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One-way dialogue?

Religion | Will the NAE try to sell evangelicals on evolution?

Issue: "Dead heat," Sept. 22, 2012

A Pew Forum poll released in 2008 showed that three out of four evangelicals do not believe "evolution is the best explanation for the origins of human life on earth." That skepticism is anathema to the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and one of its major funders, the John Templeton Foundation. Templeton has been hostile not only to creationism but to the big tent of Intelligent Design.

The National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) has played an important role over the years in defending the liberty of evangelicals to stand up against political correctness and its religious offshoots. In recent years groups like the Institute on Religion & Democracy have criticized the NAE for partnering with the politically correct instead of representing evangelicals. WORLD exposed in our July 14 issue the NAE's $1 million partnership with a leading proponent of contraception for the unmarried.

After receiving substantial criticism, the NAE announced it would not continue that partnership (see "Cashed out," Aug. 11) - but another one appears to be coming. The NAE, according to a report to its board by chief operating officer Heather H. Gonzalez, is "in the final stages of formalizing an agreement to collaborate with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (and their Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion) on a project to build better dialogue and understanding between the scientific and evangelical communities. The collaboration is part of a Templeton Foundation grant received by the AAAS." Gonzalez turned down my request for more information.

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Dialogue, sure: But let's make it a real dialogue, with proponents of Intelligent Design not frozen out. Better understanding, of course: But let's focus on God and not make Charles Darwin a god. "Collaboration"? Not if the goal is to sell evolution to the three-fourths of evangelicals who still keep faith with the Bible's teaching that God made Adam from the dust of the earth. Is this overly critical of what could be a good thing? Not if we take into account the 2006 AAAS "Statement on the Teaching of Evolution," which sees critiques of evolution as "attacks on the integrity of science." Not if we take into account Templeton's "Science for Ministry" funding of "programs that will help ministers and the congregations they serve to move away from ... simplistic solutions and polarizing stereotypes."

Templeton did not specify the simplistic and polarizing views: Seeing chapter 2 of Genesis as real history rather than fable? Seeing man as fallen and in need of redemption? But the clear goal of AAAS and Templeton is to bolster the "motivation, imagination, and capacity" of pastors who want to influence their congregations to accept evolution. Is a collaborating NAE once again trying to sway evangelicals rather than represent them?

Marvin Olasky
Marvin Olasky

Marvin is editor in chief of WORLD News Group and the author of more than 20 books, including The Tragedy of American Compassion. Follow Marvin on Twitter @MarvinOlasky.

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