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7 Responses to “An Unwinnable Debate”

  1. Rochelle Raimão says:

    You have just articulated insight into to some of my very long standing and lingering questions…thank you for taking on this topic. Here is an example of a changed frame and it’s profound affect in the culture.
    As you said to me before, “we have to change the frame…everywhere”.
    Indeed, much work to be done.

  2. Natalie Flora says:

    This is so helpful. You should come give a talk on this to the intervarsity group at Johns Hopkins. We’re basically piloting a new way for students (particularly science majors) to be living faithfully in their academic sphere. However, I have not given enough consideration to the research faculty element. I wonder what the stats are for Hopkins faculty…. anyway thanks.

  3. Dave Thom says:

    We’ve been framing our events as: “An invitation to explore the intersection of current academic thought and Christian thought.” You’re right, it’s not science vs. religion. It’s helpful to have the two words available as “labels” but discussion always brings out the details, so there’s no real worry in using the labels because when you spend time in discussion, you bring other things to light. We’re have Ecklund come in the spring. My guess is that profs closet their religion because real penalties have come to some who are open about their religion, and they don’t want to be the next test case. And there aren’t a lot of colleagues willing to fall on their own swords for you: it’s a “watch your own behind” kind of environment. Not much has been done well by Christians to create forums to decide “what’s worth losing one’s status over” in a university setting in case it might come to that. But all I’m saying here are just comments on your comments…I think a better route to success lies in being behind the vehicle that moves discussion forward. Persuading others of your openness to listen to others is better energy spent than deciding what to declare to others. Funny thing is, that’s not what the gay community did. They went frontal on “we’re okay.” They didn’t go frontal on “let’s talk about things.” They remain frontal in how they engage. They only know one track: full-bore win at all costs. That’s worldly. That’ll win in a worldly world. We don’t have to play that game, nor should we. We have been to some degree, but it doesn’t win us long-term success. It’s hardly a “die to self” or “die as a seed” in order to be born anew kind of approach.

  4. Mike Metzger says:


    While I concur with many of your comments I strongly disagree with your assessment of a “full bore” frontal strategy by the homosexual movement. Read “After the Ball.” The homosexual community seems to somewhat understand Augustine’s maxim: the soul delights in particular what it learns indirectly. They reframed the debate by going at it more indirectly than “frontally” as you claim.

  5. Mark Marten says:


    As always, great thoughts on the topic. As an academic, having gone through the tenure process, I can testify that there certainly is a lot of implicit pressure to conform to perceived norms. However, I’ve found that personal relationships can blunt this pressure. I’ve certainly had ups and downs with this, but in my experience colleagues are willing to discuss faith if they observe one demonstrating Christ-like character (Phil 2:3-4), as it’s relatively rare to interact with academics that are genuinely concerned with the good of others over their own interests. So, perhaps the solution to the “closet” problem is a combination of re-framing the debate coupled with genuine character transformation.

  6. Tom Gorman says:

    Thanks Mike- I have always viewed this in the same light as other wars with differing goals, such as the Civil War where the North believed they were ending slavery and the South believed in the sovereignty of the state and that the federal government shouldn’t meddle in their affairs. The same is true in our battles overseas. We are trying to set up a political system and our foes are fighting a holy war. They don’t match up and we’re not fighting the same war.

  7. Dave Thom says:

    I’m willing to be corrected. I guess I’m relying my impression. You’re saying they reframed things using indirect methods? I guess I could read “After the Ball” to learn more but that’s not my impression as a person simply experiencing things, here in Northeast university-town-settings. Well, I guess you’re suggesting that these at least similar indirect methods will help Christians re-frame and define and move forward with science & religion, and Life in general. I think I agree, and your commentary truly helps feed the conversation.

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