why the faithful aren’t so accommodating…

Biologos just found out what happens when you take a factual stand against religious zealots instead of mewing about vague, aspirational niceties.
first page of genesis

Generally, readers of skeptical and science blogs get to see criticisms of accommodationism from scientific and politicial viewpoints. We note how they’re more backstabbers than allies, marvel at their lack of spines to stand up for facts while bravely ridiculing scientists for being scientists, and continuously point out just how strenuously they try to avoid a straight answer, casting anyone who questions them as a sociopath on the warpath against the faithful. And while all those critiques are still true, there’s a new set we could add to them by looking at what the faithful think of accommodationist groups and their attempts to subtly introduce a few watered-down scientific theories that pay a whole lot of lip service to a deity and are supposedly explicitly cleared by hordes of theologians. In his follow up to BioLogos’ ideological statement of beliefs, Jerry Coyne unearthed the following quote from a well known Baptist theologian who’s very, very unhappy with ceding a cherished tenet of faith for fundamentalists everywhere: the supposed inerrancy of their holy books…

BioLogos has published explicit calls to deny the inerrancy of the Bible. The concerns do not stop here. The Bible reveals Adam to be an historical human being, the first human being, the father of all humanity. Adam is included in biblical genealogies, including the genealogy of Jesus Christ. If the arguments offered thus far by BioLogos for resolving the “theological challenges” associated with “evolutionary creation” are any indication of what is likely to come in the future, [BioLogos] will wait a very long time indeed for evangelicals to join their club.

Would it be too obvious if I say “told you so!” to any accommodationists who read this blog? My very first posts on accommodationism pointed out that the devoted faithful will not decide to part with their holy texts and their ideas of their inerrancy just because we tell them that science and faith can be reconciled. To them, a phrase like this means that all this uppity and unruly science nonsense with its evolution and cosmology will be held in line as not to venture into their beliefs, not that they’re going to have to give some ground to the facts. In the mind of the faithful, they have the divine truth. Why should they cede any ground to science, a methodology the findings of which they automatically discard when they argue against something they passionately believe, or praise when they can twist them into some support for one of their cherished dogmas? Our theologist shows this attitude perfectly by declaring that BioLogos has gone too far in denying that the Bible is the infallible word of the divine and should be treated like a history book. To him, if science has no evidence for Adam and Eve in our ancient past, the science must be wrong, and for BioLogos to push this science is a travesty. See, this is what happens when accommodationists finally decide to take a firm stance on an article of faith and can’t just hide behind vague appeals to “non-overlapping magisteria” and “compatibility between worldviews.” Instead of being praised across the spectrum, they get angry cries from those whose beliefs they impinged.

But come on, accommodationists might say, we’re not trying to reach the fundamentalists because they’re too far gone in their world but we’re trying to appeal to the moderates! Well, guess what, the moderates aren’t the ones petitioning school boards to stop teaching astronomy and evolution and the moderates weren’t the ones who ran the Texas SBoE when it gutted the state’s educational standards into oblivion. They’re not the ones trying to legislate dogma as national law. They’re not the ones crusading against scientific research because they were told it was an abomination by a televangelist. They’re on your side. They don’t want creationism and its various strains in school, and they don’t want priests teaching science classes to boost church attendance through implicitly validated breach of the wall that should be there between church and state. Appealing to the moderates and liberal faithful is basically preaching to the choir and all it does is make them feel good about their faith while bashing some of those mouthy atheists who keep squawking about science and evidence for this or that. Those who are actually having a negative impact on our schooling and on our politics because of their burning desire to ensure that all heed their opinions as the word of God despise accommodationism in all its forms anyway. To them it’s just wishy-washy pretence at faith, pretence that true followers like them just can’t tolerate in their binary world of us vs. them and in-the-book vs. not-in-the-book.

What I’m basically saying is that the only accomplishment that accommodationists could claim is in making some of the more moderate and liberal faithful think they’re really swell fellows and buy a few of their books or pat them on the head. In terms of getting those who most need to understand real scientific concepts and the merits of ongoing scientific research, things would be exactly the same with or without accommodationists in the picture. Well, maybe with a little less atheist bashing since that’s generally to what they revert when they’re being asked tough questions requiring them to actually take a stance and suggest something more concrete than a grand sounding euphemism for talking, or to find a quick scapegoat for some interfaith debate…

# politics // accommodationism / accommodationists / religion / religious fundamentalism


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