Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A Quiet Voice on the Margins

In today's edition of The New York Times, there is an op-ed by two evangelical Christians, Karl W. Giberson, a former professor of physics, and Randall J. Stephens, an associate professor of history, titled "The Evangelical Rejection of Reason."

Giberson and Stephens rebuke the bulk of the crop of the Republican presidential candidates for being "a showcase of evangelical anti-intellectualism."

They make an important point that "evangelical Christianity need not be defined by the simplistic theology, cultural isolationism and stubborn anti-intellectualism that most of the Republican candidates have embraced."

The two professors also rightly add that "Scholars like Dr. Collins and Mr. Noll… recognize that the Bible does not condemn evolution and says next to nothing about gay marriage. They understand that Christian theology can incorporate Darwin’s insights and flourish in a pluralistic society."

Theirs are voices that definitely need to be heard more by fellow evangelicals.  But alas, Giberson and Stephens can't resist taking a backhanded swipe at atheists by declaring that "even today atheism is little more than a quiet voice on the margins."

I wish Christians would make up their minds about us.  We're either a tiny, insignificant minority to be ignored, or we are a threat to the American way of life.  Of course, the truth is, we're neither.  We should not be ignored, nor are we trying to destroy the United States.   We are for the most part patriotic Americans who simply believe that belief should not be elevated over nonbelief in public life. 

1 comment:

Robert the Skeptic said...

I have written about my father-in-law, Mel, on a few occasions; a retired professor of horticulture but regular attendee at his local Baptist church as well.

I refer to Mel as a "Jimmy Carter Christian" (a man he admires, by the way). These are the Christians who embrace the humanitarian aspects of religion; compassion, charity, equality, separation of church from government and who also embrace science and find no contradiction between evolution and belief.

I believe that these sorts of Christians are actually the majority, but the vocal evangelicals have co-opted the message, and the Conservatives, hungry for votes, pander to them.

Still I feel the ranks of Atheists are rising, and even in our silence, our numbers and presence is going to be felt.