Are Evolution and Christianity Incompatible?

WHAT would you do if you learned that your church officially rejected reality? We don’t dispense spiritual advice here, and we won’t start offering any now; but those affected by today’s news certainly have an interesting situation on their hands.

We usually avoid blogging specifically about religion, whether pro or con, but we certainly discuss creationism, and today’s story really needs to be mentioned. At the website of the Associated Baptist Press, where the “About Us” page says that it’s “the first and only independent news service created by and for Baptists,” we read Seminary president says evolution ‘incompatible’ with Christian faith. Here are some excerpts, with bold added by us:

According to the president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, evolution and Christianity are not compatible.

There you are then. According to Wikipedia, the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, located in Louisville, Kentucky, “is the oldest of the six seminaries affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC).”

Let’s see what else the Associated Baptist Press says:

The theory of evolution is incompatible with the gospel of Jesus Christ even as it is in direct conflict with any faithful reading of the Scriptures,” Albert Mohler, head of the Louisville, Ky., school, wrote in his blog.

This is Mohler’s blog article where that appears: On Darwin and Darwinism: A Letter to Professor Giberson. That was Mohler’s response to something Karl W. Giberson had posted at the Huffington Post, which is this: How Darwin Sustains My Baptist Search for Truth. Gilberson, a Baptist, had written:

I have naively assumed, until recently, that respect for the truth is deep in the DNA of Baptists. I have assumed that when a Baptist speaks or writes, they do their best to be truthful. I am thus quite alarmed that America’s leading Baptist, Al Mohler — widely read author, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and, according to Time, the “reigning intellectual of the evangelical movement in the U.S.” — does not seem to care about the truth and seems quite content to simply make stuff up when it serves his purpose.

About two months ago Mohler spoke to a group of leading fundamentalists at a prestigious venue. His topic was why Christians must believe that the earth is just a few thousand years old.

In this talk Mohler made false statements about Darwin. …

Very provocative. Mohler’s blog article replied:

You make quite a shocking list of accusations. You suggest that I do not “seem to care about the truth” and that I seem “quite content to make stuff up when it serves [my] purpose.” Those are not insignificant charges. You say that I “made false statements about [Charles] Darwin.” I would not want to do that, so I have once again looked carefully at the evidence.

That’s the background. It’s quite a food-fight. Let’s read on in the Associated Baptist Press:

In his June speech [to which Gilberson objected], Mohler argued for the “exegetical and theological necessity” of affirming the universe is no more than several thousand years old and was created in six 24-hour days as recorded in Genesis.

We don’t want to get deeper into this, because it’s not about science. It’s about theology — which is not our specialty. But what this illustrates (to us) is the validity of our position that The Controversy between evolution and creationism is denominational, not scientific. Further, the resolution of this issue is best left to the denominations themselves.

Therefore we express no opinion about the dispute between these two men. The situation speaks for itself.

Updates: See Mohler v. Giberson: Klinghoffer Butts In. And then see Science and Southern Baptists Agree on Something.

Copyright © 2010. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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16 responses to “Are Evolution and Christianity Incompatible?

  1. what this illustrates (to us) is the validity of our position that The Controversy between evolution and creationism is denominational, not scientific. Further, the resolution of this issue is one that is best left to the denominations themselves.

    Indeed. Sectarian religious arguments are like kids arguing over who shot who in a playground game of cops and robbers. It is not the adult’s place to get out scientific intsruments and start measuring angles to determine which kid is right. It is the adult’s responsibility merely to make sure the kids don’t hurt themselves or each other while they play.

  2. I also like how Mohler says “I am always glad to hear from readers…” but his article provides no space to comment. He only wants emails. Yeah, so glad.

  3. The “manufactroversy” has always been about politics and control, not science.

    The science has long been settled, that is, there is no scientific dissent that evolution is a fact. Rather, research continues on how evolution works. By the same token there is no scientific dissent about atomic theory or germ theory or physics in general, or geology in general. All this knowledge is in the can, so to speak.

    We need to come up with a word that describes a person who makes himself stupid on purpose. Perhaps the units of such a term could be the “mohler.”

  4. New book to which we can “look forward”:

    Christian Darwinism: Why Theistic Evolution Fails As Science and Theology / November 2011 / William A. Dembski and Denyse O’Leary / Broadman and Holman

    But, uh, ID doesn’t have anything to do with religion. It’s just about all that concerns IDists (even flaky Berlinski isn’t a counterexample, since he doesn’t accept ID), and the subject of much of their writings.

    Can they help it that their science simply screams out “design”?

  5. Not incompatible at all: I am Evolution. I am Christianity.

    Peace,

    Ik

  6. “According to the president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, evolution and Christianity are not compatible.”

    That is correct, they are not compatible.

    Evolution = a fact
    Religion = a myth, superstition. (aka superstitious nonsense)

  7. No position? Sort of “Let them eat their own young?” All right, we don’t say anything because this is just some Southern Baptists arguing among themselves. Are there any real world consequences of the 6000 year crowd winning this debate among themselves? Anything the SBC might push at the local level, state level, national level because they have a united front since the “billions and billions of years” people have been shut out? Could the people within the SBC who we think are on the correct scientific side of this question use all the help we could provide?

  8. Gabriel Hanna

    There are people whose detestation of religion in general, and Christianity in particular, leads to their telling Christians that you can’t believe in evolution and Christianity at the same time.

    And there are people like the Discovery Institute who want to see all religious people reject evolution, and so they say you can’t believe in evolution and Christianity at the same time.

    These two groups hate each other, but they work together to same end regardless.

  9. Gabriel Hanna says:

    These two groups hate each other, but they work together to same end regardless.

    That’s too complicated. I’m a simple man, and here’s how I see it. It’s like the solar system. Galileo was right, and religion didn’t have a choice — they had to figure out a way to live with it, which they’ve done. It’s the same with evolution. End of story.

  10. It seems to me that the vast majority of times that I have heard/read about people being told “that you can’t believe in evolution and Christianity at the same time” it has almost always come from other Christians and not from people who detest religion/Christianity.

  11. Curmudgeon, I agree with your post here.

    Tangential, perhaps, but the following may be of interest to readers:

    Most southern states have organizations of ‘Mainstream Baptists’ that object to the shenanigans of the now autocratic Southern Baptist Convention. They believe in the history of the Baptist denomination – separation of church and state, autonomy of each church, etc., as first stated by Roger Williams when he founded the church in Rhode Island.

    The Oklahoma Mainstream Baptists ( ttp://mainstreambaptist.blogspot.com/ ), for example is headed by my friend Dr. Bruce Prescott, member of the national board of Americans United for Separation of Church and State (along with Barbara Forrest) and a board member of Oklahomans for Excellence in Science Education ( http://www.oklascience.org/ ) where he has been an invaluable supporter of the teaching of evolution in public schools and against ID creationism. He is always ready to lobby legislators and offer us support. His blog may be interested reading to some, especially in his criticisms of the Baptist Convention and its leaders. He pulls no punches.

    Some will call us ‘accommodationists’ for the inclusion of such religious people in our continuous fight here in Oklahoma, but without their help here we would not have been successful in stopping creationist bills (so far!). In this respect, we are not different from NCSE.

  12. Roger, that has been my experience also; in my face to the point that I’ve decided I will no longer argue with them. Well, I will, but not for free. If they want to argue that point with me, it’ll cost ’em. And, I want cash in hand before I start. I’m thinking of putting a price of $100 per minute. That way, I’m sure not to get any takers.

  13. How could he be more clear? In the war between truth and falsehood, he goes with falsehood every time, so long as it supports his bias, his pre-determined conclusion.

    I’ll wager he calls it his “worldview.” Anyone with a lick of common sense calls it stupid bigotry. Anyone who cares for the spirit of Christian scripture calls this fellow’s rejection of science, blasphemy.

    By my count there are six clearly different stories of creation in the Bible. This guy says one is right, making no fewer than five books “false” in his terminology.

    Not even Darwin disputed that much scripture.

  14. vhutchison says:

    Some will call us ‘accommodationists’ for the inclusion of such religious people in our continuous fight here in Oklahoma, but without their help here we would not have been successful in stopping creationist bills (so far!).

    Thanks for telling us about Bruce Prescott. He sounds like a good man. It may be that the “accommodationist” role is inevitable. As I said before, some of these churches have no choice but to make their peace with reality or to eventually vanish. There’s nothing wrong with helping them understand the science. They’re very confused and they need all the help they can get.

  15. Is somebody trying to assume the role of Pope for the Southern Baptists?

  16. It’s like the solar system. Galileo was right, and religion didn’t have a choice — they had to figure out a way to live with it, which they’ve done. It’s the same with evolution. End of story.

    Just because that needed to be said again. And again. And Again.