I was reading a book tonight, preparing it for a review and I was disappointed by the lack of theological and exegetical inconsistency. I’ve often read literature on the creation and evolution debate, and have frequently wrote on the subject. As I’ve been active in certain circles of the debate, I’ve noticed that people who do apologetic work often spend so much time around aggressive opponents that they often either get worn down and become caustic themselves, or they get educated in one area and start letting their mouths get ahead of their knowledge by speaking out on subjects that they lack expertise on (or sometimes haven’t the faintest clue about).
I’ve come to refer to this second problem, the problem of speaking outside one’s field of expertise (and usually making foolish or ignorant statements), as the problem of “the priesthood of the PhD”. What I mean by that is that sometimes, and often in the creation /evolution issue, people who are doctors of something function more like priests. Doctors speak with authority in their area of expertise, but priests can speak with authority in God’s area of expertise; everything (if, and only if, they’re speaking from God’s word). It’s like some people think a PhD in one area (molecular biology, astronomy, history, etc.) is a general doctorate, equally relevant to all fields and thus making them a priest. I’ve often said that there’s no such thing as a “PhD in Knowledge“; there’s no such thing as an authoritative secular priesthood.
A good example of this is when Richard Dawkins comments in The God Delusion on the Bible and goes off into theology, biblical criticism and philosophy. His proponents have rightly attacked him for proudly making statements that reveal how little he knows about those subjects.
I recently encountered another example as I was preparing a review of The Big Three by Henry Morris III. I read the book and found much to agree upon, but some bizarre things with which I had significant disagreement. One of those was Morris’ efforts at displaying his lack of understanding of Christian theology and textual criticism by his strange attack upon the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy (apparently they have misunderstsand both inspiration and inerrancy) and also attack upon translations of the Bible other than the King James Version. Morris III didn’t come out with to strong a KJV-Only position in The Big Three, but as I searched, I found this article on the subject (which was written by Henry Morris I, not Henry Morris the III). This later article by Morris I (not Morris III) outrightly admits that he doesn’t have any training in biblical languages or textual criticism, but he also has no desire to discuss the issue with anyone who disagrees with him. I’m not suprised to see Morris III peddling the ill-informed ideas of his fore-runners, though it is disheartening. I have no reason to think either Morris has any real understanding of the issues at hand, and yet Morris III comes out in The Big Three and uses his creationist platform to take on basically everyone in evangelicalism and infer that people who aren’t KJV reading Young Earth Creationists are false teachers.
I later found this response to the article by Morris I written by someone who knows significantly more than Morris I on the issue of bible translations and textual criticism. Seeing that both articles are over a decade old and the Morris article is still on the ICR website, I’m guessing that neither Morris I or III have taken the offered correction to heart simply because they don’t care to understand the issue; they’re sadly not immune to being lured into the “priesthood of the PhD” on this issue.
The lesson here?
“A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions.” – Proverbs 18:2 (NIV)
Foolishness can be found anywhere, including in our own beliefs.
As Christians, we should constantly be fighting the noetic effects of sin and struggle to bring all sinful and unbiblical thoughts into subjection to the Lordship of Christ, regardless of where we learned them or whether or not they’re precious traditions. Every opinion, cherished tradition and ‘biblical’ doctrine must be evaluated in the light of truth.
We have no excuse for being fools.
Until Next Time,
Lyndon “The Armchair Creationist” Unger