Yesterday, DonaldM posted an item here:
United Methodists Bar Intelligent Design From General Conference
After submitting an application to be in the exhibit hall per the established process, Discovery Institute was informed that they would not allowed to be present as the Institute’s position on ID was at odds with the UMC’s Statement on Evolution and Intelligent Design which says in part that the UMC opposes “…the introduction of any faith-based theories such as Creationism or Intelligent Design into the science curriculum of our public schools.” It should be readily clear that when this language was drafted back in 2008 and inserted into the UMC’s Book of Discipline, the guiding document of the Church, that the UMC was grossly misinformed about the nature ID.
In citing this statement as the ostensible reason for denying Discovery Institute’s application for an info table, the UMC also demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of the work of the Institute as well. In responding to the denial, Discovery Institute made clear that they do not advocate for including ID in public schools either. It was also pointed out that the conflation of creationism with ID is also incorrect, as regular readers of UD know all too well. But none of the actual facts seem to matter. After making formal appeal of the decision, Discovery Institute was told by the Chair of the UMC’s Commission on the General Conference, which is the deciding body for all things related to the conference, that the decision to bar Discovery Institute was final. More.
I (O’Leary for News) don’t usually write about religion except on Sundays, but this just came up. Some of it is right up my alley, as I used to write and edit on demographics and social science. Couple thoughts:
– It actually doesn’t matter to the United Methodist leaders what’s true. These days, anyone could have quickly found out, via an Internet search or phone call, what the Discovery Institute is, does and advocates. See, for example, Dover is over. But that is precisely what the United Methodist Church wouldn’t want to know. It reminds them too much of a past when they mattered.
The skinny: That church is dying, like so many formerly great mainline denominations. See, for example, “The United Methodist Church has only 15 years to reverse its decline in the United States if it is to have a sustainable future, an economist warned church leaders” (May 20, 2015). But U.S. membership decline continues (November 20, 2015):
According to the most recent data, The United Methodist Church has lost 116,063 members – the stark equivalent to losing a 318-member local church every day of the year.
Like most such dying entities, the church clings to causes, beliefs, and hopes it thinks aren’t dying—irrespective of their relationship to Christianity. Without conviction, it goes out of its way to ingratiate itself with their sponsors. In this case, the cause is Christian Darwinism—a form of materialist atheism that allows the church a corpse candle of faith, to light the way out.
Richard Dawkins, as it happens, pegged it:
Scientists divide into two schools of thought over the best tactics with which to face the threat [of religion]. The Neville Chamberlain ‘appeasement’ school focuses on the battle for evolution. Consequently, its members identify fundamentalism as the enemy, and they bend over backwards to appease ‘moderate’ or ‘sensible’ religion (not a difficult task, for bishops and theologians despise fundamentalists as much as scientists do). Scientists of the Winston Churchill school, by contrast, see the fight for evolution as only one battle in a larger war: a looming war between supernaturalism on the one side and rationality on the other. For them, bishops and theologians belong with creationists in the supernatural camp, and are not to be appeased. – from Why There Almost Certainly Is No God, The Huffington Post, October 23, 2006
It all works out in the end. If the United Methodists doubt whether the universe even shows evidence of design, the God who isn’t there isn’t coming to rescue them.
Note: The same trend is entrenched among mainline churches in Canada. We are looking at the extinction of the Anglican Church and the United Church, extinctions associated with similar behaviour. And lest anyone think I am gloating, quite the opposite: The historic mainline churches were bulwarks of spirituality that also encouraged social reform in the context of social stability, along with the Catholic Church. But when churches begin to sound like mere lobby groups, political parties, rights movements, and social clubs, the obvious solution—as the vast majority of people have found—has been to join lobby groups, political parties, rights movements, and social clubs instead of churches.
See also: The Unwritten Treaty with Materialists (Granville Sewell)
Follow UD News at Twitter!