once badgered you into rewriting a paragraph, to leave out the adjectives. Sheer chutzpah of me, that. Apologies.

But may I rise again to that office, for old time’s sake? That editorial of yours, “Reviewing Spectrum,” in which you take Spectrum to task for venturing to convert a tribe of unthinking, magical-thinking, mindless, irrational primitives. Best leave out all those adjectives -- “tribal,” “primitive,” “mindless.”

“But,” you say, “those adjectives are the pecs, abs, the glutes of my message. Without tribal, primitive, mindless, my message would be emasculated.” Hmmm… so it would. So it would.

But, sure, “tribal, primitive, mindless” would make a helluva caption for one of your cartoons.

Seriously though, Andy, “tribal,” “primitive,” “mindless” – I think you need to give more thought to those adjectives. Is “tribal, “primitive,” mindless” likely to win over that mindless tribe, especially its SDA scientists – yes, Virginia, there are some – who still go with Genesis 1? And I fear that the Spectrum, on its mission of reconciliation, might be disconcerted too, having you slap its wrist for extending a hand to such a sorry tribe of flat-world, science-denying aborigines.

But not to worry, Andy. I’m sticking with you. Great to see you again.


PS: I believe Genesis 1.

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