Evangelicals who take an interest in the life of the mind inevitably encounter two types of fundamentalists. Although the two types are similar, they are easy to distinguish. Both types believe that their views of the scripture, creation, and/or history are the only legitimate interpretations and condemn anyone who disagrees with them and their preferred “experts.” But the first type filters their beliefs through the KJV while the second type filters their beliefs through the NYT.
Karl W. Giberson and Randall J. Stephens are the second type of fundamentalists. Yesterday, they published an embarrassingly simple-minded op-ed in the New York Times decrying the “simplistic theology, cultural isolationism and stubborn anti-intellectualism” of evangelicals who hold beliefs that differ from their own. It was the type of sophomoric, bias-confirming piece that no reputable publication would touch. Naturally, it was a hit with Times readers.
According to Giberson and Stephens, you might be an anti-intellectual fundamentalist if you are an evangelical who: dismisses evolution as “an unproven theory”; deny that “climate change is real and caused by humans”; think that “the founders were evangelicals who intended America to be a Christian nation”; defend spanking children; believe in traditional roles for the sexes; think that reparative therapy can “cure” homosexuality; and/or oppose gay marriage.
Most evangelicals who read that list would agree with some and disagree with others. The responses would vary because most of us evangelicals have been taught to think for themselves. Unlike Giberson and Stephens, we don’t simply outsource our thinking to whatever experts have been approved by the New York Times.
Had they bothered to think for themselves (or at least do their homework) they would have found, for example, that Dr. James Dobson is correct: The American Psychological Association did dismiss reparative therapy because they were caving in to gay pressure. The American Psychiatric Association admits on their website that the decision wasn’t based on clinical evaluation: “To date, there are no scientifically rigorous outcome studies to determine either the actual efficacy or harm of ‘reparative’ treatments. There is sparse scientific data about selection criteria, risks versus benefits of the treatment, and long-term outcomes of “reparative” therapies.” Despite any clinical evidence for or against the therapy, the APA denounces such therapy because, “In the current social climate, claiming homosexuality is a mental disorder stems from efforts to discredit the growing social acceptance of homosexuality as a normal variant of human sexuality. Consequently, the issue of changing sexual orientation has become highly politicized.” Yeah, no kidding. The APA helped to politicize it.
However, for open-minded researchers, the efficacy of repartive therapy is still open to scientific investigation. Recently, Stanton Jones, a psychology professor and provost at Wheaton College, and Mark Yarhouse, a professor of mental health at Regent University, published a study in the Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy that showed that some homosexuals who seek to change their sexual orientation may be able to do so with the help of religious mediation. Will that cause the APA to reconsider their position? Of course not. The APA is not an organization to be swayed by empirical results.
Perhaps it will come as news to Giberson and Stephens, but the idea that counseling groups like the APA have been mau-maued by homosexual activists isn’t exactly news. The American Psychiatric Association’s decision to declare that homosexuality was not a mental illness was entirely based on political considerations. This fact is so established that NPR’s This American Life even devoted an entire episode about the event. The point isn’t that homosexuality is a mental illness (it’s not and should have never been classified as such). The point is Giberson and Stephens simply don’t know what they’re talking about. They are simply parroting the liberal secular line because it will impress readers of the NYT.
The irony is that Giberson and Stephens are denouncing their fellow evangelicals when they themselves are as “anti-intellectual” as Ham or Barton. But while the Hams and Bartons of the world may be merely annoying, the Gibersons and Stephens are completely insufferable. Before they claim other evangelicals have “rejected” reason, they might want to show they are capable of a rational evaluation of their own biases.
See also: I’m thankful Rod Dreher has taken on their ridiculous “argument from silence” so I don’t have to. Seriously, if you are going to accuse people of being against “reason” you should at least refrain from making simple logical fallacies. Could they not find a freshman student to proofread the piece for them?