Saturday, January 14, 2012

73% of Protestant pastors in America reject evolution

73 percent.
This is a staggering and incredibly frustrating statistic for me. It comes from a survey carried out by LifeWay research, sampling 1,000 ministers "from randomly selected Protestant churches." A few other stats coming out of this phone survey can be found on CNN's Belief Blog here.

If you don't understand why such results would upset me, you probably have not read much on the wardrobe before. I just can't seem to get away from this topic. If you're interested in reading a bit on evolution, I'd point you towards two older posts on this blog (one of which will point, in turn, to the blog of Rachel Held Evans): happy birthday Charles Darwin! and another post on Evolution.


Daniel McLain Hixon said...

I do have to wonder, though, what definition they are using for 'pastor.' That is to say, are we talking full-time seminary-educated "professional" clergy (what I usually think of first)?

Are we talking part-time or licensed pastors who may have only a GED? Are we talking "local elders" of non-denominational churches that are credentialed at the whim of their own local congregation? I strongly suspect that if you limited your samples to the first type, you would get much larger numbers of pastors who believe in theistic evolution or intelligent design (i.e. who are not young-earth creationists).

I also wonder what how the statistic changes if you factor in Roman clergy and Orthodox clergy; or if you limited it to clergy that are part of (any kind of) a denomination (i.e. excluding independent churches).

I do appreciate your frustration though, for apologetics reasons: it is hard to make the case that our faith really is deeply intellectualy coherent when so many faith leaders seem willing to ignore the best current theories. Tthough naturally I favor keeping just a bit of healthy skepticism about the "best scientific knowledge" since it may turn out to be proved false by some later development (as has certainly happened before).

Nance said...

No doubt a significant portion of the persons surveyed do not have a seminary education (though the Methodists, Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Lutherans, and Southern Baptists probably make up a majority, I would imagine). All the same, these are the people expounding the scriptures from the pulpit every week. I know that you can affirm Young Earth Creationism and still preach the gospel faithfully, but there are still the considerable problems that you bring up. The watching world won't be limiting its samples, I'm afraid. I'd rather they only thought we are crazy for the legitimate reasons.

And, of course, historically you're absolutely right: science is always rewriting science. I suppose in the end my concern is not so much with the believer's attitude towards the science itself but with his attitude towards the scriptures--and generally a Christian's rejection of evolution is rooted in a misreading of the Bible that stems from a misunderstanding of the nature of the scriptures. This is really what irks me and spurs me to blogging.