Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Belting Ford In The Head

A little over a week ago, I picked up a copy of the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) magazine called, Acts & Facts (v. 38, no. 5, May 2009). I was interested in finding out what is being said at the forefront of evangelical culture as regards evolution, that maniacally controversial hypothesis.

The opening article was a letter from the editor, Lawrence E. Ford, called “Time to Tighten Our Belt”. Ford's premise is that religion and politics have strayed from the conservatism of yesteryears. He disparages of the reality that in Texas, the 'buckle' of the Bible Belt, Christians have become more liberal. Ford identifies this drift away from religious and political conservatism as “battles raging against truth,” the antidote to which is to have a “commitment to truth – uncompromising biblical truth.”


And just what are these battles “raging against truth”? First, Ford states that Christians are accepting a diluted worldview that is a result of how scripture is read and interpreted. But that speculation stops with a deferal to Dr. Henry Morris III who has furnished Acts & Facts with an article dealing with the “Conflicts Between Text and Theology”. Morris's ½ page précis of classic Christian hermeneutics does nothing to validate Ford's deferal; it clarifies even less. What Morris's article does do, however, is admit that, “Interpretation places a filter on the words of Scripture so that one can 'rightly divide' (according to one's theology)” [italics mine].

So when Morris's article is taken alongside Ford's concern for the dilution of the biblical worldview in Christian culture today, we are left with two results: the interpretation of scripture is necessarily a free act done by individuals, which warrants liberalism in religion and politics; and, a justification to pick freely which side of the battle one will fight on. For if scriptural interpretation is a free act that every individual can do, then the interpretation that individual accepts may, or may not bolster the cause of evangelicals for or against evolution.

Second, Ford identifies the nature of 'science' as another battle. Says Ford, “'Science' is the critical word in this fight. Who has the right to define science and how it should be conducted and taught?” At this point, Ford unwittingly reinforces Sam Harris's crucial point that there is a “social disorder, a conversational disorder” between religionists and secularists. There will necessarily have to be disagreement on the scope and definition of certain fields of study like 'science' if the starting points of meaning are fundamentally opposed. Science does not start with religious assumptions; religion does not start with scientific assumptions. So saying, secularists are not beholden to religious definitions of science, nor are religionists bound to secularist definitions of science.

This really should come as no surprise to Ford, since he more than likely swears by a certain denominational creed. At the same time, he probably tips his hat in a warm and loving hypocritical nod to other Christian traditions not his own. Ford begins his religious definitions with the assumption that his current loyalties are correct and – in true missionary fashion – other's religious convictions are either incorrect, or somehow misguided. The point is that Ford has a different definition for his religion than others of the same faith. How much more the difference in definition between the religious and non-religious?

To see this as a battle, however, is really just blustering and propagandism. Ford has deliberately used the word 'battle' to muster the emotions of his religious cohorts and “spur [them] on to love and good deeds” (Heb. 10:24). By trumpetting out the battle-cry, as it were, Ford has bypassed the human intellect and relied solely on the reactionary emotionalism of others sympathetic to his cause. Ford does his readers a great disservice at this point by rendering conversation mute; who can levy definitions when they're too busy shouting to listen? How are secularists and religionists going to come to a place of agreement, even on such paltry items as definitions, if at least one of the two camps is stuffing the air with empty-headed emotionalism?

Nevertheless, Ford's blowhard rhetoric does put his point across, even if that point is blunt and ineffectual: Christians need to counter the claims of the non-religious scientists. There is no point of contact between creationists and evolutionists, and the sooner evolutionists admit their dunderheadedness the sooner we can get on with some real 'science'. You know, the kind of science that starts with a literal reading of Genesis, that doesn't blush at the notion of talking snakes, and willingly accepts that the earth only appears to be old, but it's actually young. The kind of science that betrays its own principles of verification by faithfully accepting a non-empirical god who currates the minutiae of the universe. The kind of science that disregards what is relentlessly provable (in this case, evolution) in favour of speculative gaps (i.e., intelligent design). The kind of science that is, in fact, religion.

Despite Ford's congenial triumphalism, his shameless plugs for ICR would read just as disingenuously if he were editing Skeptic Magazine. The fact of the matter is that Ford's whole premise rests on his presumption, nay, his faith that his religious perspectives are more science-minded than that of non-religious scientists. Because he can double-distill his scientific knowledge through his religion and his position as a spin-doctor/editor, he thinks he can afford the luxury of writing as though the irreligious are a pack of petulant bias-mongers out to stunt and stilt human growth. It does seem somewhat non compos mentus, however, to believe that evolutionists are out to harm or destroy the intellectual health of our species, when the whole point of their publications is to illuminate about the mechanisms of health and survival.

This point is lost on Ford, unfortunately. He's not interested in intellectual expansion, or socio-philosophical health and survival; he's interested in preserving his campy religious ideologies, receiving blind support from the emotionally volitile, and waging a war against evolutionists. He's interested in survival at any cost. Which is funny, overall, since that's exactly what the people he's fighting against are trying to teach, and what he's actively denying.

4 comments:

Skeptigirl said...

I think we should stop telling God how he created the world and accept the evidence that we have uncovered. Just because Christians, including me, would feel more comfortable believing God just made the world appear with out a clear explanation does not make it so. Our faith needs to be strong enough to deal with ambiguities or we might as well become agnostics. Religion should not be us telling God how the world works but us believing the clues God left for us.

Kane Augustus said...

Skeptigirl,

I find your statement, "Our faith needs to be strong enough to deal with ambiguities or we might as well become agnostics" really interesting. The first thing that comes to my mind is this: isn't 'faith' itself an ambiguity?

E said...

Hey, a link you left at my place doesn't work for me.

BTW, to cleanse your palate of the sour aftertaste of creation science, go here:
http://biologos.org/

Randy said...

Skeptigirl

"I think we should stop telling God how he created the world and accept the evidence that we have uncovered"

I think Leo Frankowski said it nice when I seriously paraphrase

"Science is the study of how god works."

In his book his main character actually felt closer to god through science because studying god's work and understanding god's work made him understand god better.

Of course studying the brush strokes of a great painter will not make you a great painter, just like studying god's work does nto ake you a god.