Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Heretics in Grand Rapids

Here's the lede from an article in the online InsideHigherEd.com:
Readers of The Banner, the publication of the Christian Reformed Church in North America, reacted instantly to the news in January that two religion professors at Calvin College had written scholarly papers suggesting that evidence of genetics and evolution raised questions about the traditional, literal reading of Genesis about creation, the story of Adam and Eve, and the fall of humanity out of an initial idyllic state.

The professors were not disavowing the role of God or of their church, but were arguing that modern science challenges traditional, literal readings of the Book of Genesis in ways that may require theological shifts
The results were entirely predictable:
[Comments calling for the professors' head and maintaining the inerrancy of the Bible] weren't just posted on The Banner website, but were also sent to college officials, where the two professors were investigated. One -- John Schneider -- has now left the tenured position he held for 25 years, as part of an agreement with the college. The other religion professor, Daniel Harlow, remains at the college, and is refusing to back down from his views.
You really can understand the problem.

If you tug on that loose thread in Genesis, pretty soon you're standing there with a pile of yarn and no sweater. This is the central problem of the fundamentalist church. It will spend endless time, money, bile, and even blood to bulldoze anybody who points it out.

The funny -- well, tragic -- thing it that all Christian sects are "pickers and choosers" of the parts of the Bible they want to believe or follow. Just one example that I mentioned recently is the law in Deuteronomy that requires non-virgin brides be stoned. Commenters to that post mentioned the rule that says God thinks it's an abomination for women to wear men's clothes, but that it is not an abomination -- in fact, it's required -- if a man rapes an unmarried woman, he has to pay fifty shekels and then marry her (she has no say in the matter).

(So just a word to the young bucks out there at Calvin College: pick out one you like, figure out the exchange rate, and go get yourself a wife!)

And let's not forget there are at least two accounts of creation in Genesis.

There is little or no chance of moving people like these on many issues of the day, including gay marriage. Science, schmience. There is utility in illuminating their illogical and anti-science views in trying to persuade the persuadables.

Meanwhile, the slogan at Calvin College is Minds in the Making.

Update: And in the credit where credit is due department, Roger Ebert tweeted the link to the story about Calvin College and The Banner earlier today.

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