Less edifying, in my humble opinion, is this piece in Monday’s Guardian by Karl Giberson, a key contributor to, and former Team Member of, BioLogos. His experience, of course, is his and not mine – I grew up in Britain, it would seem some years earlier than he did in North America. But I don’t recognise his view of Evangelical Christianity as an abusive environment for young people, nor his portrait of Francis Schaeffer, whose writings influenced me to think seriously and Christianly in every area of life, including my profession of medicine and my interest in science. And in everything else I encountered, come to that.
Yet I didn’t know Schaeffer, so maybe these words from someone I did encounter and still admire are a better corrective.
What interests me most, though, is the response that Giberson has produced from Guardian readers. A majority, as one might expect from the traditionally Lib-Lab Grauniad, agree with him in the sense of agreeing that religion in general, and Christianity in particular, are pernicious evils. The terms “Fundamentalist” and “Evangelical” get tossed around, too, but pretty much as synonyms for “Christianity”. The few Christians venturing into the arena (apparently from a range of traditions) disagree with the thesis of the piece, even when they distance themselves from the US political Right.
What is notably missing are any nuanced responses suggesting that, yes, Giberson is right to critique the fusion of Fundamentalism and Republican politics into something that threatens true Christianity and detracts from the worship of the inconceivable God of the Universe. And to be honest, that’s because there’s no incentive to do so in the article. It closely follows the score of the anti-religious skeptical symphony, to the extent that the majority of those commenting did not even register that he is a Christian, let alone a writer on faith and science. If they had there’s no doubt he would have faced personal abuse rather than the agreement evidenced in their posts. After all, every other Christian contributor did.
Giberson’s writings on evolution have sometimes received more criticism from the atheist bloggers in the field, but in that case they have clocked that he was writing from a faith perspective. His take on the science is seen as completely kosher, but his Christianity as a rather silly and unnecessary gloss. You’d expect that, I guess.
But if it were me, I’d feel a little concerned if my biggest fans were (as the Guardian correspondence indicates) those who want to see Christianity disappear. I’d feel uneasy if what I wrote encouraged such disparagement of everything Christian, including Christ himself.
It all seems to play into the hands of those who suggest that theistic evolution, in the form we see it on BioLogos, sits rather too loosely to its theism. It certainly seems to be at cross purposes with the Biologos aim of persuading US Evangelicals of how easily evolution can fit in with their faith.