Monday, March 10, 2014

Christian Fundamentalist double standards

A while back I was discussing the topic of evolution with my father-in-law. He is a devout Christian of whom I admire and look up to very much. However, he is also what could be labeled a fundamentalist Christian. That is, he is a young-earth creationist, biblical inerrantist, and a Calvinist. Since I adhere to none of these it should be obvious that we rarely agree when we discuss theology. This aforementioned discussion was no different, though I abstained from voicing my objections that I will presently promulgate.

During this discussion regarding evolution, we stumbled upon the topic of animal death. My father-in-law articulated that one reason he cannot believe in evolution is due to the fact God, in Genesis, is said to have looked at his creation and labeled it good. “But, I cannot believe” he said, “that God would have looked upon His creation, whereby the means of survival was death, struggle and suffering, and called it good”. This is, most likely, a common attitude of fundamentalists regarding evolution, and understandably so—understandably even from my perspective. For such an argument rests on our moral intuitions, and most of those intuitions would prefer a means of creation free from death and suffering.

However, my objective in this post is not to stand as an apologist for God creating through the medium of evolution. Rather, it is to demonstrate that the aforementioned objection raised by fundamentalists betrays a fallacious line of reasoning that is employed when viewed in light of the rest of their theology.

Notice that the above objection against evolution is predicated on the following line of reasoning: If I find moral problems with event (a), then God could not have directly been the cause of (a). For the fundamentalist claims that they find the idea that God created through evolution morally suspect, and since God labeled his creation good, and morally suspect events cannot be good, then God must not have done such a thing. Fair enough. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with such reasoning at all.

But, does the fundamentalist apply such reasoning across the board? In short, no. Take the story of Noah’s ark, or the genocides supposedly ordered by God in the OT. Do fundamentalists take these narratives as depicted in the Bible as fully and literally true? If they’re biblical inerrantists they do. So, is drowning the entire human race—including women, children, and the very animals the fundamentalists were so worried over just a moment ago—and subsequently ordering the slaughter of whole nations—including, again, women, children and animals—morally suspect? This would seem self-evident.

Surely the double standard of the fundamentalist is blatantly manifest. Why is one allowed in one instance to utilize their moral intuitions to deny attribution of an event to God, but not in another instance? Either we are allowed to engage in the former or not. But, the fundamentalist knows that if we are allowed this principle across the board, then inerrancy will collapse. Such is the paradox of the fundamentalist.

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