Why Evangelicals Believe Weird Things

From Jonathan Dudley, a graduate of Yale Divinity School, a student at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and the author of Broken Words: The Abuse of Science and Faith in American Politics:

In a recent op-ed in The New York Times, Karl Giberson and Randall Stephens lamented “the evangelical rejection of reason.” The lay evangelical community, they explain, would rather get its science from folks like the young-Earth creationist Ken Ham than from the evolution-believing NIH director Francis Collins, even though both are evangelicals.

As someone raised in the evangelical community, I am poignantly aware of the problem they describe. I grew up listening to James Dobson on the radio, reading books by Ken Ham, and learning to view the environmental movement as a left-wing conspiracy. I was shocked, then, when upon going off to study biology at an evangelical college, I discovered that the vast majority of professors at such colleges accept evolution and support the environmental movement.

Why is there such a disconnect between the lay evangelical community and the best evangelical scholars when it comes to science? In my book Broken Words: The Abuse of Science and Faith in American Politics, in addition to critiquing popular evangelical beliefs, I also explore the sources of this discrepancy.

Lay evangelicals evaluate the arguments made by “experts” in a manner different from many non-evangelicals. The latter will often ask: How prestigious is her academic pedigree? Is she representing the consensus of similarly credentialed experts? Insofar as I can understand her arguments, do they convince me? Lay evangelicals ask different questions: How good of a Christian is this guy? (Or, in evangelical parlance, “How is his walk with the LORD?”) How closely do his arguments line up with my understanding of the Bible? Is this guy one of us?

Evangelicals also tend to come under the sway of those with the biggest microphones, not the best arguments. Although many evangelical scholars are also capable of projecting piety, they rarely have the resources to flood the airwaves or the communication skills to connect with the average believer. What’s more, evangelical scholars, despite often lamenting the intellectual problems with the lay community, are generally more interested in pursuing scholarship than becoming the type of rousing, populist leader necessary to redirect evangelical Christianity.

The evangelical community also keeps its scholars in check. When a college’s base of donors, prospective students, and even board of trustees are made up of lay evangelicals, this places severe limits on what its scholars can say publicly. This fact became apparent at my alma mater, Calvin College, when public outcry and the powers that be combined to silence two scholars advocating the acceptance of human evolution.

A final major source of this disconnect is the evangelical community’s understanding of the Bible. Most lay evangelicals understand the Bible as offering all they need to know on matters ranging from the origin of species to imminent destruction of the Earth. This notion makes experts unnecessary to form valid beliefs. But it is also untenable; what communities think is the “clear teaching of the Bible” varies throughout time and among cultures in a manner that can be directly traced to different starting beliefs. How lay evangelicals interpret the Bible, ultimately, reflects how those they take as authority figures interpret it.

The disconnect between lay evangelicals and scholars is a problem with tremendous consequences, both for politics and for the level of scientific literacy in America. The vast majority of evangelicals are lay people, and thus, their beliefs, and not those of their scholars, are what end up mattering politically. What the lay evangelical community believes about evolution or global warming impacts which GOP candidates will succeed (Jon Huntsman doomed his campaign by voicing his belief in science on both issues). It impacts how much support will exist in the House and Senate for legislation dealing with climate change. It impacts what local school boards will teach in public schools about human origins.

It’s a problem, therefore, that affects every American. The first step to addressing it is to understand that. Secular America often laments the impact of evangelicals in politics, thinking their anti-intellectualism is inherent in evangelical Christianity. But as the community’s scholars demonstrate, it doesn’t have to be this way. The real question is how to replace the James Dobsons and Ken Hams of the world with their more qualified evangelical counterparts.

Category: Expert Opinion, Featured Expert Opinion

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43 Responses

  1. I think you make some very good points, but as you mention, there are evangelicals like Collins. It is such a HUGE group in the west, it’s not really fair to paint us all with a broad brush. The opposite problem exists as well in politics. Those who are so staunchly anti-faith on “the left” are equally unintellectual. Just try to have a coherent discussion of communism vs. capitalism with the folks at “Occupy Wall Street” ;-) The problem is the evangelical, it’s the anti-intellectuals. Since the west is mostly Christian/evangelical it affects us more. But like I said, good thoughts.

  2. Theophile says:

    Hi Jonathan,
    The problem with this appeal of authority probably is due to the instant gratification culture. Who wants to read the Bible for themselves and think?
    The Evangelical focus is on faith, and that faith is defined for them, by shear numbers, in the letters of Paul. The entire Old Testament uses the word 2 times, Paul uses the word 185 times! When we study the Bible exclusively for our “spirit led” theology we find the emphasis is on faithfulness, and being faithful.
    I know this sounds like heresy at 1st glance for an Evangelical, but You run across this little problem in Genesis 26:5 where God is quoted giving the reason Abraham “obtained the promise”, to Abraham’s son Isaac:
    “Because Abraham obeyed my voice, kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.
    The problem here is more than one for “Faith based Christianity”.
    #1 God didn’t even acknowledge Abraham’s faith.
    #2 God had statutes, laws, and commandments, before any “old covenant” made with Moses.
    #3 God did acknowledge Abraham being “faithful” by obeying these laws, statutes, and commandments.
    #4 The entire “by Faith Abraham obtained the promise” doctrine stands on the anonymously authored book of Hebrews**, and requires the despicable doctrine of “the old testament is the old covenant, it’s all done away with”, to stand.

    My basic question to Evangelicals is this:
    Does your faith require Paul’s letters, and the book of Hebrews? When Jesus said “Moses and the prophets they testify of me”, do You look to Moses and the prophets to learn more about Jesus?

    The list of church doctrines which are foreign to the Bible is actually quite long. For a historical eyeopener concerning God’s word vs. the doctrines/traditions of men:
    Read Foxes book of Martyrs:
    http://www.gutenberg.org/files/22400/22400-h/22400-h.htm

    ** Many say Paul wrote Hebrews, but Paul mentions Paul, in all of his other letters, as the author of those letters.

  3. Ramon says:

    “I discovered that the vast majority of professors at such colleges accept evolution and support the environmental movement.”

    Argumentum ad populum: illegitimate appeal to popular opinion.

    Ipse dixit: illegitimate appeal to authority.

    If the vast majority of university professors were to suddenly start rejecting evolutionism and extreme environmentalism, then would you unquestioningly revise your views on those subjects, or would you suspect that those involved in hiring professors were conspiring to apply a litmus test to weed out any professors who disagree with them?

    What if NAMBLA hires enough lobbyists to legitimize its deviancy, as have other groups before them, and a majority of university professors adopt a tolerant view of pederasty? Would you then argue for its validity?

    By the way, Ken Ham and the ministry for which he works, Answers in Genesis, has a young-Earth creation position (though 6,000 years to me is still very old), while James Dobson sides more with old-Earth creationist Hugh Ross and his Reasons to Believe ministry. I don’t understand why you lump them together, unless you’re alluding to their general agreement on social and political issues.

  4. Tina H. says:

    How very intellectually “superior” of you! You will judge me, a mere evangelical lay person, but I don’t care; God has said in his Word that the things that appear wise in this world are really foolishness to Him. And I’d rather be on His side than on that of any “experts.”

    As to so-called evolution-believing evangelicals such as Francis Collins…well, I can assert all day long that I’m a hamburger because I frequent McDonald’s but that doesn’t make it so. Likewise, people who don’t believe in the inerrancy of Scripture from start to finish are NOT Christ-followers no matter what they say.

    Yeah, go ahead and judge away. In the meantime, I’ll pray that you’ll come around to God’s ways before your earthly body dies and you face the Lord in judgment; you need the prayers.

    Oh, by the way, AMEN, Ramon (above)!

  5. Steve says:

    I think the comments here aptly demonstrate the problem the author is talking about (and why the best way resolve is probably not to present logical arguments to lay evangelicals!)

    Ramon: I hope you are at least consistent in your rejection of expert opinion and refuse to see doctors. Argumentum ad idiotum: the fallacy of dismissing valid arguments by inventing Latin labels for them.

    John: Dudley notes the evangelical community spans from young earth creationists to folks like Francis Collins. So he does acknowledge the diversity. Saying “you can’t generalize” is simply wrong. Sociologists and anthropologists make generalizations about groups all the time. The problem is only when generalizations are assumed to apply to every individual in the group. So yes, the evangelical community as a whole does have certain characteristics and they include the ones Dudley describes above.

  6. Mark Hollinsworth says:

    I was a creationist long before I heard of Ken Ham or his like. I beleive God created the Universe, and all that is seen and unseen, is SIX, 24 hour periods. Not because anyone told me so, but because the is what the Bible, God’s word says. There is nothing I can see in Genesis 1 to suggest it is just a story, with a moral message. It reads like historical fact, and that is good enough for me.

    In respect of replacing Ken Ham, I do not think any such thing is necessary. Except to say, that if Ken Ham dies, and goes to heaven, before my Lord Jesus Christ returns to this earth, I earnestly pray that God will raise up someone to take Ken’s place and continue his work and ministry.

  7. Jefferson A. Sweet says:

    The ‘majority’ were wrong in Noah’s day too.

  8. Ashley Haworth-Roberts (Mr) says:

    Somebody needs to remind Ham – who has described this article as ‘sad’ on Facebook – that the Bible was written in a pre-scientific era.

    This is how Ken Ham teaches ‘science’ to young people. He gets them to recite after him “If there really was a global flood you’d expect to find billions of dead things buried in rock layers all over the Earth!”. As in this recording: http://www.answersingenesis.org/media/audio/archive/ken-ham-talks/dinosaurs-for-kids/?utm_source=blog&utm_medium=homeschool-talks&utm_campaign=mp3-5

    If he was really interested in science, he would also examine the hypothesis that if there really was a global flood only 4,500 years’ ago you’d expect to find vast amounts of buried organic material everywhere which dates as around 4,500 years’ old by radiocarbon dating.

    And he wrote THIS on his blog recently: “Yes, biblical truth does trump the fallible ideas of sinful man who has a heart that is “deceitful above all things and desperately wicked”. I make no apology about taking such a stand!” http://blogs.answersingenesis.org/blogs/ken-ham/2011/10/19/shot-taken-at-aig-by-nazarene-professor-in-new-york-times-op-ed/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+KenHam+%28Around+the+World+with+Ken+Ham%29

  9. Chris K says:

    As a scientist and a Christian, I have never had an issue mixing my vocation and trust in empherical data and matters of faith which is a topic that exists on an entirely different plane from the intellectual one. I can accept natural selection and the pressure of environment on the roll of the dice of genetic variation without corrupting my concept of the sacred nature of the human soul and its intrinsic dependence on a loving God. I think my brethren scientist faithful remain muted because the profession is so dominated by the non religious and outright atheistic. We don’t want the wasted energy of debates that always return to the same bottom line; are you a believer in infinite causality or do you believe in the concept of a primary mover? I never attempt to foist my understanding of my own faith on another. It’s a personal journey and represents the totality of my life experience including my thoughts, my dreams, my wants and my prayers as well as my physical interactions with the solid and quantifiable in the measureable world. As with most issues in this media dominated world, the most attention getting entities become the shorthand for ideas, concepts and movements that are intrinsically steeped in diversity and nuance. The Evangelical bumper sticker of “The Bible says…I Believe it …and That Settles it” is as shallow as the atheist scientist’s shorthand of “Prove It”. I thought John Huntsman was a marvelous candidate. He actually spoke like a reasonable human being with texture and diversity in his personality and beliefs. I think the fact that someone like him is immediately written off as unelectable says more about process than about people. As communication and media becomes more and more of a raw flow of unfiltered information, the simple, loudest and brightest messages are the only ones that attract notice. Until we, as a society, begin to turn down the noise, only the loudest voices will rise above the cacophony.

  10. BeamMeUp says:

    So, let me get this straight. If you take Genesis literally, a supernatural deity created the Earth around 6,000 year ago (give or take few hundred years). Then this deity, not satisfied with its handy work, committed mass genocide by causing a massive flood that killed all humans except for a 600-year-old man named Noah and his family. This Noah managed to get 2 of every animal on an ark, but forgot to include any dinosaurs. Did I miss anything? Sounds about as credible as any story in ancient mythology, such as the Greek story that order emerged out of chaos, and it should be treated as a myth.

  11. Orwell's Dilemma says:

    Young earth, old earth, it doesn’t really matter for the purpose of “science.” Whether you believe God, Thor,or Al Gore created earth, does not make one bit of practical difference on how one gathers, analyzes, or utilizes data. Seriously. I’ve never known an engineer that designed a bridge differently because he was a Christian or an atheist. Your belief in the age of the cosmos simply has no bearing on whether a particular gene controls one’s propensity to have cancer. Whether the sticky pads on a chameleon’s toes were designed or happened by chance is immaterial to imitating them in nanotechnology. No, this is simply a cheap shot at Christians by a disgruntled former Christian who needs to recruit for atheism with the old “Christians reject science” meme. (By the way, five to one says half the comments are left wingers trolling as “Christians.”)

  12. rob says:

    To the self-proclaimed experts and skeptics of the Word of God worldview I say this:

    One day we will know who is right and who isn’t. If you’re right, I spent my life in the love of the Lord helping people needlessly believing something that wasn’t true.

    If I’m right, you had a decision to make while on the earth and you made the wrong one. You will pay a high price for following sight rather than faith. One which will haunt you for eternity.

    That is the point! Science began as a search of what God is doing and how He is doing it in effort to become better people towards God and man. It has become a tool to prove that God does not exist and there is no responsibility for a decision to follow God and do good to others.

    Proof of this is easy to ascribe even in origin of life. If I were to tell you: God created the earth in seven days making the earth appear as if it were here for millions, perhaps billions of years of age with all that is ever needed for life and Godliness, what would you say? Most would say – show me the proof (like God needs to prove himself to you)? Worldly speaking, I would use observations of science revealed of the oceans, geology, astronomy and hydrology (which happen to be in conflict as to time origins) showing you it is indeed a probability and perhaps the most plausible theory worthy of consideration. Even at that, those that doubt would still not believe nor consider. This is not due to faulty science (as it is accepted elsewhere) but because you don’t want to. There is a longing to free yourself from the responsibility to a living Creator. That very thing, if I prove to be right, will be what you are judged upon – what did I do with the Lord Jesus Christ when I had a chance to do so?

    Science and PHDs are not God and know only a fraction of what God has revealed of Himself. They are a poor substitute for absolute truth.

    Mock faith believers and faith itself, live it up and die in your skepticism if you choose but know there may be an unwilling price to pay for following sight rather than faith. You have a chance to realize the truth make the most of it.

  13. Tayloao says:

    1. When interpreting the Bible, particularly an old book like Genesis, it was written pre-science to technologically limited people with a limited understanding of the world. So at the very least the age of the earth and the exact timetable and specified process would’ve been revealed to humanity in a manner they could comprehend. The book of Genesis describes the creation of the earth in 1-2 pages. The typical high school biology textbook is hundreds of pages and that only covers biology (let alone physics, chemistry, etc.). If God were to come down to bronze age man and reveal all the mysteries of the universe in avid detail then God would be highly irresponsible. Imagine arming bronze age humans with a nuclear bomb (shudder). The way Genesis was written was a great description of creation for the audience it was written for. I’m sure that if God wanted to explain creation to a 2011 audience he would explain it in a library sized volume of texts. I’m sure in another 6,000 years God’s explanation to man would be even more vivid and detailed.

    2. Genesis was written in what is now a dead languege. Anyone who has studied any languege that isn’t their native tongue can tell you that much gets lost in translation. Jokes won’t translate, formality won’t translate, and even specific details may not translate. In the case of Genesis, unless you are a linguistic scholar and fluent in the original languege and have a copy from thousands of years ago, or even if you did, then you are still going to face a certain level of translation error, misinterpretation, and lost detail and subtleties. I think the main point of creation in Genesis is that God exists and created the universe which comes across no matter what the translation is.

    3. While a Biblical theologian is not a scientist and therefor not subject to scientific methodology, peer review, testing, and evaluation, they do have the Constitutional right to freedom of religion. So to do the people who believe or disbelieve what they have to say. Either way, I don’t think religion should be taught in a science class, however I think anyone who’s religious beliefs run contratry to commonly accepted science (or any other subject for that matter) should be able to opt out of said subject matter. I also think that since in most states the bulk of school funding comes from local taxes, the local community should have the greatest say in what is or is not taught in their school. And finally, I think that even if you believe the most literal interpretation of creation whether it’s in the Bible, Koran, or any other religion’s text, I think as long as you are not infringing upon anyone else’s right and are peaceful about it then who cares what these people think? No harm, no foul

  14. Andrew Beltz says:

    “When his family[b] heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, ‘He is out of his mind.’ And the teachers of the law who came down from Jerusalem said, ‘He is possessed by Beelzebul! By the prince of demons he is driving out demons.’” Mark 3:21,22

    As for me and my house, we’re on the side of the crazy possessed guy.

  15. Falcon 78 in Northern VA says:

    There should be no problem with “evolution” processes after the Creation. It is all part of God’s plan. If you think “evolution” started from the primordial ‘ooze’ turning into the world we have today–you are the nut. You cannot look into a person’s eye and not see the absolute complexity of a human eye, and not reason and understand that it took a “Creator” for something that complicated. But, we can debate all day until we are blue in the face, but it does not change the truth that there is God, and we will all meet our maker when we die.

  16. Brett Blatchley says:

    Tina wrote: “Likewise, people who don’t believe in the inerrancy of Scripture from start to finish are NOT Christ-followers no matter what they say.”

    Tina? You really should consider what Jesus said here: “the work of God is to believe in the one the he [the Father] sent. (John 6:29) Absolutely *nothing* else, big or small, important or not, determines whether a person is in God’s family or not.

    Also, you might consider that the meaning of “inerrancy” is blurred from group to group. Even when you acknowledge that the Bible is the inspired word of God (in it’s original language), you still need the indwelling Holy Spirit to illuminate these scriptures so they can be applied to the believer’s life. That is, if you simply read the words of the Bible and apply them without God’s help, then you will often misapply them, sometimes with tragic results.

    Sadly, your comment that I quoted above is an example of the problem the we Evangelicals have: we too often have trite, knee-jerk answers that are caricatures of wisdom. It’s a bit like the difference between having a zero-tolerance drug policy that expels a stellar student because she took an aspirin for her headache, instead of doing the more difficult thing and using one’s judgement to decide what is right and wrong in a particular set of circumstances.

    Here is another example: moral relativism is rampant. BUT as a reaction, we Evangelicals tend to assert more absolutes than are necessary. It isn’t absolute that any drinking is wrong. It isn’t absolute that masturbation is wrong. It isn’t absolute that the six days of creation are 24 hour days as we understand them. (I’ve just mentioned three things, but Spirit-led judgement is required in all these cases and so much more.) So just because our culture tends to be morally relative, doesn’t mean that God’s universe tends to be comprised of absolutes (there are relatively few absolutes, and most of them have directly to do with God).

    I started as an atheist, surrendered to Jesus as a young adult in college, and as a newly-minted fifty year old, having walked with Christ for over thirty years, I find that God is calling me to go beyond the confines of the knee-jerk approach of Evangelicalism. I am, as I have always been, simply a Christian: I belong to Jesus.

  17. Syphax says:

    Some writers have actually pointed out that the most extreme of the “new atheist” writers feel like their activism is a reaction to this sort of fundamentalism.

    While there’s not a logical connection between believing in Jesus and disbelieving in global warming, I think the unfortunate thing is that what evangelicals are really protecting is their way of life. There has to be a way of convincing the strongly religious that evolution was not developed as an attack on religion, and neither is climate science. It’s not an attack on the things you hold dear, or your family or children. Certainly it can be used that way, but science is just theories based on data. It can’t say whether God exists or doesn’t exist, and it can’t supplant your personal moral values. It’s not an attack on you personally. It’s only a culture war because we allow it to be so, and we drag our prideful motivations into what is a value-neutral endeavor.

  18. Tom H says:

    Evolution is diametrically opposed to Christian doctrine. If there was no Adam and Eve there was no original sin. If there was no original sin then humanity is not under the curse of sin. If humanity is not under the curse of sin the Jesus Christ died on the Cross for nothing and no one.Make your choice.

  19. If God is who He says He is (and I believe so), then it seems to me that we ought to take everything that He says seriously. Everything. That means the explicit things He has said in the Bible and the implicit things He has made know in creation. Religion speaks of the first category; Science speaks of the second.

    The God I serve is wise enough and powerful enough to say “Let there be …” and for creation to thus unfold per His command without His having to fiddle around adjusting details. When I read Genesis (in Hebrew), I can find nothing demanding that I reject the evidence found in the natural world which points to God’s use of cosmoligical and biological evolutionary processes in bring the world to its present state.

  20. kath says:

    We Catholics have our own problems. I’m just glad this isn’t one of them. ;-)

  21. Fiona Feminazi says:

    Thank you for being politically correct and using “she” instead of “he”. It makes me feel so good I think I’ll have another abortion.

  22. BV says:

    “I was shocked, then, when upon going off to study biology at an evangelical college, I discovered that the vast majority of professors at such colleges accept evolution and support the environmental movement.”

    No this isn’t a broad, unqualified, undefined, sweeping, general (and therefore unfalsifiable) statement.

    And what do you mean by the environmental movement? You can get away with your broad, unqualified etc statements without sufficient definitions.

    I have a PhD in chemistry from a top 25 research university. I agree that we should do stuff like recycle. But I’m skeptical of the AGW argument from people like Al Gore. Am I therefore an environmentalist? Probably not.

  23. thomas says:

    pomposity.

  24. wally27 says:

    The reason some do not accept evolution as real is because it is crap. Not one thing ever evolved from another. Nada. Never happened. Never will happen either. Poppycock idea. Same with crude oil; never came from dead dinos and ferns. Never, zero. Kaput. Things are the way Yahweh designed them. Sorry to have to inform the elite, educated snobs of this. Science is the NEW religion. All bow down and worship at the fet of the most high jackwagons.

  25. Russell says:

    “When I was at home I believed all the things my parents and my church told me. But when I went to college I got smarter and believed all the things my professors told me.”

  26. Steve says:

    “When I was at home I believed all the things my parents and my church told me and I’ve continued to believe all those things despite overwhelming evidence against them.”

    The life of most evangelicals of this sort recalls a great quote by William Clifford: “If a man, holding a belief which he was taught in childhood or persuaded of afterwards, keeps down and pushes away any doubts which arise about it in his mind, purposely avoids the reading of books and the company of men that call into question or discuss it, and regards as impious those questions which cannot easily be asked without disturbing it — the life of that man is one long sin against mankind.”

  27. Tayloao says:

    While I’m sure this comment section isn’t intended for debate there are a few points I would like to retort.

    Rob: You brought up a point I have heard many times before “Person A is Christian and Person B is an athiest. Upon death if Person B is right then…nothing for either. If Person A is right then they will have lived a bette life, gotten spiritual fulfillment, and then heaven…Person B meanwhile gets hell.” I’ve heard this style arguement many times and it is a huge failure for two reasons. If someone is an avowed athiest despite knowing the fundementals of Christianity, even if you convince them with this arguement the best you’ll get is “I am trying to believe in God out of default because on the off chance he does exist I’d rather come out on top”. That’s not exactly a great version of conversion. The second problem is that this same arguement could be made for any and all religions. If Person C (Hindu) is correct then you’ll be reincarnated into a slug. If Person D is correct (Scientology) then you won’t get to ride on the space ship when we’re saved by the aliens.

    Tom H: Your arguement is also incredibly flawed. The concept of original sin is a theological concept that isn’t viewed the same in all of Christindom. The fundemental belief of Jesus is that he is God and the son of God simultaneously and died for all of our sins. You don’t need a literal view of original sin or Adam and Eve to believe that. If your view is that everything in the Bible happened exactly and literally the way it is written and that you have specifically interpreted it and any deviation or evidence that runs contrary to your black and white theological interpretation is therefor heresy and untrue then you will have a difficult time being evangelical since you leave very little room for someone that isn’t you to join you in your faith.

    Wally27: You post I find the most amusing and disturbing. Science requires evidence, testing, peer review, arguement, more testing, and can be disproven with further assessment, evidence, and testing. Your view however is very simple. I think X therefor it is. Two people could read a Biblical passage and interpret it in two different ways. People like you obviously read it and view everyone who isn’t you to clearly be wrong. Our planet has a long history of people holding that view with an insanely long body count following. There are many who are deeply faithful to thier religion, including Christianity, which find no conflict between their religion and science and reason. I find it incredibly frightening when I read commentary from people who seem to not only not possess reason but abhor the concept.

  28. Mario says:

    Pascal’s Wager. Nice. I’ll make this as simple as possible. That’s bull crap. Your beliefs? Bull crap. Your fairy tales? Bull crap. Your rejection of critical thinking, science, and evolution? Bull crap. Have I left anything out?

  29. I knew that as per the Muslim book of Quran, people who have knowledge are considered to be evil. The biggest enemy of Quran are the people who have knowledge. I recently found out that it’s the same with the Roman Catholics and all its branches. These people don’t want all to know the truth about health related matters or other topics of interest. The problem is, when a new group of educated elite comes to power, they do the same act again. The book of knowledge or the apple is the same thing. This is the main cause of the trouble.

  30. Mark Hollinsworth says:

    If you want to ne scientific about it, everyone needs to read this article:

    http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/aid/v6/n1/mt-ararat-wood

  31. ZeMadmax says:

    Mark:

    Looking for scientific facts in the Answers in Genesis website is like looking for party balloons at a funeral home.

  32. JS says:

    ‘The Evangelical bumper sticker of “The Bible says…I Believe it …and That Settles it” is as shallow as the atheist scientist’s shorthand of “Prove It”.’

    If requiring evidence for something is the same as the prior than you really are one confused fella scientist or no. An the majority of the atheists I met offer more than that although proving what you think is not a bad beginning.

  33. Shawn says:

    The arguments presented by author are lost upon many evangelicals, exactly as he would predict they would be. Thinking that every thing I need to know can be found in the bible is equivalent to saying that I don’t need (or want) to know very much about God’s creation. Give me my trite little Sunday school stories and nothing more. The amusing part is that the original texts of the bible would be so foreign to the english-only evangelical crowd, they would probably think they have stumbled across the Koran and toss it away. And do they have any idea that the bible itself was built by an arbitrary process. Many books that could have been included were not, those that did make it into it, such as Revelations, were very nearly not included. But do most evangelicals even know this? I didn’t think so.

  34. ken says:

    Has any evangalist ever tried to prove that the bible is all true by NOT quoting the bible?

  35. Taylor says:

    Oh my goodness are you people serious? Any sort of Judeo-Christian viewpoint contradicts the fact that NO ONE on the face of this planet can say with certainty how the Universe began. The Big Bang is the mathematically acceptable physical model for the Universe’s origin, but NO ONE can claim to know the answer to metaphysical questions like why the universe expanded from a singularity. To assume or purport that you have the answer to why and how the Universe was created (i.e. a Judeo-Christian god) is in itself anti-intellectual in that it precludes the need to actually figure these things out for ourselves.

    “Goddidit” may have worked for people in the 1500′s but now, respected science creates models and tests them. The idea of an “Evangelical scholar” is a farce. It is disgusting that hundreds of years since the “age of reason” has passed we have people arguing that Evangelicals are not anti-intellectuals.

    The very institution of religion is anti-intellectual because as I’ve stated before, it assumes that scientific inquiry in to interesting metaphysical questions is moot, as these types of questions can be answered by a God and scripture. That an evangelical person “believes” (how cute) evolution, does not nullify the fact that they believe in a host of other things that are complete rubbish. “Faith” is the opposite of rational inquiry, and it is the cornerstone of religious dogma.

    It is the 21st century and the world is faced with pressing issues that require our immediate dismissal of outdated world-views. That one needs religious doctrine to develop a moral compass is merely a failing of an individual or their family. Morality is achievable without any sort of religious motivation and often it is skewed by religion.

    As Einstein said so elegantly, “A human being is a part of the whole, called by us “Universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself his thoughts and feelings as some-thing separated from the rest – a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. The striving to free oneself from this delusion is the one issue of TRUE religion. Not to nourish the delusion but to try to overcome it is the way to reach the attainable measure of peace of mind.”

    The true value of any intellectual endeavor is to shed illusion — like a Judeo-Christian god meme — to truly try to discover the nature of your existence. This discovery requires that one shed age-old religious dogma and undertake true inquiry into their existence. Religion provides easy (albeit false) answers to the most difficult and fundamental questions and that is why it attracts so many people. I urge you that you can be a good person without religion, that you can self-actualize without all of the religious window-dressing. I also urge you that to progress as a species will require a shift from lazy “goddidit” type of thinking Evangelicals subscribe to.

  36. Steve Vowles says:

    From the last paragraphs of the OP

    The disconnect between lay evangelicals and scholars is a problem with tremendous consequences, both for politics and for the level of scientific literacy in America. The vast majority of evangelicals are lay people, and thus, their beliefs, and not those of their scholars, are what end up mattering politically. What the lay evangelical community believes about evolution or global warming impacts which GOP candidates will succeed (Jon Huntsman doomed his campaign by voicing his belief in science on both issues). It impacts how much support will exist in the House and Senate for legislation dealing with climate change. It impacts what local school boards will teach in public schools about human origins.

    It’s a problem, therefore, that affects every American.

    It’s not merely a problem for ‘every American’.
    It’s a problem for every organism on the planet. If America rejects science and the hard won knowledge of the world that, for instance, enables me to write this post, means that no-one will die a horrible death from smallpox or polio etcetera, et-bloody-cetera, then we’re all doomed: Christian, Muslim, Hindu, believer or atheist.

  37. Shawn says:

    I would imagine that if anything would deserve the name God, as creator of the universe, than this thing would be so complex that it would be impossible for humans to conceive of it – much in the way the human mind is unable to conceptualize higher dimensions or quantum mechanics etc.
    But this kind of God is of no use to the religious. They need a simple human-like god with which they can have a personal relationship. They need a god with human-like emotions and motivations who will make the promise of eternity in paradise after death.

    I used to think the childhood myth of Santa Claus might be useful in that it offers children the first opportunity to witness the power of evidence in differentiating between truth and non-truth. Unfortunately, nearly every last one of these people go on into adulthood still believing in their cartoon god. A remarkable phenomenon.

  38. Ray says:

    I love watching Christians knee-jerk at a simple option. The article is spot on. Predictable Christian commentary is nothing more than acts of self-incrimination. “I want to believe the unbelievable, but I don’t want anyone to think I’m stupid.” Seems to me that faith and insecurity collide when names like Francis Collins are mentioned. Grow up people. God is a silly fantasy.

  39. mel says:

    Ray, I hope you don’t mind but can I steal that line about “I want to believe the unbelievable, but I don’t want anyone to think I’m stupid”? Brilliant!

  40. Linda says:

    wow. all i can say, as i try to retrieve my jaw from my lap, is that i’m continually shocked by open displays of the scarcity of (and even contempt for) critical thinking. thank god for evolution, or we’d all be dumbed — i mean ‘doomed’

  41. Tom Garito says:

    Evolution or Creation???
    (used with permission)

    Reprinted here are excerpts of an interview by John Ankerberg with the late Dr. D. James Kennedy. It is a little dated but clearly shows in summary form the fact that the scientific evidence does not equal what the public schools are teaching. With more and more scientific discoveries, the case for special creation gets stronger every year. As noted by the last 11 pages of this handout more and more Ph.D’s and noted scientists are agreeing and speaking out.

    John Ankerberg: People for the American Way, in their book, Liberty and Justice for Some, ask the question, “Does Creationism have any scientific basis?” What was their answer? Their answer is, “None whatsoever!” Dr. Kennedy, as a Christian, “you have the audacity to come to the schools of America with nothing but a belief in the Bible and no scientific evidence to back it up,” according to the People for the American Way.

    Dr. D. James Kennedy: Well, it’s that kind of outrageous statement that indeed is very discouraging. I heard one of these people say that not only do we have no scientific facts or evidence, but also Creationists are not even scientists. They have just simply ruled them out of the courtroom altogether. Well, the fact is, that science was created by Creationists, which they seem to have forgotten! The founders of science, people like Francis Bacon, Roger Bacon; people that gave us the basis of science, like Sir Isaac Newton, were all Creationists: Joseph Lister gave us antiseptic surgery; Louis Pasteur gave us bacteriology; calculus from Isaac Newton; celestial mechanics from Johann Kepler, chemistry from Robert Boyle; comparative anatomy – - I’ll just go down the list – - computer science, dimensional analysis, dynamics, electro-magnetics, energetics, entomology, field theory, fluid mechanics, galactic astronomy, gas dynamics, genetics, glacial geology, gynecology, hydraulics, hydrography, hydrostatics. I’m only up to “H” right now, and on and on we could go. For them to say that Creationism is not science and Creationists are not scientists is ludicrous in the very highest degree!

    John Ankerberg: Okay, I think they would say that those people were back in the time period and they were Christians and in spite of their Christianity, they founded all those sciences, and “Now we have evolved in our thinking so that today, we are ready to banish the faith and hold onto the science.” What would you say to that?

    Dr. Kennedy: First of all, the vast majority of these people whose names I read lived after the publication of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species in 1859. So these people did not believe in Creation in ignorance of the Darwinian theory, they believed in Creation in spite of the supposed proposal of the Darwinian theory. There are literally thousands of scientists around the world today who do not believe in evolution. However “they” (People for the American Way) would like to say they are not scientists. If you want to define science to say that science is Evolution and scientists are Evolutionists…well, if you want to make that definition, then you can get rid of them.

    John Ankerberg: People for the American Way are on record in Scopes Revisited: Evolution vs. Biblical Creationism as saying that “they’re actively opposed to Creationist’s efforts to teach Creation Science in the nation’s public schools,” Evolutionary theory is really true science. And let me just read their quote. “A valid scientific theory relates a body of observations in a meaningful way” – - their hypothesis – - “It predicts new observations and then successfully incorporates them as they are made. Scientific theories frequently compete against each other for a time until one emerges because it does a better job of predicting and relating observations. But even the victor is continually scrutinized against new data and will most likely be modified or replaced in time with an even better explanation. Thus, a scientific theory is never proved, it is simply never disproved.” Now then Evolution fits that bill. “In contrast, Creationism as an explanation of origins is only this: It’s a conclusion and it’s not a theory and it’s only based on belief in the Bible as elaborated by theology.” Now, they’re saying therefore it needs to be discredited because you don’t have valid scientific theory backed up by observation. What do you think about that?

    Dr. Kennedy: Dr. Karl Popper, a Nobel Prize winner, said that, “Evolution is not a fact. Evolution doesn’t even qualify as a theory or as a hypothesis. It is a metaphysical research program,” and that “it is not really testable science.”
    The fact is that neither Creationism or Evolution is in the strict sense of the word a scientific theory. Science deals with that which is observable; that which is testable; that which is repeatable; that which is falsifiable and that which is tentative. Those are the five criteria of science. The fact of the matter is that neither Creation nor Evolution fits those criteria. The fact is what you have are two models. You have a model of Evolution and you have a model of Creation. Then you have a whole body of evidence, of data, the whole natural world — whatever we can observe that has taken place and is taking place in the natural world. And you can look at whatever is happening and you can decide, “Does this particular datum point more toward Evolution or does it point more toward the creation model?” Each of the models would predict certain things. For example, the Evolutionary model says that at one time there was nothing but inanimate matter, and then suddenly or somehow that life came about. They used to talk about “spontaneous generation.” Now they say they’ve proved that didn’t happen so now they have to project it into the past. They’re saying that inanimate matter does not become living today, but it did become living millions and millions of years ago. So notice what they’ve done. They have projected it into the untestable past. It always happens that way when you try to test something in Evolution -it always fails the test. Somebody said that Evolution is made up of tests that never proved out; of experiments that wouldn’t come off, and all sorts of other things like that; data that has never been found.

    John Ankerberg: There were no observers of the origin of the universe of life and we can’t repeat the original process.
    Dr. Kennedy: That’s right. There were no observers. It’s not repeatable. And you can’t test it in that way. Now, it’s interesting that you can take what we do know, and what we do know from say, the science of probability and the tremendous advances that have been going on in cytology, the science of the knowledge of the cell, with what we know about DNA. For example Francis Crick, who was an atheist, said that the chances of a DNA molecule coming into existence by chance are 10 with two billion zeros after it! Now, Emile Borel, the Nobel Prize winner…the world’s leading expert on probability, says, “If anything is 10 to the 50th power or less chance, it will never happen, even cosmically, in the whole universe.” It will never, ever happen! Ten to the 50th power. This is 10 to the 2 billionth zeros…not two billionth (power), but two billion zeros power! There’s no way you could possibly state what that number is. So therefore, it’s just impossible, so that points to Creation. In fact Sir Fred Hoyle of Cambridge, one of the world’s leading astronomers and mathematicians also examined the possibility of life coming into existence by chance. He concluded it was absolutely impossible, and therefore said, “The only way that life could have come into existence is because of some Super Intelligence having created it, and you may even” — said this atheist — “wish to call that Intelligence ‘God.’” He ran into enormous criticism from his Evolutionary colleagues over that, but he stood by his guns. It couldn’t happen any other way. In fact, it’s interesting that D.H. Watson, one Evolutionist, says that, “He has now come to realize that the possibilities of a cell coming into existence by chance,” which, by the way, most of you were told in school 10, 20, 30, 40 years ago is the way it happened, and they now know it’s impossible. “But,” said Watson, “If it comes to a choice between believing in a Creator and believing in a scientific” — not improbability, but “impossibility, he will believe the impossibility.” And that is supposed to be rational? If I said something like that as a Christian, why they’d ride me out of town on a rail!
    Take another piece of evidence. When Darwin came up with his theory, he said that it would be verified by the geological record, the fossil record. Huxley, Darwin’s bull dog, said, “The only ultimate evidence of Evolution will be found in the fossil record.” That was 125 years ago! Today, we know! The fossil record totally disproves Evolution. In fact, we have letters on hand from the curators of the leading museums in the world. The British Museum of Natural History. There you find that the curator, the senior paleontologist of that museum says that, “If he had one intermediate form to show, he would be glad to do it, but he doesn’t have any.” That’s Colin Patterson in the British museum. David Raup of the Field Museum of Natural History — “no intermediate forms”. Same thing is true of the American Museum of Natural History with N. Eldredge. The Peabody Museum. No intermediate forms! No intermediate forms! No intermediate forms! And yet, just 10 years ago I read a scientist who said, “100 million fossils in the museums of this world prove Evolution.” That is a lie! 100 million fossils in the museums of this world prove Evolution is false! They haven’t got one intermediate form.

    John Ankerberg: Colin Patterson, in a speech to the American Museum of Natural History at New York City on November 5, 1981, made this statement: “For over 20 years I thought I was working on Evolution…” He was an Evolutionist, but he said, “But there was not one thing I knew about it. So for the last few weeks I’ve tried putting a simple question to various people and groups of people.” Here’s his question: “Can you tell me anything you know about evolution, any one thing that is true? I tried that question on the geology staff at the Field Museum of Natural History and the only answer I got was silence. I tried it on the members of the Evolutionary Morphology Seminar in the University of Chicago, a very prestigious body of Evolutionists, and all I got there was silence for a long time, and eventually one person said, ‘Yes, I do know one thing. It ought to not be taught in high school.’ During the past few years, you have experienced a shift from Evolution as knowledge to Evolution as faith. Evolution not only conveys no knowledge, but seems somehow to convey anti-knowledge,” according to Colin Patterson.

    Dr. Kennedy: You know, John, that’s an incredible statement. That here students — tens of millions or hundreds of millions of students worldwide have been told that Evolution gives the true science, true knowledge. And now we have the senior paleontologist at the British Museum saying it conveys no knowledge but actually anti-knowledge. Pierre Grasse, who wrote the whole Encyclopedia of Zoology is probably the world’s leading Zoologist. He said, “Evolution is pseudo-science,” that is, not true science. Or Louis Bouroune, who wrote the article on Evolution for the L’ Encyclopedie Francais, the French equivalent to the Encyclopedia Britannica, said this…now , here’s the man chosen to write the article on Evolution for the Encyclopedia! He says, “Evolution is a fairy tale for grown-ups.”
    If you would like to dig a little deeper go to http://www.amazon.com and type in the words creation evolution in the search box. There you will find many up to date books with the latest scientific information from both sides of the debate.

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