Don McLeroy, Faith, and Science

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The Austin American-Statesman has a long profile of Texas State Board of Education chairman Don McLeroy today. The College Station dentist explains his opposition to evolution and his insistence that students learn there are “weaknesses” to this core scientific concept. On the other side of the debate are prominent scientists, such as David Hillis of the University of Texas at Austin and Kenneth Miller of Brown University.

Dr. McLeroy and his supporters insist that their desire to challenge evolution in biology classrooms is not about promoting religion in public schools. Yet he makes clear in the Statesman piece that his religious beliefs are the source of his objections to evolution:

When I became a Christian, it was whole-hearted. I was totally convinced the biblical principles were right, and I was totally convinced that it could be accurate scientifically.

Dr. McLeroy has every right to his religious beliefs, and millions of people certainly share his. TFN will continue to defend that right and religious liberty for all. But what’s objectionable is a refusal on the part of so many creationists to acknowledge that millions of people of faith accept the science of evolution and see no conflict with their own religious beliefs.

Even worse are creationists who then arrogantly attack the faith of those people. We have seen that in the debate over science standards in Texas. Here is what board member Ken Mercer wrote in the San Antonio-Express-News last month, when he criticized fellow Republican board members for their votes in support of teaching the science of evolution:

I pray for my three friends, Pat Hardy of Ft. Worth , Bob Craig of Lubbock, and Geraldine “Tincy” Miller of Dallas.  They voted against the Republican Party platform and allowed themselves to be constantly lobbied by prominent atheists and secular humanists. These three Republicans will now have to stand accountable before their constituents.

Mercer was essentially parroting the argument of other culture warriors who have been sending e-mails to board members and others across the state. You might recall a notorious example from earlier this year, when one such e-mail linked support for evolution to serial murderer Jeffrey Dahmer.

Clearly, atheists are more likely to accept the science of evolution than biblical creationism. Duh. But to suggest that everyone else who does so is an atheist out to destroy religion or at least has been duped by atheists is profoundly insulting and repulsive.

Texas today is at an important crossroads, with one road leading to dogmatic opposition to science and progress based on the deeply misguided belief that religion and faith themselves are under attack. Is that really the road we want to send Texas schoolchildren down? If your answer is no, then help the Texas Freedom Network stand up for sound science education. You can also join other mainstream Texans at the Capitol on Tuesday (March 10) as we lobby lawmakers in support of sound science.

13 Responses to “Don McLeroy, Faith, and Science”

  1. Charles Says:

    Please. Everyone in the great state of Texas, take a close look at this. This is important. This is very important.

    Austin-American Statesman quote:

    “Growing up, McLeroy and his family — which included his mother, engineer father and twin brother — attended a Methodist church in Dallas every Sunday, but he wasn’t overly involved.

    McLeroy said that it wasn’t until he met his future wife, Nan, that he decided to rethink his faith. She said she would date him only if he were a Christian.”

    Please notice that Dr. McLeroy and his family attended a Methodist church EVERY SUNDAY. Please notice that Dr. McLeroy felt as if he “…was not overly involved…” in his Methodist church. Most people who are actively involved in their church are not “overly involved,” but attending a church EVERY Sunday is exceedingly involved in the context of most churches today. Now, the last part of the quote is the important part. Because it is so important, let’s look at that quote again:

    ” McLeroy said that it wasn’t until he met his future wife, Nan, that he decided to rethink his faith. She said she would date him only if he were a Christian.” In my personal opinion, I get three important things from this statement:

    1) In all Christian churches, faith has historically been faith in the person of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. I was raised in the United Methodist Church—the second largest protestant denomination in the United States—and faith in Jesus Christ has always been the center of our denomination. As far as I know, this faith has always been the center of any stripe of Methodist church. There is no other faith you can have in a Methodist church, unless you are showing up there as numb as concrete block and just going through the motions. However, Dr. McLeroy says that he had to “…rethink his faith.” You have to ALREADY HAVE faith to be able to rethink it. So, what was he rethinking? Was he rethinking his existing faith in Jesus Christ so he could have…. faith in Jesus Christ??? Does that make any sense to you? Puzzling.

    2) More of the quote again: ” She said she would date him only if he were a Christian.” In light of Item No. 1 above, what might that mean? I have been trying to figure this out and have at least one possible answer.

    A number of Christian fundamentalist churches believe that there are two types of Christians in this world. They refer to them as “apostate Christians” and “true Christians.” The term “apostate” means “defection.” An apostate Christian or church is believed to be living in apostasy and is believed to have defected from or deserted Jesus Christ…so basically they are “dead” spiritually. On the flip side, a “true Christian” is a person who believes the elements of a fundamentalist creed or pseudo-creed that is often referred to as “right doctrine.” Almost without exception, one of these doctrinal elements is the belief that the Bible is inerrant and should be understood literally. The membership of such churches usually believes that they (and only those other people who believe as exactly as they do) are “true Christians.” Everyone else is either a reprehensible nonbeliever, or perhaps even worse, a “fake plastic” leper Christian who attends the wrong kind of church. To put it in simpler terms, people get defined in terms of ME vs. YOU and US vs. THEM. Who is in and who is out. I am right. You are wrong. I am acceptable to God. You are not acceptable to God. In fundamentalist congregations, this polarized view of the world and supposedly apostate Christians is often expressed with a strong sense of enforced separatism. This means that members are discouraged from having private social relationships with people who do not believe exactly as they do. The few exceptions are 1) necessary relationships (like at work or school where strangers are unavoidably thrown together) and 2) a few selected relationships with apostates and nonbelievers where the sole purpose of the relationship is pretargeted conversion to Christian fundamentalism. Dating or marrying a nonbeliever or a member of an apostate church would be very nearly “unthinkable.”

    Most Christian fundamentalist churches take a strong line against evolution itself and against teaching it in our public schools. If what is now the United Methodist Church was in any way the church of Dr. McLeroy’s youth, I can tell you that it DOES NOT take an official line against evolution today. In fact, I too was a Methodist during the same days of the 1960s when Dr. McLeroy was, and I do not recall a single sermon or Sunday school lesson against evolution from those days. Therefore, I would guess that Dr. McLeroy’s vehement opposition to evolution may have begun after his marital defection from the Methodist church to a fundamentalist or fundamentalist-leaning church.

    3) Generally speaking, the Christian fundamentalist churches tend to think of the mainline Christian churches both here in the United States and around the world as apostate. Here is at least a partial list of mainline Christian churches. Please examine the list below to determine whether or not YOUR CHURCH is a likely leper in the eyes of some Christian fundamentalist church:

    Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Churches (Moderate Southern Baptists in Disagreement with the Southern Baptist Convention)

    United Methodist Church 7,931,733 members (2008)[8]

    Evangelical Lutheran Church in America 4,709,956 members (2008)[8]

    Presbyterian Church (USA) 2,209,546 members (2007)[9]

    Episcopal Church in the United States of America (2008) 2,116,749 members[8]

    Church of England (Anglican Church)

    American Baptist Churches in the USA 1,358,351 members (2008)[8]

    United Church of Christ 1,145,281 members (2008)[8]

    Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) 722,823 (2005)

    Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) 350,000 members

    Reformed Church in America 285,453 members (2001)[10]

    International Council of Community Churches 200,263 members (2000)[11]

    National Association of Congregational Christian Churches 65,569 members (2000)[12]

    North American Baptist Conference 64,565 members (2002)

    Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches 44,000 members (1998)[13]

    Moravian Church in America, Northern Province 24,650 members (2003)[14]

    Moravian Church in America, Southern Province 21,513 members (1991)[15]

    Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church in America 12,000 members (2007)

    Congregational Christian Churches, (not part of any national CCC body)

    Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church

    Moravian Church in America, Alaska Province

    African Methodist Episcopal Church

    Christian Methodist Episcopal Church

    Roman Catholic Church

    Greek Orthodox Church

    Eastern Orthodox Church

    Russian Orthodox Church

    And many more churches around the world.

    4) Why did I want you to check the list for your church? Simple. You have a very important decision to make in March 2009. That is this month. The Christian fundamentalist churches in Texas (through the Texas State Board of Education) are trying hard to take over and control the teaching of science in the public schools of Texas. Their motivation is their peculiar set of religious beliefs rather than actual biological science. They want your children as a captive audience in a science classroom so they can begin the process of indoctrinating them with their Christian fundamentalist belief system—under the guise of academic freedom. Their eventual goal is pretty much as it always is—to convert your “apostate” children to their belief system and make them eventual members of their churches rather than your family church that you have raised them in so lovingly for these many years. Dr. McLeroy was once a member of a church very much like yours, but it appears that the Christian fundamentalists captured him with the “bean pod” of romance rather than the “bean pod” of science. If any of you have seen the science-fiction movie “Invasion of the Body Snatchers,” you know what that means. The “bean pod” selected to snatch your child from you and your family church is lying in the Texas State Board of Education offices at this very moment. It is awaiting a board vote that will occur this month. I hope you will have enough good sense to realize that your current church is not a leper colony and that the members of your family are not spiritual lepers just because some Christian fundamentalist thinks that you are. God gets to make that judgement—NOT THEM. You do not have to surrender your child to an alien religious belief system at the schoolhouse door. Fight the proposed Texas State Board of Education measures that will snatch your children. Attend the Texas Freedom Network rally on March 10. Tell your public officials, tell the members of the Texas State Board of Education, tell your local news media, and tell the pastor of your church how you feel. Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper. Do whatever reasonable and sensible thing you can to save your children from the “bean pods.”

  2. Teri Says:

    So, according to the interview in the Austin Statesman, Don McLeroy considers himself the “defender of science”? It is of interest to note, then, since McLeroy is a creationist, the “role of science” according to the President of the Institute of Creation Research.

    “Science as a legitimate exercise was given to mankind when the Creator told Adam and Eve, “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over…every living thing that moveth upon the earth” (Genesis 1:28). Theologians and language scholars have long held that “subdue” implies a serious study of creation, discovering its true nature. To “have dominion” over creation implies applying that knowledge to glorify the Creator and benefit man, and so manage creation.

    Science’s rightful place is certainly not to leave God out of the picture, denying Him His rightful glory as Creator and Sustainer of all. It likewise doesn’t mean teaching students it all happened by strictly natural processes.” (John D. Morris, http://www.icr.org/article/4530/)

    Clearly the definition of science is a bit different to creationists, so McLeroy’s claim to be the “defender of science” is meaningless.

  3. Polly Says:

    The NEWEST Pretrib Calendar

    Hal (serial polygamist) Lindsey and other pretrib-rapture-trafficking and Mayan-Calendar-hugging hucksters deserve the following message: “2012 may be YOUR latest date. It isn’t MAYAN!” Actually, if it weren’t for the 179-year-old, fringe-British-invented, American-merchandised pretribulation rapture bunco scheme, Hal might still be piloting a tugboat on the Mississippi. roly-poly Thomas Ice (Tim LaHaye’s No. 1 strong-arm enforcer) might still be in his tiny folding-chair church which shares its firewall with a Texas saloon, Jack Van Impe might still be a jazz band musician, Tim LaHaye might still be titillating California matrons with his “Christian” sex manual, Grant Jeffrey might still be taking care of figures up in Canada, Chuck Missler might still be in mysterious hush-hush stuff that rocket scientists don’t dare talk about, John Hagee might be making – and eating – world-record pizzas, and Jimmy (“Bye You” Rapture) Swaggart might still be flying on a Ferriday flatbed! To read more details about the eschatological British import that leading British scholarship never adopted – the import that’s created some American multi-millionaires – Google “Pretrib Rapture Diehards” (note LaHaye’s hypocrisy under “1992”), “Hal Lindsey’s Many Divorces,” “Thomas Ice (Bloopers)” and “Thomas Ice (Hired Gun),” “LaHaye’s Temperament,” “Wily Jeffrey,” “Chuck Missler – Copyist,” “Open Letter to Todd Strandberg” and “The Rapture Index (Mad Theology),” “X-Raying Margaret,” “Humbug Huebner,” “Thieves’ Marketing,” “Appendix F: Thou Shalt Not Steal,” “The Unoriginal John Darby,” “Pretrib Hypocrisy,” “The Real Manuel Lacunza,” “Roots of (Warlike) Christian Zionism,” “America’s Pretrib Rapture Traffickers,” “Pretrib Rapture – Hidden Facts,” “Dolcino? Duh!” and “Scholars Weigh My Research.” Most of the above is written by journalist/historian Dave MacPherson who has focused on long-hidden pretrib rapture history for 35+ years. No one else has focused on it for 35 months or even 35 weeks. MacPherson has been a frequent radio talk show guest and he states that all of his royalties have always gone to a nonprofit group and not to any individual. His No. 1 book on all this is “The Rapture Plot” (see Armageddon Books online, etc.). The amazing thing is how long it has taken the mainstream media to finally notice and expose this unbelievably groundless yet extremely lucrative theological hoax!

    (I recently came across the above rather shocking web item. Any reactions? – Polly)

  4. Kathi Says:

    I’m a Christian, and I was never asked to check my brain at the front door of the church.

  5. Chris Says:

    Believing in a creator is does not equate opposition to evolution. It does appear that believing in evolution equates to opposition of belief in a creator. Modern science has a “fundamentalist” faction that, like its religious counterpart, does not allow disagreement or dialog. Modern science defines itself as a system that does not believe in a Creator or God. It has all the earmarks of “fundamentalism”: strict rules and regulations meant to discourage differing points of view or actions; claims of authority that says “we are right and everyone else is wrong” and willingness to use power to dominate others; exclusion of all those who disagree even making them outcasts or resorting to mockery and contempt as a way to dominate them.

    Relying on court rulings stipulating that science classes taught in public schools cannot entertain or teach “religion” or “creationism” they draw a finite distinction between facts and faith. If you find something that does not jive with evolution, you are told to “believe” in natural selection and give it enough time. We look at an eye and ask, “why does natural selection choose a particular spectrum of light to ‘see’ when there are other options?” “How does our bodies and DNA determine an occular design that would not be possible without precise measurements (the lens focusing the image on the retina)? How would natural selection (mutations) even get there?” Pointing to variations in bone structure, beaks, fur vs. skin vs. scales vs. feathers and then demanding that we believe in huge transitions from primordial ooze to single cell, to many cell, to fish, to mammal, to man is a huge leap of faith!

    In refusing to consider other explanations, science becomes its own religion, and begins to persecute others who do not believe. If anyone points to facts or realities that might indicate intelligent design or something that contradicts modern science’s definition of evolution (it does change) they are vilified and outcast. By definition, that is not real science.

    I do not advocate our schools promoting a particular religion. What I would like to see is real dialogue on some of the facts and findings that are not easily explained. It is what we expect religions to do – consider the facts and then review the dogma. Science says that religious people need to review the evidence for evolution and not be so narrow minded. Back at you.

    I am a creationist, but do not hold to the 6 day solar creation theory, which seems to be so odious to scientists. The generic time-line of the Biblical creation story is not out of sync with the geological facts. Universe created (big bang) with light being created the first creative time period. Some kind of separation of “water” and “sky” (beginning of the atmosphere?) during the second creative period. Single cell organisms, etc. appear (not discussed in the creation story) with land masses and vegetation in the third creation time period. A break in the time line to discuss a larger event – the formation of the sun and stars, the fourth creation time period. Then, the ocean life in the fifth creation time period, and then land animals and humans in the sixth creation time period. If the Bible account was just completely backwards (like some other ancient texts) then I would be worried.

    I think it took billions of years for creation to happen (maybe by inference that is evolution – I am sure that from the fossil record they might be indistinguishable), but it seems to me clear by the evidence that something helped along the way. Scientists keep using terms like “it took a lot of work” and other such terms to denote something acting on the natural world, a something they call “natural selection”. I think natural selection is just their term for “intelligent design”. Some might say aliens, or a chunk of space rock, or whatever, but these are just another way of saying that evolution got some much needed help. And, anytime you say that evolution needed help, you are introducing intelligent design, or at least begging the question.

    Christianity is not opposed to science. It was a Catholic that first proposed the Big Bang for God’s sake, and not every scientist agreed (they still don’t). I just don’t want us to start vilifying each other because we are so arrogant as to think we have all the answers. The more we learn, the more we discover we don’t know.

  6. Ben Says:

    I think Chris has some valid points. Many different theories should be considered. In fact, as many of you regular readers know, I have a theory of my own. I call it the Satan-wrote-the-Bible theory. Why? Because Satan wrote the bible, that’s why. Here are the main tenets of my theory:

    1. There is no god or gods; the theory of evolution is accurate.

    2. The earth (and everything else) was formed as a result of the Big Bang, billions of years ago.

    3. We don’t know how life originated, and we may never know.

    4. The only supernatural entity in existence is Satan. He didn’t create mankind, but he does have some limited powers than can be quite annoying. For instance, he has affected our thinking to make humans believe in thousands of different “gods” throughout history. He gives them funny names like Mordak, Zeus, and Yahweh, just because he thinks it’s humorous.

    5. Satan wrote the Bible as a means to torment mankind. He wants us to think there is a wonderful afterlife, but there isn’t. He got a real kick out of filling the Bible with stonings, genocide, slavery, incest, etc. He also wrote the Koran and some other religious texts just to stir up trouble.

    6. Satan planted the idea of intelligent design into some humans’ brains as a means to create havoc on earth. It appears to be working. Just look at the Discovery Institute. They are in the grip of Satan and don’t even realize it.

    7. Satan occasionally uses his limited powers to create “evidence” of intelligent design. For instance, he might make some organisms appear irreducibly complex.

    8. There were a lot more fossils around that would have satisfied everybody, including creationists, as far as transitions, but Satan destroyed them.

    That’s as far as I’ve gotten. I can always refine it later. As you can see, my theory and intelligent design are supported by the same amount of evidence. The neat thing is, any additional evidence for ID can also be construed as evidence for my theory. (See #7 above.)

  7. Cytocop Says:

    Chris wrote above: “Believing in a creator is does not equate opposition to evolution. It does appear that believing in evolution equates to opposition of belief in a creator.” This statement is contradictory. It also assumes that those who accept (or “believe” if you must say it that way) evolution cannot be “believers.” The facts do not bear this out. Many “believers’ accept the theory of evolution. Not all, but many do.

    The statement: “Modern science defines itself as a system that does not believe in a Creator or God.” is also not accurate. Since science cannot prove or disprove the existence of a Creator or God, it has nothing at all to say about a Creator or God. Not a thing. It is left for the reader to decide.

    Also the assumption that science “does not allow disagreement or dialog” is also a false statement. If you can prove a scientific theory is incorrect, then your hypothesis becomes the accepted theory until proven wrong. That’s science.

  8. Larry Fafarman Says:

    Darwinian (or neo-Darwinian) evolution theory should be required to pass the strictest scientific scrutiny and should not get a free pass just because it is the only theory that at least gives a superficial appearance of being a naturalistic or materialistic explanation for the origin of species. Darwinian evolution theory does not begin to pass such scrutiny — there is little or no evidence that random mutation and natural selection by themselves can account for the complexity and diversity of living things. If design in living things could be illusory despite the strong evidence for it, the same might be said of Darwinian evolution.

    Chris Says (March 11, 2009 at 4:06 pm) —
    –I am a creationist, but do not hold to the 6 day solar creation theory, which seems to be so odious to scientists. The generic time-line of the Biblical creation story is not out of sync with the geological facts. Universe created (big bang) with light being created the first creative time period. Some kind of separation of “water” and “sky” (beginning of the atmosphere?) during the second creative period. Single cell organisms, etc. appear (not discussed in the creation story) with land masses and vegetation in the third creation time period. A break in the time line to discuss a larger event – the formation of the sun and stars, the fourth creation time period. Then, the ocean life in the fifth creation time period, and then land animals and humans in the sixth creation time period. —

    Chris,
    You are what is called a “day-age creationist.”

  9. Ben Says:

    Larry said, “there is little or no evidence that random mutation and natural selection by themselves can account for the complexity and diversity of living things.”

    Larry, unfortunately, that’s only the way you perceive the situation, because a certain supernatural entity has asserted control over your brain. Do you know who I’m referring to? His name begins with an “S,” ends with an “N,” and has an “ATA” in the middle.

    For those of us who aren’t controlled by the aforementioned entity, evolution is quite obvious.

  10. Charles Says:

    Chris. Please be sure and thank Larry for telling you who you are. Without him, you might have never known. Some people search for who they really are throughout their lives and never find it. One stop here with TFN and Larry, and you are good to go.

  11. ndt Says:

    Darwinian (or neo-Darwinian) evolution theory should be required to pass the strictest scientific scrutiny and should not get a free pass just because it is the only theory that at least gives a superficial appearance of being a naturalistic or materialistic explanation for the origin of species. Darwinian evolution theory does not begin to pass such scrutiny — there is little or no evidence that random mutation and natural selection by themselves can account for the complexity and diversity of living things

    Larry, this is what we call a bald-faced lie. Isn’t there some commandment against lying?

  12. Larry Fafarman Says:

    Charles Says:
    –Chris. Please be sure and thank Larry for telling you who you are. Without him, you might have never known. Some people search for who they really are throughout their lives and never find it. One stop here with TFN and Larry, and you are good to go. —

    Yes, isn’t it great that this blog has a frequent commenter who is as knowledgeable as myself?

  13. Ben Says:

    “Yes, isn’t it great that this blog has a frequent commenter who is as knowledgeable as myself?”

    Should really say:

    “Yes, isn’t it great that this blog has a frequent commenter who is as knowledgeable as myself, but who is, unfortunately, in the grip of Satan?”

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