The Evangelical Rejection of Reason – NYTimes.com

This is getting all the buzz this morning:

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.

via The Evangelical Rejection of Reason – NYTimes.com.

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  • C. Ehrlich

    The author portrays the divide too sharply. Many of the intellectuals within the evangelical world (those who should know better) share in the sins of the fundamentalists, even supporting them.

  • David

    I have quite a bit of respect for BioLogos, but this essay isn’t a terribly well-written (designed?) piece.

    For one, his points are all over. The “anti-intellectual Evangelical voter” article is such a cliche arugement, the same article is written every 2-4 years. We saw it in late 2008, 2004, and 2000, and 1994. You can replace “Perry” and “Bachmann” with “Bush” or even “Regean” if you desire.

    Even then, for three paragraphs they go on a tangent that is neither new nor does it connect with the previous three. With Bachmann and Perry, the two candidates who most reference the three people chronicled (albeit with a guilt-by-assoication that rivals the Obama/Wright fear), falling into single digits in the polls — maybe their views of the Evangelical and their voters are a bit askew.

    Also not mentioned is that Dobson has left Focus on the Family, and is currently broadcasting from a much-smaller venue as FOTF scales back considerably on the political jargon. Meanwhile the celebration of bit players in evangelicalism (such as David Barton and BioLogos’ rival Ken Ham) is unfair and, frankly, an insult to reason.

    I agree that Evangelicals need a better view of politics, and honestly I don’t see David Barton being terribly helpful in the conversation (nor a wealth of left-leaning evangelicals, to be honest). But neither is this article’s use of shaming by cherry-picking evidences. That’s not a good use reason, either.

  • http://workingonmyrewrite.blogspot.com/ bob c

    I thought the NYT oped piece squandered the opportunity for a much deeper and complex analysis

    sadly, I love the NYT – but it seems almost fundamentally unable to understand faith and practice. other than (1) demonizing evangelicals and (2) reporting sexual politics

  • Patrick

    Oh those ca-raaaazy religious people! The believe in something no one can prove, but don’t believe man is warming the climate! And we all know this climate is the right one. Any changes must be man-made and wrong because, well, its just so obvious! (They probably didn’t believe it when we all knew the earth was cooling, either.) Those idiots probably didn’t believe in Y2K, acid rain, the hole in the ozone, Malthus or that the world was flat. No wonder they cling to their guns and their God. They are soooooo ignorant.

  • Antonio

    Tony your own ignorance makes you call others ignorant. Off course evolution is an unproven theory; not believing in evolution doesn’t make you unsupportive of science any more than not believing in the pope makes you an atheist. (review your structure of logical thought). From the positivist point of view the only way to definitively prove such a theory would be to gather enough observable evidence to make it uncontradictable, that hasn’t happened yet. You may think evolution is the most likely way life originated, that doesn’t’ mean it’s a proven theory.
    Nowadays’ Science includes a much broader spectrum of ideas than linear thought might consider and you seem to be anchored in 19th century science by believing that there are certain things science has concluded are Positively True. Well, that’s false! Did you happen to hear that light may not be the fastest thing in the universe? Such a discovery that was just released some weeks ago will overturn almost all our understanding on how the universe works. What guarantees that tomorrow there won’t be a more logical theory that takes evolution’s place?
    There are many theories on the origin of the universe and a true scientist won’t close his ears to objections on his beliefs. By the way, having beliefs is as far as we can get when dealing with such a tremendous event we didn’t witness. Humbleness is necessary for today’s scientists, we simply can’t be absolutely certain about events taking place in our current world, much less can we be certain about things that occurred back then. The evidence we have may lead us towards certain directions so that we may choose to believe certain things. The foolishness in some scientists makes them believe they have the universe figured out and that anyone who doesn’t comply with their terms is rejecting reason.
    New science recognizes the limitations inherent to man and accepts that complexity in the universe is way out of our control. In that context, tagging people as “science haters” because they don’t believe in evolution is simply put: stupid.
    Evangelicals believe what they have chosen to on a subject there is nothing else to do but believing. We believe an intelligent and powerful being designed us and everything else in the universe, we don’t believe we came to be by chance. If you believe you were caused by a mere explosion that’s ok with me, I find your point of view demeaning of human significance, you may want to believe you’re an accident, that’s ok with me, I believe we humans are born with a purpose. We think different, that’s ok with me. But be humble to respect others, especially if you know the differences aren’t based on proven things.
    The fact that voters want to trust on someone who thinks the same way they do, What’s the problem, I’m sure you too!

  • Pingback: Does It Really Say That?()

  • antonio

    @antoniojcordero That’s me, I believe Bible and science are not enemies, I wrote the last post.

  • Patrick

    A quick update:

    The Post-Global Warming World
    Moving on from climate virtue.
    Wall Street Journal, Oct. 25, 2011

    The United Nations will convene its 17th annual climate-change conference next month in Durban, South Africa, with the purpose of sealing a new carbon-cutting deal to succeed the soon-to-expire 1997 Kyoto Protocol. It promises to be a historic event, if not in the way the organizers might hope.

    The chances that a global deal on carbon would ever be reached were always slim, a point brought home by the collapse of the comic 2009 Copenhagen summit. But obituaries are sometimes late to print. Now, at last, the U.S., Russia and Japan have all said they won’t agree to any new binding carbon pact, while India and China were never believers in the first place.

    That leaves the European Union, which until last month was “the only one still considering signing up in some fashion to a second commitment period,” according to Todd Stern, the Obama Administration’s climate negotiator. Even that’s no longer true. Last week, EU Climate Action Director General Jos Delbeke told reporters that “in reality what may happen is that the Europeans will pronounce themselves politically in favor of the Kyoto Protocol” but won’t lock themselves into any new anticarbon pacts unless “other parties join the club.” Regarding that likelihood, see above.

    That isn’t the only reality check Europe is facing on the carbon front. In an internal memo first reported last week by Dow Jones Newswires, the European Commission’s energy department observed that “there is a trade-off between climate-change policies and competitiveness.” By the EU’s own estimate, the cost of meeting its current carbon emissions targets—a cut of at least 20% of 1990 emissions levels by 2020—comes to at least €48 billion ($67 billion) per year.

    For a closer look at the price Europeans pay for their carbon virtue, consider Tata, Europe’s second-largest steelmaker. Last month the company warned that “EU carbon legislation threatens to impose huge additional costs on the steel industry,” citing this as one reason to close some of its U.K. operations and possibly cut some 1,200 jobs. Yet under the terms of Europe’s cap-and-trade scheme, Tata could be paid at least €20 million this year and next for those closures and layoffs.

    Europe also seems to be getting wiser, if not yet wise, to the prohibitive costs of being green. In Britain, the government of David Cameron—which entered office last year promising to be the country’s “greenest government ever”—has scrapped plans for a carbon-capture-and-storage plant in Scotland, which was set to bust its £1 billion budget. “If there was a completely unlimited resource then we may have been able to surmount the technical problems,” Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne told the BBC.

    Then there are those “technical problems.” The process of capturing and compressing CO2 is energy-intensive. Storing the carbon once it’s been sequestered is another issue. In Germany, a 30-megawatt carbon-capture pilot plant has been in operation since 2008. Yet plant-operator Vattenfall must truck the sequestered CO2 more than 150 kilometers daily to store it in the nearest suitable locale. The company also recently suspended its plans for large-scale carbon capture and storage at Janschwalde in Germany. Environmental groups oppose putting carbon underground because they fear living above huge carbon sinks.

    And so it goes with every technology that claims to promise greenhouse-gas salvation. Wind power may emit zero carbon, but windmills need up to 90% of their capacity backed up to prevent blackouts—usually with coal and gas plants. Windmills also kill a lot of birds. As for solar power, a new study from the University of Tennessee and Occupational Knowledge International finds that manufacturing the necessary lead batteries threatens to release more than 2.4 million tons of lead pollution by 2022, or one-third of today’s total global lead production.

    The science on climate change and man’s influence on it is far from settled. The question today is whether it makes sense to combat a potential climate threat by imposing economically destructive regulations and sinking billions into failure-prone technologies that have their own environmental costs. The earnest people going to Durban next month may think so. The rest of the world is wearier and wiser.

    • Scot Miller

      It’s interesting that the article you quote from the Wall Street Journal emphasizes the economic issues countries face in trying to confront “global warming,” but not the actual scientific arguments which establish the causal relationship between human beings and climate change. It’s just the last paragraph that makes the unsupported claim that “The science on climate change and man’s influence on it is far from settled.” Where did that come from?

      The issues of (a) whether climate change is occurring, and (b) whether human actions contribute to climate change are empirical/scientific issues. The economic problems raised by the article are irrelevant to the empirical issues. In other words, even if the article is correct in its judgment about “economically destructive regulations” and “failure-prone technologies that have their own environmental costs,” it is most likely still true that climate change is real and human beings accelerate climate change by their actions, which is what the vast majority of scientists conclude from the evidence.


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