Although Christians have a reputation for being anti-science, the scientific field is brimming with Christian thinkers, Peter Walhout, Wheaton's department chair and associate professor of physical chemistry, said.The problem is not with historical Christianity. It is with modern evangelical Christianity, a movement that came out of the fundamentalism of the early 1900s and that has, largely, abandoned conventional scientific pursuits or results. It is this group that is largely “anti-science.” In a recent article in the New York Times (yes, I am going to quote it just this once), Karl Giberson and Randall Stephens, about modern evangelical Christianity's response to science, write:
"No serious Christian or scholar would ever study Christianity and its history and say it's anti-science," he said.
Many early scientists actively participated in church. Nicolas Copernicus held an office in the Catholic Church, and he was encouraged to publish his research on the planets' orbit system by high-ranking church officials. Isaac Newton, another devout believer, claimed that the laws of physics and the universe were dependant upon an intelligent designer. And the revered physicist Albert Einstein was motivated to investigate the laws of the universe by his faith in a Creator.
"I want to know how God created this world," he said.
Walhout suggested anyone wishing to express to unbelievers the amity between Christianity and science should capitalize on evidence from history.
In response, many evangelicals created what amounts to a “parallel culture,” nurtured by church, Sunday school, summer camps and colleges, as well as publishing houses, broadcasting networks, music festivals and counseling groups. Among evangelical leaders, Ken Ham, David Barton and James C. Dobson have been particularly effective orchestrators — and beneficiaries — of this subculture.It is this “parallel culture” that has become the de facto culture of home school curricula, evangelical churches and Christian colleges. This is the result of what Mark Noll called “The Intellectual Catastrophe of Fundamentalism.” This is not Christianity as it is practiced in either the Catholic or Eastern churches and, in many ways, it is a Christianity that is unique to the United States. It is also a Christianity that I am profoundly uncomfortable with and am becoming more so every day. One of my friends recently wrote this to me:
The academic study of Scripture does not teach people that faith is stupid; rather, that study seeks to elucidate the faiths contained in Scripture as rigorously as possible.It is this faith and the rich tradition that is behind it that the modern evangelical church has lost.
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