2013 Was a Terrible Year for Evolution… but Only if You Tried to Teach It At a Christian School January 3, 2014

2013 Was a Terrible Year for Evolution… but Only if You Tried to Teach It At a Christian School

Karl Giberson (below) has a PhD in Physics from Rice University and once held the title of Vice-President of The BioLogos Foundation, a group that attempts to reconcile faith and science. That blemish aside, you can imagine the trouble he got in when he attempted to teach evolution at a Christian institution. Even though the science he taught was sound, the administration, along with parents and donors, wanted him to lie to the students and teach Creationism instead. He refused to do that and had to leave as a result.

In an article for The Daily Beast, he says 2013 was a “terrible year for evolution”, but his story indicates that it was only terrible if you were a professor at a Christian school trying to convince a bunch of people living inside a bubble that they were misinterpreting the Bible at the expense of reality:

Anti-evolution, and general suspicion of science, has become such a significant part of the evangelical identity that many people feel compelled to choose one or the other. Many of my most talented former students no longer attend any church, and some have completely abandoned their faith traditions.

Productive scholarship that would be highly valued at other institutions became instead a major liability. Administrators complained that I was too controversial and creating public relations problems — not because they disagreed with what I said but because I was no longer just whispering it quietly in the classroom. Youth pastors informed the admissions office at the college that they were discouraging students from attending the college because it promoted evolution. Affiliated churches withheld financial support. Donors went elsewhere with their money.

Not all Christian schools do this, of course, but the ones where evolution is seen as a conspiracy instead of as the culmination of evidence are precisely the places where students need to be re-educated. Giberson’s experience reminds us that those schools are only good for one thing: Indoctrination. They don’t produce students who graduate ready to enter the real world; instead, they suck in students who pay tuition in order to be lied to by people they think they can trust.

2013 wasn’t a terrible year for evolution. It was just a(nother) terrible year for Christian education. Any school of “higher education” that says there’s only one textbook that matters and that all of reality must fit within the confines of that book even when it obviously doesn’t is part of the problem.

The benefit to schools like that, as Giberson notes, is that students willing to actually educate themselves end up learning the science and leaving the faith. Win win! Meanwhile, those schools that think the Book of Genesis is more trustworthy than fossils and DNA are forcing out qualified educators, making the learning environment even worse for the already-handicapped students.

Giberson would be doing these students a bigger favor not by trying to convince them evolution and Christianity are compatible, but by encouraging them to transfer to real schools when evidence and logic aren’t seen as liabilities.

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  • Sven2547

    Evangelical Christianity is only hastening its descent into irrelevant obscurity as long as it continues to define itself by two main positions: anti-science and anti-equality.

  • michaelfugate

    The local Adventist university has had a long-running battle over whether biologists should teach biology or whether they should teach religion.


  • WallofSleep

    “Not all Christian schools do this, of course, but the ones where
    evolution is seen as a conspiracy instead of as the culmination of
    evidence are precisely the places where students need to be re-educated.”

    Oh lord, I’ve heard the conspiracy theory about evolution a million times, and it still raises my hackles due solely to it’s incredible, weapons-grade stupidity. The sheer scope of such a conspiracy would be overwhelming to conceive, let alone pull off. The hundreds of millions of people needed to pull off such a conspiracy, not just in present day but through out the last 150+ years, and all of them keeping their mouths perfectly shut the whole time? And all of this for no other purpose than to separate humanity from the christian god?

    Why, you would have to be astronomical orders of magnitude dumber than the dumbest 9/11 truther to buy such a patently obvious, bullshit conspiracy theory like that. We’re talking cork on the fork, here.

  • WallofSleep


  • Rob Stark

    Can’t these schools loose their Accreditation or are the Accredited at all?

  • Rob Stark

    Got it. Thanks.

  • Marie Alexander


  • Aussie

    After watching 2 young earth creationists on YouTube actually taking a group of children around a museum and blatantly standing in the museam and actually telling those children outrageous lies I thought why doesn’t the museam staff step in and say it was all bullshit ? But they are not allowed to ! So sad young minds are being warped at an early age by this brainwashing agenda. Watch it it’s an eye opener to say the least !

  • 2013 Was a Terrible Year for Evolution…

    I expect that evolution marched on in 2013 just as it did in the previous 3.5 billion years, oblivious to the craziness of one species out of millions.

  • jamilleChristman

    Indeed the headline is very misleading. Evolution doesn’t really have a bad year, unless you are a chicken and by year you mean 100 million years.

  • But…but…I thought that they changed their tune recently to “academic freedom” and “teaching the controversy”.

    Oh, right…they only say that when they wish to endorse creationism as the alternative to evolution in a public school, and never to endorse evolution as an alternative to creationism in a Christian school.

  • Svelaz

    Hey, that’s a really good point. It would be funny to actually see it applied and prove that since in their realm it IS the controversy.

  • “Any school of “higher education” that says there’s only one textbook
    that matters and that all of reality must fit within the confines of
    that book even when it obviously doesn’t is part of the problem.”

    I remember this specific garbage being taught in the fundie school which I was sent to as a kid. So, the bible trumps all other knowledge, does it? What does it say on the treatment of disease, or the prevention of infection? It would be surprising at their level of fundamentalism that they weren’t with the sect which shuns medicine for prayer, but a lot of them in the Baptist organization behind that school were actually medical doctors! What they valued most in modern medicine was the power to impress tribal people who they hated, giving them an in so that their missionaries could convert, control, and use them!

    Most of what was taught in that school was not open to discussion – self-study packets as a teaching format prevented this, and thereby served to contain most inconvenient questions. In student assemblies, students were induced to recite bible verses and dogma, as well as spend much time singing war-like songs as “soldiers for Christ”. They carried their bibles everywhere too, always conspicuously, and often in slick leather sheaths as a status symbol. They were like little robots, very hateful when their programming was challenged, and immature for their ages. Much was preached at them of belief (as if it were a choice) and hellfire for those who reject Jesus.

    I was 11 years old when I landed there as a problem child, in a podunk town where no other alternative schools were in reach, and since I had not (nor was I ever) been raised in that culture, this was a bit of a shock. There was no end of conflict for me because I understood just how bogus, hypocritical, and hateful these people were, as I understood that those who started in that environment from kindergarten would likely never have a sane view of this real world!

    Of course, they feared all teachings on evolution, too!

    Well, I don’t want anybody to have to live in fear, but it may be about time to call into question the right to have any contact with children for those who will do such violence to their developing minds. Such conditions are as bad as almost any form of child abuse. If the Christians ever resort to physical terror (that’s only a question of time as they steadily lose this war), then they already have a mental army to tap into. They are already waging intellectual terror on us, as we just experienced from Osama bin Palin and her libelous books! But most of all, we should oppose the teaching of any religion in any school curricula (in other words, relegate it by mandate to elective after-hours activities) because it’s cruel, and because it harms! Children should not be taught that they are evil, and they should never have to lose sleep because some jerk told them they could suffer the horrible fate of burning in an eternal furnace that never, ever stops burning them!

  • paulalovescats

    Aah, you know the evangelicals won’t have anything to do with evolution. It’s the first step down the slippery slope leading to atheism.

  • paulalovescats


  • Philo Vaihinger

    Right. Creationists misinterpret the Bible like Jihaders misinterpret the Koran.

  • Terry Firma

    I don’t know that either group “misinterprets” what’s in those books. They seem to me to be all too correct about the various boneheaded commandments and proscriptions contained therein.

  • David

    “The good thing about science is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it.” – Niel Degrasse Tyson

  • Buckley

    “Not all Christian schools do this…” No, but the Nazarene controlled universities around the US do. There was a prof at Olivet Nazarene University who was forced from his 30 year science professorship for publishing a book on Evolution and how it fit just fine with the Bible. he was forced out because the Nazarene Churches, which contribute a sizable amount of the operating budget to the universities threatened to pull funding…so they pulled the prof instead. Plus, since they do not believe in tenure you must toe the party line or your career is over. I have no idea why any credible scientist or scholar would put up with this nonsense.

  • Buckley

    Here is the prof and his book and his being relieved to teaching duties:


    And Dr. Giberson was prof. at a Nazarene University…They have a very screwed up religion:

  • [Dr. Giberson] once held the title of Vice-President of The BioLogos Foundation, a group that attempts to reconcile faith and science.

    Well that was his first mistake. They are utterly different epistemologies that cannot be reconciled unless:
    1. You have an absurdly loose definition of what “reconcile” means.
    2. You don’t look very closely at either one; details are not important.
    3. You think that comparing two things in metaphors, in similes, and in analogies makes those two things actually identical.
    4. Reconciliation is so very important to you that you have a high tolerance for fudging and fuzzy thinking. Close enough is good enough, as long as we all feel good in the end.

  • Mike De Fleuriot

    I wonder what a Million dollars would do as a challenge to prove that creationism actually is true. Do something similar to the JRef Challenge, but only focus on having creationism proved to explain things better than ToE. Maybe even have it as a weekly reality show, allowing the theists to pit their wits against evolution.

  • Mike De Fleuriot

    Fakes Scots everywhere

  • Mike De Fleuriot

    There is still room behind the vehicle, so come help push it over the cliff.

  • Intelligent Donkey

    I’ll go even further and say anti-information and anti-humanitarian.

  • Malcolm McLean

    You’ve got exactly the same problem in liberal universities. Teachers who try to teach the evolution of sex differences can find themselves in trouble. But sex-specific strategies are an important part f the evolution of behaviour. Since about 50% of our genes are expressed in the central nervous system, that’s half the subject.

  • Malcolm McLean

    Old books are interesting because they are written by people who lived in a different sort of society to our own, with a different means of production.But they weren’t usually written by boneheads.

    Atheist sneering is in its own way just as distorting as biblical fundamentalism.

  • Malcolm McLean

    Truth doesn’t contradict truth. That’s a basic Catholic position, sometime diluted by lefty relativists (you often get “that might be true for you, but don’t try to impose it non anyone else” from young people, on any subject from drug-taking to biblical criticism).
    So if science says one thing and religion another, either one is wrong or both are wrong. Wrong doesn’t mean “wrong through and through”, it can mean “partly the truth but not the whole truth”.
    But scientific models change all the time. The Newtonian world worked like clockwork, leading to Deism then atheism – the idea that the clockmaker sets up the machinery than walks away, then that the clock has always been there, Jeans’ “steady state” theory.. The quantum world is intimately involved with consciousness and illusion, leading to New Agey type spirituality, the idea that we can influence reality by the way we look at it.

    Then you can note an incompatibility, but you can’t expect to be always capable of solving it. Quantum mechanics and relativity are incompatible. No-one has succeeded in unifying the two basic physical theories (though don’t ask me too much on this, it’s not my field).

  • tinker

    Not to mention that their God himself would have to be part of the conspiracy. After all, who else could fake all of the readily observable signs of evolution in nature today?

  • The Starship Maxima

    Indoctrination isn’t something limited to the religious or the right wing, contrary to the opinion of sites like this and others.

    Regardless of that fact, it violates Christian ideals to lie in the name of preserving the truth; the very thought is a massive logical oxymoron. The Bible repeatedly tells us that we don’t have to hide from examination, rather, we should embrace all doubt. Indeed, if we truly believe it, then let it be tested in the light.

    If it isn’t true, well, Christians wouldn’t be the first people to believe something false en masse (even if sites like this make it seem so). If, as I suspect, it’s less a case that the Bible contradicts reality, and more that the Bible contradicts what we know about reality given our impressive, but still limited knowledge, then we’ll know that too.

    Besides, the number of times a liberal/atheist’s statements of “unassailable fact that any fool can see”, quote unquote, that then turn out to be not quite so “unassailable” under closer examination makes me think we should be inviting them to put their views out there, not keep them hidden.

  • tinker
  • tinker

    Excuse me while I go be sick.

  • Artor
  • The Starship Maxima

    Paying people to lie is a horrible idea.

  • jamilleChristman

    100 million years ago it was a T-Rex, and I would say if you started out as a T-Rex and ended up as a chicken you are having a real bad time. http://m.imgur.com/YaWUy

  • Mike De Fleuriot

    I think it would be coin well spent. if it gets their ideas held up to the bright of public scrutiny. Make it a prize if they can show how their ideas are better than those that ToE puts forward. Make it into a 26 min TV weekly show, and by the end of the first season, everyone will know that ID is bs.

  • Kenneth Polit

    My personal favorite is the argument that gawd placed fossils in the earth to “test our faith”. If your spouse hired someone to attempt to seduce you, you would be (understandably) livid, but gawd gets a pass?

  • Derrik Pates

    Unilaterally defining (your) religion as capital-T Truth, as the supposed religious “thinkers” like William Lane Craig do, doesn’t make it true. As Christopher Hitchens said, anything which can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.

  • The Starship Maxima

    That was a pretty nifty analogy.

  • Malcolm McLean

    That’s the “no evidence” argument. Religious people do sometimes assert things without evidence, as do atheists, but it’s quite rare. Creationism is always asserted on flimsy evidence and specious arguments, for example, but it might not be obvious to the casual observer that the arguments are specious – they might go into what seems like erudite detail about the development of bird flight or something.

    However you can’t expect scientific-type evidence for non-scientific claims. And if people describe subjective experiences, or even non-subjective experiences, often it’s a simple choice between accepting what they say or dismissing it, the only evidence is the claim itself.

  • The Starship Maxima

    I see your point, (I don’t think intelligent design is bs and I actually think, looked at a certain way, evolution suggests craftsmanship, rather than random happenstance, but that’s another post).

    I just worry that the only incentive for formulating ideas should be the truth and the pursuit of knowledge. Not to win a prize or prove a point.

  • The Starship Maxima

    Good point.

  • Terry Firma

    Yes, ancient books are “interesting.” However, we now live in a world where, fifteen hundred to two thousand years later, several of them are thought by more than half of the world’s population to be the final world on morality.

    We’re talking about tomes that are used to literally justify anything from child abuse to rape to genocide. A surprising number of the texts in question leave little or no wiggle room for “interpretation.” When they order rape, they mean rape. When they command murder, they mean murder.

    I suspect you know this was my point, but are just being willfully obtuse so you can paint me as some anti-old-literature stooge.

  • g75401

    “The idea that we can influence reality by the way we look at it”. What a superficial flippancy! The fact is, because of your gender, background, upbringing, nutritional status, and educational status, you view your reality much differently than someone who grew up in Africa or Asia.If you spent any time at all learning how the brain processes information and how our sensory organs generate that information, you’d know that. I also love the statement about quantum mechanics and relativity are “incompatible”. As if our understanding of science is a static entity. The fact is, they most certainly are compatible, we just haven’t figured out the equation that describes the relationship. Both are occurring as we speak….

  • Pitabred

    A Christian has a better chance of getting into heaven than not being a hypocrite. It’s part and parcel of the religion.

  • Mike De Fleuriot

    My point is to show live in colour how wrong creationism and ID is. Just like James Randi does with his $1 000 000 challenge for psychics and the like.

    As to your suggestion about ID, you do know there is a Noble Prize for you in there.

  • Granted that would be a very long post, but what about evolution suggests craftsmanship? Is it the elegant way our waste pipelines are right next to our pleasure/reproductive pipelines? Or the wonderful way our pelvises aren’t big enough for many babies’ heads, so women and babies die in obstructed labor quite often? Is it the fact we have a blind spot right in front of us, our substandard hearing and sense of smell, the way our immune system occasionally attacks our own body for no goddamn reason, the imperfections that lead to cancers and Tay Sachs and sickle cell anemia and other genetic diseases?

    I really am curious. I think that I could do better if I were designing an ideal species, and I’m not very good at this sort of puzzle. Even just picking and choosing from other species’ developments, though, I could make a species that was immune to cancer (sharks), didn’t die in childbirth (laying eggs ftw), wasn’t dependent on eating meat and citrus for vital nutrients (we lost the genes for vitamin B12 and vitamin C development aeons ago), had the eyes of a mantis shrimp, the nose of a dog, the ears of a bat, gills and lungs both, and various other improvements.

  • The Starship Maxima


  • The Starship Maxima

    One of the great problems in discussing this is that I’m not the most scientifically proficient person there is.

  • Malcolm McLean

    You pick up an Old Testament and read things which don’t accord well with modern ethics. But where do those modern ethics come from? Largely, Christianity, with just a thin layer of non-Christian ethics laid on top.
    Whilst you could use the Bible to justify stoning adulterous women, actually no Chriatian or Jewish group of any size or significance does so.

    The Koran is different, I agree.

  • Neko

    To be fair, the NT authors drew heavily on the Hebrew scriptures to fashion the messiah story.

    I do think that better education in the history and literature of the Bible would go a long way toward neutralizing the menace of Biblical literalism and radicalism. Judaeo-Christianity is such a massive cultural legacy that it’s important to understand how it all came about and why it continues to resonate for so many people.

  • Terry Firma

    Selective much?

    How many kids are habitually beaten — sometimes fatally — with belts and sticks, because the Bible commands it, and evangelical a-holes like Michael and Debi Pearl get rich promoting the practice? http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2013/11/05/christian-parents-receive-massive-sentence-for-the-starving-and-freezing-death-of-their-adopted-daughter/

    That’s just one example of how moral your Bible is.

    Shall we instead discuss how good Bible-readin’ folk rain down contempt and persecution and actual violence upon LGBT people in dozens of countries, nowhere more so than in ultra-Christian Uganda?

    We could also talk about the murderous exploits of the highly ethical Holy-Book-fetishizing believers who are described in Steven Leonard Jacobs’ Confronting Genocide: Judaism, Christianity, Islam.

    Et cetera.

  • What makes a system of ethics “Christian”? I’m curious because, to make your claim true, you have to include in the set of “Christian ethics” many systems that are mutually incommensurate on even the most basic of moral questions.

  • The New Testament that 1) says to keep following all those OT rules you just dismissed, 2) tells women to sit down and shut up, 3) explicitly condones slavery in several places, 4) didn’t make up any new good ethics (Lao Tsu predates, Hillel is roughly contemporary with when the NT books were written, and at least some Native American cultures arrived at it independently, to name just a very few formulations of the Golden Rules)? That Christian ethics?

    Modern ethics are based on Enlightenment thinkers building upon ancient ideals such as the Golden Rule. Most of these thinkers were explicitly non-Christian- they were deists or athiests in the main.

  • Kingasaurus

    Spot on.

    Also, how about simply giving us eating and breathing tubes that don’t intersect each other, so nobody ever chokes to death on food? The idea that you have to suspend your breathing so you can swallow a bolus of food is absolutely horrible “design.” It’s just asking for trouble.

    (If course, if you simply realize that our eating and breathing mechanisms are contingent compromises of natural selection that work just well enough -not perfectly – to be favored adaptations of pre-existing ancestral features, the problem of why we choke to death becomes obvious. There’s no “designer” to ask why he or she gerrymandered something like this. Evolution doesn’t do “perfect”, because it’s a blind natural process and unlike a designer-god, it can’t pre-plan anything. It’s never starting from scratch. It just deals with what is already there from previous rounds of evolution. Evolution does “just well enough to do the job most of the time”, but that’s all.)

  • The Starship Maxima

    Remind me never to debate you on the finer points of evolutionary theory.

  • All you need is the curiosity to learn.

  • Neko

    It’s almost comical the way you cherry-pick the NT. Right, Jesus was a vicious and unimaginative misogynist whose overriding contribution to civilization was issuing a divine imprimatur for slavery. Got it.

    tells women to sit down and shut up

    Presumably you refer to 1Timothy 2:11-15. 1Timothy is a forgery in Paul’s name. Paul’s descriptions of the early church in what are considered his authentic letters indicate an unusual degree of respect and even egalitarian posture toward women (a few of whom were his patrons), probably because Paul believed that the “form of this world is passing away” and that opportunity for transcendence is available to all people regardless of gender or status. Paul, like Jesus (probably), thought the world as they knew it would soon come to an end.

    You want to rip Paul for being a homophobe, fair enough, but a misogynist? Not evident.

    Malcolm McLean may be overstating the case, but there’s no question that modern Western ethics developed in part from the Judeo-Christian tradition.

  • The Starship Maxima

    Well, in that regard, I should be okay. 🙂

  • The Starship Maxima


  • Terry Firma

    You simply cannot know what ethics framework would have developed without Biblical Christianity. We might well live in a considerably better world.

    I don’t know either, but I’d be willing to chance it. In other words, if I had a time machine and the chance to go all Marty McFly — to keep the authors of the Bible from being born — I’d love to see what kind of world would ensue.

    Maybe in another hundred years we’ll have the brain power and the computer brawn to do this as a kind of Sims game, no actual time machine needed.

  • Neko

    Yes, we can’t know. We’re stuck with our history. And don’t get me wrong, I have plenty of grievances with Christianity. But the tradition is more than just the worst of it. The Bible is a record of barbarism, but also of the aspiration to move beyond barbarism. It’s ultimately a collection of stories about humans, of course. Why not (to quote the Bible) “test everything and hold on to the good.”

    But, yeah, I’d be willing to chance it, too!

  • Terry Firma

    If there’d never been a Bible, do you think we’d be worse off today?

  • Morgan

    And Christians wonder why their numbers are DEcreasing! LOL At this rate, the whole damn religion will be extinct in 50 years.

  • Mike De Fleuriot

    All it takes is one book for you to get a good basic understanding of the theory. And there are a few good ones out there, but my favourite is ‘On the Origins of Species’

  • Neko

    Good question. I have no idea!

  • UWIR

    Yeah, there’s a huge distinction between “Evolution isn’t true” and “Evolution is a lie”. The first is something a reasonable, albeit uneducated and/or brainwashed person could say. The second is just flat-out refusal to accept any view other than one’s own.

  • UWIR

    Well, most of this “teach the controversy” stuff is for public schools. Although they do whine about “academic freedom” even when private universities are involved.

  • UWIR

    The point, which Mehta apparently did not make explicit enough for you, is not that a record of Hebrew culture is not a reliable source of scientific knowledge, but that people are using it as such. Once someone decides that they should look to the Bible to settle scientific questions, they have already gone off the deep end, and the question of whether they are interpreting it “correctly” is completely besides the point.

  • UWIR

    No, my ethics don’t come from Christianity. If my ethics came from Christianity, how could I use them to criticize Christianity?

    And the Bible is used as justification to kill gay people in Uganda, which I would consider to be a reasonably “sizable” country.

  • UWIR

    If you want to go around telling people that homosexuality is morally wrong, you sure as hell had better have something more than a “subjective experience” that this is true.

  • UWIR

    5. You’re cherry-picking particular conclusions on which they agree, and pretending that that means that science as a whole can be reconciled with religion as a whole.

  • UWIR

    Wow, that’s some really bad lighting. Unless Giberson has been taking a lot of colloidal silver?

  • Jessica Neubauer

    I can sure as hell expect scientific type evidence for non scientific claims when those making the claims are trying to subvert my (or anyone’s) view of science. The fact that religious devotees are spending millions of hours and dollars to influence what is taught as sciencemakes them responsible for the burden of proof. If you are contradicting accepted science then yes, you need to have scientific type explanations. Otherwise, you’re teaching theology, not science.

  • Malcolm McLean

    Claims about the morality of homosexuality are inherently non-scientific. Science can illuminate the issue, but ultimately it can’t say anything about what is morally right or wrong.

  • Pastor

    “One Does Not Equal the Other; Debunking the Straw
    Man Heresy”

    Dr. Giberson
    says; “So how is it that 64 percent of America’s white evangelical Protestants,
    an unusually powerful and wealthy demographic, remains so strongly opposed to
    evolution?” Dr. Giberson, I think you’ve
    failed to get at the heart of the matter. There is a difference between the
    science of evolution and the religion of evolution.

    First of all, let’s
    not try to force the Bible to answer questions that the author never intended
    to answer. I have taught from the Pentateuch for the last 10 years and find
    that there is no conflict between scripture and the science of evolution. I
    would go so far as to say that the Bible not only allows for evolution, but
    implies it. The Bible teaches that G-d formed man from the dust. So there you
    have it, we “evolved” from the dust; that seems pretty clear. It also says that
    G-d formed man in a day. We also know that G-d created light BEFORE He created
    the sun, moon and the stars (light on the 1st, others on the 4th).
    Simple observation of our physical surroundings would suggest that something is
    amiss. There is no evidence of light in existence without them. That poses a
    problem if our interpretation is self-centric. We define our “days” by the occurrence
    of events in our own solar system, but apparently the light that’s spoken of
    isn’t present where we are, or we should have some empirical evidence. That ought to restructure our expectations.
    That “light” spoken of is nowhere to be found from our perspective. It seems to
    me to denote that maybe we’re not the center of the universe; He is and where
    He is there is light. I would suggest that since time (a day) is relative, then
    the measure of a day is determined by His calendar, not ours. Therefore; when
    the Bible says that G-d created “in a day”, that means the creation took place
    in what He calls a day, by His own measure. However long that is according to
    our own calendar is unknown.

    So, from the
    Bible, we know that G-d formed man from dust, and that He did it in a space of
    time that He defines as a day. No conflict. The problem arises when we try to
    draw from scripture the “how” of creation, when that was never the intention of
    the author to answer. The Genesis account doesn’t purpose itself to answer “how”,
    but instead seeks to answer “Who”. Therein lays the conflict. We want
    scientific “proof”, but that’s not what we get. We want to claim that since the
    Bible doesn’t tell us “how”, it can’t be truth. But the Bible doesn’t tell us
    how to program a VCR either, so does that make it any less true? Certainly not!
    That was never the intention of the author. The creation account was meant to
    inspire the mind to the awe and majesty of the One “Who” created, not “how”. So
    is the Genesis account factually true? Yes. And, there is nothing in the
    account that competes with the science of evolution. According to the Bible (and evolutionary
    science) we were once something else, and over a period of time (a day as
    defined by Him, not us) we became what we are. That is a fundamentalist,
    literal interpretation of the Biblical narrative, and is in perfect harmony
    with the scientific evidence.

    The problem isn’t
    that there are contradictions between the Biblical narrative and scientific
    evidence, because the Bible isn’t a “how to” manual for creating your own
    universe, it’s a soteriological epic that intends to answer the question; “How
    can one be saved”. That is its purpose. The reason that so many people have a
    knee jerk reaction and denounce evolution is because of the religion of
    evolution, the belief that since the universe has evolved there is no G-d. But
    one does not equal the other. It is simple nonsense to say that evolution occurred
    independent of intelligent design. The argument arises when evolution theory
    religionists and Biblical students get around to the true point of contention,
    which is “Who gets the credit?” Ultimately that is what the great debate is
    about anyway. Those who believe the Bible lock the doors and batten down the
    hatches when someone says that they believe in evolution, but what they really
    mean is that they don’t believe in G-d. Their argument being that, since things
    have evolved, there cannot be a G-d is a straw man argument. One does not equal
    the other. The Christian feels offense at the very idea, and when they assert
    their belief, based upon scripture, they’re challenged to defend their position
    by providing scientific answers from the scripture that scripture never
    intended to answer.

    I was recently
    golfing with a biology professor from UB and our conversation turned to
    evolution. I was asking him why the theory of evolution was so widely regarded
    as fact when it was a clear contradiction of the 4th law of thermodynamics
    (a law that says nothing can come from nothing). He said something that I had
    never really thought about, and I find to be relevant to this argument. He said
    that; “The theory of evolution has nothing to say about the origins of life, or
    physical matter, or the “whys” of the universe. The theory of evolution simply
    describes what happened to that matter and how life has evolved since the
    appearance. There is room for G-d in evolution.” I’d never really thought about
    it from that perspective before. There is room for G-d in evolution, and there
    is room for evolution with G-d. The two aren’t at odds with one another, they’re
    complimentary. Evolutionary science informs me as to “how”, and the Bible tells
    me “Who”.

    Since I first
    read this article I’ve been researching Giberson’s work, and I believe that he
    and I would probably agree on most of what I just wrote, but in my research I’ve
    found some things that I found deeply troubling. Giberson says, “We must
    whisper quietly in our students’ ears: “Hey, did you know that Adam and Eve
    were not the first humans and never even existed? And that you can still be a
    Christian and believe that?” What? If you claim to be speaking from “scientific
    evidence”, then what evidence do you have that Adam and Eve never existed?
    None! I would suggest that not only is your position heretical, but that it is
    scientifically (and logically) implausible. We live in a world with 7 billion people.
    There are more people alive today than have lived in all the history of our
    species. 20 years ago there were fewer. 40 years ago even less. It seems to me
    that someone who claims that they believe in a cause and effect universe, and
    sees the scientific evidence that population expansion in reverse would
    inevitably lead to the first parents, the first of our species (those that the
    Bible calls Adam and Eve), is being intellectually dishonest by suggesting that
    they never existed, without any supporting evidence. Speaking from logic alone,
    there were two who were first, from which all others came. At what time they
    appeared along the evolutionary path is irrelevant, but the Biblical narrative
    is clear in that they did exist, and that we know who they are and what their
    relationship with their Creator was. The Genesis account tells us of our first
    human parents and their relationship with G-d, our Creator, the origin of sin
    and the promise of a coming Redeemer.

    Giberson has
    absolutely NO scientific evidence supporting his position that they never
    existed, and his claims are intentionally misrepresentative. By his own
    testimony he says that he whispers in their ears, but what is he whispering? I’ve
    heard of grown men whispering in the ears of children before, and it’s never
    been good. What he is saying is that you can believe in G-d, but you don’t have
    to believe the Bible. What a striking proclamation from someone who claims to
    be a Christian! If you don’t believe the Bible then on what basis can you say
    you believe in the G-d of the Bible, or Jesus? You have NOTHING else to base
    your belief upon besides the Bible.

    I would like to
    say that Giberson is alone in his fallacy, but the truth is that his story
    illustrates one of the greatest faults of the COTN (Church of the Nazarene).
    The manual of the COTN states; “We
    believe that the Old and New Testament Scriptures, given by plenary inspiration, contain all truth
    necessary to faith and Christian living.” For those who are unfamiliar with
    that term, the point is that we can discern from scripture that which is
    necessary for salvation, but that the whole of scripture is not to be taken as authoritative
    or reliable. From their perspective (as evidenced by Giberson), we need not
    accept anything the Bible says as factually true or historically accurate,
    except those things that pertain to salvation. The position lacks merit, by
    Biblical standards (all scripture is given by G-d), as well as flies in the
    face of reason. By what logical means can one say that the Bible is reliable and
    infallible in regards to salvation, but say in the same breath that the Bible
    is not reliable and infallible elsewhere? Either you believe it is true or you
    believe it is fiction. I know of no other but that has ever been marketed as “part
    fiction”. And if only certain parts of the Bible are reliable, who decides
    which parts they are? What device would one rely upon in order to glean the “hidden”

    Giberson’s leap from “I believe in evolution” to “therefore,
    the Bible isn’t true” is unsubstantiated, misleading and illogical. He bemoans
    the fact that his “most gifted students have abandoned the faith.” He says, “Scientifically informed young evangelicals
    became so alienated from their home churches that they walked away, taking
    their enlightenment with them.” He cites a Barna study as evidence that creationism
    is a “major cause” of the twenty-something’s mass exodus from the church.
    Baloney. The survey gave the participants 6 reasons to choose from and they
    were asked to pick which one of the reasons was behind their leaving. There were
    no questions about “Did you prefer to live a life inconsistent with Christian
    teaching, did someone at the church hurt your feelings, do you think you’re so
    bad that G-d wouldn’t forgive you, do you think you’re a good person so you don’t
    need to go to church”; none of the objections that I’ve heard as a pastor were
    even offered as an option. No, they were given 6 options, and 1/4th
    of 1/6th of the respondents chose the excuse “because of creationism”.
    Hardly a major cause!

    Giberson employs
    a red herring to substantiate his claims and make the appearance that his
    boasts are relevant, but fails to recognize a peculiar statistical anomaly. Most
    of his “most talented students” have abandoned the faith after being educated
    by him, out of their childhood faiths. It seems to me that there is a common
    denominator; that those he was able to persuade into believing that the Bible
    isn’t true have given up. Based on statistical probabilities, I would say that
    there is sufficient evidence to formulate a thesis that he was indeed the
    captain at the helm when their faiths were shipwrecked. As a result of his
    deconstructive theology they were left with nothing to believe in other than
    there is a god, and since the Bible
    is a fictitious myth He must be unknowable. The path to his god is a path of
    science and reason, but the evidence of that god is limited to mere speculation,
    since there is no reliable resource from which we can encounter him other than
    creation. What a small and impotent god he must be, that he can fit all of
    himself in the 6” gap between one man’s ears.

    So, what’s the
    end game? What does Giberson hope to accomplish by convincing the young that
    the Bible is untrue? I would suggest that one considers his additional remarks
    in this, and other works. Giberson seems to take exception with the “white
    evangelical Protestants”, and then seeks to tie them in with the Republican
    Party. He cites the fact that there is a greater belief in the said demographic
    regarding creationism, and then suggests that the Democratic Party members are
    more likely to be free from the ignorance of Christian fundamentalist beliefs. He
    belittles the elected representatives of the Republican Party as if being a
    republican equates to being a flat-earther. One does not equal the other. I
    have traditionally voted along republican lines because I felt that the
    nominees more consistently represented my personal values. I don’t think that
    abortion as a means of birth control pleases G-d, and I’m going to vote for
    someone if they can convince me that they’ll do whatever they can to see to it
    that my tax dollars don’t go toward funding that behavior. I believe that free
    market capitalism sets people free to pursue a better lot for themselves in
    life, and that social welfare crushes the human spirit and de- incentivizes
    people, sending them spiraling down into a hopeless, slave-like mindset. I
    believe that I am a product of my own choices and not my environment. I want an
    opportunity, not a guarantee. Those are my values and they are representative
    of the country that I would like my children’s children to be raised in. I am a
    graduate of Nazarene Bible College, Nazarene Theological seminary, and hold 3
    degrees from those institutions. I don’t believe that being a republican means
    that I am somehow more ignorant by association. I feel no guilt about being
    white. I am the only white member in my family. I was once in the top 2% of the
    wealthiest people in America, before I left the secular world and became a
    pastor (accepting a 90% pay cut). Others are doing better than I financially, and
    I cheer for them. They’ve chosen their values, I pursue my own. I agree with
    John Wesley; “Make as much as you can, save as much as you can, give as much as
    you can.”

    In my assessment
    the Democratic Party that you hold up as more desirable due to their “enlightenment”
    is a party whose values are in conflict with my own. I believe that socialism
    is the institutionalized sin of envy. Does that somehow make me more ignorant than
    you? It seems to me that Giberson uses his accusations of ignorance as a device
    to try and demean and divide the members of the Republican Party, as well as
    members of the Christian faith. As for me, I am not ashamed of affiliating
    myself with people who share my values. And I am not ashamed of telling someone
    that I believe that everything in the Bible is true, reliable, infallible, and
    I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ for it is the power of G-d unto
    salvation. I believe what I believe because I believe the Bible is true, not in
    spite of it.

    I had a very
    strong suspicion after I read Giberson’s article, and upon further research I
    found that my suspicion was confirmed. I read his interview on NPR, where he
    says that Jesus never said anything about homosexuality, and that the Bible
    says very little about it. I don’t believe that Giberson believes what he is
    saying. His quandary is that he knows if he’s truthful about what the Bible
    says he’ll lose his audience. He’s already been thrown out of one of the most
    liberal ecumenical colleges in America for being too liberal, and knows that he
    can’t go back. He has no audience there any longer. He can’t say what the Bible
    really says about sin because the new audience he’s playing to will
    excommunicate him as well. He’s got one foot in the church and one foot in the
    world; how desperately lonesome. The Bible specifically denounces homosexuality
    in 6 different passages. Compare that to what the Bible says about bestiality
    (3 references), incest (1 reference), polygamy (1 reference), rape (0).
    Comparatively speaking I would say that the Bible addresses it quite often, and
    if you consider that there are literally hundreds of texts that denounce sexual
    immorality as a whole (and yes Jesus condemned ALL sexual immorality, not just
    adultery) I would say it’s a big deal. It is an abomination, just as adultery
    is. It’s listed as one of the sins that keep people from entering the kingdom of
    heaven. But, at least for right now, rape, incest, bestiality, adultery and
    fornications are safe from the guise of political correctness, but
    homosexuality is not. Just as G.K. Chesterton wrote; “Just because sin has
    become fashionable, does not mean that it isn’t sin.”

    greatest heresy is that he implies by his statement that homosexuality, as
    understood by an elite Christian theologian and scholar, is no big deal. Penn Jillette,
    a widely recognized atheist, got it right; to believe that there is a heaven
    and a hell and not to warn someone about it is hate. How can you say that you
    love someone when you’re willing to sit silently and watch them condemn
    themselves to eternal separation from the G-d you profess to believe in? Ezekiel
    33:8 says; “”When I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you will
    surely die,’ and you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked
    man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require from your hand.”
    Speak the truth in love Dr. Gilberson. Stop condemning the guilty by your
    silence, regardless of what it costs you!

    I doubt that
    Giberson would suggest that because the Bible says less about incest than it
    does homosexuality, we could therefore conclude (since Jesus didn’t say
    anything about it) that it is somehow ok. Giberson’s dilemma is that the people
    he’s chosen to surround himself with aren’t open to hearing the truth, and they’re
    the ones paying his bills. Look at the hateful, bile filled vitriol they’ve posted
    to this thread. I’ve been known to take unpopular positions as a pastor, but I’ve
    also learned some hard lessons from it. My experience has taught me to assess
    some of my more controversial stands by the reactions of the members of our
    church that I find more mature, inspirational, and sometimes even more credible
    than myself. If my position puts me in league with the great saints of the
    church, I believe that I’m standing on solid ground. If it’s only the easily
    angered, unpleasant or combative types that are cheering me on, then I

    Look around Dr.
    Giberson. Look at those who are cheering you on. Not one comment on your blog
    says, “Wow, you mean I can be a Christian but I don’t have to believe the
    Bible. Where can I sign up?” The only task that your work is being used to
    accomplish is to be employed by people as ammunition to try and prove that
    Christians are stupid. It’s not your
    words their citing, it’s the words of a Christian professor, an ordained minister,
    an educator of the “white evangelical protestants”. You give them reason to
    mock, but I find nothing in your work regarding redemption.

    I’ve had
    conversations with other pastors who tell me that they refused to pay their
    budgets (specifically their ENC budget) because they disagree with what the
    school teaches. I’ve never felt free from that commitment because I agreed to
    honor it when I accepted my position as senior pastor. I’ve struggled with the
    stories I’ve heard about what is being taught there, but with the recent developments
    of your removal, I find a renewed confidence that there is hope for ENC to
    return from the brink. And there is hope for you as well Dr. Giberson. In the final book of the Bible, at the end of
    the story when days are dwindling down you’ll find these words; “Consider
    how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first.” Please.
    James 3:1 says; “for we who teach will be judged more strictly.” – Selah

  • Tiller

    Life only comes from life and has never been demonstrated otherwise and the scripture states that god is the author of life and that he ‘always masculine’ created life. Laws of thermal dynamics also contradict evolutionary science. Unless or until science can replicate ‘life from non life’ and consistiantly replicate it, you have no real evidence on the Merritt of your discussion. If science is to be demonstrated as fact, one must be able to demonstrate the fundemantal’s of their postulations with constant and proven demonstrations. This is where the ‘myth’ of evolution begins and becomes a religion. You too must be able to demonstrate with reliable science your postulations or your in the same boat as those that you argue against. Belief vs Belief. Having faith in faith is no better. Believing something does not make it fact, however reinforcing it with evidence strengthens your belief if the evidence can be demonstrated with scientific methods that we can all agree on. Replication of the contested points of the postulation in question. Origins of life.

  • TCC

    Laws of thermal dynamics also contradict evolutionary science.

    Oh, lovely, the second law of thermodynamics gambit. Do you realize that 1) entropy only holds for a closed system (which the earth is not) and that 2) you yourself and every human that develops from a simple organism (blastocyst/embryo) to a complex one (I’m assuming you’re complex enough given that you’re typing a response on the Internet).

    In other news, I am available as a copyeditor, since you so desperately need one.

  • skeptical_inquirer

    If it’s against Christian ideals, then why do so many do it? Good gravy, there are so many people who love a certain verse in Thessalonians and act as if it’s the very bedrock.

  • skeptical_inquirer

    Either that or they did a really poor job developing the photo.

  • skeptical_inquirer

    It also implies that God is a habitual liar and prankster.

  • skeptical_inquirer

    Considering that the mammals, the newest batch of animals, need a male & female to reproduce, it’s downright odd for an ‘always masculine’ to create life all by itself. Also, even species like lizards and sharks that can sometimes pull a virgin birth are always female.

    ‘Always masculine?’

  • skeptical_inquirer

    I think that while there are evolutionary arguments about why we don’t have all these things at once (having that many improvements would probably need way more energy consumption overall while not bringing in enough of a payoff to justify it), there really is no creationist argument for not making a species that had all these superhuman senses/abilities.

    I’m reminded of Dawkins doing a necroscopy of a giraffe and noting how far down this nerve went before going back up just a short distance from the origin of the nerve. I think it originally was just a short distance in a fish but the giraffe’s neck made it longer because it looped under a major blood vessel. A designer would’ve just done a shortcut but evolution just made the nerve longer.

  • Sam Harris mostly disagrees. Watch/read “The Moral Landscape”

  • Males, with the distorted Y chromosome, are obviously the secondary gender. (although if memory serves, birds are the reverse, and the egg laying ones have the different sex chromosome)

    Edit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ZW_sex-determination_system

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