It is my opinion that fundamentalists (and I’m using this term to mean conservative Christians in the first few decades of the twentieth century, the fathers and mothers of today’s North American evangelical movement), in the face of science’s Newtonian triumphalism and the liberalizing effect of compromises made by academics on the continent and in the more prestigious seminaries of the U.S., intellectually hobbled themselves and their children. By furiously barricading every door and window to dialogue with science, and by shutting themselves away from methodologies that too closely approached the method of Bacon and Galileo, they severed the cord of authority which secured them a voice in the public square. In time, they became a cultural museum.
Their children, the evangelicals, have tried desperately to return from the desert monasteries. And they succeeded in many cases—some may even say far too well where Smith’s free market and its corresponding political process are concerned. Ideologically, however, they have never known what to do with science. The result is a hundred years of catching up to do before conservative protestants in the West, at least (and perhaps their missiologically born descendents in the Southern Hemisphere), can credibly and intelligibly speak to the Western world.
This is evidentially real to me as I clumsily begin trying to live in a world where the Bible and science exist. It is a bifurcated world where the split is sometimes visible sometimes not; a double world in which truth goes by many names by no fault of its own. If I hold a mirror to my face you will see two of me, but not because there are two.
Attempts are being made to bridge the chasm. Postmodernity may even have succeeded in places. But the grammatical universes are still so far apart that, even where they reach a sympathetic parallel, one wonders whether these two seekers will ever touch. Christians are dogmatically right to courageously call out to the perplexed, “Fear not, we are one.” But the above-mentioned are a hundred years or more away from saying how.
science and religion; fundamentalism; twentieth century