• arts & sciences •
a collection of written work
by David Snoke
Below is an imaginary dialogue I have written between a hypothetical "reasonable white conservative evangelical" and a hypothetical "reasonable black evangelical". The dialogue is imaginary, but it is based on numerous real conversations I have had (with both sides) over the years. Just to be clear: the "white evangelical" does not represent my own views; I agree with some of the points of both of the speakers and try to present counterpoints raised by each side. Both of the speakers say things that I have heard in real conversations, so they are not straw men nor figments of my imagination, but of course, each does not speak for everyone.
Ideas have consequences, especially ideas about new ways of thinking about all of society. It has become common among Christian conservatives to say that the Enlightenment movement of the 1700’s led eventually to the horrors of Nazism and Stalinism. In this essay I will give qualified agreement with that statement. There are two qualifications to this, however. One is the question of whether the Protestant Reformation laid in many ways the basis of the Enlightenment, so that Christians themselves were partly responsible for the movement. I will reserve this question for a future essay, but just mention here that I believe the Reformation did lay some of the basis of the later Enlightenment. The second is the question of whether the Enlightenment was correct, at least to some degree, in its critique of prior systems of thought. I will address this at the end of this essay; I think that it did have many valid points, but threw out the baby with the bathwater.
David is a physics professor at the University of Pittsburgh in the Department of Physics and Astronomy. He received his bachelors degree in physics from Cornell University and his PhD in physics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He has worked for The Aerospace Corporation and was a visiting scientist and Fellow at the Max Planck Institute. His experimental and theoretical research has focused on fundamental quantum mechanical processes in semiconductor optics, i.e. phase transitions of electrons and holes. Two main thrusts have been Bose-Einstein condensation of excitons and polaritons. He has also had minor efforts in numerical biology, and has published on the topic of the interaction of science and theology.