America’s Culture Wars: A Different Perspective
In this video Conversation, senior biblical fellow Peter Enns asks Rev. N.T. Wright to respond to a common question of readers regarding the disconnect between science and religion. Specifically, he asks Wright why he thinks there is such controversy in evangelicalism about evolution. Is this a “culture war” issue?
Wright responds by noting that this is a very America-specific issue. In England, very few people have these same hang-ups about evolution, except where education and movements have come over from America and have gotten into British subculture —much to the dismay of many who think otherwise.
As a possible explanation for this issue, Wright points to the American conservative/liberal split which happened a century ago with the modernist/fundamentalist controversy. The divide was expanded with the Scopes trials and, he points out, has echoes of some of the old civil war mindset—that is, that people in the south are ill-informed and fundamentalist while people in the north are too liberal and doctrinally soft. Though these are only stereotypes, Wright notes, there are still enough examples of them that the caricatures stick.
People then project those divisions onto issues of science and faith and cast those that believe in science as secularists and those that believe in God as being anti-science. These characterizations are flawed, however, since modern science emerged from people of deep faith that wanted to explain the natural world.
Peter Enns wonders if one way past a combat mentality would be for Americans to have a better cultural awareness as to how we have come to this place and Wright agrees that this would be a good thing. “We all see the world distorted,” he says, “and that’s why we need one another, to be honest.”
Commentary written by the BioLogos editorial team.
N.T. Wright is a leading biblical scholar, former Bishop of Durham in the Church of England, and current Research Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity, University of St Andrews. He studied for the ministry at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford, and was ordained at Merton College, Oxford. Wright holds a Doctor of Divinity from Oxford University in addition to several honorary doctorates. Wright has also written over fifty books, including the multi-volume work Christian Origins and the Question of God and his two most recent books Simply Jesus: A New Vision of Who He Was, What He Did, and Why He Matters and How God Became King.