Oh, come on, Shermer…

Ugh. John Pieret is right: this effort by Michael Shermer to reconcile evolution with conservative theology is hideous, on multiple levels. It takes a special kind of arrogance to think that Christians are going to consult Shermer, a godless hellbound skeptic, on how to interpret the fine details of the Bible. Either reject it or buy into it—but nobody is going to believe that Shermer accepts the religious premises of the book. He’s being a kind of concern troll on a grand scale.

It’s also nonsense.

Because the theory of evolution provides a scientific foundation for the core values shared by most Christians and conservatives, it should be embraced.

Oh, really? Ask a Christian what his or her “core values” are, and they’ll probably spit up either doctrinal beliefs, such as the divinity of Jesus and the idea of salvation, or they’ll bring up a list of social concerns, such as abortion, homosexuality, or religiosity in government. Evolution either is irrelevant to those worries or contradicts them, and as I say over and over again, Christians aren’t necessarily stupid, and they know this.

I’m also not keen on someone using science to falsely bolster conservative ideology.


  1. #1 Will E.
    September 19, 2006

    I was just discussing this the other day with my girlfriend after we read his piece on the topic in the new Scientific American. I’m disappointed in Shermer, and have tried to deny that I’ve felt this way for awhile–he is far too conciliatory to fundamentalists, and needs to take them at their word when they say, “If the bible isn’t true in matters of biology, then how can I trust it in matters of theology?” They are absolutely right in their conviction about this. Sometimes it is an either/or proposition, and that’s why folks like Dawkins and Harris get so frustrated not by fundies any more–who basically are telling the “truth”–but by moderates in the religious world who know the bible is wrong not only in biology but pretty much everywhere else, but are afraid to face that fact.

  2. #2 Sastra
    September 19, 2006

    I don’t quite see the same thing here that others are seeing.

    One of the big arguments against evolution is “evolution cannot account for empathy, altruism, pacifism, or why people are nice to each other.” A straw-man version of evolution equates it with Survival of the Fittest — meaning strong vs. weak. Look at how Dawkin’s idea of the selfish gene is constantly misunderstood as “our genes make us selfish.” He’s had to go to great lengths to say that’s NOT what the metaphor means, and it still doesn’t get through.

    It seems to me that Shermer isn’t saying that evolution actually *supports* conservative Christianity, but that IF you are going to reject evolution, you should not be doing it because you think it fails to explain or account for anything you consider a “good Christian value.”

    He writes “Because the theory of evolution provides a scientific foundation for the core values shared by most Christians and conservatives, it should be embraced.” The science may not be supporting the TRUTH claims of religions, sure. But it’s not directly conflicting with any of its reasonable MORAL claims, those ethics which make just as much sense outside of the religion as in it.

    Which is I think what we’ve been saying all along. Shermer just seems to be trying to frame it inside a religion-friendly package.

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