Bible Freedom ScienceCopyright © 2008, Charles Henry Johnsen, III

A Code of Ethics for Discussion on the Web

Believing In Truth

Bible Freedom Science welcomes different opinions. If something on the site makes you angry, please write me a note. If something occurs to you that furthers clarity or corrects error, please write me a note. In your communication, let me know if I can publish your comments and also your name.

You have freedom of speech here. Up to a point. I understand the Bill of Rights to give me, personally, the freedom to say and publish whatever I want and to refuse to say or publish whatever I want. Therefore, I will filter out anything I wish to exclude. I realize that this restricts your freedom of speech at the BFS network but it does not restrict your freedom of speech on your own blog or website. Go for it, you have the right. But so do I and I intend to keep it.

The principles and editorial policies of
Bible Freedom Science:

  1. No lying.
  2. No opacity.
  3. No hard hearts.
  4. No cowardice.
  5. No paranoia.
  6. No fantasy.
  7. No verbosity.
  8. No theft.
  9. No filth.
  10. No graphics.
  11. No arrogance.

Everything I write about this sounds pompous. I have a hard enough time telling when I am lying, much less anyone else. I am the king of odd expressions, which makes me the king of opaque expressions. Yet our common search for truth begins with virtue and therefore I list my personal code, even though it is too often above my abilities.

Yes, our goal is truth. First, that means that our language correctly characterizes the real world. Observation, the collection of data, theory generation, open inquiry, and argument are not goals but procedures we have found to work for understanding the universe, ourselves, and the Word.

False Witness

An error may be corrected. Science is not about revelation, but about corrections made and remade. Faith is not about doctrine, but about trust. Lying breaks trust and falsifies data. To propose a wrong theory or a heretical doctrine is not lying. Claiming telepathy with God or pencil whipping data is lying. Honest expression is first because without it we have only election politics.

The opposite of a lie is not truth but honesty or candor. I saw this, I think that, I believe so and so. I may be wrong, there may be an optical illusion or perhaps a religious delusion. But I am not lying. False is the opposite of true in two senses: true in the sense of observation and true in the sense of honest.


Too often agreement replaces clear expression of fact and opinion. When it comes before unity, clarity avoids false agreements and needless misunderstandings. Free speech is able to expose error and promote truth only when it is clear. Clarity is important when there are differences. It is more important when there is a soft agreement. There are actually people in politics who pride themselves on their ability to ambiguate and blur for the sake of unity! Bipartisanship is dangerous and disgusting.

Open Mindedness and Steadfastness

Open mindedness is not just the willingness to listen, but the willingness to change one's mind if necessary. Steadfastness is not just stubbornness, but the ability to hold principles firmly while considering other arguments and evidence.

More than any other of the virtues for truth these two are a balance and judgment calling for adult wisdom. Short of wisdom, we can all at least learn humility, the virtue which answers both sides of the scale. For when the discussion is about who (me!) and not what, when, or where, then we have failed. Feelings be damned, or at least left at home with the wife or husband.


Courage is the next step after humility. When we find out about Santa Claus or discover we were fools to believe in human global warming, it takes courage to stay in the arena and fight on. No, not for Santa Claus, but for truth. Courage moves up the scale of rhetorical virtues when we oppose a consensus. In some political contexts it may be the most important virtue. Usually a consensus in faith or reason is actually a political tactic used to intimidate mavericks and free minds.

Good Will

Almost everyone has some favorite conspiracy theory nurtured in their heart. The core of all of them is mistrust and suspicion, a theory of mind gone sour. This is a trap. Certainly, there are evil people and sometimes they conspire and too often they succeed for a time. Detect them, damn them, and stop them by open cooperation with men and women of good will. But for the most part, let us trust the good intentions of our opponents and see to our own. We must see each other as individuals and not as poster boys for some opposing group.

This character flaw, mistrust of intentions, is most often seen when people see themselves as a group first and as individuals second. Racism comes to mind. Class warfare comes to mind. Seeing ourselves as members of groups like churches, unions, nations, or political parties is not a bad thing. But these associations in America are usually overlapping, voluntary, and temporary. Unlike societies where the classes are frozen and fixed, here we may well find ourselves mistrusting a group we will soon be a member of ourselves.


Reality is a tautology without which we could not function unless we have tenure. I suppose the most we can hope for is less hope and more dirty hands. We must focus on the world as it is, on our God as He is, and on history as it was. Too far from these lofty goals? That is not the point. We may not have climbed the mountain yet but we must be sure we are talking about the same mountain.


Be brief.

(It is hard to imagine this coming from me.)


Nothing I write, nothing you write, is totally new. But neither are we parrots or electronic recorders. Our brains are filters into which each of us pours a different mix of books, conversations, observations, and quirks of person. We quote or plagiarize and the difference is less quantitative and more qualitative. By that I mean the deep meaning of another's writing cannot be owned by them or us. Yet we lie to ourselves when we discover ideas alone. There is always someone, some many, in our brains with us when we speak without sound.

Therefore, respect the ancestors of our mental selves and mention, list, and cite them when you write. I do not care about foot notes, unless it is a specific citation, but I do care about mention and bibliography. I will let you know what I have read and heard and from whom. Please do the same for me. And above all, today, link to others to anchor your ideas in a network of reason, goodness, and freedom.


Every day each of us performs a ritual with folded squares of soft paper that is perfectly normal and, if done well, healthy and clean. Perhaps a physician or a mother training a youngster may properly wish more detail. But to picture this same activity or to describe it with gutter words is best left to eighth graders. I have great fun in unmixed company making a joke or laughing at private human moments. But there is a place and a time and there is not a place or a time. Maturity knows when and what and so do I on this site. Foul language or unnecessary references to impolite body functions will be filtered out. Count on it. The fact that I have to bring this up is an indictment of our culture.

Freedom of speech? Politically, Yes! and Forever! But while the Bill of Rights may protect you from the State it does not protect you from me. Talk dirty and you will not be heard.

Words Only

I am an old man, old in years and old in some attitudes and skills. Here you will find no graphics, no pictures, no illustrations, no illuminations. Words, words, words. Also for you, please. No png, no jpeg, no gif, no avi, no wav, no mpeg. Words in sentences. Full stop.

The plain ASCII of email text is my favorite way to receive material. If you must, an attachment in the open document standard .odt is okay as well. With a little effort I can translate proprietary Microsoft ® Word documents into an open standard and read them, so those are okay too. But .html is not so good unless you tag it by hand yourself. Why? The junk and tricks used by most WYSIWYG html word processors makes extra work for me. .pdf files have the same problem but if that is what you have, go for it. But in any case, I will find a way to code your words into html for BFSN if your comment is interesting enough. You will notice that fancy stuff like fonts and colors will disappear, ideas stripped down to words, words, words.

More than a personal quirk, which it is, I believe that what I am talking about cannot be conveyed in any other way. These are memes, ideas, concepts, and theories. These are not pictures. In fact, I do not like artistic pictorial expressions of religion or my God. Perhaps icons, the old ones, are close to acceptable. But pictures of thirteen Italians at a dinner table or muscle beach guys touching fingers distort and falsify everything I know about both of those events.

Words only, please.

There are social networks like Facebook and Twitter and you can follow me there if you wish to communicate with pics and vids. I am easy to find, Charles Johnsen, and one day may have a BFSN specific fan page as well. I also have a personal web site,

Ordinary People

Of all people, Americans are the most self critical. Good for us. Such honest mirror gazing leads us to improve. Like a woman at her mirror, we see a flaw or two on a pretty face and reach for makeup or a tweezers for an improvement. Ordinary people are like that, full of complaints and sometimes anger, but ready and willing to fix problems without creating worse ones. But some women, even beautiful women, never see anything but flaws and ugliness. Ultimately only a razor where there is no hair will cure their self-loathing. The elites in America at newspapers, television, government, and universities too often have that sort of nihilism that ruins any chance of incremental reforms and improvements, leaving only cultural suicide as an answer. Therefore any hint of elitism is forbidden at Bible Freedom Science. I will recognize it by the self-righteousness, arrogance, and sarcasm with which they adorn their writing.