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Science and Faith in the Front Lines of the Culture War

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February 24, 2010 Tags: Pastoral Voices

Today's video features Os Guinness. Please note the views expressed here are those of the author, not necessarily of The BioLogos Foundation. You can read more about what we believe here.

In this brief video conversation, Os Guinness, author and founder of the Trinity Forum, suggests that the religious right might have largely created the current culture war that has science and faith as its core antagonists.

He offers that while this culture war, in some cases, a world issue, in particular it is an American problem that has emerged in the last several decades. Guinness points out that religion and the religious right now makes up “the holy war frontline” of the culture war and the perceived discord between science and faith is a part of that. As a result, there is a large amount of fear, misrepresentation, and demonizing of opponents.

Guinness observes that in many ways the New Atheists have been partially created by the religious right. Historically, in America, there was no “vehement repudiation” of religion until fairly recently with the political involvement of the religious right (described in Kevin Phillips’ 2006 book American Theocracy).

Initially the concern for nonbelievers was the intersection of religion and public life, but now it is religion itself. Part of that powerful argument which rejects religion is that religious people have such a poor view of science—and are therefore characterized as uninformed, out-of-touch, and the like. In many ways we have “played into their [opponents to religion] hands and that is totally unnecessary,” says Guinness.

In thinking about this, check out the recent discussion on Jesus Creed. Note especially the statement by RJS in “Comment #15:”

Coyne sets up a view of Christian faith - knocks it down, and becomes annoyed when the reality of Christian thought is more complex. The data he takes to disprove the faith becomes data that refines our understanding of faith and revelation.

There is nothing the new atheists would like more than for the fundamentalist view of Scripture to predominate in evangelicalism. They can set it up as a straw man and then beat it to death. Tragically, along with that death goes the Christian faith of many young people. It is the only faith they know and, now dead, they have nothing to take its place.

In reality Scripture is much richer than that. It is a living document, which through the ongoing activity of the Spirit of God, transcends culture and time.

Commentary written by the BioLogos editorial team.


Os Guinness is an author, social critic, and founder of the Trinity Forum. He has been a guest scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Studies and a guest scholar and visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution. He is a frequent speaker at political and business conferences around the world and has written or edited more than 25 books.

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dopderbeck - #5250

February 24th 2010

Could you add the embed code for those of us who want to blog / pass this on?  Good stuff.


Webmaster - #5252

February 24th 2010

You can access our videos and their embed codes via our YouTube Channel. The direct link to the Os Guinness video is:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TniC-FzZR3I


Glen Davidson - #5266

February 24th 2010

Dawkins has always attacked religion, but in America it has been different.  Look at PZ Myers’ writing only five years ago:

Yet here I am, saying that science and faith have nothing to do with each other, that this hypothetical, mythical god is something supernatural, unreachable by the toolkit of methodological naturalism, and that there are no empirical tests that can decide its existence yay or nay.

http://lloydletta.blogspot.com/2005/12/idiot-views-actually-weaken-foundation.html

Indeed, the IDists were the ones pushing the claim that evolution conflicts with religion, while most atheistic and theistic evolutionists had no animus against religion.  It appears to me that US “New Atheists” simply took IDists at their word in the end. 

Certainly history does not in the least bear out ID claims that evolution exists to undermine religion, but they have managed push some of its defenders into that stance.

Glen Davidson
http://tinyurl.com/mxaa3p


Dan Sullivan - #5271

February 24th 2010

Disappointed in Guinness.  So the religious right produced the animus of the new atheists in the last 40 years?  Has he not read the Humanist Manifesto of 1933, which says “Religious humanists regard the universe as self-existing and not created” and “Humanism asserts that the nature of the universe depicted by modern science makes unacceptable any supernatural or cosmic guarantees of human values” and “We are convinced that the time has passed for theism, deism, modernism, and the several varieties of “new thought”.

It is so fashionable to blame conservative Christians for everything.  Very surprised Os Guinness would go there, considering his connection to Francis Schaeffer.


Unapologetic Catholic - #5278

February 24th 2010

I normally agree with the very thougthful RJS, bu tthis time I msut disagree.  A number of denominations requires Young Earth creationism:

Evangelical Reformed Presbyterian Church
Lutheran Church Missouri Synod
Protestant Reformed Churches in America
Seventh-Day Adventist Church

Are these not mainstream Christian denominations?  Isn’t it fair for Coyne to treat them as “typical” Christians.  Aren’t about half of all Christians Yougn Earth creationists?  Wouldn’t we characterize such a widespread belief as “typical’ of Christians? 

That beliefe is unquestionably silly from both a scietific and a theological sence.  Why is it a straw man for Coyne to point out the obvious?

Isn’t it fair to suggest that persons who hold such beliefs really don’t have much to offer in either science or theology?  I think it is.


Mike Gene - #5380

February 26th 2010

“Historically, in America, there was no “vehement repudiation” of religion until fairly recently with the political involvement of the religious right (described in Kevin Phillips’ 2006 book American Theocracy ).”

This is simply false.  “The political involvement of the religious right” was going full steam in the 1980s and it was a reaction to “taking prayer out of school” coupled with Roe vs. Wade.  New Atheism was not born until the early 2000s where it was a reaction to 911.


Mike Gene - #5383

February 26th 2010

Hi Glen,

“Indeed, the IDists were the ones pushing the claim that evolution conflicts with religion, while most atheistic and theistic evolutionists had no animus against religion.  It appears to me that US “New Atheists” simply took IDists at their word in the end.”

Nope.  Read Chapter 6 in Ken Miller’s book, “Finding Darwin’s God.”  Miller notes that ID began as a reaction to the claim of many popular science authors, who were using evolution to argue for atheism.  Both the New Atheist and ID movements are populated by people who think alike - they both reject MN, they both embrace the god-of-the-gaps approach, and they both want Science as The Authority to impose their metaphysical cultural agenda.


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