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Priesthood of Science

by Dr. Elizabeth Mitchell on June 18, 2011
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Huffpost Religion: “Is Accepting Evolution ‘Optional’ For Christians?The priesthood of science discourages people from thinking for themselves.

Ever since Louisiana passed a law allowing teachers to “use supplemental textbooks . . . to help students critique and review scientific theories,” those who fear such academic freedom have clamored for its repeal. The latest attack has come in response to Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachman’s public support for Louisiana’s legislation.

A well-known theistic evolutionist, Dr. Karl Giberson, recently posted a blog practically declaring the priesthood of scientists. Of course, in that scenario, a scientist who holds to a different interpretation of the evidence would be a heretic. Such scientists are commonly accused of no longer being real scientists.

Giberson assures us that we as Christians should stop thinking critically about issues the “scientific community” has already decided for us. He says:

In The Language of Science and Faith Francis Collins1 and I cautioned our fellow Christians against holding out hope that there is a real alternative to accepting the consensus of the scientific community, especially as we see no need for Christians to be uneasy about evolution in the first place.

Furthermore, Giberson says it is “disastrous” to suggest high school students be allowed to critically analyze the scientific interpretations presented to them. He proclaims that “critical thinking about sources and expertise is essential in navigating the complexity of our modern scientific world.” Yet he is afraid that allowing high school students to exercise that skill outside the bounds set by the “scholarly community” will “send the message that there is no such thing as knowledge.”

Giberson states that Congresswoman Michele Bachman’s opinions about evolution are “of no value.” Why then, we might ask, in the Michael Zimmerman post to which he links,2 is so much made of high school student Zack Kopplin’s opinions? Does the high school student have some special expertise? Or for that matter, why are scientific forums still quoting Hillary Clinton’s statement3 that “I believe in evolution. . . . I am grateful that I have the ability to look at dinosaur bones and draw my own conclusions. . . . [Antibiotic-resistant bacteria4 are evidence that] evolution is going on as we speak.” Does Mrs. Clinton have more scientific expertise than Congresswoman Bachman?

There is nothing “anti-intellectual” about exercising discernment, but there is something very frightening about being told to hush and let others do our thinking.

Answers in Genesis has never suggested that teachers of any persuasion be forced to teach creationism but rather has always maintained that students and teachers should have the academic freedom to critically examine scientific facts and the worldviews by which they are interpreted. There is nothing “anti-intellectual” about exercising discernment, but there is something very frightening about being told to hush and let others do our thinking.

Truth is not determined by the majority vote of anybody, not even a “consensus of the scientific community.” Truth is found in the Word of God. And while worldview-based interpretations of scientific facts may disagree with the Bible, the actual facts themselves never will. 1 Thessalonians 5:21 commands Christians to “Test all things; hold fast what is good.” The authority behind that command outranks Dr. Giberson.

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Footnotes

  1. See “The Search for the Historical Adam” and Population Genomics.
  2. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-zimmerman/michele-bachmans-stance-o_b_868771.html
  3. http://blogs.physicstoday.org/politics08/2008/01/hillary_clinton_on_teaching_ev.html
  4. Antibiotic Resistance of Bacteria: An Example of Evolution in Action?

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