Big news: evangelicals reject accommodationism once again

The Southern Baptist Convention is the most numerous Protestant sect in America, comprising over 16 million adherents and second only to Catholics in numbers of American Christians (68.5 million).  Since Catholics formally accept evolution (though the official position, that hominins were injected with a soul, is a form of theistic evolution), converting Southern Baptists to accepting science and evolution should be a major goal of accommodationist organizations like BioLogos.

And Lord knows those organizations have tried.  Unsuccessfully.  Diehard evangelicals simply won’t give up the literal truth of the Bible, no matter how many times they’re told that it’s metaphor, poetry, or parable.

In frustration, Karl Giberson (an apostate from BioLogos) and Randall Stephens wrote an op-ed piece in last week’s New York Times decrying evangelical Christians’ rejection of both reason and scientific knowledge. They singled out evolution and gay marriage as two items that don’t deserve to be rejected, since “the Bible does not condemn evolution and says next to nothing about gay marriage.” (This is of course more than a tad disingenuous, for Biblical scripture is pretty clear on the sinfulness of homosexuality, and of course evolution wasn’t known when the Bible was written—indeed, the book tells a completely different creation story.)

Well, neither BioLogos‘s rump-osculation of faith nor Giberson and Stephens’ scorn are going to work.  Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological seminary and the U.S.’s most famous and vociferous member of his sect, tells us why in his blog piece “Total capitulation: the evangelical surrender of truth.” (Note the word “of” here, clearly stating that this sect already has the truth.)

Going after Giberson and Stephens’s piece, Mohler pinpoints the flaw for him and his followers:

Following a line of argument popular among secular observers of conservative Protestantism, [Giberson and Stephens] explain that fundamentalism “appeals to evangelicals who have become convinced that their country has been overrun by a vast secular conspiracy.” In other words, they explain evangelical conviction in terms of psychology, not theology.

That is:

Their essay reveals the central question that evangelicals must now answer: Do we really believe that the Bible is the Word of God?

Mohler’s answer, of course, is “yes.” And to these folks, God has spoken clearly on the immorality of homosexuality. Mohler rejects Giberson’s view that the Bible doesn’t say anything relevant to gay marriage:

That hardly represents an honest or respectful approach to dealing with the Bible’s comprehensive and consistent revelation concerning human sexuality in general and homosexuality in particular. Is Romans 1, for example, just a scattered proof text? Is not all of the Bible God’s Word? Well, Giberson has already made his view of the Bible clear — it is simply “trumped” by science when describing the natural world.

Giberson and Stephens reject those who believe the Bible’s clear teachings on the sinfulness of homosexuality and prefer a figure like David Myers who “believes that Christians can be faithful to God, the Bible, and their tradition and still believe that homosexuality is morally acceptable.” On what authority? Once again, the norms of secular science trump everything else.

I weep for the gay Baptists, just as I weep for gay Catholics like Andrew Sullivan. How can they possibly remain members of their church?

In the end—and this is why accommodationism will fail with people like this—the Bible is what trumps science, reason, or empathy:

Oddly, Giberson and Stephens criticize evangelical leaders who, for example, “pepper their presentations with so many Bible verses that their messages appear to be straight out of Scripture.” Do they seriously believe that evangelical Christians should prefer leaders who would let the Bible be silent and base their arguments on some other authority? Clearly, this is exactly what they suggest.

. . .We know know that when Giberson and Stephens speak of the Bible “as our sacred book,” they mean something far less than what evangelicals have historically believed — that the Bible is the very Word of God. The most honest part of that paragraph is found where the writers admit that they “find it hard to recognize our religious tradition in the mainstream evangelical conversation.”

That is a huge admission — and one that is especially telling. Giberson and Stephens are far outside of the evangelical mainstream, and they know it. Even on the issue of evolution, Giberson affirmed Talk of the Nation host Neal Conan’s assertion that the rejection of evolutionary theory “is the mainstream of evangelical thought.”

The problem with accommodationism is the same problem Sam Harris has singled out about apologists for Islamic extremism: apologists and accommodationists simply do not believe that religious people mean what they say.  Southern Baptists accept the primacy of the Bible, and if it conflicts with evolution and gay rights, well, “God said it, I believe it, that settles it.”

Mohler’s last paragraph shows us clearly why accommodation will fail with groups like this:

Evangelical Christians will either stand upon the authority and total truthfulness of the Bible, or we will inevitably capitulate to the secular worldview. Giberson and Stephens force us to see, and to acknowledge, the consequences of the evangelical surrender of truth.

The accommodationist strategy of telling such people that they don’t have to choose between the Bible and science (or reason, or the simple morality of gay rights) because there is either no conflict, or they’re reading the Bible wrong, is a misguided and futile strategy.  The Bible is pretty clear on this stuff, and since the Bible is God’s word, Mohler and his minions will not be moved. They do feel that they have to choose, and they’ll always choose God.

Templeton and BioLogos are wasting their money trying to turn these people toward science. Giberson and Stephens realize this, and so have resorted to calling out the intransigence of people like Mohler.  That, of course, won’t work either.  If you think any of the Bible as divinely inspired or reflecting historical truths about God and Jesus—as Giberson and Stephens apparently do—then you have no leverage to go after Mohler and other literalists. As Mohler notes, by what authority an Giberson and Stephens assert that they know the “correct” way to interpret Scripture?

No, there’s no convincing Mohler and his flock. Instead, the only solution is to educate the next generation about the folly of religious superstition.

h/t: Sigmund

_________

UPDATE: Note that alert reader Jerrold Alpern found a letter in today’s NYT from the Chief Communications Officer of Kentucky’s Creation Museum. It includes this hilarious statement:

Accepting the Bible as God’s literal truth doesn’t mean that we discount science. It does mean that we interpret scientific evidence from the biblical viewpoint. We evaluate the same evidence as evolutionists, but they interpret it from their viewpoint. Evidence isn’t labeled with dates and facts; we arrive at conclusions about the unobservable past based on our pre-existing beliefs. This exercise also involves reason.

Some evidence, of course, is labeled with dates.

 

116 Comments

  1. Posted October 25, 2011 at 6:22 am | Permalink

    Uncle Karl, if you’re reading this, I’d like to ask you a question that you may have read me asking others.

    Has Jesus read the Bible?

    Not, of course, “Did Jesus read the Bible during his ministry in first century Judea,” for that would be silly — the Bible was still a work in progress at that time.

    Rather, has Jesus, who sits at the right hand of the Father and who will judge the living and the dead — has that Jesus read the Bible?

    If so, and if he’s remotely qualified to judge humans, wouldn’t it be reasonable to assume that the simple, plain, literal meaning is the one intended? Wouldn’t it be in his power to either have ensured that the simple, plain, literal meaning was what got recorded in the first place or to have authoritatively repaired any defects at some point in the past couple millennia? Shouldn’t he be aware that humans are a simple people who will latch on to plain and literal interpretations long before considering sophisticated subtlety?

    And if Jesus hasn’t read the Bible…well, why are any of us wasting any time at all with Christianity?

    Cheers,

    b&

    • Sigmund
      Posted October 25, 2011 at 6:26 am | Permalink

      “or to have authoritatively repaired any defects at some point in the past couple millennia?”
      Isn’t that the premise behind Islam – and/or Mormonism?

      • Posted October 25, 2011 at 6:30 am | Permalink

        …and the eleventy-thousand other schisms….

        b&

    • Posted October 25, 2011 at 6:29 am | Permalink

      Free willies!

  2. Sigmund
    Posted October 25, 2011 at 6:23 am | Permalink

    “I weep for the gay Baptists, just as I weep for gay Catholics like Andrew Sullivan. How can they possibly remain members of their church?”
    Andrew Sullivan posted a video yesterday (supposedly) explaining how he can be gay and still be a catholic.

    http://andrewsullivan.thedailybeast.com/2011/10/ask-me-anything-how-can-i-be-gay-and-catholic.html

    • Stan Pak
      Posted October 25, 2011 at 7:48 am | Permalink

      I have listened that twice.
      He claims that he is openly gay because he is Catholic. He claims that Church “accepts” gayness (which is not what I know from official stand of this institution).
      He also accuses the “emotionally crippled” men who ran (or run currently) the Church for this hostility against homosexuals (does he mean pedophiles and his protectors, like Pope Ratzi?). So perhaps Church and doctrine is ok, just the people are wrong? I heard this defense while discussing works of Inquisition and other crimes (not only by religious, but also by communists for example).
      In conclusion he is half-Catholic and accepts only what he likes from the doctrine. No criteria provided of how he does that (of course).
      In my opinion Sullivan really thinks that people do not mean what they say, as Jerry noted. He thinks that doctrine and people which execute the doctrine are in complete disconnect and he ignores the obvious facts that the actual doctrine drives the behavior of its adherents.

      • Sigmund
        Posted October 25, 2011 at 8:01 am | Permalink

        Yes, this is standard catholic behavior.
        The common name for it is a-la-carte-catholicism. Choose those rules you think are important and assume the church is mistaken on those other rules (be it homosexuality, contraception, sex before marriage or divorce.)
        The catholic church has an inconsistent attutude to homosexuality. They claim to be OK with those with a homosexual urge but not happy with those that act upon that urge by having gay sex.
        In theory then the logical thing for the Catholic church to do would be to encourage gay catholics to enter into the holy orders where celibacy is standard.
        Instead they have actively prevent admitted gay individuals from becoming priests or nuns.

      • Sajanas
        Posted October 25, 2011 at 8:01 am | Permalink

        So basically Sullivan thinks that he is part of an imaginary Catholic Church that is righteous and good, which is being lead astray by some bad apples, rather than notice the centuries of abuses its heaped on gays, women, and children? That sounds like a bad case of Dr. Pangloss-itis.

  3. Posted October 25, 2011 at 6:28 am | Permalink

    This article shows as clear as day what the real issue is: authority. The only way that religion can be made compatible with science is to give up at least some of its authority, and concede that in some instances, science or secular ethics trump scripture or theology. Mohler is not wrong about that. The problem of course is that Mohler thinks this is a bad thing, and he is definitely wrong about that.

    To me it seems that compatibilists try their best to avoid this issue of authority. They’ll happily point out that it’s entirely possible to reshape your theology so that it will fit around science, but they won’t mention how much of a concession of authority that implies. Does anyone know of a compatibilist who deals with this issue head-on?

    • Sigmund
      Posted October 25, 2011 at 6:36 am | Permalink

      If you change your theology to fit your science then you end up with the sort of ‘naturalistic’, ‘non-miraculous’ religion of Shelby Spong or Michael Dowd. Most believers need to keep the miracles (otherwise it’s telling them that they have switch off that imaginary life support machine that’s keeping granny going, awaiting the day when you’ll all meet again in the clouds.)

      • Posted October 25, 2011 at 7:39 am | Permalink

        No, most will keep the miracles, or at least one or two of their favorite ones. They just need to apply some special pleading. Surely science can’t be performed on such small sample sizes anyway.

  4. Jerrold Alpern
    Posted October 25, 2011 at 6:40 am | Permalink

    This letter in today’s NY Times from Mark Looy, Chief Communications Officer at the Creation Museum in Kentucky says it all:

    “To the Editor:

    We found “The Evangelical Rejection of Reason,” by Karl W. Giberson and Randall J. Stephens (Op-Ed, Oct. 18), to be condescending. As evangelical Christians and creationists, we don’t reject science and reason. Scientific discovery can provide great benefits. In fact, we employ many scientists with Ph.D.’s at our Creation Museum.

    Accepting the Bible as God’s literal truth doesn’t mean that we discount science. It does mean that we interpret scientific evidence from the biblical viewpoint. We evaluate the same evidence as evolutionists, but they interpret it from their viewpoint. Evidence isn’t labeled with dates and facts; we arrive at conclusions about the unobservable past based on our pre-existing beliefs. This exercise also involves reason.

    We accept the writers as fellow Christians, but we totally reject the way they portrayed us.

    MARK LOOY
    Chief Communications Officer
    Creation Museum
    Petersburg, Ky., Oct. 20, 2011″

    Evangelical creationists have perfected doublethink. They claim not to reject science. They then discount all evidence as lacking dates and facts. They reject any factual information about the past since it is “unobservable” and hold their “pre-existing beliefs” to be superior to scientific investigation.

    They wish to be considered equivalent to science while entirely rejecting the scientific method. You can never “accommodate” to such thinking.

    • Posted October 25, 2011 at 7:22 am | Permalink

      Yes, they couldn’t have spelled it out any clearer that they don’t do science. Just having a few PhDs around, and using reasoning, doesn’t equal accepting science.

      • Microraptor
        Posted October 25, 2011 at 9:42 am | Permalink

        And of course the first thing that popped into my mind was “just how many of those PhDs are from accredited sources? Or are in biology and geology?”

    • Tulse
      Posted October 25, 2011 at 7:47 am | Permalink

      “Accepting the Harry Potter books as the literal truth doesn’t mean that we discount science. It does mean that we interpret scientific evidence from the Potterish viewpoint.”

  5. Posted October 25, 2011 at 6:45 am | Permalink

    The only solution to the fundamentalist problem starts with children who are gradually being influenced by science in the public schools and in the media. It will be a slow transition to science but it seems to be happening. Fundamentalists realize this and are struggling to counter the slide to science in the political arena. I think the war between religious radicals and science should be fought harder on all fronts but especially in the news media and entertainment arena. Stop worrying about hurting people’s feelings (atheists get clobbered all the time by fundamentalist spokespersons). Science programs do a great job on TV, computers and other electronic devices. We are winning the battle on most fronts. Unfortunately the biggest enemies of science education are religious right conservatives who are pulling the strings of the GOP candidates. We have to bring the issue up in the next election and send a strong message to the children of the crazies. It is too late for them but not for their kids.

  6. Stephen
    Posted October 25, 2011 at 6:52 am | Permalink

    Actually, the bible explicitly supports gay marriage.

    Matthew 1:16 And Jacob Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary of whom was born Jesus.

    Luke 3:23 And Jesus himself … the son of Joseph which was the son of Heli..

    There is only one conclusion possible – Joseph had two daddies.

  7. Posted October 25, 2011 at 7:10 am | Permalink

    { subscribing }

  8. Jack M.
    Posted October 25, 2011 at 7:17 am | Permalink

    Gerry says: “Catholics formally accept evolution.”

    Not true. They insist on a genetic bottleneck of two for all humans.

    • Microraptor
      Posted October 25, 2011 at 9:43 am | Permalink

      And there are still groups of Catholics who believe in a literal reading of Genesis 1.

      • Matt G
        Posted October 25, 2011 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

        A literal reading of which Genesis creation story?

        • Microraptor
          Posted October 25, 2011 at 9:44 pm | Permalink

          The only one that they think is there, just like every other Creationist, which seems to be a stripped down, edited version of what’s actually there.

        • Posted October 26, 2011 at 4:44 am | Permalink

          Depends on what they’re trying to prove – whether man and woman were created in god’s image, or whether woman was created as a help-meet for man.

  9. Posted October 25, 2011 at 7:17 am | Permalink

    “I weep for the gay Baptists, just as I weep for gay Catholics like Andrew Sullivan. How can they possibly remain members of their church?”

    Are there any gay Baptists? Seriously.

    • Posted October 25, 2011 at 7:24 am | Permalink

      Statistically, yes. Some will even be ministers.

      • PCS
        Posted October 25, 2011 at 7:49 am | Permalink

        Statistically? Is that like saying some will be Muslim? Statistically.

        • Scote
          Posted October 25, 2011 at 9:03 am | Permalink

          No, actually, it isn’t.

          The biggest predictors of what religion you will join are the religion of your parents and your geographical region. Homosexuality, on the other hand, is independent of those factors. So Deen is right. Statistically, there will be gay Southern Baptists and SBC ministers. (Including “totally heterosexual” ministers like Ted Haggard).

          • Microraptor
            Posted October 25, 2011 at 9:44 am | Permalink

            Who finally admitted in February that he’s bisexual. (GQ magazine)

            • daveau
              Posted October 25, 2011 at 9:55 am | Permalink

              But he’s not gay

    • Stan Pak
      Posted October 25, 2011 at 7:29 am | Permalink

      If there are Baptist or Catholic scientists so why not gay Baptists or Catholics. Our brains well handle disconnected ideas even if they are openly and demonstrably in conflict.

    • Posted October 25, 2011 at 7:45 am | Permalink

      Obviously, I don’t expect many to be open about it, though.

    • Posted October 25, 2011 at 7:48 am | Permalink

      Nope. Not a single one.

      Cheers,

      b&

    • Sajanas
      Posted October 25, 2011 at 7:52 am | Permalink

      I knew one in high school. We always suspected, but he was very, very closeted, and may still be. The confirmation came from a friend that borrowed his computer and every address he typed into the browser auto completed to gay porn sites.

      I think the problem is similar (or worse) to that of gay Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses, namely that you basically lose your entire family by coming out. Though the label ‘Baptist’ is pretty wide… I’ve heard of some Baptist church in California getting booted out of the SBC for having gay members.

    • abb3w
      Posted October 25, 2011 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

      Poking the GSS-2008 seems to turn up an existence proof: one male generic “Don’t know which” Baptist who since age 18 has only had sex with men, and also one female from the American Baptist Church who’s only had sex with women.

  10. Posted October 25, 2011 at 7:29 am | Permalink

    Here’s the basic problem with Sam Harris’ position and the above post’s concerns, and it it a brain research based item — we don’t know if religious utterances have much to do with directing behavior.

    Certainly, religious utterances accompany behaviors — we just don’t know if they cause those behaviors. Probably they don’t. Even less so words in a book.

    Correlation is not causation.

    In addition, in terms of violent behaviors which have some psychiatric causes, what murderers and suicide victims say about why they do something is likely delusional — by definition.

    There is growing evidence that conscious-verbal behaviors are fairly trivial as drivers of behavior. An example is the free will problem.

    This then presents a problem to anti-theists. Are we interested in changing behaviors or words? Because we spend a lot of time on words.

    Likely it is behavior we want changed and not just words. If we want to change behavior we may be able to ignore the words — especially words in some old books.

    In fact, brain research is teaching us we know very little about what drives behavior in ourselves or other animals — let alone in antisocial and violent individuals. In the later psychiatry is our best knowledge source.;

    The hyper-belief then that what people say and do are identical is pure ideology/wishful thinking.

  11. Andrea
    Posted October 25, 2011 at 7:38 am | Permalink

    Dear Prof.Coyne, I know this isn’t the right place, but I don’t seem to be able to contact you by any other means. I’ve recently come across a fellow internet user who explained that evolution can’t be viewed anymore purely as a “blind watchmaker” and that the illusion of a “design” is probably not exactly an illusion, after all.
    In order to prove this statement he gave me the following links:

    http://news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/2011/08/is-evolution-predictable.html?ref=hp

    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nature10378.html

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2613234/?tool=pubmed

    As he says, this would show that evolution “knows exactly where it is going”.
    Frankly, I don’t think this is sufficient to overthrow the neodarwinian paradigm, let alone infer a project or a direction in the evolutionary process, but I’d like to know your opinion, so if you could dedicate a post, or a series of posts to the content of the above mentioned articles I’d be very pleased.

    Excuse me for my probably bad english, I’m Italian. There might also be some typos.

    • Tulse
      Posted October 25, 2011 at 7:49 am | Permalink

      Dear Prof.Coyne, I know this isn’t the right place, but I don’t seem to be able to contact you by any other means.

      Andrea, Google is your friend.

      • Posted October 25, 2011 at 8:26 am | Permalink

        In this case, Google is a failure. I’ve tried many times to Google a way to email Coyne, and come up short.

        I will grant that I was never trained in Google-Fu, so my searching skills suck like you wouldn’t believe.

        That said, I can understand Andrea’s frustration…

        • Tulse
          Posted October 25, 2011 at 8:42 am | Permalink

          In this case, Google is a failure. I’ve tried many times to Google a way to email Coyne, and come up short.

          Seriously, it is very easy to find the email of this person “Jerry Coyne” in Google.

        • Andrea
          Posted October 25, 2011 at 9:01 am | Permalink

          No, Tulse is right. It’s just that my PC has gone momentarily crazy

    • Posted October 25, 2011 at 7:57 am | Permalink

      As he says, this would show that evolution “knows exactly where it is going”.

      Who or what is doing the “knowing”, though?

      Just because evolution can be predicted to a certain extent doesn’t mean that it is directed, or that there is a plan (or design) behind it. I can predict that a sandwich that is knocked from the table will land peanut-butter-side down, but that doesn’t mean it was designed to fall that way, or designed to fall at all. Nor does it imply that the sandwich knew exactly where it was going.

    • Andrea
      Posted October 25, 2011 at 8:08 am | Permalink

      Oh, if anyone knows the right place to write requests like this one, please let me know it.

      • Posted October 25, 2011 at 8:12 am | Permalink

        Jerry doesn’t like to give out his email address here, but you can find it on his University of Chicago home page, which is one of the top hits when you Google his name.

        Cheers,

        b&

      • Posted October 25, 2011 at 8:13 am | Permalink

        Googling “Jerry Coyne” will get you his faculty contact information. If you’ve already tried contacting him that way, but got no response, then he probably was just too busy.

      • Andrea
        Posted October 25, 2011 at 8:18 am | Permalink

        @Tulse

        You’re right, obviously. I’m just having problems with my PC. As soon as I can I’ll search the proper e-mail address. Sorry everyone for the colossal OT :-(

    • Sigmund
      Posted October 25, 2011 at 8:17 am | Permalink

      Those papers don’t appear to do what your friend is suggesting. They don’t show that evolution is following a predesigned path. They merely show that some biochemical pathways will be more frequently targeted for mutation when the loss of these genes will create some particular selective advantage.
      Remember, its not the same gene thats getting lost in these papers, it is a similar gene that happens to function in a similar manner in the other species.
      There’s nothing in this story that upsets the evolutionary applecart. Mutations hitting similar genes occurs in many circumstances. In the field of cancer we frequently observe mutations striking the same nucleotide of the same gene in multiple patients! It’s not design, its statistical chance acting on the specific loci that result in selective advantages when altered.

      • Andrea
        Posted October 25, 2011 at 10:15 am | Permalink

        @Sigmund

        I see… But, does this imply the existence of non-random mutations, or not?

        • eric
          Posted October 25, 2011 at 11:38 am | Permalink

          Not at all. Consider a pair of six-sided dice. A (total of) 7 is much more likely than a 12. Both are infinitely more likely than a 13. And yet, its not directed. The different likelinesses is a result of the physical properties of the system, nothing more.

          In the same way, its entirely possible for some locations to undergo more mutation than others without having the process being directed. It just implies that some chemical configurations are less likely to undergo mutational reactions than others. Which is an idea perfectly consistent with natural, undirected processes.

        • Posted October 26, 2011 at 1:43 am | Permalink

          No, it doesn’t. In addition to what eric said – randomness doesn’t have to be uniform to be random – we’re also dealing with selection here. Mutations are random, but which mutations get preserved may not be.

    • Posted October 25, 2011 at 9:35 am | Permalink

      Or you can find his email address if you follow the Research Interests link at the top of this page… or here!

      Remember to replace (at) and (dot), of course!

      /@

      PS. Jerry: Given the number of times this has come up recently, maybe that link should be “Research Interests and Contact Details” … ?

      • Diane G.
        Posted October 26, 2011 at 1:17 am | Permalink

        What, and lose one of our secret rituals?

  12. Nick(Matzke)
    Posted October 25, 2011 at 8:00 am | Permalink

    Jerry writes,

    No, there’s no convincing Mohler and his flock. Instead, the only solution is to educate the next generation about the folly of religious superstition.

    So…you conclude that theistic evolution won’t work because it will be rejected by e.g. Southern Baptists. What they do is useless and they are wasting their money.

    Instead, you say, clearly it’s a much better approach to educate people about the folly of religious superstition. And this is supposed to be a better approach for reaching Southern Baptists how, again? Does anyone think Southern Baptists will do anything other than reject atheism before their spit hits the floor?

    But…On the very same argument presented in your post, the atheist approach is just as doomed as the theistic evolutionist approach!

    There are only a few ways out of this dilemma — maybe some Southern Baptists are reachable after all; maybe if the arguments are made to the next generation instead of the current one, there is some hope for a change in views; maybe the purpose of putting counterarguments out in public isn’t to reach the hardest of the hardshell fundamentalists, but to move the overall culture of evangelicals and the country towards a different view.

    But, if atheists make these latter arguments for why what they are doing isn’t useless, theistic evolutionists can make just the same arguments for why what theistic evolutionists are doing isn’t useless.

    It would be more convincing for Coyne to just go back to arguing that theistic evolutionists should stop what they are doing because their views are wrong.

    PS: The very fact that a personality of Mohler’s stature is repeatedly attacking the BioLogos folks, when the organization is only a few years old — more than he attacks the atheists, even, methinks — is some evidence that he seems them as a more dangerous threat than the atheists. He wouldn’t bother, if all the evangelicals were just ignoring these guys. This is at least a bit of evidence that BioLogos is having the kind of impact they wanted to.

    Coyne seems to imply that BioLogos thought they would near-instantaneously convert all evangelicals to their side in just a few years, but surely no one in BioLogos ever actually thought that was likely, no more than the atheists think they will convert everyone in just a few years.

    • eric
      Posted October 25, 2011 at 11:44 am | Permalink

      Nick, you are right that rejection by (folks like) Mohler is certainly not ironclad proof tha biologos has failed. It is not, however, consistent with the idea that Biologos has socceeded.

      So okay, let’s ignore the hidebound. Can you point to even one Christian sect which has revised its doctrine based on Biologos’ outreach work? Even one that used to reject evolution but doesn’t any longer? IOW, can you show us any concrete evidence that Biologos has succeeded in reaching anyone?

      • Nick (Matzke)
        Posted October 25, 2011 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

        I don’t have any particular data on BioLogos specifically, it would presumably take a major effort in order to collect it.

        But, the general idea that theistic evolution is an appealing option for people who are conventionally religious and see a lot of value in their tradition, but also want to take science seriously, is so well-evidenced I don’t think it needs elaborate documentation. E.g. there are dozens and dozens of denominations that came to terms with evolution in the 19th and 20th centuries, and there are dozens and dozens of well-known theistic evolutionists who can and have told the story about how they were raised fundamentalist and antievolutionist, and were told that the only alternative option was atheism and were raised to dislike science/evolution on that basis, but then discovered the theistic evolution option and went with that instead.

        Probably BioLogos is most effective/dangerous with e.g. faculty at evangelical/fundamentalist schools, in terms of giving them a support network, a forum for broadcasting their views, etc. A lot of the educated folks at Wheaton, various seminaries, etc. know perfectly well that evolution is “more than a guess”, but experience denominational or other institutional pressure to keep that quiet, and BioLogos is providing a challenge to that part of the evangelical Christian culture.

        And this is what scares the Mohlers of the world. All this has happened before — Harvard and most of the other prominent private schools in the U.S. started out as religious, fundamentalist even, but got liberalized as scholarship advanced. Some stayed religious, some didn’t, but by the early 20th century the fundamentalists had definitely lost out to liberals at most of the major institutions. In reaction, in the early 1900s they split, and formed their own denominations, seminaries, and colleges, and that’s where Bryan College, Biola, Liberty, Bob Jones, etc. came from, as well as the creationist movement and later the ID movement, and the general instinctive anti-intellectualism of modern conservative evangelicalism itself.

        The fundamentalists like Mohler all know this history very well, and I think that’s why they try so hard to beat down something like BioLogos in its cradle.

        • Microraptor
          Posted October 25, 2011 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

          Professor Coyne’s opposed to teaching theistic evolution because it’s just trying to pass off feel-good woo as science. The fact that it’s also an ineffective method of trying to get people to accept real science when it clashes with their religious beliefs is incidental.

          • abb3w
            Posted October 25, 2011 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

            …however, this overlooks that although converting someone from Inerrant Bible Young-Earth Creationist to an Inspired Bible Theistic Evolutionist still leaves them disinclined to accept science that clashes with their beliefs, there is less science that will clash; and, in the long run, the views that someone will pass on to his/her children will be similar, making it easier to convert the next generation to a view more accepting of science and willing to reconsider more of their religious indoctrination.

            Teaching Theistic Evolution isn’t directly about getting people to accept science; it’s about getting them ready to raise kids who will in turn be more inclined to accept science. It’s not a single sprint, but a relay of marathons.

            That said, I can see why Coyne has no patience for it.

            • Notagod
              Posted October 26, 2011 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

              Less science that will clash?

              The scientific endeavor is moving much faster than the christians can transfer knowledge from one deluded generation to the next. Your hypothesis becomes a never ending battle.

              There is something desperately wrong with a society that puts the immorality of christianity in a position of dictating the moral sense of that society.

              What you have outlined is a plan to have society boldly lie to its children forever.

        • truthspeaker
          Posted October 25, 2011 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

          “E.g. there are dozens and dozens of denominations that came to terms with evolution in the 19th and 20th centuries”

          And they’ve all been declining in popularity as the fundamentalist denominations have been growing.

          • Nick (Matzke)
            Posted October 25, 2011 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

            It’s almost like you’re cheering the fundamentalists on…

            • truthspeaker
              Posted October 25, 2011 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

              Just recognizing that their style of faith is more attractive than the moderate kind, in part because it’s more consistent.

              • Nick (Matzke)
                Posted October 25, 2011 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

                It’s not consistent with much except Biblical literalism/Biblical inerrancy. Theistic evolutionists desire consistency between their beliefs and reality, and actually work toward that and actually do by and large respect and defend science, in word and in deed. They ought to get credit for this, even if one disagrees with their religious views. They certainly have earned the right to be treated better than the fundamentalists, but instead we have the bizarre spectacle of New Atheists bashing the theistic evolutionists and complimenting the fundamentalists.

              • truthspeaker
                Posted October 25, 2011 at 11:03 pm | Permalink

                “It’s not consistent with much except Biblical literalism/Biblical inerrancy.”

                Which is more internal consistency than moderate Christianity has.

                “Theistic evolutionists desire consistency between their beliefs and reality”

                Between some of their beliefs and reality. And they mostly achieve this by being vague about what their beliefs are. Is it any wonder they can’t seem to spread their approach to other Christians.

                “and actually work toward that and actually do by and large respect and defend science, in word and in deed.”

                While simultaneously undermining it by identifying with a faith tradition that rejects science.

                “They ought to get credit for this, even if one disagrees with their religious views.”

                They should get credit for acknowledging that reality is real most of the time?

                “They certainly have earned the right to be treated better than the fundamentalists”

                Yes, it’s absolutely terrible that people are disagreeing with them on the internet.

              • Posted October 25, 2011 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

                Theistic evolutionists desire consistency between their beliefs and reality, and actually work toward that and actually do by and large respect and defend science, in word and in deed.

                Respectfully, they do not.

                Theistic Evolution is most emphatically not compatible with the Theory of Evolution by Random Mutation and Natural Selection. An essential component of Theistic Evolution is that one or more Theoses — gods — has materially intervened in the development of life on Earth. Such intervention is explicitly contradicted by the evidence and a superfluous and detrimental addition to the modern version of Darwin’s original theory.

                [W]e have the bizarre spectacle of New Atheists bashing the theistic evolutionists and complimenting the fundamentalists.

                I can assure you, the complements paid to fundamentalists are entirely backhanded.

                The difference between a theistic evolutionist and a fundamentalist is exactly the same as the difference between a young-Earth creationist and an old-Earth creationist. So the theistic evolutionists get the timing right. So what? An astrologer can quite accurately tell you where and when to find the planets in the sky.

                The most important part of the Theory — the mechanism by which life evolves — is explicitly rejected by both and replaced with an idiotic and childish superhero fantasy. What’s needed is for them to drop the “theistic” and simply accept plain ol’ ordinary naturalistic evolution, uncontaminated by ghosts or gods or goblins or anything else that goes “bump” in the night.

                Cheers,

                b&

              • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
                Posted October 26, 2011 at 2:01 am | Permalink

                “On the very same argument presented in your post, the atheist approach is just as doomed as the theistic evolutionist approach!”
                In a very familiar way, you are misreading the article and making a strawman of what was proposed here. It was “to educate the next generation about the folly of religious superstition.”
                That is by the way a common interest for both educators, scientists and atheists.

                “Theistic evolutionists desire consistency between their beliefs and reality, and actually work toward that and actually do by and large respect and defend science, in word and in deed.”

                Creationism like evolutionary creationism (aka theistic evolution) is opposed to science. It claims that the natural theory is invalid and that a religious belief should supplant it.
                That people doesn’t know and acknowledge this is one good reason why we need “to educate the next generation about the folly of religious superstition”.

        • Ichthyic
          Posted October 26, 2011 at 8:42 pm | Permalink

          the general idea that theistic evolution is an appealing option for people who are conventionally religious and see a lot of value in their tradition, but also want to take science seriously, is so well-evidenced I don’t think it needs elaborate documentation.

          uh, given the gallup poll data that show the embrace of evolutionary theory still at the same numbers as 30 years ago, I’d have to say, yeah, you better actually CITE some evidence in support of that contention, rather than just assume it, as you always have.

          It might *seem* appealing to some, on the surface, but it sure hasn’t been embraced given any of the poll data I have seen.

          OTOH, atheism has grown by a significant margin in that same time period, given gallup poll data on actual claimed religious preferences.

          But…On the very same argument presented in your post, the atheist approach is just as doomed as the theistic evolutionist approach!

          I don’t think this is the case.

          why?

          because it’s honest.

          what you want is to lie to people, and in the end, people see this, and it will be untenable.

          you want to propose a lie as an interim solution to a long term problem.

          We say:

          Skip the lie, just discard the rubbish entirely already and move on.

          and, frankly, the only numbers there are support that our case is gaining ground rapidly.

    • Posted October 26, 2011 at 1:49 am | Permalink

      PS: The very fact that a personality of Mohler’s stature is repeatedly attacking the BioLogos folks, when the organization is only a few years old — more than he attacks the atheists, even, methinks — is some evidence that he seems them as a more dangerous threat than the atheists.

      That’s because they’re heretics and traitors, while atheists are merely enemies.

    • Posted October 26, 2011 at 2:28 am | Permalink

      @Nick Matzke: I think you’ve missed the point of Mohler’s message. This isn’t a battle about evolution so much as it is one about authority. It’s about who gets to make proclamations about how the world works. And he’s right. Even theistic evolution requires you to admit that at least on some issues, science has more authority than religion. However, this is hardly ever explicitly mentioned by compatibilists (and you seem to ignore it as well). It gives the impression that compatibilists leave this fact out on purpose, possibly to fool fundamentalists, possibly to fool themselves. Mohler, though, clearly isn’t fooled, as you can see by his comments.

      Atheism of course, directly attacks the problem at its source. It directly questions the authority of religion, and has good arguments to show that it has none. In that sense, it’s an honest, direct approach, that may work better on some people than trying to get people to accept science, while pretending they don’t have to give up anything for it.

      • Occam
        Posted October 26, 2011 at 2:40 am | Permalink

        “This isn’t a battle about evolution so much as it is one about authority. It’s about who gets to make proclamations about how the world works.”

        Exact.
        “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master — that’s all.”

  13. Stackpole
    Posted October 25, 2011 at 8:25 am | Permalink

    To give credit where it seems due, as excerpted by Jerry, Dr. Mohler is certainly a clear writer. Makes his position very transparent.

    I suppose that is his problem…

    • Posted October 26, 2011 at 2:29 am | Permalink

      Yeah, he’s clearly not one of those sophisticated theologians. You can actually understand what he means.

  14. Posted October 25, 2011 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    Love the Creation Museum weasel’s use of “interpret” to describe rejecting evidence that’s contrary to a literal reading of the bible. At least it’s a sign of progress that they don’t feel they can just come right out and say they reject contrary evidence. It’s dishonest to the core, but at least they feel they have to pay lip service to evidence.

    • abb3w
      Posted October 25, 2011 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

      “Rejecting evidence” isn’t quite precise. More exactly, they reject any interpretation of evidence inconsistent with their literal interpretation of the Bible, and are willing to accept any additional premises necessary to allow viewing the evidence as being consistent with their literal interpretation of the Bible.

      There’s not much functional difference, of course, but a slight philosophical one.

  15. daveau
    Posted October 25, 2011 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    “Evidence isn’t labeled with dates and facts; we arrive at conclusions about the unobservable past based on our pre-existing beliefs.”

    Stupid pesky facts. I prefer to make shit up, so it doesn’t conflict with my superstitions.

  16. Anthony
    Posted October 25, 2011 at 8:47 am | Permalink

    Jerry wrote: “No, there’s no convincing Mohler and his flock. Instead, the only solution is to educate the next generation about the folly of religious superstition.”

    It is true that we need to educate the next generation, but we should continue working on the current one. Not all is lost, some of them will be won, I know, I’m one of them.

    • Sigmund
      Posted October 25, 2011 at 8:51 am | Permalink

      What was it that convinced you to leave evangelicical Christianity?

      • Anthony
        Posted October 25, 2011 at 9:57 am | Permalink

        I had embraced evolution and remained an evangelical for about a year. What finally did it for me was the cumulative case from evolution and the historical critical problems with the Bible. I detail my deconversion here: http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/2009/03/why-i-left-christianity_09.html

        • Ichthyic
          Posted October 26, 2011 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

          so, *looks up at Nick Matzke*…

          did you find the notion of theistic evolution appealing at some point?

          If not, why did you reject that?

  17. Occam
    Posted October 25, 2011 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    Enlightenment is the emergence of humans from under their self-imposed tutelage. The tutelage results from their incapacity to use their reason without external guidance. The tutelage is self-imposed when its causes lie not with a deficient reason, but rather with the lack of determination and courage to use one’s reason without external guidance.

    Immanuel Kant, Koenigsberg, September 30, 1784

    Back to basics, as it seems.

    The President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary has just voted to keep his flock forever on September 29, 1784, or before.

    [My translation of Kant. I prefer to approximate as closely as possible Kant's meaning, at the expense of relaxing the syntactic architecture of his original periods in German.]

  18. Michael Fisher
    Posted October 25, 2011 at 9:14 am | Permalink

    sbscrbng

  19. Jim Jones
    Posted October 25, 2011 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    “This is of course more than a tad disingenuous, for Biblical scripture is pretty clear on the sinfulness of homosexuality …”

    Actually, no. Search for 1, (lyings of a woman) and for 2, (centurion pais) to find out what the bible actually says.

    1. Leviticus condemns male – male incest as it condemns male – female incest. It is described as toevah – an unclean act repaired by a mikvah (bath).

    2. Jesus blessed a gay male couple.

    So much for the bible.

  20. jay
    Posted October 25, 2011 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    In truth, the fundies are more consistent than the ‘liberal’ Christians. As ugly or as stupid as some of these beliefs are, they actually go by their book and don’t try to explain away the messy bits.

    The liberal Christians are rudderless and spineless. They’ll believe whatever they want to believe, and ignore what’s inconsistent… and still claim to be Christians.

    • Microraptor
      Posted October 25, 2011 at 9:48 am | Permalink

      “The liberal Christians are rudderless and spineless. They’ll believe whatever they want to believe, and ignore what’s inconsistent… and still claim to be Christians.”

      Fundies do exactly the same thing, they just chose different parts of the book.

      • eric
        Posted October 25, 2011 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

        Yes, exactly. The bible gives inconsistent and contradictory advice about God’s nature and expectations. Any attempt to fashion a consistent message out of it is going to involve some weighting and selectivity. It is a fallacious tu quoque argument for anyone – a christian sect, a non-atheist, whomever – to accuse a Christian sect of cherry picking.

        Now, some interpretations may have more credibility than others due to the amount of mention an idea gets or because of outside, independent, non-biblical evidence supporting it (I’m thinking specifically of higher criticism’s attempts to identify verses added at later times). But any reading must involve some interpretation.

        • Posted October 25, 2011 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

          It is a fallacious tu quoque argument for anyone – a christian sect, a non-atheist, whomever – to accuse a Christian sect of cherry picking.

          Eh, quite the contrary.

          All Christians are salad bar Christians, for exactly the reasons that you point to.

          The fact that they’re all guilty of bad reasoning and judgement doesn’t in any way equate to somehow making none of them guilty.

          There is, of course, a correct way of “interpreting” the Bible, but it’s not a way that’s consistent with any Judeo-Christian religion. Once you realize that it’s all fiction — and rather bad, nasty, violent, misogynistic, primitive, hateful, disgusting fiction at that — then all the contradictions are instantly and trivially explained. The consistent message is, “A bunch of really mean people hacked together these words over a span of centuries, many of them in an attempt to push their new agendas that conflicted a prior author’s old agendas.”

          Cheers,

          b&

          • eric
            Posted October 25, 2011 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

            The fact that they’re all guilty of bad reasoning and judgement doesn’t in any way equate to somehow making none of them guilty.

            Its not bad reasoning to take inconsistent and incomplete data and try and deduce a consistent picture from it. The bible is a noisy data set (meant as a metaphor – I’m not claiming revelation is credible). That does not make all biblical analysis “bad judgement.”

            Now, lots of Christians insist the bible isn’t noisy, which is bad judgement. That indicates the speaker is blind to the very fact that their interpretation is an interpretation. But microraptor is right in pointing out that all sects by necessity do interpretation.

            • Posted October 25, 2011 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

              That does not make all biblical analysis “bad judgement.”

              Thinking that Biblical analysis is anything other than literary fiction analysis is bad judgement. Any conclusions that follow from such bad judgement will also be examples of bad judgement.

              Cheers,

              b&

            • Microraptor
              Posted October 25, 2011 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

              Yes, but I wasn’t trying to imply that that was somehow a good thing- it just means that they’re all equally wrong as far as I’m concerned.

  21. Posted October 25, 2011 at 9:24 am | Permalink

    The accommodationist strategy of telling such people that they don’t have to choose between the Bible and science (or reason, or the simple morality of gay rights) because there is either no conflict, or they’re reading the Bible wrong, is a misguided and futile strategy. The Bible is pretty clear on this stuff, and since the Bible is God’s word, Mohler and his minions will not be moved. They do feel that they have to choose, and they’ll always choose God.

    I don’t understand why you think it’s impossible to change the way people feel. Surely there are some people “on the fence” about the issue, right?

    • truthspeaker
      Posted October 25, 2011 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

      But the only way for them to change is to give up their belief in the authority of scripture. So instead of trying to convince them to give up the authority of scripture and accept theistic evolution, why not try to convince them to give up the authority of scripture and accept atheism.

      • Posted October 27, 2011 at 11:32 am | Permalink

        uhhh, because it’d be easier to convince them to make a less radical change?

        Perhaps you’re right that the effort/reward ratio is better if you try to break the chain completely, but Coyne’s dismissive attitude toward this sort of accommodationism seems awkwardly parallel to their criticism of us.

        • truthspeaker
          Posted October 27, 2011 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

          From their perspective, both changes are almost equally radical.

          • Posted October 28, 2011 at 6:49 am | Permalink

            I find it hard to believe that changing how you interpret the Bible would be as difficult as renouncing it altogether.

            • Microraptor
              Posted October 28, 2011 at 9:40 am | Permalink

              That’s probably because you weren’t brought up to see the Bible as 100% completely literal truth. The people who do often call anyone who doesn’t see the Bible as 100% completely literal truth Not A True Christian.

            • truthspeaker
              Posted October 28, 2011 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

              To them, interpreting any part of it as anything other than the literal word of God is renouncing it altogether.

  22. Steve Smith
    Posted October 25, 2011 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    Mohler: “The Bible is the very Word of God. … Evangelical Christians will either stand upon the authority and total truthfulness of the Bible, or we will inevitably capitulate to the secular worldview.”

    Whenever someone like Mohler makes claims about the Bible being “the very Word of God”, ask which translation they recommend, then go look up the “Johannine Comma” of 1 John 5:7-8. The Johannine Comma—the Bible’s only reference to the Trinity—was a fraudulent addition to the Bible made sometime in the early Middle Ages. This is one of the more famous examples of the many cases of Biblical fraud.

    Mohler recommends several Bibles in his article How do I use a Study Bible?. For a book that is supposed to be the Word of Mohler’s Trinitarian God, Mohler is hilariously inconsistent in his bible recommendations:

    ∙ Mohler’s first recommended bible, the ESV Study Bible, omits the Johannine Comma with comment: bit.ly/uR4GmV

    ∙ Mohler’s second recommended bible uses the NKJV translation, which includes the Johannine Comma: bit.ly/9Wyucb

    ∙ Mohler’s third and fourth recommended bibles use the NASB and Holman translations, which omit the Johannine Comma with a footnote explaining that it appears in some manuscripts: bit.ly/rE5p7p, bit.ly/vNg48R

    Which of these bibles recommended by Mohler is the “Word of God”? Did god say, or did God not say,

    For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one.

    The only objective truth we have the bible is that it is provably fraudulent.

    • Anthony
      Posted October 25, 2011 at 10:06 am | Permalink

      Steve,

      In actuality most evangelicals would not be persuaded by this argument. They make a distinction between the inspiration and inerrancy of the Bible in the “original autographs” and the different translations (many from different textual traditions) that are available today. Only a King James Only advocate (and I was one in my youth) would make this type of argument and only in the attempt to discredit the other translations of the Bible.

      • Steve Smith
        Posted October 25, 2011 at 10:58 am | Permalink

        evangelicals would not be persuaded by this argument

        I can’t say I understand what might persuade an evangelical, but two seconds on Google uncovered this from former-evangelical minister Dan Barker:

        The question about the trinitarian Johannine Comma (I John) — and other tamperings with the so-called “word of God” — is not who knew about it, and when did they know it?

        The real question — as Ehrman points out in Misquoting Jesus — is why would a god who can inspire the writing of scripture not be able to control the copying and translating?

        When I was an evangelical minister, I used to quote that trinitarian formula in my ministry, from the KJV. I sincerely thought it was part of the “word of God.” I did not know I was quoting an interpolation.

        To me, the important thing about Ehrman’s book — and yes, I read it all the way through — is the documentation of the fact that humans — Christians, presumably — have had a tendency to alter the texts. They did it with the writings of Josephus. They did it with the gospels. They invented new gospels. They invented epistles of Paul. Scribes made changes to the copies, either innocently or deliberately. Stories were added — such as the woman caught in adultery, which I also though was autnehtic for many years, a story which I sometimes used in my sermons.

        No I learn that I was deceived. Someone lied to me.

        And if I was lied to about THIS, then what else is wrong with the bible?

      • Steve Smith
        Posted October 25, 2011 at 11:26 am | Permalink

        distinction between the inspiration and inerrancy of the Bible in the “original autographs” and the different translations

        The Comma Johanneum is not merely an inconsequential translational discrepancy; it is the actual addition of a new, theologically significant phrase (“comma”) made to a New Testament translation sometime in the middle ages. The controversy isn’t that the phrase the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one is mistranslated—the controversy is that this phrase was made up thought to be part of Bible.

  23. Posted October 25, 2011 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    Isn’t it wonderful that even Jerry Coyne and Albert Mohler can get together on something? There may be hope for the peace of humanity yet.

    • Sigmund
      Posted October 25, 2011 at 10:32 am | Permalink

      I wouldn’t write off Mohler.
      He is a smart guy, just contorted by religion.
      He said something amusing the other day on one of his podcasts that made me laugh – he contrasted scientific medicine with alternative medicine in terms of postmodernism, calling scientific medicine “modern medicine” and alternative treatments (homeopathy etc) as “postmodern medicine”.
      That is a good line!

  24. coconnor1017
    Posted October 25, 2011 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    Your thinking here is so clear. The gap between the knowledge Science has provided and the rejection of this knowledge by my fellow church-goers became impassable for me. The further one goes with their Christian commitment the more certain they become, in principle, towards God’s reality revealed through Jesus Christ. The primary way to grow in this certainty is with the Bible. I couldn’t take the bigoted stance towards homosexuality while a Christian, but what put me over the edge is when an elder in my church who was a trained bio-chemist and his pediatrician wife advocated for Intelligent Design. Their credulity was galling and their sense of persecution was hysterical (paranoid, not funny). I began to doubt that Christianity was anything other than a club for people who needed strict rules for them to feel safe. Mohler is consistent in his religious view but it is so contrary to any honest moral intuition that it seems nothing more than superstition. Every religious person I know, when pressed, would agree with him. It is the benefit of religion, reductionist certainty within a complex and unpredictable world. I don’t know why I paused in response to the religious assertions being made around me and looked to validate their truth by objective means, but I’m glad I did.

  25. raven
    Posted October 25, 2011 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    “Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological seminary and the U.S.’s most famous and vociferous member of his sect,”

    Mohler is also a thoroughly vicious and ugly human being.

    When he took over the seminary he had a Stalin style purge of all the moderates. He’s also admitted that his fundie god is a monster, but it is their monster.

    A fitting leader for an ugly group of human beings.

    • raven
      Posted October 25, 2011 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

      There is some good news though. The toads that run the SBC are running it into nonexistence.

      1. They’ve lost members for 4 years straight. The membership numbers are cooked anyway, who knows how many are actually leaving.

      2. Retention rates of young people in the SBC are 30% by two different surveys done by themselves.

      3. Their own projections have them being cut in half in a few decades.

      • Posted October 26, 2011 at 2:41 am | Permalink

        Which is why they evangelize so much – they have to rely on recruiting.

        By the way, these sorts of statistics are why I tell atheists to stop worrying about evangelical or fundamentalist Christians outbreeding the moderate and secular people.

    • Occam
      Posted October 25, 2011 at 11:49 pm | Permalink

      Ioseb Besarionis dze Jughashvili, better known by his pseudonym S t a l i n , actually did attend a priest seminary in his youth. By all accounts a formative experience. Religious beliefs and Stalinist methods are mutually reinforcing.

  26. MadScientist
    Posted October 25, 2011 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

    Folks like Mohler deny reality – they’re ignorant and proud of it. Their motivation is to be in their mythical heaven. Any claims of a “secular conspiracy” are merely a rhetorical tool (oh, the Poor Opressed Majority!) As Mohler himself states, they do believe all of the bible is the word of god and all the bible is therefore True and must trump any claims of science. It’s perverse, but it’s also mainstream. The “most christians” that I see described by accommodationists are mythical creatures like Jesus – well, almost – I’ve never met one of these “most” but perhaps a few do actually exist. I wonder what happened to the MooneyBaum “Great Plan to Save America” – are we saved yet? I remember they had a plan so wonderful and so simple that it couldn’t possibly fail – and it’s also the World’s Biggest Secret. Personally I think there’s more reality in the Python’s “Funniest Joke”.

    • raven
      Posted October 25, 2011 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

      Biblical inerrancy is as real as creationism. Not at all.

      Matthew and Luke are just rewrites of Mark. They copied some, changed some, dropped some, and added some. They clearly didn’t think Mark was inerrant or even anything more than raw material for their own works of fiction.

      Roughly half of all the letters are forged.

      The authorship of the gospels is legend assigned long after the fact and probably the real authors are unknown.

      The bible has been written and rewritten countless times. The last rewrite was, the fundie version, NIV. The translators always put their own version in without caring that it is obvious.

    • Notagod
      Posted October 26, 2011 at 10:23 pm | Permalink

      I don’t know any of the Mosts either but, it will be great when they setup their cracker dispensory:

      Church of the Most in Christ

  27. Diane G.
    Posted October 26, 2011 at 1:27 am | Permalink

    …decrying evangelical Christians’ rejection of both reason and scientific knowledge. They singled out evolution and gay marriage as two items that don’t deserve to be rejected, since “the Bible does not condemn evolution and says next to nothing about gay marriage.”

    The other thing the Bible says next to nothing about is, of course, abortion. Funny how seldom that comes up, despite there being far more women than gays…

  28. JDE
    Posted October 26, 2011 at 6:14 am | Permalink

    “converting Southern Baptists to accepting science and evolution should be a major goal of accommodationist organizations like BioLogos.”

    Waste of time; the vast majority will never change. I’m convinced it’s a function of neurology, and the small but slowly growing body of evidence is beginning to bear this out.

  29. spinkham
    Posted October 26, 2011 at 6:14 am | Permalink

    Oh Mr. Mohler, you make me laugh.

    Take for instance this quote:

    Giberson and Stephens simply reject reparative therapy because the American Psychological Association disavowed it in 2000. Dobson, they accuse, charged that the APA did so under pressure from homosexual activists. Giberson and Stephens fail to concede that the APA discussion was well known at the time to have indeed been driven by homosexual activists, who then claimed the decision as a victory for their activism.

    Now, I have the book in question in front of me, and they link to this page as evidence:

    http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/sexual-orientation.aspx

    Quote from that website:

    All major national mental health organizations have officially expressed concerns about therapies promoted to modify sexual orientation. To date, there has been no scientifically adequate research to show that therapy aimed at changing sexual orientation (sometimes called reparative or conversion therapy) is safe or effective. Furthermore, it seems likely that the promotion of change therapies reinforces stereotypes and contributes to a negative climate for lesbian, gay, and bisexual persons. This appears to be especially likely for lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals who grow up in more conservative religious settings.

    That doesn’t sound like disavowing it because the gays paid them off. That says it’s been proven not to work, and that fact is backed up by the data. Where’s your data Mohler? Oh, that’s right, that’s not how you guys roll.

    Now for a few interesting tidbits of my own:

    About Exodus International, chief anti-homosexual group and main purveyor of reparative therapy: Michael Bussee, one of the founders of Exodus and Gary Cooper, a leader within the ministry of Exodus, left the group to be with each other in 1979.

    As acknowledged by Exodus International in 2006, Michael Bussee “has been a longtime critic of Exodus and its leadership.”[18] In June 2007, Bussee issued an apology for his involvement in promoting orientation change through Exodus. Also apologizing were Jeremy Marks, former president of Exodus International Europe, and Darlene Bogle, the founder of Paraklete Ministries, an Exodus referral agency. The apology stated in part “Some who heard our message were compelled to try to change an integral part of themselves, bringing harm to themselves and their families.”[20] In April 2010, Bussee stated, “I never saw one of our members or other Exodus leaders or other Exodus members become heterosexual, so deep down I knew that it wasn’t true.”[21]

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exodus_International

    Studies on effectiveness vary greatly, depending on what bar you set as “success”. If you set the bar as learning to be able to have sex with a woman in the short term, the success rate is fairly high. If you set the bar to any meaningful longterm change in desire either way, it is about 3% effective. For the 1/3 of people, it does something “useful” for them for at least the short term, but long term success is just totally lacking.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reparative_therapy

    • JDE
      Posted October 26, 2011 at 6:19 am | Permalink

      Yes, but we can’t pay attention to facts. It’s well known they were invented by the Devil.

  30. sailor1031
    Posted October 26, 2011 at 7:19 am | Permalink

    “… Diehard evangelicals simply won’t give up the literal truth of the Bible, no matter how many times they’re told that it’s metaphor, poetry, or parable”

    But it simply isn’t true that the bible is mataphor, poetry or parable. It was never written to be. It was written as the ‘truth’. A factual historical record to be believed by the 4th century orthodox faithful as the word of doG. The fact that it’s not factual at all doesn’t change anything for the willingly purblind.

  31. Posted October 26, 2011 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    Directed-theistic-evolution is oxy-moronic obscurantism: ever teleonomy-causalism-mechanism calls its bluff! It blasphemes reason with its contradicting science with it, in effect,s new Om[halos argument: God deceives us with apparent causalism when He rules with His intent-teleology-vitalism!
    What utter stupidity!
    This is hardly a straw man1 Theists openly find telos-intent behind matters just as regular animists find intent-spirits-behind matters. Theism is just reduced animism!
    o,Lamberth’s teleonomic and reduced animism arguments eviscerate directed evolution!
    Lamberth’s genetic argument tells us that theists themselves make the genetic argument for their beliefs by using their arguments from angst and from happiness-purpose! So, Freud, Feuerbach, Marx and Hume are right to use their arguments in part against theism!
    To be sure, this argument is not a catch-all; our other naturalistic arguments sill apply.


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