The rejection of science and confusion of morality amongst Evangelical Christians

Pew has put out a new survey in which it asks Evangelical Christians what they believe about life:

First, and probably of no surprise to anyone, is the result of the question regarding acceptance of the scientific theory of evolution. The survey posed the question:

Which statement comes closest to your own views?” – the options being:

1. Humans and other living things have evolved over time due to natural processes such as natural selection.
2. A supreme being guided the evolution of living things for the purpose of creating humans and other life in the form it exists today.
3. Humans and other living things have existed in their present form since the beginning of time.

In other words the choices are evolution, intelligent design of the Michael Behe variety, and standard creationism. It is important to note that the Pew foundation used a wording for the evolution option that, unlike some previous surveys, doesn’t specifically exclude a role for God: for instance, someone who believes that God set up the laws of nature and that biological evolution is just one of the consequences of these laws should answer option A.

What proportion of evangelicals accept the scientific theory of evolution?

The answer is 3%

In addition to this confusion over the underlying foundation of all of biology, many Evangelical leaders don’t seem to be so sure of what their little cultural god is telling them:

“A majority (73%) of the leaders from the Global North consider alcohol consumption to be compatible with being a good evangelical Christian. By contrast, a similarly large majority of the leaders from the Global South (75%) say alcohol consumption is not compatible with being a good evangelical.”

And there really is no way to resolve the issue. The Bible, written and changed by men, is like any other piece of literature – all interpretations of it are subjective. These divides amongst Christians – even Christians of the same subgroup, no less – amply demonstrate that fact. Furthermore, even where something is straight-forward and hardly ambiguous, it is still interpreted by humans, under human constructs, and by the human brain. It can’t help but be subjective. And unlike, say, science, it doesn’t have any methods which can remedy these facts in a way that works.

What’s more, there appears to be a marked difference in views on how women should be treated.

“Among U.S. leaders, 44% agree women should stay at home, while 53% disagree. Leaders in Europe, however, reject the idea of women staying at home by a more than two-to-one margin, 69% to 28%.”

and

“European leaders (62%) and North American leaders (54%) are especially likely to reject the idea that a wife must always obey her husband. On the other hand, upwards of 60% of leaders from sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East-North Africa and the Asia-Pacific region agree that a wife must always obey her.

Even the “good” numbers (62% and 54% for the latter part) are awful.

I’m well aware that many fields today are dominated by men. That is often a legacy of past sexism as well as a problem of current, though undeniably reduced, sexism. It’s true of science, it’s true of atheism, it’s true of video games, and it’s true of so many other fields. But those areas don’t tend to attempt to perpetuate the worst of their legacies. That isn’t what we see with Evangelicals.

More liberal and/or more aware Christians have this habit of denying the nature of the fundamentalists within their religion. ‘Surely they aren’t as bad as everyone describes them, right?’ Wrong. This Pew survey pulls back the curtain and shows many of these people for what they are. And let’s not forget just how many people we’re talking about. Estimates of Evangelicals in the U.S. range from 25-30% of the population. That means, to put some of the results into real numbers, about 35 million people in the U.S. believe a woman should obey her husband. (And how many of those people ironically also describe themselves as libertarian, I wonder?) Only a few million of these people are willing to accept established and overwhelmingly evidenced science. And when we look at Evangelicals around the globe, they sometimes demonstrate a deep confusion over what their particular cultural god is telling them. (Yet how many claim that the Bible is objectively true or that they can objectively know something?) This all presents a very real challenge to the progress of the nation and the world at large. The delusions and confusions of faith-based thinking are holding back real knowledge and clarity of thinking, and that ought to make everyone nervous.

Advertisements

3 Responses

  1. None of this is a surprise. This has been known for decades.

  2. Actually, I’m a little surprised that as many as 3% of evangelicals believe in unguided evolution. How is that compatible?
    I know it leaves a small gap for God, but these are evangelicals, not just Christians. They have, according to Wikipedia, a “high regard for biblical authority, especially biblical inerrancy”.

  3. Since we can only ever ‘know’ anything subjectively, and since religion has no methods available to address that fact, I think it’s easy for some people to get confused. That’s why different Evangelicals make different moral claims around the globe today.

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: