After 15 years of staring at the controversies as a historian who sits among the very small minority of evangelicals who have made their peace with Darwin, I have started to conclude something new. I have had two community college students in my American History class named Nataly and Edgar.
Neither are going to be historians or scientists most likely. Community college students are poor, and they are simply trying to break into the middle class as a nurse or a mechanic. These students may never take a class in the history of science and religion because the school won’t allow it. As a state school, it wants to avoid sectarianism and controversy. But I am trying to get a syllabus approved right now. I already got rejected by one college due to regulations. I am thinking of appealing to the powers that be.
But anyway here is what I have observed. There are three layers of people to think about here.
Nataly. This the biggest layer. The lay Christian who will never become an expert in theology, history, or science. This layer includes millions of Christians.
Elmer. The pastor I met at Liberty University and the friend of Jerry Falwell. He represents the hundreds of thousands of evangelical pastors who are simply trying to hold their churches together in a violent, sexual, and secularizing world. Elmer will not likely ever seek to be an academic theologian or a PhD in science. He sees himself as a streetfighter for the Gospel among ordinary people of whatever level of education. He knows Nataly is stuck between her biology professor and Bible, and Elmer is looking for help. He does not know where to turn. He himself respects what science can do in the modern world, as Nataly does, but he also has an interest in preserving the ancient faith in the modern world, the supernatural faith with a hope of God being in total control of nature.
Henry. As in Henry Morris. In 1961, apparently, after Sputnik and the BSCS series that made textbook publishers re-insert evolution into school books, this PhD in engineering proposed a solution for Elmer.
“I can find a way so that Nataly does not have to look like a Scopes-era hillbilly. We fundamentalists can engage with modern science and preserve the ancient faith at the same time. We can have both credibility and evangelism. So that Nataly does not doubt and fall into abortion or homosexuality.”
(Remember Morris rose to fame in 1961 when atheist Julian Huxley was the most famous Darwinian in the world.)
“I will lead of group of Bible-believing PhDs who believe Darwinism leads to atheism to design an apologetics institute that engages with science.”
Morris became a David against the Huxleyian Goliath. I don’t think the ASA even figured into Morris’s calculus. There is simply no historical evidence to suggest that. He tried to engage with ASA but then concluded it was not worth his time. His exegesis of Genesis plus his sense of a historical emergency unfolding, plus perhaps his lack of engagement with biology and geology professors at Virginia Tech, catapulted him into the circles Elmer occupied. Lynchburg is 90 minutes away from Blacksburg.
But I think the bridge person is Elmer. This is the starting and ending point. The pastor who leans upon Morris—or Stephen Meyer—to help Nataly avoid Huxley’s influence.
So that is what I will investigate next. Any thoughts?