An Example of Why I'm not Impressed with The Ivory Tower

James F. McGrath, professor of religion at Butler University in Indiana is an ideal example of why I’m rarely impressed by the thought processes of those entrenched in the ivory towers of this country (note I don’t lump all professors into this category, but Dr. McGrath is clearly one who fits the bill).  Dr. McGrath often uses fundamentalist-like arguments to buttress his positions without a shred of theological credibility.  While it probably makes him popular among atheists, progressive Christians, colleagues in the ivory towers, and naturalistic evolutionists, he does not appear to care one whit for theological consistency and appears to be pandering to folks that he wants to stroke his ego.

Dr. McGrath’s views on Creationism:

http://exploringourmatrix.blogspot.com/2008/09/blogging-creationism-highlights.html

Dr. McGrath’s views on Intelligent Design:

http://exploringourmatrix.blogspot.com/2008/09/blogging-intelligent-design-highlights.html

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8 Responses

  1. After years of attending the ivory covered towers and listening to the supposed “knowledge,” ideas and opinions expressed by its permanent inhabitants (profs etc), I have come to the conclusion that they, (for the most part, not all, but most), are in some form of arrested development. I read some of McGrath’s religious/philosophical ramblings and it’s just the same old same old! These “inhabitants,” of the ivory towers, live in seclusion and among those who act, think and believe as they do and without ever having to really deal with a dissenting opinion or, for that matter, real life. How do they know what they believe is true? Most of their lives have been spent in classrooms as students and then teachers. The system pays them to be introverts and reclusive and protects them from that mean old world. Why would I put much stock in what these inhabitants believe one way or another, especially on issues that they refuse to admit they’re unsure of and have no real proof to back up their opinions?

    As with the point of your other article, today, I sense that there is a hopelessness in discussing these issues with those who refuse to hear anything that is contrary to their belief system: whether it be a rabid fundamentalist or a rabid Darwinist. In my estimation, there is very little difference between the two!

  2. DB wrote:

    Most of their lives have been spent in classrooms as students and then teachers. The system pays them to be introverts and reclusive and protects them from that mean old world.

    I have to agree wholeheartedly here. It’s very easy to be seduced by academia…to get the approval of colleagues and others who are considered to be academic elites. I know exactly, how I could get the approval of a majority of academics as a PhD; however, I pursue the truth. It is very difficult to find, as noted by George Orwell in 1984. I subscribe to this philosophy rather than the “truth is irrelevant” factor, which seems to be exhibited more in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. Although both philosophies seem to be active in the world today: “the truth is hard to find,” and “the truth is irrelevant.”

  3. Thank you for engaging my posts. I must confess, however, that I’m not sure what exactly you find lacking in my theological credibility. If you could be more specific, it would better enable me to respond and continue the conversation!

  4. James, thanks for being willing to do so. It will be this evening before I will have time to lay out some of the issues I have. Thank you for not being defensive despite the fact that I have been harshly critical of your writings.

  5. It’s kind of difficult to know where to start James. So, I’ll start with just a few of things.

    In regard to your post, An Immoral Godless Pseudoscience, you make several statements that I find lacking in theological credibility. Now, note that I am not a theologian, so perhaps I’m incorrect.

    Christianity is regularly hijacked to distract and comfort Americans with regard to their most common sin. But to build a multi-million dollar museum promoting ideas that are neither scientific nor scriptural, when so many in our world face a daily struggle to find enough food and clean drinking water to survive, is not merely un-Christian. It is antithetical to every Biblical principle of morality.

    I have no problem with the first sentence. But to say that the Creation Museum is “neither scientific nor scriptural,” and “antithetical to every Biblical principle of morality,” stretches theological credibility beyond it’s limits. Care to explain how it is not scriptural and antithetical to every Biblical principle of morality?

    Indeed, to jump to another commandment for a moment, proponents of Intelligent Design are complicit in murder in several ways. By taking funds away that could (if people were emphasizing what the Bible says) be used to help the needy, they cause the deaths of many hungry people. Second, by opposing science, which has helped prevent and treat countless diseases, they are causing the deaths of still more people. If we added to this anger, which is identified in the Sermon on the Mount as a form of murder, we could find still more evidence on their blogs and in other contexts.

    This is a straw man argument. For one, I would challenge you to point out any health or other scientific benefits to society that arise from the study of evolution (apart from simple natural selection used in computing algorithms). For another, you are trying to put people back under the Old Covenant, by framing your arguments in terms of the 10 commandments. I find that to be unsound theology.

    Returning to the second commandment, proponents of Intelligent Design also commit idolatry by suggesting that only their narrow, impoverished view of a Designer is an adequate view of God. That God could work through natural causes (as the Bible often says God did), that God could (to use the famous pool table analogy) pot all the balls in one shot rather than needing to do each individually, is adamantly denied. Replacing the God about whom St. Augustine said “If you understand it, it isn’t God” with their flawed human reasoning is certainly a form of idolatry as well.

    Same problems as the last quote.

    This leads me to conclude with their opposition to a key American value. Intelligent Design is opposed to the American ethic of hard work. Scientists have worked hard to contribute to our knowledge and our well-being, our health and our standard of living and our comfort. Instead of being appreciated, they are denigrated, by people who do no such hard work themselves and make no such contribution to our society. Hard workers do not deserve to be demonized and denigrated by those who covet their position in this way.

    Again, I think you seriously overestimate the benefit to society predicated upon the research findings of evolutionary biologists. You also lump creationists and IDers together in an uneven way. And I think the folks down at the Creation Museum have been working as hard as anyone for what’s more important, and that is salvation (they have also recently launched a medical mission). A great deal of the work on the museum was done by volunteers.

  6. James, I would also note, that if we are going to have an extended theological discussion, I would like to know what you personally believe. That way I’ll know where you’re coming from. I am a Christian, non-denominational, and I do not attend church.

  7. By taking funds away that could (if people were emphasizing what the Bible says) be used to help the needy, they cause the deaths of many hungry people. Second, by opposing science, which has helped prevent and treat countless diseases, they are causing the deaths of still more people.

    This is a similar argument to that which Judas used to scold Mary M. for wasting money, “that could have been used to feed the poor,” on perfume to wash Jesus’ feet. It’s legalistic, and, as with Judas, manipulative in its intent, since he wanted that money for himself! “…by opposing science…” I don’t oppose true science, nor do most rational believers! What I do oppose, as others, is billions of dollars spent on science experiments like the LHC, which serves only the egos and desires of naturalist/materialist and atheistic scientists whose only goal is to disprove God. How could those billions have been used for humanity? How many people could have been fed, housed and clothed with 8 billion dollars? Also, unlike material science, the Creation Museum is funded by believers, not the government, which uses tax payer’s hard earned cash! I’m sorry, but your arguments seem to be manipulative and political in nature, which tells me something about what you do believe.

  8. “Intelligent Design is opposed to the American ethic of hard work.”
    – James McGrath

    I just wanted to quote this because it’s such a dumb statement that it deserves a re-quote with the author’s name attached.

    “…proponents of Intelligent Design are complicit in murder…”
    – James McGrath

    (Boy, Hitler and Stalin would sure have a laugh over that one!)

    Anyone who can write such a statement is simply a hater, and is, in my opinion far more close-minded than his imaginary evil ID monster/science critic.

    I would suggest Mr. MgGrath remove the log from his own eye before he helps us pull the splinters from ours.

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