By Charles Clough
Are evangelicals, of all the religious communities in America, the most in need of science education?
That would seem to be the take-away if you attended a national conference held in Washington, DC, on March 13, 2015, as I did.
Sponsored by the AAAS Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion (DoSER), the well-attended presentations claimed to be concerned primarily about the conflicting views that the religious and scientific communities tend to have of one another. One religious community, however, was singled out for special attention: evangelicals.
DoSER Director Dr. Jennifer Wiseman set the theme of the conference. It was not intended to examine the underlying philosophies of the science and evangelical communities (philosophies, by the way, that are the root of much of the conflict). The dialogue, instead, was to focus on the perceptions individual members of each community have of those in the other.
Judging from the selection of panelists and their topics, the actual goal desired by conference organizers was not so much to help people in either community understand each other as it was to change evangelicals' perceptions of two specific areas of science. They apparently fear that resilient opposition within the evangelical community against acceptance of Darwinian molecules-to-man evolution and anthropogenic global warming logically implies evangelical hostility to all science.
To remedy this situation, AAAS DoSER has inaugurated a two-pronged strategy to educate evangelicals. To deal with leadership it has obtained sufficient funding to approach ten seminaries to establish courses in their curricula for future clergy to "better understand science." If successful, increasing numbers of seminary-trained pastors and theologians fed a superficial scientific understanding from a few hours in seminary will become advocates for the sloppy science of the Green movement.
To deal with the evangelical public, AAAS DoSER has partnered with Public Agenda to produce a five-page dialog guide, Same World, Different Worldviews: How Can Evangelical Christians and Scientists Minimize Conflict and Improve Relations? The resulting small group discussions are to consider options on how evangelicals and scientists should interact. More such tools are sure to be forthcoming. Each will likely continue the "either-or" fallacy of either cooperate with all areas of science or with none.
Conference discussion leaders in the environmental stewardship group all represented the same view of the environment. Man was responsible not only for oceanic garbage and smoke pollution but also for affecting the climate and over populating the world. Either we accept all alleged effects, or we are environmentally irresponsible. The Perceptions conference laid out very clearly a well-thought-through strategy to capture the evangelical community. It is well funded and aggressive.
It is not surprising that AAAS would push evangelicals to embrace evolution—something it has done for decades. But it also presents belief that dangerous, manmade global warming is a crisis demanding urgent action for solution—an idea that arose only in the last three decades and remains very controversial among world-class scientists—as another litmus test of evangelicals' "understanding" of "science." I.e., if we don't accept it, we don't understand science.
That AAAS's meeting did this, however, is clear from the fact that the "environmental stewardship discussion leaders" included only outspoken climate alarmists Katharine Hayhoe, Dorothy Boorse, and Mitchell Hescox. Significantly, groups not participating in conference management were the Creation Research Society, which challenges Darwinism, and the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation (of which I'm an Advisory Board member). The Cornwall Alliance has published significant papers by outstanding scientists and economists on climate change and public policy that challenge the climate alarmist perspective and creates educational materials based on sound economic, theological, and scientific scholarship for Christian schools, colleges, seminaries, and churches.
Evangelicals are no less intelligent than secularists. They only need to be exposed to the Green movement's fallacies and to the truly Biblical perspective of the environment. Cornwall Alliance is a David fighting a Goliath, but we know how that conflict turned out.
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