David Satcher was the Surgeon General under the Clinton administration. He is now working with The National Center for Primary Care, located at the Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, GA. With a sexologist friend, I attended the conference called by Satcher, May 24, 2004, in DC, wondering what possible common ground would be discovered between groups such as Planned Parenthood and conservative Christians, expecting to have the event controlled by pansexual interests.
I was pleased to find some very credible representatives of Biblical Christianity on the speaker platform. Satcher apparently really does want an honest dialogue. Deo Gratia!
The conference itself was much too over managed to spark real dialogue between the audience and the speakers, but I could not help but applaud the attempt to seek a common ground.
The common ground must begin with a common quest for truth. We will never have any stable common ground otherwise. Common ground based on feelings is quicksand. So establishing that all parties really are interested in the truth of a given matter is a first priority. The problem is that it would seem impolite to make that point clear. But the challenge must be raised:
"If you were wrong, would you want to know?"
"Would you be willing to have your position tested by the available evidence?"
"Do you agree that we need each other to keep honest?"
The second step is to clarify the primary worldview options available -- the Biblical and the secular/pagan.
The third would be to compare the empirical evidence for the various claims.
A key to this attempt to find common ground would be for Christians to recover their intellectual credibility -- so we know how to get into such a discussion. It was appalling to see so few Christians there, or at least, so few who spoke up so that you might guess they were Christians. We do not know how to present the case for Christ logically and factually. That is intellectually and morally inexcusable, since our Lord holds the intellectual and moral high ground.
So far (6/10/04), no response from Satcher. E. Fox.
May 25, 2003
David Satcher, MD, Ph. D.
National Center for Primary Care
Morehouse School of Medicine
720 Westview Dr. SW
Atlanta, GA 30310-1495
Dear Dr. Satcher,
I attended the "Call to Action on Sexual Health: Science & Belief -- Seeking Common Ground" event in DC yesterday, and rather than filling out the feedback form, I am writing instead.
The attempt to get both (or many) sides of the sexuality debates together to seek common ground is, of course, the first step in any reasonable discourse, and I applaud your efforts.
My observations over the years roughly agree with the saying going around that the "liberals" have been manipulative and the "conservatives" stupid, leading our discussions mostly in generally hostile circles. "Liberals" (in skeptical quotes) do not liberate anyone, and "conservatives" do not conserve much.
In my estimation, that is because the "liberals" have all but abandoned the quest for truth and focus rather on feeling good. "Conservatives" either think there is a truth and that they have it all, or so value their being accepted by everyone that they cannot make a stand anywhere.
Honest (Jeffersonian) liberalism and honest conservatism both focus on truth-seeking, and are thus part of the same family. Both are willing to say, "If I am wrong, I want to know."
The almost universal problem is that Western (post-modern) Civ. has pretty much given up on the quest for truth. Science, of course, is all about truth. If truth is "what is", then science is the attempt to find out what is. The hard sciences have remained pretty steadily on course in the quest for truth, and have produced much of our western technology, etc., but the social sciences have, for the most part, lost their way -- leading to the very dangerous situation of massive technology unguided by moral or spiritual consensus.
Religion has lost its way because it bought into the notion that reason and revelation are opposed to each other. That is not a Biblical principle, but most Christians seem to believe it.
My point is that the discussion you are wanting very rightly to have will
never take place until both sides are willing to discipline themselves to honest
truth-seeking. As Paul notes in
I Corinthians 15, if Jesus was not raised from the dead, then we had better stop preaching it. We dare not speak less than the truth about God. Or, as Elijah on Mount Carmel (I Kings 18), "If Baal be God, then let's follow him, but if the Lord be God, then follow Him...." And then a very empirical, up or down experiment to see who indeed was God. One can cite many more passages.
The idea of "evidence" (meaning science) versus "belief" (meaning religion) is a pseudo-distinction as far as the Bible goes. God is continually presenting His case in dramatic events, and then asking why His people desert Him. Either Christians will learn likewise to present their case factually and logically, or we will continue to spin wheels, look foolish, and rightly be rejected by the educated population. I have no doubt that we can do that and win.
I had questioned your statement Monday that there was no scientific evidence that we can change our sexual orientations. I pointed out that NARTH, Robert Spitzer, MD, and Exodus have all done work on those issues, and then asked what evidence there might be for the opposite statement, often made, that people cannot change their orientations. You responded to the first part of my statement, but not to the question. (So far as I know, there is no evidence to support the claim that orientation cannot change.)
You responded that you had looked for scientific evidence for change in orientation (as distinct from behavior). I would have liked to ask -- what scientific standards were you requiring? And why did the work of those noted above not qualify?
My primary suggestion concerning the format of the conference would be to give each questioner a maximum of at least five minutes so that some dialogue might be pursued. I did not have, for example, a chance to pursue my issue with you. That would mean fewer questions, but, I think, some far more interesting and helpful exchanges.
You commented at the start of the conference about the abuse gay and lesbian people are experiencing. You also noted at one point that oral intercourse is unhealthy. Almost all of the behaviors typically engaged in by homosexual persons are terribly unhealthy. By far, the greatest abuse against homosexual persons is by themselves to themselves and each other. And that, surely, is why a loving God would "just say no".
I find it astonishing that the medical profession (the watchers in the towers to defend our health) has been almost totally unwilling to press that fact into the public consciousness. The orientation to engage in homosexual behavior is an orientation to an early death. On those grounds alone, why is the medical community (APA, APA, AMA, etc.) not recommending that we find ways to help people out of that condition rather than justify it?
My primary interest is Christian apologetics, a sadly neglected field. I have worked since 1989 with Exodus, presenting the Biblical view of human sexuality, which by its very nature is healing for those struggling with sexual addiction. But not many Christians have ever developed the most basic of all statements in Scripture about sexuality -- that we are made in the Image of God -- male and female. Unpacked, it is an astonishingly beautiful story.
I got my doctorate from Oxford in 1964 in the relation between science and theology. It is clear (to me at least) that the very foundations of science (both historically and logically) are rooted in the Biblical worldview. Without the Biblical worldview -- of a cosmos created by an Intelligent Designer -- we would not have science today. The pagan worldview could not and did not support such a view. And with our trashing today of the Biblical worldview (mostly due to Christian ineptness), we are watching respect for science erode as well. The Biblical respect for objective truth is the ultimate foundation for the scientific enterprise. And, I think it can be shown, only the Biblical worldview can sustain a focus on objective truth.
Christians have done very poorly in the matter, but that is something that we must correct if we are to recover our relevance to Western Civilization and to the Kingdom of God.
You might be interested in a visit to my website, http://theRoadtoEmmaus.org where I am beginning to build what I think will be an effective Biblical response to the problems of our time.
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