Saturday, December 29, 2007
Evangelical Stand Up
Resisting cheap jokes isn't going to be easy here ...
There is an article in the Boston Globe by Rich Barlow, entitled "Evangelicals gather to brainstorm" ...
[Were the results as bad as Katrina? ... No, no ... forget I said that!]
... about a conference, earlier this December at Boston University's law school, bringing together evangelicals from across the country and various academic disciplines, including law, history and philosophy. The ... um ... brainchild of Peter Berger, a BU sociologist (and "theologically very liberal Lutheran") and Timothy Shah, a Washington foreign policy expert (and evangelical), who together are conducting a two-year research project on the "Emerging Evangelical Intelligentsia."
[Wherever they are emerging from should be investigated! It's so well hidden, maybe Saddam's WMDs are there! ... Sorry!]
Even Berger concedes that the term "evangelical intelligentsia" will sound oxymoronic to many.
[Well, he's half right! ... No, I promise I'll stop!]
"This is an enormously significant phenomenon . . . and there's remarkably little information about it," Berger said during an interview. "You're dealing with at least 60 million [evangelical] Americans and possibly as much as 100 million Americans, and if that large a community is considered . . . not respectable in public discourse by academics, media people, and the broader educated public, that's very bad."[Patient: "Doctor, when I talk about my religion, people think I'm stupid." Doctor: "Don't do that!" ... Honestly, I can stop anytime I want ...]
As an example of the influence of these thinking-person's evangelicals, Shah and Berger point to the fact that "intelligent design" has entered the vernacular. Shah is not sure he buys the concept, and Berger labels it theology, not science.[Okay, I give up! I can't come up with a cheaper joke than that!]
"Science depends on falsification [of inaccurate hypotheses], and you can't falsify God," Berger said.
But both call intelligent design a more sophisticated response to Darwin than evangelicals' traditional, literal belief in the Genesis account of creation.
Tossing overboard the term "creation science" demonstrates a defining trait of this faith-based intelligentsia.
Just as keeping two sets of books is a more sophisticated method of robbery than pulling a gun and demanding someone's wallet.
Some of the people who do specialize in Bible, theology and the like really believe what they're teaching. William Lane Craig is an example of one such person. Craig is not stupid; he's articulate, well-read, thinks quickly on his feet and is a pretty good debater. Nevertheless, he's bought into a body of beliefs that make sense on the condition that one only examines them from within their framework. Such pre-suppositionalism defies logic, but it may be the most tenable strategy by which otherwise intelligent people can hang on to religious dogma.
It's difficult for people who stand outside of religious bodies to grasp how appealing and comforting religion can be. Those of us on the outside see the manipulation and dehumanization that is invisible to the faithful. We outsiders often don't see the strong sense of community and shared values that bind believers together more tightly than their purported beliefs do. So, yeah, it's hard to believe, but a good number of believers actually are fairly bright people.
I didn't call them cheap jokes for nothing. I spend four years schooling under Jesuits and am well aware that the religious can be smart. I probably would have ignored this if it wasn't for the stupid statement that substituting "ID" for "creation science" is "the defining trait of this faith-based intelligentsia."