The Butler Staff and Faculty Ministry at Butler University plans to have Terry Mortenson from Answers in Genesis speak at an April 11th event. James McGrath, a professor at Butler University, does not think Mortenson should be permitted to speak at Butler.
I would like to express my dismay that BSFM has chosen to invite a representative of an organization opposed to not only the mission of Butler University, but also the historic Christian faith and respect for the Bible, to our campus. Answers in Genesis promotes views which are at odds with both the scientific evidence and what the Bible says.
I have blogged more than once about Terry Mortenson’s previous visit to campus. Here is a link to one example.
I wonder what motivates the invitation of someone who represents an organization that brings the Christian faith into disrepute. Those who make false claims, and who maintain that the making of such claims is what it means to be a Christian, do only harm to the faith. That is what Answers in Genesis does. They persuade many people that they have to choose between what science concludes and Christianity, and in a self-fulfilling prophecy, many people who then discover the weight and extent of the scientific evidence then leave their faith.
Why not invite someone like Francis Collins, an Evangelical Christian who headed up the Human Genome Project and who is now director of the NIH? Someone who actually knows about the relevant scientific information and can talk about it from a Christian perspective? Why not invite a Christian like John Walton who is also a Biblical scholar and can talk honestly and accurately about the creation accounts in Genesis? Why invite self-proclaimed experts without relevant expertise who deceive the gullible and drive people away from the faith?
I am very disappointed with BSFM. I am not sure who is responsible for the invitation, but I hope that you will forward my e-mail to them. I do not know whether there is any hope that the invitation extended to Answers in Genesis could be reconsidered, but it ought to be.
McGrath’s posting of his letter has elicited almost 300 comments on his blog. Defenders of Terry Mortenson, Answers in Genesis, and young earth creationism, quickly found out about McGrath’s post and left comments objecting to McGrath’s letter.
The discussion quickly turned to a creationism vs. evolution debate. The debate went like these debates ALWAYS go…nowhere. While I totally agree with James McGrath on Butler University giving Mortenson a platform to spread the creationist religion (in the name of science), I do wonder why people like McGrath continue to engage creationists in discussions.
Several times I tried to point out that the issue was not one of science. My comments were ignored. I suspect McGrath enjoys talking about science like I enjoy talking about theology. It is easy to get involved in discussions that ultimately are a waste of time. The reason is simple.
McGrath and others wrongly assume that if they show the creationist the science that they will see the error of their way. This wrong assumption results in long drawn out discussions about science and totally misses what the real issue is.
The real issue is the Bible and the authority the Evangelical grants the Bible. Evangelicals are literalists who believe the sixty-six books of the Christian Bible are the inspired, inerrant, infallible word of God. According to the Evangelical, God spoke through human writers to write the Bible. As such, the Bible is different from any other book ever written. It is a divine text, ultimately written by God himself.
When the Evangelical reads Genesis 1-3 they read it literally. The Bible is clear. God created the world in six days and this is how he did it. The findings of modern science, and not so modern science, directly conflict with what the Bible says. What is the Evangelical to do? He will always reject the science. When he ceases to reject the science he ceases to be an Evangelical. (with rare exception)
So arguing with an Evangelical about matters of science is a waste of time. The only matter for the Evangelical is what God said in his Word. The Evangelicals sees the debate as one of authority. They reject the authority of science over the Bible and contend that evolutionary science is nothing more than a religion built upon faith assumptions.
I am of the opinion that the best way to reach an Evangelical is by embracing their viewpoint and then trying to poke holes in their interpretation of the Bible. To reach the Evangelical, their belief that the Bible is the authoritative Word of God must be challenged and eroded. Like Satan in the Garden of Eden, they must be brought to the place where they are willing to say, Yea hath God said? Get an Evangelical to question the authority of the Bible and you have a good chance to change what he thinks is true.
I realize that scientists are not trained in theology and often have a poor understanding of church history. As an atheist, I am often embarrassed when some of the leading scientists wander off into discussions about theology, the Bible, and church history. I wish they would leave the theological debates to those of us who have experience with Biblical issues.
I am no scientist and I have no problem deferring to people like Steven Hawking, Richard Dawkins, PZ Myers, Jerry Coyne, or Lawrence Krauss. They have spent their entire lives studying science and I trust their expertise in their respective fields. I just wish they would do the same when it comes to matters of theology. Like the scientist, those of us who know the Bible and theology well, have given our entire lives to understanding these things.
And this is why scientists need to listen to us when it comes to creationism. The creationist will never be won over by scientific evidence. It has NEVER been about the science. In McGrath’s case, his area of expertise is religion and philosophy. While not a trained scientist, he does have a good understanding of science. (far superior to yours truly) I just wish, in the most recent discussion on his blog, McGrath would have attacked the foundation of the creationists, the Bible and their interpretations of the Bible, rather than engaging in a log, drawn out debate about science. (and numerous commenters did this)
When it comes to what creationists believe it is never about the science.