Archive for January, 2014

Interesting article in the New York Times on the GOP’s war on evolution.  Apparently a new Pew poll has found an 11 percent decline since 2009 in Republicans who believe our species evolved over time.  That’s interesting, but not as interesting as this concluding remark to the article:  “So climate change, the Big Bang and evolution must be categorically rejected as threats to religious faith (which they’re not).”

So much I could say about that, in no particular order:

1.  “Threat” is the wrong word to use here because it’s so generic.  If someone is frightened by something, even something that isn’t dangerous, it is very much a “threat”.  But that’s irrelevant to this evolution business.  The real question is whether or not evolution, the Big Bang and climate change advance a world-view that is logically incompatible with a religious world-view.

2.  The author needs to distinguish between simple evolution (which teaches that things change over time as existing genetic variety gets favored in response to environmental pressure) and naturalistic evolution (which teaches that all life is an accident both in terms of its origins and its present state).  The former is NOT incompatible with a theistic world-view  (in fact, it can be used to argue for the existence of a God with foresight) but the latter most certainly is logically incompatible with a theistic world-view.

3.  Why is climate change listed with evolution?  Evolution (at least in the naturalistic expression described above) is a “threat” to religious faith because it advances a world-view that is fundamentally incompatible with a religious/theistic world-view.  But there is nothing inherently anti-God in the idea of climate change.  Climate change could be a God-intended part of the created order, or human sin and subsequent abuse of the environment could be responsible for unhealthy changes in the earth’s climate.  Neither idea is anti-religious.  So why is climate change listed with a more obviously anti-religious concept like evolution (again, assuming naturalistic evolution which is the only one religious people actually have a problem with)?  I’m afraid the answer is that too many religious people (mostly evangelical Christians) have lumped climate change into the same category with naturalistic evolution.  I guess it works like this:  left-wing politicians believe in evolution & left wing politicians believe in human-caused climate change.  I reject left-wing politics and I reject evolution so I must also reject human-caused climate change.  That’s a stupid way to decide what we believe about issues, but it happens all the time.  I can’t believe how many Christians I have met who are ardently anti-climate change simply because they perceive it as a left-wing political tool…which it might be, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that climate change isn’t happening or that humans aren’t at least partially responsible.

I’m actually less disappointed with the author of this NYT article than I am with Christians who give that author reason to believe this is the kind of simplistic thinking that predominates among the Christian community.

For the record, I’m not sure what I think about climate change.  I’ve reviewed the raw data from the NOAA sensors going back almost 100 years and the data is conflicted…it all depends on which parts of the data you compare to which other parts.  So I’m not sure if the planet is heating up or not and I’m not sure if humans are at least partially responsible.  I’m still trying to decide based on the scientific evidence.  But I do know that what most Christians think about climate change has nothing to do with the data and everything to do with who says its happening.  And that’s a terrible way to find the truth.

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