In “Should We Believe the Intellectuals?” (Credo, 12.06.1), Richard Weikart reviews The Anointed: Evangelical Truth in a Secular Age (Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2011) by Randall J. Stephens and Karl W. Giberson. Giberson was an officer of the Christian Darwinist foundation BioLogos until recently.
Though they are self-identified evangelicals, their book, published by a division of Harvard University Press, mercilessly pillories many leading American evangelicals of more conservative stripe for their “anti-intellectualism” and opposition to secular knowledge. Ironically, one accusation against their more conservative evangelical foes is that the conservatives are combative and prone to divisiveness. These evangelicals, whom they sometimes tar with the term fundamentalist, allegedly thrive by creating “out-groups” as enemies. This seems to me a rather hypocritical stance, since The Anointed is one of the most polemical, combative books I have read in quite a while.
If Stephens and Giberson had written their book a century earlier, they could have blasted conservative evangelicals for rejecting the eugenics movement and compulsory sterilization for the disabled, which many secular intellectuals considered progressive and scientific. Secular intellectuals do not agree among themselves on many issues, especially moral issues, so why are we required to embrace whatever is the majority view of the secular elite at any given time?
Fourth, even the greatest intellectuals should have enough humility to admit that they could be mistaken, especially when they are using data to extrapolate into the past or future, or when they are taking moral stances. I do not see why the doomsday scenarios of some scientists who are feted by the secular world should be taken any more seriously than the doomsday scenarios of end-time enthusiasts lampooned by Stephens and Giberson. Nor do I see why moral statements by secular intellectuals (about homosexuality or child-training) should be swallowed unquestioned by evangelicals. Do Stephens and Giberson think we should follow most secular intellectuals in their rejection of objective morality altogether? Why or why not?
Because the time isn’t right yet? We’re supposed to wait until our abject surrender of everything that matters to us is asked for, aren’t we?