Are These Two News Items Related?

Our title mentions two news items. The first is from Scientific American: Evolution Education in the U.S. Is Getting Better. It was written by Glenn Branch and Ann Reid. As many of you know, Branch is deputy director and Reid is executive director of the National Center for Science Education (NCSE).

Although that article is new, you’ve read the news before. Back in June we wrote Great Success for Evolution Education. That was about an article in Nature that Reid had written about the same survey of public high school biology teachers. One quick excerpt:

Results published on 10 June show that the proportion of US secondary-school biology teachers who present creationism as a scientifically valid alternative to evolution fell from 32% in 2007 to 18% in 2019. And the amount of class time devoted to human evolution shot up by almost 90%.

So what’s the other news item that may be related? Ah, that’s in a different kind of publication. While NCSE gets their news in Nature and Scientific American, this other item is at the website of Answers in Genesis (AIG), the creationist ministry of Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo) — the ayatollah of Appalachia, the world’s holiest man who knows more about religion and science than everyone else. Hambo’s article is Distressing “State of Theology” Results Released.

You already know the news about public education from NCSE, and you can click over to Scientific American to read the latest article by Branch. But for your weekend entertainment, here are some excerpts from Hambo’s article, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]:

Every two years, Ligonier Ministries releases a new survey titled the “State of Theology,” [Link omitted.] and the 2020 results were published this week. And they are shocking, to put it mildly. [Gasp!] Now the survey was of the American population as a whole, but the results could be filtered for those who are considered “evangelical.”

We’ll skip over Hambo’s definition of “evangelical.” Then he says:

Survey respondents were asked whether they agreed (strongly or somewhat), disagreed (strongly or somewhat), or weren’t sure about a variety of statements. Here’s how those who are considered evangelicals responded to the following statements regarding basic beliefs about the person and work of the Godhead — prepare to be shocked by almost all of these:

Hambo then presents a long list of shocking results, including:

• 32% agree: Jesus was a great teacher, but he was not God.

• 46% agree: God accepts the worship of all religions, including Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.

• 54% disagree: Even the smallest sin deserves eternal damnation.

Hambo is deeply distressed by these results. He tells us:

For those who are familiar with the Bible and the most basic tenets of theology, these results are shocking and show that many who are considered “evangelical” are far from it. They believe outright heresy [Egad, herasy!] when it comes to the person of Jesus Christ, his work on the cross, and the person of the Holy Spirit!

This is serious stuff! Hambo describes other results of the survey, and he finds them equally distressing. He says:

Personally, I believe such studies show a phenomenal failure of the modern church. Couple all this with the fact the younger generations are leaving the church in droves!

Skipping a bit more, he then asks why this is happening:

The terrible trends regarding evangelicals’ beliefs continue the downward slide each year. Why? After all, here in America, Christians have greater access to churches, Christian teaching ministries, Christian colleges and seminaries, Christian resources, Christian programming, and the Bible itself than any other nation on earth. So why are we seeing such ignorance regarding the Bible and basic biblical beliefs?

Then he speculates that parents and preachers may be falling down on the job, and he offers all kinds of advice, including the purchase of books sold at AIG’s online bookstore.

But there’s one thing that Hambo doesn’t mention — and that’s the job being done in the public schools. If you read Hambo’s mournful post along with the news from Glenn Branch and Ann Reid, you may see some kind of connection. But which is cause and which is effect? That’s something we’ll leave for your speculation, dear reader.

Copyright © 2020. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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12 responses to “Are These Two News Items Related?

  1. My immediate reaction was that the “sorry state of theology” was a result of the sorry state of fundamentalism.

  2. Michael Fugate

    You see and take the entire survey here – very much a Christian bias so not theology really.

    Some questions are odd as with all surveys
    “The Bible is 100% accurate in all that it teaches.”
    “ Modern science disproves the Bible.”

    Much of the Bible has nothing to do with science – meaningless as asked.

  3. I think that all the self-professed Christians, some of whom would describe themselves as evangelical, with whom I correspond (and there are quite a few of them) would welcome the changes described here, all of them, and deplore Ham for the sorry state of his theology (something that I’m not qualified to judge!) as well as everything else

  4. “his work on the cross”
    Wow, Ol’Hambo is so blinded by his genius that he doesn’t realize how cynical this expression is. Being crucified is one of the most horrendous ways to die invented by man.

  5. Michael Fugate

    A related piece in Salon on how theocracy almost led to Connecticut succeeding from the US–in-19th-century-connecticut/

  6. chris schilling

    Ligonier Ministries: “Every two years, we take the theological temperature of the United States…”

    Results may vary, depending on which orifice of the body the thermometer is inserted. Ham will show acute signs of physical discomfort. Klinghoffer may say “ouch.”

    Both will protest “but I thought I was so healthy!”

  7. As noted by TomS and Michael Fugate, this is not a survey on “theology”, but rather one on acceptance of specifically Christian doctrinnes. One is that Jesus was fully human and at the same time and in the same sense, fully divine, which involves a series of irreconcilable paradoxes. These can only be consigned to Mystery and the Almighty Dispensing Power by which God “resolves all things to Himself”. Another, eternal damnation for any unredeemed sin (except only for the operation of Grace) was what initially drove me away from Christianity. Other things came later, but that was the spark.

    “Theology” would be, rather, the consideration of the nature of God. You could ask what would be the nature of a divine being who “became flesh and dwelt among us” so that He could Himself be a perfect sacrifice in atonement of all sin. A sacrifice to… Himself?

    What of the idea that this was necessary? Why necessary? What does it say about His nature that it was necessary? What of Hell? Specifically, eternal damnation in the fires of Hell? What does it say about God’s nature, that He ordains, or even permits, such an infinite atrocity?

    Historically, Christians were not encouraged to think about such things. The last time I raised the latter issue with a Christian clergyman, I received the usual response, “Shut up!”, only somewhat more politely. But it still boiled down to William Jennings Bryan’s answer from the witness stand at the Scopes trial: “I do not think about the things I do not think about”.

    The Jewish answer appears to be, “He’s God, isn’t He? You got a problem with that?”, and that more or less applies to Islam as well, only they throw in assertions that He is All-merciful, in the same text that endlessly repeats promises of infinite torment in the most explicit terms. You will stand under boiling water, you will drink molten brass, you will wear a robe of flaming tar, your skin will be scorched off you and you will immediately grow a new one so it can be scorched off you again, yadda yadda yadda. Oh, and this is not for some specific sin or other. It’s for not believing.

    Yet you ask any good person from any of those faiths if wanton cruelty is evil, and they’ll tell you it is – until they are brought face-to-face with the paradox. Well, maybe not Jews so much – they’re a bit iffy on whether there’s an afterlife at all. Which always appears to me to have its own problems. If there is no afterlife, no consequences, what is God for anyway? Why all the palaver about not eating pork or shellfish or milk with meat or wearing two threads, if it doesn’t matter an ultimate toss whether you do or don’t?

    See, “theology”, defined that way, was what detached me from Christianity. It wasn’t science, because I hardly know any. So phooie on you materialists who say theology is no good for anything. I stand witness that it is, so there.

  8. Michael Fugate

    I always wondered if the point was to “save” humanity, why show up only in the Middle East? Why not a world tour?

  9. chris schilling

    Maybe Jesus showed up to save us all from his f**king homicidal maniac father.

    But things went a bit pear-shaped. Best laid plans, and all…

    Still, Christians put their best positive spin on things, and here we are, two thousand years later.

  10. @Dave Luckett,”eternal damnation for any unredeemed sin (except only for the operation of Grace) was what initially drove me away from Christianity.”

    You’re in good company. Check out Darwin’s autobiography for “And this is a damnable doctrine”,

  11. Poor Hambone so terrified of loosing his profit base! He may have to get a real job!!!!

  12. Michael Fugate

    We all know Ham has opinions on what the Bible teaches, but I found the Bible mostly nonsensical. It starts off with a tribal god, one of thousands of rival gods and ends in a pending global apocalypse. In between this god spits out hundreds of arbitrary rules that no human can possibly follow and then keeps trying to figure out ways to forgive them for not following the rules? Jesus supposedly simplified the rules only to get killed for doing so. Paul reinstates arbitrary rules and patriarchy, misogyny and homophobia. What is the point?