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Evangelical Rejection Of Reason And Science


Robert F. Smith

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Karl W. Giberson, and Randall J. Stephens, "The Evangelical Rejection of Reason," New York Times, Oct 18, 2011, http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/18/opinion/the-evangelical-rejection-of-reason.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=tha212

THE Republican presidential field has become a showcase of evangelical anti-intellectualism. Herman Cain, Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann deny that climate change is real and caused by humans. Mr. Perry and Mrs. Bachmann dismiss evolution as an unproven theory. The two candidates who espouse the greatest support for science, Mitt Romney and Jon M. Huntsman Jr., happen to be Mormons, a faith regarded with mistrust by many Christians.

The rejection of science seems to be part of a politically monolithic red-state fundamentalism, textbook evidence of an unyielding ignorance on the part of the religious. As one fundamentalist slogan puts it, “The Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it.” But evangelical Christianity need not be defined by the simplistic theology, cultural isolationism and stubborn anti-intellectualism that most of the Republican candidates have embraced.

Like other evangelicals, we accept the centrality of faith in Jesus Christ and look to the Bible as our sacred book, though we find it hard to recognize our religious tradition in the mainstream evangelical conversation. Evangelicalism at its best seeks a biblically grounded expression of Christianity that is intellectually engaged, humble and forward-looking. In contrast, fundamentalism is literalistic, overconfident and reactionary.

Fundamentalism appeals to evangelicals who have become convinced that their country has been overrun by a vast secular conspiracy; denial is the simplest and most attractive response to change. They have been scarred by the elimination of prayer in schools; the removal of nativity scenes from public places; the increasing legitimacy of abortion and homosexuality; the persistence of pornography and drug abuse; and acceptance of other religions and of atheism.

In response, many evangelicals created what amounts to a “parallel culture,” nurtured by church, Sunday school, summer camps and colleges, as well as publishing houses, broadcasting networks, music festivals and counseling groups. Among evangelical leaders, Ken Ham, David Barton and James C. Dobson have been particularly effective orchestrators — and beneficiaries — of this subculture.

Mr. Ham built his organization, Answers in Genesis, on the premise that biblical truth trumps all other knowledge. His Creation Museum, in Petersburg, Ky., contrasts “God’s Word,” timeless and eternal, with the fleeting notions of “human reason.” This is how he knows that the earth is 10,000 years old, that humans and dinosaurs lived together, and that women are subordinate to men. Evangelicals who disagree, like Francis S. Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health, are excoriated on the group’s Web site. (In a recent blog post, Mr. Ham called us “wolves” in sheep’s clothing, masquerading as Christians while secretly trying to destroy faith in the Bible.)

Mr. Barton heads an organization called WallBuilders, dedicated to the proposition that the founders were evangelicals who intended America to be a Christian nation. He has emerged as a highly influential Republican leader, a favorite of Mr. Perry, Mrs. Bachmann and members of the Tea Party. Though his education consists of a B.A. in religious education from Oral Roberts University and his scholarly blunders have drawn criticism from evangelical historians like John Fea, Mr. Barton has seen his version of history reflected in everything from the Republican Party platform to the social science curriculum in Texas.

Mr. Dobson, through his group Focus on the Family, has insisted for decades that homosexuality is a choice and that gay people could “pray away” their unnatural and sinful orientation. A defender of spanking children and of traditional roles for the sexes, he has accused the American Psychological Association, which in 2000 disavowed reparative therapy to “cure” homosexuality, of caving in to gay pressure.

Charismatic leaders like these project a winsome personal testimony as brothers in Christ. Their audiences number in the tens of millions. They pepper their presentations with so many Bible verses that their messages appear to be straight out of Scripture; to many, they seem like prophets, anointed by God.

But in fact their rejection of knowledge amounts to what the evangelical historian Mark A. Noll, in his 1994 book, “The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind,” described as an “intellectual disaster.” He called on evangelicals to repent for their neglect of the mind, decrying the abandonment of the intellectual heritage of the Protestant Reformation. “The scandal of the evangelical mind,” he wrote, “is that there is not much of an evangelical mind.”

There are signs of change. Within the evangelical world, tensions have emerged between those who deny secular knowledge, and those who have kept up with it and integrated it with their faith. Almost all evangelical colleges employ faculty members with degrees from major research universities — a conduit for knowledge from the larger world. We find students arriving on campus tired of the culture-war approach to faith in which they were raised, and more interested in promoting social justice than opposing gay marriage.

Scholars like Dr. Collins and Mr. Noll, and publications like Books & Culture, Sojourners and The Christian Century, offer an alternative to the self-anointed leaders. They recognize that the Bible does not condemn evolution and says next to nothing about gay marriage. They understand that Christian theology can incorporate Darwin’s insights and flourish in a pluralistic society.

Americans have always trusted in God, and even today atheism is little more than a quiet voice on the margins. Faith, working calmly in the lives of Americans from George Washington to Barack Obama, has motivated some of America’s finest moments. But when the faith of so many Americans becomes an occasion to embrace discredited, ridiculous and even dangerous ideas, we must not be afraid to speak out, even if it means criticizing fellow Christians.

Karl W. Giberson is a former professor of physics, and Randall J. Stephens is an associate professor of history, both at Eastern Nazarene College. They are the authors of “The Anointed: Evangelical Truth in a Secular Age.”

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Americans have always trusted in God, and even today atheism is little more than a quiet voice on the margins. Faith, working calmly in the lives of Americans from George Washington to Barack Obama, has motivated some of America’s finest moments. But when the faith of so many Americans becomes an occasion to embrace discredited, ridiculous and even dangerous ideas, we must not be afraid to speak out, even if it means criticizing fellow Christians.
It is unfortunate but true. More than one voice of faith needs to be heard, especially if that one voice spends an inordinate amount of its time speaking for not just criticizing pretty much anyone who disagrees with them, but condemning them.
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THE Republican presidential field has become a showcase of evangelical anti-intellectualism. Herman Cain, Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann deny that climate change is real and caused by humans. Mr. Perry and Mrs. Bachmann dismiss evolution as an unproven theory. The two candidates who espouse the greatest support for science, Mitt Romney and Jon M. Huntsman Jr., happen to be Mormons, a faith regarded with mistrust by many Christians.

I generally agree with the sentiment, but the science shows that AGW is false so far.

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Karl W. Giberson, and Randall J. Stephens, "The Evangelical Rejection of Reason," New York Times, Oct 18, 2011

THE Republican presidential field has become a showcase of evangelical anti-intellectualism. Herman Cain, Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann deny that climate change is real and caused by humans. Mr. Perry and Mrs. Bachmann dismiss evolution as an unproven theory. The two candidates who espouse the greatest support for science, Mitt Romney and Jon M. Huntsman Jr., happen to be Mormons, a faith regarded with mistrust by many Christians.

The rejection of science seems to be part of a politically monolithic red-state fundamentalism, textbook evidence of an unyielding ignorance on the part of the religious. As one fundamentalist slogan puts it, “The Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it.” But evangelical Christianity need not be defined by the simplistic theology, cultural isolationism and stubborn anti-intellectualism that most of the Republican candidates have embraced.

Like other evangelicals, we accept the centrality of faith in Jesus Christ and look to the Bible as our sacred book, though we find it hard to recognize our religious tradition in the mainstream evangelical conversation. Evangelicalism at its best seeks a biblically grounded expression of Christianity that is intellectually engaged, humble and forward-looking. In contrast, fundamentalism is literalistic, overconfident and reactionary.

Fundamentalism appeals to evangelicals who have become convinced that their country has been overrun by a vast secular conspiracy; denial is the simplest and most attractive response to change. They have been scarred by the elimination of prayer in schools; the removal of nativity scenes from public places; the increasing legitimacy of abortion and homosexuality; the persistence of pornography and drug abuse; and acceptance of other religions and of atheism.

The irony is... its these same types who abuse science (such as archeology) to bolster their faith and at the same time to bludgen others with whom they do not agree with.

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CFR that "science shows that AGW is false."

Try this one for a start...

Correlation Between Temperatures and CO2

(A Shot in the foot by the IPCC and UNEP)

by Eduardo Ferreyra

President of FAEC

Argentinean Foundation for a Scientific Ecology

Very Short Conclusion

1. Correlation between CO2 and global temperatures is clear – but only in some part of the world's climatic history – and the attribution of "cause and effect" was done backwards: temperatures seem to drive CO2 levels, and not the opposite as the IPCC and the "warmers" claim.

2. Correlation between solar cycles and temperatures on Earth have been proved beyond any doubt.

3. The trend toward warming is driven by another cause, and not by atmospheric CO2 levels, since carbon dioxide levels rose uniformely during 30 years between the years 1947-1977, mean global temperatures went their own course, totally ignoring carbon dioxide levels.

4. All this nonsense of man-made global warming through CO2 emissions are based in a huge amount of unknowns, ambiguities and uncertainties found in the so called General Circulation Models (GCM), an issue too well known as to be treated here. However, if you have an inquiring mind, or still have some doubts about their validity and usefulness, please read the excellent scientific paper by Dr. Willie Soon, Sallie Baliunas, Sherwood W. Idso, Kirill Ya. Kondriatev, and Eric Postmentier, “Modeling climatic effects of anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions: unknowns and uncertainties,”.

http://www.mitosyfra...correlaEng.html

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Try this one for a start...

http://www.mitosyfra...correlaEng.html

Conjuring with statistical outlyers won't support your thesis. Virtually the entire worldwide scientific community supports the claim that global warming is certain, significant, human-caused, and that it will bring catastrophe in its wake . http://steadystaterevolution.org/climate-change-v-global-warming/ . Of course I won't be around on planet Earth to experience the debacle, but some of you younger folks will, and some of you will very much regret your blind belief in and support for junk science.

Hey, for all we know, it will be part of the apocalyptic end times. Perhaps some will justify it on that account, but it will still be an example of failure to obey God's command to be good steward's of this Earth, a commandment which began in the Garden of Eden.

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Zakuska:

<snip>

OK so I enjoyed your Wizard of Oz Video. Call me dense... but I didn't see how it was any clearer. Yes the tilting of the earths axis is the cause of the warming and cooling cycles. More snow means more reflexion of heat and light. Etc. The warmer it gets the more greenhouse gasses are released. And they are saying that us releasing CO2 in such great quantities is amplifying the effect.

However... The final leap I'm having trouble connecting.

How does this equate to Humans causing GW? Yes, we are amplifying the CO2 and green house gases, but does that translate out to Humans are going to tip the scales, cause the earth to fall off its axis and catipult itself into the sun as AGW proponents would have us believe? </endhyperbole> </endsarcasm>

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But when the faith of so many Americans becomes an occasion to embrace discredited, ridiculous and even dangerous ideas,

Call them silly, if you want, but what is it, in these beliefs, that you would consider, "dangerous"?

Best,

T-Shirt

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Zakuska:

Without the input of man the earth naturally goes through cycles of warming and cooling in approxiamamtely 40, 000 year intervals(at least it has for the last 3 millions of years). Declination, progression, etc., all have their effect. It has been proven that CO2 traps heat. The earth with too little CO2 would be a Mars, and with too much we'd be a Venus. How much is too much? No one is absolutely sure, but there does seem to be markers(Titlting Points) that indicate that Global Warming is occuring, and if unchecked will lead to further increases in CO2 concentrations. It is indesputable that CO2 levels have increased dramatically since the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution 200 years ago. Even a one degree rise in temperature has a profound effect on the earth natural systems including those for life processes. Remember that the temperature difference between ice, and liquid water is just one degree. I'm sure you also see that further increases in CO2 will has disasterous consequences for vast populations of earths inhabitants.

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Zakuska:

Without the input of man the earth naturally goes through cycles of warming and cooling in approxiamamtely 40, 000 year intervals(at least it has for the last 3 millions of years). Declination, progression, etc., all have their effect. It has been proven that CO2 traps heat. The earth with too little CO2 would be a Mars, and with too much we'd be a Venus. How much is too much? No one is absolutely sure, but there does seem to be markers(Titlting Points) that indicate that Global Warming is occuring, and if unchecked will lead to further increases in CO2 concentrations. It is indesputable that CO2 levels have increased dramatically since the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution 200 years ago. Even a one degree rise in temperature has a profound effect on the earth natural systems including those for life processes. Remember that the temperature difference between ice, and liquid water is just one degree. I'm sure you also see that further increases in CO2 will has disasterous consequences for vast populations of earths inhabitants.

The ones I see with the biggest problems are those in costal cities. I would argue that the most AGW proponents could honestly say is man is speeding up the current cycle. But what you seem to be saying is that man is some how going to tip the cycle past the tipping point and we are going to end up a Mars or Venus. It would take much more than raising the temperature 1 degree to end up in that state.

The thread will be closed if it degenerates into politicized positions.

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Rather than arguing about specifics, how about we just agree on a general principle that it is not only wise, but obedient to the Lord's commandment to not abuse the Earth or its inhabitants for selfish purposes. If we are to be so respectful to the purity of our bodies as to avoid tattoos and excessive piercing, then it seems to me we should apply the same principle to the earth, promoting not only that which is a 'natural beauty' but also keeping it clean by minimizing all forms of pollution, including excessive CO2 production.

Would it not be wonderful if we treated the entire earth with the same level of consideration, respect and even reverence that we hold for the temple and its grounds?

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Rather than arguing about specifics, how about we just agree on a general principle that it is not only wise, but obedient to the Lord's commandment to not abuse the Earth or its inhabitants for selfish purposes. If we are to be so respectful to the purity of our bodies as to avoid tattoos and excessive piercing, then it seems to me we should apply the same principle to the earth, promoting not only that which is a 'natural beauty' but also keeping it clean by minimizing all forms of pollution, including excessive CO2 production.

Would it not be wonderful if we treated the entire earth with the same level of consideration, respect and even reverence that we hold for the temple and its grounds?

I completely agree there Cal.

But there is also an up side to the abundance of CO2 that I think people are ignoring. The more CO2 in the air this time around could mean much denser plant growth the next time around? I mean... whats going to fuel the Garden of Eden spontanious growth which is shortly to come?

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I generally agree with the sentiment, but the science shows that AGW is false so far.
CFR that "science shows that AGW is false."

For example:

http://press.web.cer...ing_29JUL11.pdf

What has CLOUD discovered and why is it important for our understanding of climate?

There are several

important discoveries from CLOUD. Firstly, we have shown that the most likely nucleating vapours, sulphuric

acid and ammonia, cannot account for nucleation that is observed in the lower atmosphere. The nucleation

observed in the chamber occurs at only one‐tenth to one‐thousandth of the rate observed in the lower

atmosphere. Based on the first results from CLOUD, it is clear that the treatment of aerosol formation in

climate models will need to be substantially revised, since all models assume that nucleation is caused by

these vapours and water alone. It is now urgent to identify the additional nucleating vapours, and whether

their sources are mainly natural or from human activities.

Secondly, we have found that natural rates of atmospheric ionisation caused by cosmic rays can substantially

enhance nucleation under the conditions we studied –by up to a factor of 10. Ion‐enhancement is particularly

pronounced in the cool temperatures of the mid‐troposphere and above, where CLOUD has found that

sulphuric acid and water vapour can nucleate without the need for additional vapours. This result leaves open

the possibility that cosmic rays could also influence climate. However, it is premature to conclude that cosmic

rays have a significant influence on climate until the additional nucleating vapours have been identified, their

ion enhancement measured, and the ultimate effects on clouds have been confirmed.

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Would it not be wonderful if we treated the entire earth with the same level of consideration, respect and even reverence that we hold for the temple and its grounds?

Not unless you're willing to sow wheat and plant beets onTemple Square.

The Earth is the Lord's and the fulness thereof. He gave it to us to use (which does not mean abuse), and treating it all in the same manner, whether like the Temple gounds or a farm field, is not respecting our stewardship.

Lehi

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hen it seems to me we should apply the same principle to the earth, promoting not only that which is a 'natural beauty' but also keeping it clean by minimizing all forms of pollution, including excessive CO2 production.

Not if such is based on irrationality rather than science.

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Like other evangelicals, we accept the centrality of faith in Jesus Christ and look to the Bible as our sacred book, though we find it hard to recognize our religious tradition in the mainstream evangelical conversation. Evangelicalism at its best seeks a biblically grounded expression of Christianity that is intellectually engaged, humble and forward-looking. In contrast, fundamentalism is literalistic, overconfident and reactionary.

Fundamentalism appeals to evangelicals who have become convinced that their country has been overrun by a vast secular conspiracy; denial is the simplest and most attractive response to change. They have been scarred by the elimination of prayer in schools; the removal of nativity scenes from public places; the increasing legitimacy of abortion and homosexuality; the persistence of pornography and drug abuse; and acceptance of other religions and of atheism.

In response, many evangelicals created what amounts to a “parallel culture,” nurtured by church, Sunday school, summer camps and colleges, as well as publishing houses, broadcasting networks, music festivals and counseling groups. Among evangelical leaders, Ken Ham, David Barton and James C. Dobson have been particularly effective orchestrators — and beneficiaries — of this subculture.

I think it's very important to make the distinction between mainstream evangelicals and their fundamentalist counterparts. I'm happy that the author of this article highlights this issue. I might also add that evangelicals and Latter-day Saints have a great deal to learn from one another, as illustrated through the work of individuals such as Robert Millet, Richard Mouw, Stephen Robinson, Craig Blomberg, Roger Keller, and Greg Johnson.

A short time ago I listened to a sermon given in Idaho Falls to a Methodist congregation on Latter-day Saint/Evangelical interactions. Though the pastor (himself a former Mormon) ultimately disagreed with common Mormon understandings of grace, he was respectful and charitable in his treatment of Mormonism, and even issued a call to his congregation to follow the command in 2 Ne. 25:23, to "labor diligently...to persuade our children and also our brethren, to believe in Christ and be reconciled to God..." He also had an interesting take on the final portion of what it means to be saved by grace "after all we can do." He essentially made an appeal to the great Lutheran theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer's concept of "costly grace."

Grace, according to the pastor:

"is one that includes a call to discipleship and a lifetime of commitment, dedication, and a willingness to follow Him and His commandments through faith."

He pointed out (accurately I might add) that fundamentalism, more often than not, promotes a type of "cheap grace." It's the preaching of forgiveness without true repentance, claimed salvation with no baptism, and communion without confession. It is the idea that "of course you have sinned, but now everything is forgiven, so you can stay as you are and enjoy the consolations of forgiveness."

It is alarming to me that so many former Mormons who go on to embrace fundamentalist Protestantism actually end up thinking this way.

I have a family member who in the past few weeks, has embraced fundamentalist Protestantism with vigor. Having formally removed himself from the records of the Church nearly two years ago (after a decade of total inactivity), it came as a surprise to me. That fundamentalists have no real place for reason beyond "what the Bible says" is unnerving. I understand the view that science and religion cannot be reconciled (I disagree with it), but a complete rejection of science...even observable science, is beyond me.

Fundamentalists have turned real science into a war of polemics. I'm glad to see evangelicals like Dr. Giberson standing up for reason and faith.

Here's to you Dr. Giberson!

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Not unless you're willing to sow wheat and plant beets onTemple Square.

The Earth is the Lord's and the fulness thereof. He gave it to us to use (which does not mean abuse), and treating it all in the same manner, whether like the Temple gounds or a farm field, is not respecting our stewardship.

Lehi

Treating with respect, consideration and reverence does not mean identical treatment anymore than treating one's kids with love means treating them identically.
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Not if such is based on irrationality rather than science.

Unless you are assuming that the treatment of the temple and instructions of how to reverence our bodies is based on irrationality, I don't see how you are getting this possibility out of my post.
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