Saturday, March 25, 2006


The Tired Old Cupboard of Biblical Literalism

Ecclesiastes once said there is nothing new under the sun, and that, apparently, applies to the intelligent design theorists, as well. Those on the religious right, the ones pushing intelligent design "theory" -- among other snake-oil cures for what ails us -- often claim they are doing something utterly new and unrelated to biblical literalism's problematic past.

That's why its so interesting to look back at how this issue was viewed in the past.

In a recent column Joe Blackstock, writing from Southern California, in the Daily Bulletin, took a look back at what local ministers had to say about the Scopes "Monkey" Trial some 81 years ago.

ID proponents, it appears, have taken a page from a sermon delivered by Dr. F.F. Abbott, in a speech to the Women's Christian Temperance Union in Ontario, California in 1925. Blackstock reports that Abbott, like our latter day theorists, "maintained evolution was an unproven theory that some had elevated into a type of religion."

Other ministers, atheists no doubt, took a different view. Here's what Dr. Charles F. Seitter of Ontario's First Methodist Church said in a sermon reprinted by the Ontario Daily Report on July 29, 1925

"If God created man evolution then that was His way of working," said Seitter. "It is a question of method, and God had a right to choose the method that best suited his purpose."

Seitter suggested embracing evolution didn't mean one rejected the stories and lessons of the Bible.

"It is not necessary or wise or intelligent to drop your faith when you become an evolutionist. If you get it right it will give you a nobler conception of God."

The debate then was the same as the debate now, the arguments are identical, the only thing new is that intelligent design has tried to cover the tired old cupboard of biblical literalism with a thin veneer of pseudoscience.


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