Science and Southern Baptists Agree on Something

This is almost getting us too involved in religion, but we’ve already had earlier posts on the same matter. See Are Evolution and Christianity Incompatible?, about a claim by Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, that evolution and Christianity are not compatible.

Although opposition to Mohler’s position was mostly presented as an intra-denominational squabble, the issue attracted considerable attention. We got interested enough to post again when Klinghoffer Butts In. Now we’ve encountered another article about Mohler’s original statements, and we found it thoughtful enough that we’re writing about this matter yet again.

At the website of the Washington Post we read a guest column in their “On Faith” section by Rachel Held Evans: When atheists and Baptists agree. Here are some excerpts, with bold added by us:

I believe that Jesus Christ is Lord and that the earth is roughly 4.5 billion years old. This position routinely puts me at odds with two groups of people — atheists and Baptists.

We can understand why. But what has any of that to do with our humble blog? Let’s read on:

That’s because when it comes to science, atheists and Baptists have remarkably similar worldviews: both have arrived at the conclusion that accepting the science behind evolutionary theory will inevitably render Christianity extinct. As a result, one group has essentially made a religion out of naturalism, while the other has avoided serious consideration of the scientific data.

That’s an interesting insight. We don’t recall seeing it put like that before. We don’t agree that “naturalism” is a religion, but it’s nevertheless a good point that some scientists (i.e., those who are atheists) have that “us or them” outlook in common with what Rachel calls the Baptist worldview. Her column continues:

While not all Baptists are young earth creationists, one of their most esteemed leaders recently took a strong stand on the issue.

Here she discusses Mohler’s position, about which we’ve previously written. Continuing:

Mohler’s words were all too familiar to me. Growing up in the apologetics-driven evangelical subculture of the 80s and 90s, I spent most of my life convinced that that the theory of evolution had been concocted by godless scientists intent on undermining the authority of Scripture. We were locked in a battle with these “enemies of the faith,” I learned. Only one side could win, and if it wasn’t ours, the Christian faith would be lost.

That’s what a false dichotomy will do. Wicked stuff. Moving along:

What leaders like Mohler fail to realize is that they are setting young Christians up for failure. They are inadvertently orchestrating the very exodus that they fear. In presenting faith and science as a choice, the Baptists have essentially conceded that the atheists are right after all, and as a result they are losing some of the brightest young minds in Christendom to a false dichotomy.

Well put. As we’ve said before, any sect that sets itself up as being opposed to reality is dooming itself to eventual extinction. Another excerpt:

Mohler would be wise to consider the words of St. Augustine, who, (centuries before anyone had heard of common descent), said this of his interpretation of Genesis …

Instead of quoting that part of the article, which you can read for yourself, we’ll refer you to our earlier post on the same topic: St. Augustine on Creationism.

Here’s how Rachel ends her Washington Post‘s article:

If Mohler wants to see a new generation of evangelicals survive to carry on the tradition, he’s got to stop presenting evolution as incompatible with Christianity. … He’s got to stop agreeing with the atheists.

As always, your Curmudgeon’s position is a bit detached from all that. It’s obvious to the rational mind that evolution is good science, and that science is here to stay. If it’s suppressed by maniacs in one place it will nevertheless flourish elsewhere. Those denominations that haven’t yet been able to deal with reality had better work things out or face the inevitable. It’s up to them.

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

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3 responses to “Science and Southern Baptists Agree on Something

  1. comradebillyboy

    So long as people demand easy answers to complex questions, religion or something like it will prosper.

  2. My eventual rejection of the religion I was raised in was because my religion insisted that Genesis be interpreted literally, and that North America was full of white people who were visited by Jesus and then later killed each other to the last man, who then wrote a book.

    Now since then, that religion has relaxed those claims somewhat and been willing to interpret things less literally. But they lost a lot of people by insisting that modern science conform to the anthropology of the 19th century, just like a lot of people are lost to Christian denominations that demand modern science conform to the cosmology of Bronze Age Babylon.

  3. It’s really too bad that so many so-called religious “leaders” feel it’s necessary to invoke oogity-boogity in order to get people to treat each other with kindness and respect.

    Makes one think that organized religion is just all about control.