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Nov 12 2011

Why evangelicals believe weird things

There’s an awesome article over at scienceandreligiontoday.com, with the irresistible title of “Why Evangelicals Believe Weird Things.”

Lay evangelicals evaluate the arguments made by “experts” in a manner different from many non-evangelicals. The latter will often ask: How prestigious is her academic pedigree? Is she representing the consensus of similarly credentialed experts? Insofar as I can understand her arguments, do they convince me? Lay evangelicals ask different questions: How good of a Christian is this guy? (Or, in evangelical parlance, “How is his walk with the LORD?”) How closely do his arguments line up with my understanding of the Bible? Is this guy one of us?

Evangelicals also tend to come under the sway of those with the biggest microphones, not the best arguments. Although many evangelical scholars are also capable of projecting piety, they rarely have the resources to flood the airwaves or the communication skills to connect with the average believer…

The evangelical community also keeps its scholars in check. When a college’s base of donors, prospective students, and even board of trustees are made up of lay evangelicals, this places severe limits on what its scholars can say publicly. This fact became apparent at my alma mater, Calvin College, when public outcry and the powers that be combined to silence two scholars advocating the acceptance of human evolution.

The comments are a pretty interesting read too.

9 comments

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  1. 1
    Cuttlefish

    I did see an article in a Christian journal here at Cuttlefish U., describing the scientific method. It was actually a pretty decent description, until it got to the last step, which was “compare your findings to biblical truth”.

  2. 2
    mikespeir

    “Especially in God’s acts of creation, Adam and Eve as first parents, the fall of humanity into sin, and the giving of the so-called “mother promise” (Gen. 3:15), the reality of the events described is of foundational importance for the entire history of redemption.”

    And that’s why these people won’t budge an inch. They know intuitively that the whole tremulous structure of their religion rests precariously on the vaporous foundation of the story of Adam and Eve.

  3. 3
    AJS

    And there was me, thinking that the reason why evangelicals believed weird things was because there was something wrong with their heads. Like still being attached to their shoulders.

  4. 4
    Ing

    I know this seems dickish of me, and it is because of my personal working definitions of the terms, and I know that their thought process is the default not the ideal but it did read to me like the article boiled the answer down to: they are idiots.

  5. 5
    Ing

    By which I mean “They are not critical thinkers”.

    1. 5.1
      SteveV

      Ramen.

  6. 6
    kenduddle

    The more they evagalate the more I am put off by what they say.

  7. 7
    demonhauntedworld

    The comments section is deeply depressing. It’s apparently a logic-free zone.

  8. 8
    SteveV

    Posted this:
    The OP is depressing, the comments could drive one to despair
    .

    From the last paragraphs of the OP

    The disconnect between lay evangelicals and scholars is a problem with tremendous consequences, both for politics and for the level of scientific literacy in America. The vast majority of evangelicals are lay people, and thus, their beliefs, and not those of their scholars, are what end up mattering politically. What the lay evangelical community believes about evolution or global warming impacts which GOP candidates will succeed (Jon Huntsman doomed his campaign by voicing his belief in science on both issues). It impacts how much support will exist in the House and Senate for legislation dealing with climate change. It impacts what local school boards will teach in public schools about human origins.

    It’s a problem, therefore, that affects every American.

    It’s not merely a problem for ‘every American’.
    It’s a problem for every organism on the planet. If America rejects science and the hard won knowledge of the world that, for instance, enables me to write this post, means that no-one will die a horrible death from smallpox or polio etcetera, et-bloody-cetera, then we’re all doomed: Christian, Muslim, Hindu, believer or atheist.

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