By Bob Allen
A Southern Baptist seminary president says recent poll numbers showing that one third of Americans reject evolution is bad news for secularists.
“Over the course of the 20th century, the worldview of evolution was supposed to replace the worldview of Christianity, at least to displace Christianity and the biblical worldview, in terms of the account of the origin of the cosmos and of humanity that is held by most people,” Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., said in podcast news briefing Jan. 8. “And to the frustration of many in the cognitive elites, that simply has not happened.”
Mohler, who has a Ph.D. in theology and holds to a “young earth” view of creation, commented on recent survey results from the Pew Research Center indicating that while six Americans in 10 believe that human beings and other living things “have evolved over time,” 33 percent reject the idea of evolution, saying “humans and other living things have existed in their present form since the beginning of time.”
The survey cites religion as a contributing factor. Nearly two thirds of white evangelical Protestants (64 percent) and half of black Protestants reject evolution.
Mohler said the large number of Americans who do not view evolution as a plausible explanation for how humans came into exist “is to the enormous frustration of many of the opinion shapers in this country.” He cited an example from Saturday’s New York Times, an op-ed titled “Indoctrinating Religious Warriors” by columnist Charles M. Blow.
Blow described the survey findings as “sad” and “embarrassing.”
“I don’t personally have a problem with religious faith, even in the extreme, as long as it doesn’t supersede science and it’s not used to impose outdated mores on others,” he wrote.
Mohler said the column speaks to a worldview that says “science is supreme” and that all things must bend to science. It also, he said, sends a message to evangelical Christians to “just keep your religion out of the public square and public policy when it comes to any kind of debate on morality.”
“Evolution, as an ideological principle, is absolutely central to the liberal progressive project of replacing the Christian worldview and Christian morality with a different set of moral and cultural principles; in other words, a different worldview,” Mohler said.
Mohler, who in the past has termed evolutionary theory first proposed by English naturalist Charles Darwin “incompatible with the gospel of Jesus Christ,” said Darwinism “allows one to be an intellectually fulfilled secularist, moving morality and the culture in the direction of a secular ethic.”
“As it turns out, the Pew data reveal that millions of Americans aren’t going along with that project,” Mohler said.
The Pew study notes that in some religious groups, a minority hold the anti-evolution view. Sixty-eight percent of white Catholics and 78 percent of white mainline Protestants said they believe that “humans have evolved over time.”
Some, including regional bodies affiliated with the United Methodist Church, Episcopal Church and Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, have endorsed the Clergy Letter Project, an endeavor to demonstrate that religion and science can be compatible founded by Michael Zimmerman, a longtime biology professor with a Ph.D. in ecology.
Nearly 13,000 American Christian clergy have signed Zimmerman’s open letter affirming belief that “the timeless truths of the Bible and the discoveries of modern science may comfortably coexist.”
“Religious truth is of a different order from scientific truth,” the letter says. “Its purpose is not to convey scientific information but to transform hearts.”
It describes evolution as “a foundational scientific truth, one that has stood up to rigorous scrutiny and upon which much of human knowledge and achievement rests.”
It urges members of school boards to “preserve the integrity of the science curriculum by affirming the teaching of the theory of evolution as a core component of human knowledge” and asks “that science remain science and that religion remain religion, two very different, but complementary, forms of truth.”
Zimmerman’s group is gearing up for its ninth Evolution Weekend, where participating congregations address the relationship between religion and science the weekend of Feb. 7-9, timed to coincide with the anniversary of Darwin’s birth on Feb. 12, 1809.
More than 400 congregations have signed up so far, including Baptist churches in Indiana, Ohio and Virginia.
Meanwhile, in Petersburg, Ky., on Feb. 4, Creation Museum founder and Answers in Genesis President/CEO Ken Ham is scheduled to debate Bill Nye, former host of the Emmy-winning “Bill Nye the Science Guy,” a children’s television show that aired between 1993 and 1998. Tickets for the event, which starts at 7 p.m. in the Creation Museum’s 900-seat lecture hall, reportedly sold out online in 2 minutes.
Ham said the debate “will be one of our major events in 2014 to highlight how children and teens are being influenced by evolutionary thinking.”
“I hope to show Mr. Nye and our debate audience that observational science confirms the scientific accuracy of the Genesis account of origins, not evolution,” Ham said.
Nye, who was featured in a 2012 YouTube video titled “Bill Nye: Creationism Is Not Appropriate For Children,” told CNN he doesn’t expect to change Ham’s mind, but he accepted the invitation because he believes it will take “a scientifically literate populace” to solve the world’s problems.
“For people who live in the area, the Kentucky area adjacent to Cincinnati, you don’t want science students given the idea that the earth might be 10 thousand years old, or 6,000 years old,” Nye said. “This is an economic concern. We don’t want people in the future who are going to become our scientists and engineers to not grasp the importance of the process of science. “