Truth or Consequences

Posted on February 16, 2011


Debating evolution can be interesting, even fun – but sometimes I get a little frustrated when people try to make it about all Nazis or other unrelated stuff. It seems that some prefer avoiding the science and arguing that Darwin led to the Holocaust, racism, and even school shootings. These are bogus claims to be dealt with in a different post, and none of that has anything to do with determining whether or not common descent is true and if Darwin’s mechanism best explains it. We’re trying to understand biology, and these consequentialist arguments are irrelevant. The flawed formula goes something like this:

  • If X is true, then Y will follow.
  • I don’t like Y, so X must be false
  • (or I prefer Y, so X must be true)

Determining if evolutionary theory is valid is a scientific question. Predictions about where its veracity could lead have no bearing on whether or not it is true.

Setting aside the more sensational uses of this fallacy (like evoking Hitler and Columbine), I’d like to point out recent consequentialist attacks from Southern Baptist leader Albert Mohler. His concern is that theistic evolution leads to “theological damage“. There is an incredibly wide range of theological views within Protestant Christianity alone, so the word “theology” needs to be more specifically defined. What he means to say is that evolutionary biology threatens his theological understanding.

So what? If his theology were threatened by heliocentricity (and I kind of think it is), would that mean that we shouldn’t recognize the solar system? If a theological interpretation makes a statement about history and scientific properties in the physical world, shouldn’t it be examined physically? Should we evaluate the damage of acceptance, or should we evaluate the accuracy of the evidence?

I would rather roll up my sleeves and get to work with the BioLogos crew than ignore the empirical evidence and condemn their efforts.

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An Associated Baptist Press story about Mohler’s position [ go ]

A PDF of the issue of Southern Seminary Magazine.
Mohler’s full statements begin on page 24 [ go ]

My last post about Mohler, which includes links to responses from Biologos.[ go ]