An Epidemic Of Ignorance
© 08.14.17 By D. Eric Williams
This article appeared in the August 17 edition of the Cottonwood Chronicle
I recently had a wide-ranging conversation with a college-educated young man that concluded with a discussion of Darwin's theory of evolution. As the give-and-take progressed it became clear he did not understand the theory he claimed to accept. According to my friend, Darwin's theory of evolution is limited to adaptation within species. When I told him that the heart and soul of Darwin's theory is trans-species mutation he scoffed at me. As you might imagine I was a bit taken aback. After all, this young man was very open about his hostility toward Christianity - especially creationism. And he was adamant about his embrace of Darwin's theory of evolution. Nevertheless, when I told him that Darwin believed one species could mutate to another over a long period of time he said "that isn't science, that's magic!" I had to agree with him but I also tried to get him to understand that he claimed to be a disciple of Darwin yet rejected the most important aspect of his theory. When I showed him a definition of Darwinian evolution on the internet. He brushed that off by telling me the site was unreliable. Yet, according to Livescience.com,
Given enough time and enough accumulated changes, natural selection can create entirely new species, known as "macroevolution." It can turn dinosaurs into birds, amphibious mammals into whales and the ancestors of apes into humans.
Magic indeed. Our conversation ended with the young man strolling out of my office and loudly telling a coworker I was the most ignorant person he'd ever met. I too was concerned about ignorance. It is not that I dismiss that young man as an nescient buffoon; he is a product of our ungodly culture. Instead, my concern is with the widespread epidemic of ignorance so apparent in our society today. Believe me, I'm glad my friend considers trans-species mutation unscientific. My concern is that someone with a college education could be so badly informed that he cannot identify the primary tenet of his accepted theory of origins. And when he is unable to do that his ability to have a rational conversation about the topic is handicapped.
The current epidemic of ignorance is not limited to the details of Darwinian dogma. I've encountered the same dearth of understanding when discussing politics, history, climate and religion. For instance, I frequently hear the claim that fascism is an example of extreme right wing ideology. I encounter the assertion that European behavior toward the indigenous people of the "New World" is unprecedented. Many of the people I talk to refuse to entertain evidence questioning popular opinions about climate change. I'm often confronted with the belief that the Bible can mean one thing to one person and something different to another with both interpretations being "correct."
On this last point I was chagrined to recently discover that a high percentage of evangelical Christians embrace heresy in some form. In a 2016 study conducted by LifeWay Research and Ligonier Ministries, "evangelical Christian" was defined as those who "strongly agreed that the Bible is the highest authority for Christian belief; that personal evangelism is very important; that Jesus' death on the cross was the only way to cancel the penalty of sin; and that trusting in Jesus is the only way to eternal salvation." Of these respondents:
48% agreed God accepts the worship of all religions including Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.
56% said the Holy Spirit is a divine force but not a personal being.
74% believe an individual must contribute his or her own effort for personal salvation.
30% believe the Bible was written for each person to interpret as he or she chooses.
65% said God knows everything that occurs in the world but does not determine all that happens.
57% think the local church should not have authority to withhold the Lord's Supper from them and exclude them from the fellowship of the church.
21% said the Bible contains helpful accounts of ancient myths but is not literally true or are not sure.
45% believe modern science discredits the claims of Christianity
We will return to this topic next week.