The church’s evolving role to play in the age of biological manipulation

The church’s evolving role to play in the age of biological manipulation

DNA double helix seen through an electron micrsocope. Credit: Karl-Ludwig Poggemann, cc via

When it came to a wooly clone of Dolly the sheep, the Church of England had a list of reservations about the genetic technology at the ready prior to the scientists’ announcement. But today, the CRISPR technology has flown under the church’s radar and is host to a myriad of ethical and moral issues that scientists themselves are grappling with seemingly on their own.

CRISPR, unlike cloning however, could have a widespread impact on the human population depending on how scientists decide today to move forward and what areas of human disease they will decide to focus on. Most recently, scientists have used the technique to slow the growth of kidney and cervical cancer cells, according to recently published research.

Let’s back up though and figure out what CRISPR-Cas9 is exactly and what it is used to accomplish in the laboratory.

According to Gayle Woloschak, a professor at Northwestern University School of Medicine and associate director at the Zygon Center for Religion and Science, CRISPR’s implication is still being assessed. Specifically, it is a nucleic acid complex that can be used to snip DNA at a precisely determined location, she told attendees to a lecture series titled, “Being the Church in an age of Biological Manipulation.”

The church’s evolving role to play in the age of biological manipulation

Gayle Woloschak speaks at ELCA event

CRISPR holds the potential to advance the genome because there are billions of possible ways to impact the genome through DNA cutting. The possible treatments that could be related to CRISPR are growing by the day, according to news reports. Diseases such as sickle cell disease, cystic fibrosis and HIV could very well be cured by CRISPR.

Last year, researchers at Temple University and the University of Pittsburgh unveiled a study using the gene editing tool as a way to eliminate HIV from infected cells. Researchers at the University of California at Berkeley announced recently that they’ve discovered 10 new CRISPR enzymes that could be used to diagnose diseases like Zika or dengue fever quickly and cheaply. The new enzymes that Berkeley researchers discovered are variants of the CRISPR protein Cas13a. The specialty of these new enzymes is detecting specific sequences of RNA, including those from a virus.

Scientists like Woloschak are concerned though as we seem to be inching closer to the first genetically modified human being. Unlike most scientists, Woloschak also has a divinity degree and is active in the religion and science dialogue in addition to her work in the lab.

To be clear, scientists, she says, have imposed some constraints on current research. The concern is that a person’s genetic make-up could be forever changed via CRISPR in a way that can be passed on to the next generation —  thereby impacting future generations. Today, in most of the European Union CRISPR is treated in the same way as genetically modified organisms, which are forbidden. In the US, however, CRISPR is regulated by institutional review boards (IRBs) that are tasked with approving scientific research and looking at the ethical component of the proposed research. IRBs are more concerned about the harmful impact that CRISPR may have on the individual but not the impact on the overall population, according to Woloschak.

The world’s first GM human seems nearly inevitable in the coming years. In fact, a DIY CRISPR kit is being sold online by Josiah Zayner, who created The ODIN using crowdfunding, Woloschak said in her lecture. The ODIN sells a CRISPR kit that contains everything one needs to perform a sample experiment. The kits are assembled in Zayner’s Palo Alto garage and mailed to customers.

Many in the scientific community have called for a world-wide moratorium on CRISPR. While some top scientists call this moratorium essential, according to Woloschak a recent international summit held in Washington, D.C. had some interesting discussions. It was concluded that basic and pre-clinical research into CRISPR was necessary. The clinical use on somatic cells was deemed promising, while the use in the germline holds great potential but is risky because of potential effects and implications for future generations. CRISPR’s use in the germline could lead to permanent genetic enhancements in the human population.

The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and the National Academy of Medicine recently published, “Human Genome Editing: Science, Ethics and Governance,” in taking a position on how CRISPR technology ought to be researched and applied.

The report reads: “The technology has excited interest across the globe because of the insights it may offer into fundamental biological processes and the advances it may bring to human health. But with these advances come many questions, about the technical aspects of achieving desired results while avoiding unwanted effects, and about a range of uses that may include not only healing the sick, but also preventing disease in ourselves and future generations, or even altering traits unrelated to health needs. Now is the time to consider these questions.”

In the past month, researchers have found that the CRISPR process yielded a significant number of unexpected gene mutations in mice that were treated for blindness using CRISPR.

In Woloschak’s opinion, scientists have traditionally ‘policed’ themselves via IRBs and ethics panels, but going forward, the immensity of CRISPR’s impact suggests the need for a response from the church.

Previously, in 2011, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America adopted a social statement on genetics. The social statement, “Genetics, Faith and Responsibility,” was one of the first social policy statements adopted by a North American church that developed a comprehensive ethical framework for addressing advancements in medical and agricultural research. While it addresses the increasing reliance on genetic modifications, the statement was released well before the proliferation of CRISPR-Cas9’s potential for medical purposes.

Rev. Dr. Barbara Rossing, professor of New Testament at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, gave a companion lecture to Woloschak’s presentation that focused on the concept of healing in a Christian context. In her lecture, she also relied heavily on the NAS report, which concluded that germline genome editing “should be permitted only within a robust and effective regulatory framework.” This framework includes the availability of pre-clinical and/or clinical data on the risks and potential health benefits of the procedure. The NAS report also stressed continued monitoring of “both health and societal benefits and risks, with broad on-going participation and input by the public.”

Bringing the theological perspective into view, Rossing stressed that in the case of CRISPR that it is not “actually God coming in and miraculously healing creation, but the created co-creator healing the creation.”

“Obviously, we all want people living an abundant life,” she said, adding that one can look at CRISPR as a slippery slope or as a matter of humans providing healing as humans have been doing or 300,000 years. “Healing is part of who we are as God’s people,” she added.

Rossing also alluded to the social justice element of the potential use of CRISPR, where not all patients may have access to the new healing and potentially life-saving technology due to its cost.

A 2016 Pew research study found that while many Americans say they would want to use a technology like CRISPR for their own children, there is also considerable wariness when it comes to gene editing, especially among parents of minor children. Highly religious Americans, Pew found, are much more likely than those who are less religious to say they would not want to use gene-editing technology in their families.

And, when asked about the possibility of using human embryos in the development of gene-editing techniques, the majority of adults — including two-thirds of those with a high religious commitment—say that this would make gene editing less acceptable to them.

There is also the story of a young geneticist calling up churches in the Boston area looking to make contact with faith communities to engage them in a dialogue about her work in the lab as a geneticist. A number of years ago, Ting Wu asked pastors from Baltimore area black churches to consider helping her in educating the community on the latest genetic advancements, including CRISPR, according to a National Public Radio story from last year. Her aim was to empower communities that are skeptical of science because they have been underserved or even mistreated in the past.

Wu reportedly met with religious leaders and even arranged for some clergy to speak with executives at genomics companies.

Wu’s story shows how much of a grass roots education it has been in the area of CRISPR and its implications. Still, the weighty questions remain. If some disabilities can be ‘cured’, should they be? What if tinkering with the genome creates enhancements for some and not for others? Could the risks to the human population outweigh the benefits for individuals or vice versa?

While researchers continue their work in the lab, the church has the weighty task of considering whether this research is leading to ethical behavior in the healthcare community and whether the future of humanity should be determined by genetic modification.

Science and theological education: Learning theology at the aquarium

Science and theological education: Learning theology at the aquarium

Georgia Aquarium. Credit: Girish…, cc via Flickr

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in November 2015 in the SciTech newsletter, which is published by the Presbyterian Association on Science, Technology and the Christian Faith (http://www.pastcf.org/).  

To conclude the required introductory course in Old Testament, I took my class to the Georgia Aquarium. No, this was not an end-of-class celebration, although some considered it so. My students were actually on assignment as they gazed in awe at the graceful belugas and the bizarre sea nettles. The event was part of a number of teaching events that took place on campus throughout the year, both in and outside the classroom, made possible through a generous grant from the AAAS1.

The program is designed to integrate forefront science into a seminary’s core theological curriculum, thereby increasing scientific literacy among students of ministry (especially those who had forgotten their high school biology) and developing an informed appreciation of science as part of theological inquiry. Columbia Theological Seminary, I must add, was the only Presbyterian institution selected to participate in the pilot program, which included ten seminaries.

For our first year, we focused on three courses: Old Testament Interpretation, Introduction to Christian Theology, and Introduction to Pastoral Care. Since I was one of the teachers in the Old Testament course, here are my reflections.

Dr. William P. Brown

The Old Testament course began, as most introductory courses do, with a discussion of the first several chapters of Genesis, wherein it was discovered for the first time by many students that the Bible begins not with one but two very different creation accounts. Moreover, we later discovered other creation accounts dispersed throughout the Old Testament such as Psalm 104, Job 38-41, and Proverbs 8:22-31, to name but a few. Together they acknowledge the natural world’s glorious complexity2.

In our study of the Old Testament creation traditions, we also added, science to the mix. For example, while studying Genesis 1 in its theological and historical context, we also heard from scientists sharing their rich discoveries of the universe, from the cosmological to the biological.

Why do so? Not to pick a fight or to argue over differences between the so-called biblical perspective and the scientific — far from it. We did so in order to fulfill the biblical mandate to seek wisdom (Proverbs 2:1-5), including the wisdom of God evidenced in creation (Proverbs 3:19-20). Throughout our course we brought into constructive dialogue the unfolding drama of the Bible and the epic story of Creation as told by science, sometimes described as God’s “two books,” a conceptual framework that has deep roots in Christian tradition, beginning at least with John Chrysostom (ca 347-407) and Augustine (354-430), and extending to Galileo (1564-1642).3

Augustine, for example, refers to creation as God’s “great big book, the book of created nature.”4 He goes on to say, “Look carefully at it from top to bottom, observe it, read it…. Observe heaven and earth in a religious spirit.”

That “religious spirit,” however, does not mean rejecting the findings of science in favor of the three-tiered model of the universe presupposed in Genesis. To the contrary, Augustine finds it utterly shameful for Christians to make empirical claims about the nature of creation by spouting Scripture.5

So it is a matter of duty that God’s “two books” be read together, for God is the author of both. It is no coincidence that a certain psalm begins with “The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork” and concludes with reflections of the efficacy of God’s Torah: “The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is clear, enlightening the eyes” (Psalm 19:1, 7-8). This single psalm binds together God’s creation and God’s Torah, God’s world and Word, into an inseparable whole.

Science and Searching

To disregard what science reveals about the intricate order and unfathomable age of the natural world as we know it is tantamount to tearing out the first pages of the Bible. The unfolding drama of God’s redemptive work in the world need not have begun with creation; it could have begun just as easily with the exodus account or with the family history of Abraham and Sarah (Genesis 12 and following). But it didn’t.

It is canonical fact that the Bible begins with the cosmos. Moreover, it ends with the cosmos. It is merely a coincidence that creation serves as the Bible’s bookends? Is it accidental that in between these bookends psalmists, sages, and prophets often inquire of the natural world in their testimonies to God’s providence? “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers … “ (Psalm 8:3; cf. 19:1). “I turned my mind to know and to search out and to seek wisdom and the sum of things … “ (Ecclesiastes 7:25). “It is the glory of God to conceal things, but the glory of kings is to search things out.” (Proverbs 25:2; cf. Jeremiah 31:37). The first sentence of the first chapter of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species begins with the words, “When we look to … “6

Looking and searching, observing and studying – psalmists, sages, and scientists are the cohorts of wonder and the practitioners of “inquisitive awe.”7 Together they validate the human desire to explore the world, “to search things out,” to observe and study the world that God in wisdom has create (Proverbs 3:19-20). “the self-revelation of creation,” as the great biblical scholar Gerhard von Rad once described biblical wisdom,8) 144-76.] is an integral part of divine revelation. To construe biblical faith as anti-scientific is truly anti-biblical. If theology is “faith seeking understanding” (a la Anselm), and science is a form of understanding seeking further understanding, then theology has nothing to fear and everything to gain by engaging science.

Faith “vs.” Science?

Culturally, however, we confront a very different situation. In their fight against “soulless science,” creationists champion a view of creation so narrow that it is decidedly unbiblical. At the other extreme, certain scientists construe faith in God as the enemy of scientific progress and human well-being.9

As one might expect, misunderstandings and distortions abound as each side reduces the other to laughable caricatures. Illiteracy, both scientific and biblical, reigns. The problem lies in the vain attempt to treat the biblical accounts of creation as scientific. This is like forcing a round peg into a square hole. The scientific method and its resulting discoveries are products of the Enlightenment, thousands of years after the Bible was written. Moreover, it was never the intent of the biblical authors to provide a scientific report on the nature of the world and how it developed, but instead to claim the world as God’s world. Nevertheless, there is plenty of room for constructive dialogue between science and theology, even biblical theology, but first some deep misconceptions and prejudices have to be vanquished.

Is science really hell-bent on eroding humanity’s nobility and eliminating all sense of mystery? Not the science I know. Is faith a lazy excuse to wallow in human pretension? Not the faith I know. What if faith in God entailed, among other things, acknowledging the remarkable intelligibility of creation as well as its mystery? What if science informed and enabled persons of faith to become more trustworthy “stewards of God’s mysteries” (1 Corinthians 4:12)? What if faith fostered a “radical openness to the truth, whatever it may turn out to be?”10

The faith I know does not keep believers on a leash, preventing them from extending their knowledge of the world. The science I know is not about eliminating mystery but about enhancing it. The experience of mystery “stands at the cradle of true art and true science,” as Albert Einstein intoned. “Whoever does not know it can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead.”11

Faith with Science

Christian faith demands familiarity with and appreciation of science. The evolutionary biologist Theodosius Dobhzansky, a devout Russian Orthodox Christian, famously observed, “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.”12 Christians can say something parallel about faith: “Nothing in the Christian faith makes sense except in the light of the Incarnation.” Here, in fact, is common ground: Faith in God incarnate “will not allow us to ignore the physical world, whose “nuances” are its delicate balances and indomitable dynamics, its life-sustaining regularities and surprising anomalies, its remarkable intelligibility and bewildering complexity, its order and its chaos. Such is the World made flesh, and faith in the Word made flesh acknowledges that the very forces that produced me produced microbes, bees, and manatees.

As much as we cannot ignore the incarnate God, we cannot dismiss the discoveries of science. Theologically, there is no other option. Faith in such a God calls people of faith to understand and honor creation, the world that God has not only deemed “very good” (Genesis 1:31) but saw fit to inhabit (John 1:14). In Christ, the God in whom “we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28) has all to do with the world in which we live and move and have our being.

Through the lens of science, we find ourselves more connected to creation than we could ever imagine, countering once and for all the sinful tendency to see ourselves utterly apart from, rather than as a part of, creation. We are connected to a creation that is incomprehensively large and marvelously complex, strangely diverse, and constantly in flux. We are part of a creation that at its most fundamental (i.e., quantum) level is fuzzy and indeterminate, assuming different states at the same time. At creation’s macro-cosmic level, things we once thought were stable and steady turn out to be dramatically dynamic, both catastrophically (e.g., supernovas and black holes) and generatively (the birth of new stars and planets), with every bit of it interconnected, including time and space itself. As the universe is fearfully and wonderfully made, so also the human self (Psalm 139:14). The saga of science can only enhance the greatest story ever told. All truth is God’s truth.

Dr. William P. Brown is William Marcellus McPheeters Professor of Old Testament at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Georgia. He earned his Ph.D. at Emory University, his M.Div. at Princeton Theological Seminary, and his BA from Whitman College. He is an ordained teaching elder in the Presbyterian Church (USA). Some specific interests include creation theology, faith and science dialogue, the psalter, and wisdom literature.

The History and Future of the American Scientific Affiliation in the Science-Faith Dialogue

The History and Future of the American Scientific Affiliation in the Science-Faith DialogueThe story of the American Scientific Affiliation (ASA) begins in Los Angeles in the early 1930’s. The cultural setting in the United States when the ASA was founded was a time when many conservative Christians felt they were being targeted in a culture war between science and the Bible. The Scopes “Monkey Trial” had just happened in 1925, and there were many cartoons illustrating attacks on Christian faith, the church, and the Bible coming from both science and culture.

Pastor Irwin Moon of Montecito Park Union Church developed a series of dramatic scientific demonstrations to illustrate theological principles in an effort to engage the youth of his community. These “Sermons from Science” as they were called (or SFS) attracted substantial attention, and before long, Pastor Moon began taking his show on the road.

In 1937, Moody Bible Institute President Will Houghton happened to be in the audience at one of Moon’s presentations. Houghton was so impressed that he invited Moon to join Moody Bible Institute that same night. Both of these influential individuals shared a strong desire to reach high school and college age youth with their message that science and faith are compatible.

Shortly after this providential meeting, another important connection, F. Alton Everest, saw Moon’s SFS show in Oregon while Everest was an electrical engineering faculty member at Oregon State University. The meeting between these two men also resonated with a sense of shared passion and purpose for spreading the message of science and faith as allies.

All three of these leaders were concerned about the challenges that young Christians encountered in going off to college, and the incapacity of most churches to provide resources or advice of any substance. They decided that a Christian organization of practicing scientists could help establish a strategy to deal with these challenges, and prevent them from shattering the faith of Christian college students.

With the support of long time Moody patron and Board of Trustees President, Henry Parsons Crowell, the founding meeting of the American Scientific Affiliation was held in early September of 1941 at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. Moody President Houghton’s invitational letter outlined their vision for the new organization. Houghton indicated that the group would not be associated with Moody Bible Institute, nor would Moon be a part of the founding group. Moon never became a member of ASA, but generously gave both advice and financial support.

The ASA founders soon recognized and nurtured an essential difference from other faith-based scientific organizations. Whereas other groups coupled Christian faith with a specific perspective on both science and scripture, the ASA was then and continues to be a “big tent” for discussing various interpretations of science and scripture, in an atmosphere of intentional humility and respect.

In 1948, the ASA published five thousand copies of its first major publication, Modern Science and Christian Faith: Eleven Essays on the Relationship of the Bible to Modern Science 1, with chapters written by ASA members in different disciplines. Ultimately, 350,000 copies were sold, and with its wide distribution, it accomplished a great deal in furthering the message of compatibility between science and scripture.

The ASA began to publish its own journal in 1949, initially called Journal of the ASA (JASA), which continues through today as Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith (PSCF). The name of the Journal itself indicates the “big tent” idea of the ASA, with its members holding and deliberating various perspectives on relevant topics.

Another major development from the early days of the ASA is the beginning of what appeared to be an easing of the tendency toward strict biblical literalism. A big factor in this development was Baptist theologian Bernard Ramm’s presumptuously named 1954 book, The Christian View of Science and Scripture 2, which strongly suggested that the language of Scripture is neither technical nor scientific, but rather the common language of the contextual culture. The Reverend Billy Graham heartily endorsed Ramm’s book, which played a significant role in popularizing it among evangelical Christians. As Graham famously stated:

“The Bible is not a book of science. The Bible is a book of Redemption… God did create the universe… God created humanity. Whether it came by an evolutionary process and at a certain point He took this person or being and made him a living soul or not, does not change the fact that God did create humanity. Whichever way God did it makes no difference as to what men and women are and their relationship to God.”3

During the first three decades of the ASA, many — perhaps even most — U.S. scientists (whether Christian or secular) believed that a person could accept either evolution or creation, but not both. In 1971, Stanford materials scientist and physicist Richard Bube, then editor of the ASA Journal, published two articles foreshadowing a shift in this perspective. The articles, entitled “We Believe in Creation”4 and “Biblical Evolutionism?”5, outlined Bube’s (as well as a ground-swell of other members’) belief that creation is first and foremost a theological concept, while evolution is a scientific one. Although some members had previously suggested that evolution was a tool used by God to direct biological creation, most earlier articles had proposed an either-or choice between the two.

Leslie Wickman

Leslie Wickman

Even so, the ASA Journal continues to publish articles making a case for other perspectives on origins. In 1978, not long after Dr. Bube’s articles were published, a special issue of the ASA Journal devoted to origins issues was published. Entitled “Origins and Change: Selected Readings from the JASA,”6 it contained articles that represented the full spectrum of ASA members’ views. The issue included voices apathetic to evolutionary biology, but the overall message was that old-earth geology, biological evolution, and Christianity can peacefully coexist. Perhaps as significantly, several ASA presidents over the last century have held viewpoints other than Evolutionary Creation or Theistic Evolution, including Intelligent Design and Old Earth Creation.

Turning our attention to the present, the ASA continues to be a place of discussion and grappling with controversial issues, rather than an advocacy organization. The common thread binding ASA members together is an adherence to orthodox Christian faith (in accord with both the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds) coupled with a respect for rigorous science, while considering various interpretations of science and scripture in an environment of humility and respect.

Furthermore, the ASA is a network of men and women in science and related disciplines, who share a common faithfulness to the Scripture, as well as a commitment to integrity in the practice of science. The members are also committed to engaging the Christian and science communities in dialog around important issues of faith and science.

The ASA’s mission is to “integrate, communicate, and facilitate properly researched science and theology in service to the Church and the scientific community. ASA members are confident that such a goal is not only possible but necessary for an adequate understanding of God and Nature. We believe that honest and open studies of both Scripture and Nature are mutually beneficial in developing a full understanding of human identity, relationships, and our environment. Additionally, the ASA is committed to advising churches and our society in how best to employ science and technology while preserving the integrity of God’s creation.”7

The mission of the ASA is accomplished through various publications (including the peer-reviewed journal Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith, and online magazine God & Nature); the ASA web-based resources; personal interactions, networking, learning opportunities, and sharing of research at the ASA Annual Meeting each summer (to be held July 28-31 this year at School of Mines in Golden, CO), as well as at local events throughout the year, and community support of churches and other organizations.

Looking forward to the future of the ASA, our vision is focused on expansion in the following areas: audience/membership, spheres of influence, and discussion topics.

With respect to expanding our audience, we have quite a lot of room to grow. A recent study by sociologist Elaine Ecklund at Rice University found that 61% of American scientists self-identify as Christian8. With some six million-plus practicing scientists and engineers employed in the United States, that means there are more than 3.6 million self-identifying Christians working as scientists or engineers in this country, while the ASA membership is only about three thousand! Many newcomers to the ASA annual conference express a profound sense of homecoming at finally finding the organization, citing uneasiness about discussing faith in the workplace, or anxiety about discussing science at church. Sometimes it seems that the ASA is a very well-kept secret, and that needs to change.

Another important element of expansion is that of reaching the next generation. The ASA has a very important message for our culture, and — as articulated by our founders — in particular, for our young people who are still thinking about what to do with their lives. We need to make a greater effort to reach students and others at an earlier age, so they understand that science and faith can co-exist. Young people need to know that science is a viable career choice for Christians, and that it is possible to be both a faithful Christian as well as a top-notch scientist. That being said, the ASA must extend its reach to churches, families, and youth, as well as to those who teach and influence them. Without this important outreach, both sides lose: the science community loses Christians from the discipline, and the Church loses scientists from its fellowship.

One of the key strategies the ASA is developing to help engage young people is an internship program for students and others who would like to immerse themselves for a period of time in a science-faith project within our network. We are also in the planning process for creating a database of faculty members, science practitioners, and others with STEM-oriented mission opportunities to enable Christians in the sciences to use their disciplines to be difference makers for Christ, as well as to attract new members who have a passion for social justice.

Our outreach effort includes expanding our sphere of influence through engaging with seminaries, churches, home-school organizations and schools of education, as well as encouraging and supporting members and chapters in local communities to lead the science-faith dialog within their own networks. We also plan to further develop a library of presentations and other resources that will help empower and mobilize existing members to reach out to churches, schools, and civic organizations in their local areas.

One of the most significant initiatives we are using to accomplish this part of the ASA’s expansion effort is our Local Chapters Campaign, funded in large part by the Templeton Foundation through Fuller Seminary’s “Science and Theology for Emerging Adult Ministries” program. This Campaign involves reaching out to individual ASA members as well as colleges, seminaries, schools of education, churches and para-church organizations in areas without thriving local ASA chapters to encourage the development of new local chapters to support members in engaging within their own communities. We’ve recently collaborated with individual members in the southwestern U.S. in starting several new chapters over the last few months.

The final area of expansion involves multiplying the conversation topics to include more issues involving ethics, engineering, appropriate/sustainable technologies, health/medicine, and environmental stewardship, in addition to our ongoing interest in discussion of origins. This will help to further distinguish the ASA from the other science-faith organizations that deal primarily with conversations about origins from a specific perspective. Speaking of other science-faith organizations, we are working to encourage new networking opportunities with them in order to extend the reach of our mutually shared resources and events.

In summary, the ASA has played an historic role in stimulating the open dialog between science and faith, without advocating for a particular position. As a preeminent national science-faith fellowship organization, we will strive to set the tone for civil dialog among those with diverse opinions on all issues relating to science and Christian faith. In the process, we will work to further spread the message that science and faith are allies, not enemies, and expand the reach of the ASA to broader topics and a larger audience. Those of us who are already members know the rewards, and countless others could not only benefit from, but also contribute to our community.

Leslie Wickman acknowledges the historical contributions to this article of ASA Fellows Ted Davis 9, Terry Gray 10, and Jack Haas 11. Wickman is executive director of the ASA. For more than a decade she was an engineer for Lockheed Martin Missiles & Space, where she worked on NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and International Space Station Programs.

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