You probably remember this thrilling item from a few days ago: Drooling School Board Chairwoman. That was about Sue Kern, chairwoman of the school board of Brainerd, Minnesota, who couldn’t figure out why the schools were teaching evolution. As expected, Susie has inspired a letter-to-the-editor, which appears in the Brainerd Dispatch of Brainerd, Minnesota. It’s titled Makes no sense. They don’t seem to have a comments feature.
Unless the letter-writer is a politician, preacher, or other public figure, we won’t embarrass or promote him by using his full name — but today we’ve got a future preacher — or something. It’s Stafford L. Thompson, who describes himself as a “seminarian.” Here are some excerpts from his letter, enhanced with our Curmudgeonly commentary, some bold font for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]. Okay, here we go:
In regard to the controversy surrounding Mrs. Kern’s questions at the Sept. 9 school board meeting, I would like to submit a quotation for consideration:
As with so many creationist letters, we’re given an example of quote mining. Here it is:
“If all the animals and man had been evolved in this ascendant manner (evolution), then there had been no first parents, no Eden, and no Fall. And if there had been no fall, then the entire historical fabric of Christianity, the story of the first sin and the reason for an atonement, upon which the current teaching based Christian emotion and morality, collapsed like a house of cards.” H.G. Wells (1866-1946).
Wells was a prolific writer, but the seminarian didn’t even give us the title of the book his quote came from. No matter, we found it. It comes from The Outline of History. Here’s all of it online, thanks to Project Gutenberg. The quote selected by the seminarian is from Chapter 39, THE REALITIES AND IMAGINATIONS OF THE NINETEENTH CENTURY.
One of the many topics that chapter discusses is the controversy over Darwin’s work. Wells presents both sides, and the portion quoted — or “mined” — by the seminarian was from the anti-evolution side. Although Wells doesn’t specifically say so, it’s clear from his life’s work that he thought Darwin had the better argument. In the same chapter, Wells also talks about the Huxley–Wilberforce debate, and his pro-science leanings are rather evident.
Okay, back to the seminarian’s letter. He tells us:
We can debate the evidence for and against the theory of evolution (and whether one needs to subscribe to it to be a scientific citizen, which I believe one does not need to). However, I would like to point out that it is very difficult to reconcile the idea that Christianity and evolution are compatible. Mr. Wells pointed it out nicely in the [mined] quotation above.
Many would disagree — see the National Center for Science Education’s list of Statements from Religious Organizations that support evolution. The seminarian continues:
Without the fall into sin of a historical and real Adam and Eve, Jesus Christ dying as an atoning sacrifice for sin and for the salvation of the world makes no sense. Why would God the Father, the Creator, send his son to die when death had always been a part of his creation?
Not only that, but why was the Fall allowed to occur in the first place? These are questions your Curmudgeon can’t answer. Let’s read on:
I believe many sincere Christians gloss over this with good intentions to avoid strife with the scientific community, but it is an inconsistency that I believe we cannot avoid.
The seminarian will not avoid the battle. Here’s the end of his letter:
I (and many like me) will look to our Lord who died for us before looking to a dead biologist from England. Jesus rose from the grave to show he conquered death. Darwin, however, is still in his grave.
He’s certainly right about that — Darwin is still dead. But let’s look on the bright side — the seminarian didn’t gloat that Darwin is boiling in the Lake of Fire.
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