Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Cosmos and the Megachurch

This post was made possible through the support of a grant from The BioLogos Foundation’s Evolution and Christian Faith program. The opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of BioLogos.

My suspicion grows apace with the slickness of a presentation. This is one reason I squirm in a megachurch. PowerPoint slides, emotion-tugging video clips during the pre-game show, music crafted to feel edgy and relevant—my skin crawls like I’m about to hear a sales pitch, which I guess I am, which maybe isn’t so bad for God-seekers who aren’t inveterate curmudgeons.

“Slick,” likewise, was my first response to Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Cosmos reboot, which evoked its own megachurch feeling, alternating sci-fi videography with fervent sermons about evolution. The risk in a new set of films from the BioLogos Foundation, which seeks to draw people into a conversation about the intersection of science and faith, is that they will spark exactly that, only one that marries the megachurch’s Jesus-Superbowl with the liberation theology that is evolution theory in the mouths of pop scientists like Tyson.

The danger, in short, is that the conversation is over before it begins, because participation requires one side to lay down their presuppositions, but allows the other to continue clutching theirs like a toddler his candy. [Read more...]

Living With Darwin

LivingWithDarwinThis post was made possible through the support of a grant from The BioLogos Foundation’s Evolution and Christian Faith program. The opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of BioLogos.

A few years ago, Philip Kitcher wrote a book called Living with Darwin: Evolution, Design, and the Future of Faith. Kitcher is a well-respected philosopher. He currently holds an appointment in the philosophy department at Columbia University.

Kitcher often writes about science, the scientific method, and more specifically about science and its clash with faith. He has dipped his toe, more than once, into the murky waters of creationism and the arguments around intelligent design.

[Read more...]

The Creationist Crisis Reprise

Sevbible2eral months ago I blogged about the Ken Ham Bill Nye debate at Liberty University. I hadn’t given the two much thought since then until last week when they both rose back into the media. My son’s Popular Science magazine arrived with Nye on the front, his fists wrapped like a boxer’s, and the title of the article about him: Nerd Fight! The same day, Ham hit the news as a butt of jokes for blogging that intelligent alien life cannot exist because, “the Bible makes it clear that Adam’s sin affected the whole universe. This means that any aliens would also be affected by Adam’s sin, but because they are not Adam’s descendants, they can’t have salvation… To suggest that aliens could respond to the gospel is just totally wrong.”

What struck me about the Ham kerfuffle is how this arises from the same place that his strict stance on young earth creationism does. At its core, this is not about the science; it is about hermeneutics.

[Read more...]

The New Truth Quashes Dissent

"Stützen der Gesellschaft"It’s comforting, in these confusing times, to know at least some truths are beyond dispute. We know they are beyond dispute because only repugnant people dispute them. These heretics question our sacred beliefs—each a product of recent revelation—about sexuality, gender, environment, and humanity’s origin. Their very dissent proves the heretics wrong—so wrong, in fact, that we needn’t acknowledge them.

Truth is established by the facts, after all, not by debate. Truth is science and science is facts and when enough scientists agree about what the facts mean, that ought to settle things.

The problem is that these dissenters, well, they keep dissenting. This frays the fabric of social consensus, which is dangerous.

Consider an example: When a member of our holy order exposed the sexism of late Nobel-prize physicist Richard Feynman, a blogger at Scientific American had the temerity to “place things in context.” Context is a classic dodge, intended to blunt the superior moral gaze with which we pierce time. The blogger noted that Feynman’s behavior was commonplace in the 1950s, making it unjust to single him out. [Read more...]

Eiseley, Darwin, and the Weird Portentous

Loren EiseleyLoren Eiseley was born in 1907. He died in 1977. For many years and until his death, he was the Benjamin Franklin Professor of Anthropology and History of Science at the University of Pennsylvania. A scientist, he was particularly interested in the study of the origins of human kind.

Eiseley was also a writer and a poet. He was a dreamer and something of a philosopher, too. Some called him a freak. Ray Bradbury once said of Eiseley that he was, “every writer’s writer and every human’s human.”

The poet W. H. Auden was a great admirer of Eiseley. Auden wrote the introduction to a collection of Eiseley’s writings called The Star Thrower. In that introduction Auden, like Bradbury, brought up the fact of Eiseley’s being a “human’s human.”

“Dr. Eiseley,” Auden wrote, “happens to be an archeologist, an anthropologist, and a naturalist, but, if I have understood him rightly, the first point he wishes to make is that in order to be a scientist, an artist, a doctor, a lawyer, or what-have-you, one has first to be a human being.” [Read more...]


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