Thursday, September 21, 2006

Christianity Today recently published an article that, I believe, shows in part how real apologetics works. The articles is by Preston Jones, a Christian college professor who really likes punk rock. His story: He writes the (atheist) lead singer of Bad Religion. A lengthy correspondence ensues on issues of science, faith, life, etc. Now published as a book. What I appreciate about the prof's approach is his eschewing of debate and the idea of "winning." He also rejects the silly manipulative "listening" that is now supposed to be evangelistic.
A neat piece.

Some highlights...

On "Debate":
I've tried to resist the construal of our correspondence as a "debate." Yes, we disagreed and went at each other, but we didn't debate.

Debate is about winning, and that's important in many contexts. But I didn't care about winning. Nor did I care about "listening" in the gushy, politically correct sort of way associated with people-friendly evangelism.

On Evolution:
In those months of dialogue I also saw the devastation wrought by the passion for pseudo-scientific theories on natural history among some Christians. Many of my students believe that six-day creationism is an essential Christian belief—that if the first chapters of Genesis can't be taken literally, then the whole Bible is a fraud. What tragic nonsense!

Before Greg and I corresponded, I didn't care. "You wanna believe the earth was created six thousand years ago? Whatever." But Greg helped me see that this kind of gaping ignorance promotes the perception that theologically conservative Christians are the enemies of learning.

I don't believe that scientists, the overwhelming majority of whom conclude that some evolutionary process has been underway, are part of a great demonic plot to undermine the Bible. I don't believe that scientists are lemmings, chirping the same supposedly anti-God tune. Greg's own doctoral dissertation shows that most leading evolutionary biologists don't think that religion and evolution are incompatible.

Yes, there are materialist fundamentalists like Richard Dawkins and William Provine (Greg's advisor) who claim to be stating facts when they're really stating atheistic opinions, but they are easily matched by Christians of high academic stature who acknowledge the evolutionary workings of the natural world—I'm thinking of John Polkinghorne, Kenneth Miller, Owen Gingrich, and Francis Collins.

I really think that Christians need to get over being hung up on evolution, mainly because it seems to have happened, and because there's nothing anti-God about it. And our theologians need to face the implications of evolution for how we think about the Fall and providence, among other things.

Read it all. (PS--From the Gratuitous Name Dropping Department: Owen Gingerich was my undergraduate thesis advisor.)

Spaceballs Returns!
This movie was a formative influence on my childhood. Lines frequently spring to memory ("I can see your Schwartz is as big as mine."). Just saw today that Mel Brooks is turning Spaceballs into a cartoon to debut in 2007. Read it all.

Saturday, September 02, 2006