Posted December 24, 2005
In a response to the Ktzmiller vs DASD decision, William Dembski had a few words to say:
"This galvanizes the Christian community," said William Dembski, a leading proponent of the theory and a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute, a Seattle think tank that promotes intelligent design research. "People I'm talking to say we're going to be raising a whole lot more funds now."
Where to start? Well, I do think that the Christian community should be galvanized, but certainly in a way different from what Dembski thinks. Judge Jones' decision clearly lays out how both the specific actions of the Dover school district and the general tactics of "intelligent design" advocates have been based upon deception, subterfuge, and lies. We as Christians should reject utterly the sort of lies, mendacity, and innuendo that not just characterize antievolution, but comprise it. It is a blot upon the reputation of the body of Christ, an erroneous and injurious digression from the serious business of making our lives an example to the world.
And a positive example of just the sort of response that should be seen is seen in the Clergy Letter Project. More than 10,000 US clergy have signed the following statement:
Within the community of Christian believers there are areas of dispute and disagreement, including the proper way to interpret Holy Scripture. While virtually all Christians take the Bible seriously and hold it to be authoritative in matters of faith and practice, the overwhelming majority do not read the Bible literally, as they would a science textbook. Many of the beloved stories found in the Bible -- the Creation, Adam and Eve, Noah and the ark -- convey timeless truths about God, human beings, and the proper relationship between Creator and creation expressed in the only form capable of transmitting these truths from generation to generation. Religious truth is of a different order from scientific truth. Its purpose is not to convey scientific information but to transform hearts.
We the undersigned, Christian clergy from many different traditions, believe that the timeless truths of the Bible and the discoveries of modern science may comfortably coexist. We believe that the theory of evolution is a foundational scientific truth, one that has stood up to rigorous scrutiny and upon which much of human knowledge and achievement rests. To reject this truth or to treat it as "one theory among others" is to deliberately embrace scientific ignorance and transmit such ignorance to our children. We believe that among God's good gifts are human minds capable of critical thought and that the failure to fully employ this gift is a rejection of the will of our Creator. To argue that God's loving plan of salvation for humanity precludes the full employment of the God-given faculty of reason is to attempt to limit God, an act of hubris. We urge school board members to preserve the integrity of the science curriculum by affirming the teaching of the theory of evolution as a core component of human knowledge. We ask that science remain science and that religion remain religion, two very different, but complementary, forms of truth.
In the second instance, Christians should be repulsed by the notion that we are simply seen as a complicit source of ready cash, ready to be squeezed by sensational broadsides into giving money to people whose aim is to spread misinformation. In these times, there are so many worthy causes to be supported that it should be inconceivable that one would instead send even a dime to folks whose only product is misinformation, and whose claims to be doing Christian work is an offense.
Whether one is a Christian and theistic evolutionist, old-earth creationist, or young-earth creationist, the time has come to reject the false teachings of antievolution peddlers. If one finds the data and theories of science to be incompatible with one's interpretation of scripture, then say that and there leave it. That at least is an honest difference of opinion, without the pretense that one is trying to cloak theology in a camouflage outfit to try to pass it off as science. Christian belief has weathered previous encounters with aspects of science. Pretense, though, must be set aside. Christians can disagree on whether particular findings of science should or should not be accepted, and how the interface of theology and science should be handled. But Christians should draw the line on the use of untruthful tactics. It is past time to say that we will not put up with lies told in the name of Christ.