After Democrats seized Congress in the mid-term elections this month, the mainstream media grabbed the opportunity to gloat over Republican losses. Conservatism, personified, in their opinion, by President Bush, and supported by evangelical voters, bore the brunt of defeat. Pro-life representatives were ousted. Pro-abortion candidates and legislation, such as Missouri’s Stem Cell Research and Cures Initiative aka embryonic cloning, were elevated to legitimacy. It is predicted that the conservative agenda will be slowed, if not halted on issues like gay marriage, partial-birth abortion, judicial nominees, tax cuts, and many others.
How did it happen? Many pundits believe it was because desperate Republicans tried to peddle a diluted message to voters. Compromise is the word some use.
Both Time and Newsweek took aim at the losers—namely, the “religious right”—last week with their cover stories. “God vs. Science” on the cover of Time attempted to relegate religion, and particularly creationists, to the status of a struggling, fringe institution. Newsweek employed the “divide and conquer” strategy with their cover piece titled “The Politics of Jesus,” in which they predict the demise of conservative Christian influence in the political arena. Of course, it didn’t help that a prominent and politically-outspoken Christian leader named Ted Haggard publicly confessed to homosexual adultery.
The message: Bible-believing Christians have lost their influence and need to either get with the program or shut up.
Marketing Christianity as Myth
Within Newsweek was an almost overlooked article by Sam Harris titled “A Dissent: The Case Against Faith,” in which he opens with this statement:
Despite a full century of scientific insights attesting to the antiquity of life and the greater antiquity of the Earth, more than half the American population believes that the entire cosmos was created 6,000 years ago. This is, incidentally, about a thousand years after the Sumerians invented glue. Those with the power to elect presidents and congressmen—and many who themselves get elected—believe that dinosaurs lived two by two upon Noah's Ark, that light from distant galaxies was created en route to the Earth and that the first members of our species were fashioned out of dirt and divine breath, in a garden with a talking snake, by the hand of an invisible God.
Harris, author of The End of Faith, attempts to make the case for embryonic stem cell research, excoriating President Bush and the religious right for interfering in science. He laments that “religious dogmatism impedes genuine wisdom and compassion.”
“In a world brimming with increasingly destructive technology, our infatuation with religious myths now poses a tremendous danger. And it is not a danger for which more religious faith is a remedy.”
Christians go home.
God vs. Time
In setting up his argument, writer David Van Biema of Time turned the question of faith and science upside down.
“Can Darwinian evolution withstand the criticisms of Christians who believe that it contradicts the creation account in the Book of Genesis?” became “Can religion stand up to the progress of science?” Clearly he believes that Christianity is on the way out.
Citing the ecstatic fervor of scientists today involved in genetic mapping and engineering, brain imaging, and other advances, Van Biema writes that these gifted men of modern science have now become victims of intolerant Christians:
…a growing proportion of the profession is experiencing what one major researcher calls "unprecedented outrage" at perceived insults to research and rationality, ranging from the alleged influence of the Christian right on Bush Administration science policy to the fanatic faith of the 9/11 terrorists to intelligent design's ongoing claims. Some are radicalized enough to publicly pick an ancient scab: the idea that science and religion, far from being complementary responses to the unknown, are at utter odds….
The Christian right. President Bush. Saudi 9/11 terrorists. Creationists. All in one sentence. All radical. All responsible for “unprecedented outrage” against rational researchers.
To make the case against creationists, Time hosted a “debate” between Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion, and Francis Collins, Director of the National Human Genome Research Institute, a professing evangelical Christian.
A fair match? Atheist vs. Christian? Yes. Evolutionist vs. Creationist? Not really. Dr. Collins, while acknowledging God as Creator, sees evolution and the Big Bang as the means by which the world came to be. He states:
There are sincere believers who interpret Genesis 1 and 2 in a very literal way that is inconsistent, frankly, with our knowledge of the universe’s age or how living organisms are related to each other. St. Augustine wrote that basically it is not possible to understand what was being described in Genesis. It was not intended as a science textbook.
There it is. The slam is made. And out of the mouth of a prominent evangelical scientist. Time has made its point.
Professor Dawkins, riding a wave of celebrity publishing and never one to withhold his criticism of creationists, suggested that Collins could “save himself an awful lot of trouble if he just simply ceased to give them the time of day. Why bother with these clowns?”
Little was discussed about the facts of science—a bit about universal constants such as gravity. Rather, the clash between faith and science was the topic Time wanted to probe.
But there’s no convincing Dawkins, who does not even acknowledge the existence of good and evil. “I don’t believe that there is hanging out there, anywhere, something called good and something called evil,” he said. Dawkins labels God’s involvement in evolution, as Collins offers, “a tremendous cop-out.” And he has a good point.
If God wanted to create life and create humans, it would be slightly odd that he should choose the extraordinarily roundabout way of waiting for 10 billion years before life got started and then waiting for another 4 billion years until you got human beings capable of worshipping and sinning and all the other things religious people are interested in.
If God is really God, He would have immediately created the world and mankind as He desired. And that’s exactly what the Bible states God did.
Collins, while defending God’s existence, long ago adopted the notion that modern science interprets the Bible, rather than acknowledge the Bible’s absolute authority over science. And that’s where he puts himself and the other evangelicals who follow his dogma into the category of fools.
Was there a winner between Dawkins and Collins?
Yes. Time Magazine.
Interested in more? Read the following ICR perspectives:
Stem Cell Research: Greasing the "Slippery Slope" to Godlessness by Dr. Dan Criswell.
The Splendid Faith of the Evolutionist by Dr. Henry M. Morris