Maybe Evangelicals Aren’t Anti-Science Dummies

Maybe Evangelicals Aren’t Anti-Science Dummies October 19, 2011

At First Things, Joe Carter fires back at yesterday’s NYTimes Op-Ed:

Evangelicals who take an interest in the life of the mind inevitably encounter two types of fundamentalists. Although the two types are similar, they are easy to distinguish. Both types believe that their views of the scripture, creation, and/or history are the only legitimate interpretations and condemn anyone who disagrees with them and their preferred “experts.” But the first type filters their beliefs through the KJV while the second type filters their beliefs through the NYT.

Karl W. Giberson and Randall J. Stephens are the second type of fundamentalists. Yesterday, they published an embarrassingly simple-minded op-ed in the New York Times decrying the “simplistic theology, cultural isolationism and stubborn anti-intellectualism” of evangelicals who hold beliefs that differ from their own. It was the type of sophomoric, bias-confirming piece that no reputable publication would touch. Naturally, it was a hit with Times readers.

via A Different Type of Fundamentalist » First Thoughts | A First Things Blog.

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

TRENDING AT PATHEOS Progressive Christian
What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Peter A

    Found some of those “dummies”:

    Church HIV prayer cure claims ’cause three deaths’
    “At least three people in London with HIV have died after they stopped taking life saving drugs on the advice of their Evangelical Christian pastors.”

  • Fred Clark

    Carter says evangelicals should “think for themselves” about whether evolution is true, whether climate change is real, whether “the founders were evangelicals who intended America to be a Christian nation,” and whether “reparative therapy can ‘cure’ homosexuality.”

    Carter, in other words, regards these questions of fact as mere questions of opinion. He is arguing that everyone is entitled to their own opinions and also to their own facts.

    Far from refuting the “rejection of reason” Giberson and Stephens diagnose, Carter exemplifies it.

  • “Beware of basing your exegesis on the latest scientific theory.”

    They aren’t hard to find.

    So maybe evangelicals largely are …

  • C. Ehrlich

    Joe Carter too often plays the role of a cheerleading reactionary, a pseudo-intellectual who gives evangelicalism a bad name. While intelligent non-evangelicals readily identify him for what he is, he feeds the misplaced arrogance of those evangelicals who listen to him. This increases the cultural divide. The irony is that he is often responsible for the very disrespect and disenfranchisement he rails against.

  • Patrick O

    Yarhouse has been at Fuller Seminary this week talking about issues of sexual identity. When asked about his study about reparative therapy, he said the results were mixed and that overall it was the kind of study that would make both sides angry. Basically, it boils down to sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t work. He also noted that his approach to therapy respects the goals of the person involved, and that he would rather talk with his clients about forming a cohesive identity, which can be formed according to many different scripts. I’m noting this because Yarhouse is significantly more nuanced and ‘third-way’ than the article implies.

    What’s also interesting to me is that Carter’s main point, that fundamentalists exist on both sides, is certainly true. And you can always spot them by the broad brush they use in tarring their opponents, wanting to make sure the ‘other’ seems as stupid and malicious as possible, while ‘our’ side is the sophisticated thinking branch of humanity.

  • two observation:

    there may not be Evangelicals Aren’t Anti-Science Dummies – but those that are sure as hell talk with pollsters a lot

    C. Ehrlich is spot on about Joe Carter

  • Beau

    I don’t necessarily disagree with Mr. Carter. But there’s no way to respond to these kinds of things without sounding like Fredo in The Godfather II.

    “I’m smaht! Not like everybody says!”

    I don’t know. Something, something, turn the other cheek . . .

  • Scientist use to think that nothing could travel faster than the speed of light.

    What a bunch of goons.

    Go Evangelicals! YEAH!

    • Curtis

      No. Scientists don’t “think” anything. They follow a clearly defined scientific method and state the results.

      That nothing can travel faster than the speed of light has been a commonly accepted theory about light that has held up under many experiments. Lately there was one experiment that indicated something may exceed the speed of light. Scientists are now earnestly trying to replicate the experiment to learn more. It is never about what anyone “thinks”. It is about what can be demonstrated with following a scientific method.

      New discoveries are made and theories change as a result. But nobody “thinks” anything.

      • Chris

        You must be joking. What on earth do you mean by “thinking?”

        Do scientists at times not make extrapolational leaps? Do they not operate under certain presuppositions? When they propose theories do they not make certain unproven (or unprovable) assumptions based on the evidence? Scientists are not the coldly rational computers that you imply. They are humans just like everyone else, and just like all humans they have their biases. Why else would there be categories like philosophy of science?

        • Toby

          “When they propose theories do they not make certain unproven (or unprovable) assumptions based on the evidence?”

          I think you misunderstand Curtis’ statement- scientists as a whole obviously do have personal assumptions, but in a professional capacity there is no room for personal belief (unlike in the professional capacity of those involved in the humanities- religious leaders in particular- where personal and professional beliefs are deeply entwined.) Scientific theories, by definition, MUST be falsifiable, but academics in the humanities will often use “theory” when speaking of personal interpretations of their area of study; which is subjective.

          Though a scientist may personally believe that nothing moves faster than the speed of light, in a professional capacity, that scientist is only operating on that premise until other evidence is presented and independently verified. Though to a layman, it may seem that scientists cling steadfastly to certain dogma (in the same way a religious fundamentalist does) within the scientific community theories are treated as fact until the preponderance of evidence proves otherwise, which can take a great deal of time.

          • Patrick

            All this is great until scientists tell me to stop buying houses and large cars in 2009 or it will be too late for the environment.

            I also don’t believe that the vast amount of grant money available to those who support global coolin…. I mean global warm… I mean climate change has no impact. If you believe money causes people on Wall Street to be greedy, then you must believe it would cause scientists to be greedy.

  • Carl

    You nailed it, Patrick.