I generally think of Christians in America as being on “my side” of things. By my side I mean opposed to Cultural Marxism, socialism and so forth. That’s not always true, of course. Many Evangelicals are socialists. Many are simply religious and will vote for anyone who is “born again.” Jimmy Carter won a big slice of the Evangelical vote thus allowing him to carry the South and win the election. I’ve known many Evangelicals that think the only issue that matters in politics is the religion of the politician.
American Evangelicals are interesting to me in that I’m not entirely sure the current version is, strictly speaking, Christian. They certainly share much with traditional Christianity, but they have some big differences too. The focus on the text of the Bible is one obvious departure. Traditional Christians understand that the Bible, as we know it, evolved over centuries. Translations have errors and never fully capture the nuance of the original. Therefore, a literal interpretation is not possible.
This leads to some rather strange circular reasoning when talking with an Evangelical about scripture. Pointing out what I just wrote above about the trouble with translation is met with a quote from the Bible. If you make mention of the fact that the Catholic Church selected the books of the Bible and you get some other quote from scripture. The Bible is proof that the Bible is literally the word of God. It is a tautological defense that only makes sense to those who already believe. It’s many skeptics think Evangelicals are a cult.
That does not mean Evangelicals are a cult or way outside the definition of Christian, but it certainly sets them apart from the Christian tradition. I’m painting with a broad a brush here, so bear with me. I’m thinking mainly about the narrow strains within the Evangelical movement. The followers of Joel Osteen, for example, are a different breed of cat from the old ladies at First Evangelical. Watch one of Osteen’s preacher shows and the word “cult” comes to mind. In another age, Osteen would have been burned at the stake as a heretic.
What got me thinking about this topic is some posts I saw recently, railing against evolution. There is a sub-culture in the self-taught Christian sphere that seems to be an off-shoot of intelligent design. It’s not that they believe in ID or creationism, but they think you’re crazy for “believing” in the false god Darwin or his false religion, evolution. It’s mostly anti-Darwinsim, if there was such a thing as Darwinism. It’s as if they created a secular religion they can criticize. Anyway, it go me thinking about what ID’ers believe.
The theory of intelligent design holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection. Through the study and analysis of a system’s components, a design theorist is able to determine whether various natural structures are the product of chance, natural law, intelligent design, or some combination thereof. Such research is conducted by observing the types of information produced when intelligent agents act. Scientists then seek to find objects which have those same types of informational properties which we commonly know come from intelligence. Intelligent design has applied these scientific methods to detect design in irreducibly complex biological structures, the complex and specified information content in DNA, the life-sustaining physical architecture of the universe, and the geologically rapid origin of biological diversity in the fossil record during the Cambrian explosion approximately 530 million years ago.
The implication here is that the designer, willy-nilly, chooses to rearrange the natural world as he/she/it sees fit. They carefully avoid discussing the designer as that would raise some uncomfortable issues, I’m assuming. Instead, they focus on the claims that certain natural phenomenon could not happen naturally and therefore must have been created by a designer for unexplained reasons. That last bit is important. The designer’s reasons are not only unknown; they are unknowable.Therefore, there is no need for inquiry.
The term for this is occasionalism. It is also explicitly anti-Christian. The foundation stone of Christianity is the fixed nature of God. When God makes a deal, he sticks to it and when he created heaven and earth, it was by fixed and discoverable rules. This idea, first promulgated by the Hellenized Jews, is a big deal in the evolution of religion. Instead of the super natural acting cynically and capriciously, God set the rules of nature and they are permanent. A rational God and a rational universe is the basis for Western civilization.
Now, creationism and intelligent design are harmless beliefs. Outside a few areas, people’s understanding nature is meaningless. Creationism is certainly inside the realm of traditional Christian theology, but intelligent designs seems to fall outside of it. With creationism, God can be viewed as the watchmaker, who set all of the natural processes in motion. Young earth creationism is nuts, but the more common form is what the Church taught for a thousand years. Intelligent Design, in contrast, does not fit inside Christianity.