Nicholas Kristof's false dichotomy
Weblog was a bit surprised at the beatingNew York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof took from some religious folks back in March when he complained about the lack of evangelicals in the nation's newsrooms. (CT sister publication Books & Culture had a fine response from historian Mark Noll that deserves wider recognition: it's available here.)
But Kristof will be fortunate if yesterday's blackout shut down his e-mail server. Today's column is, in a word, bad. And he's going to get slammed for it.
Noting that Americans are three times as likely to believe in the Virgin Birth of Jesus (83%) as in evolution (28%), he writes, "The faith in the Virgin Birth reflects the way American Christianity is becoming less intellectual and more mystical over time."
That's right. If you believe in the Virgin Birth, you're anti-intellectual. And, along with a quote from Hans Küng (who continues to practice theology in spite of the Vatican's revocation of his license), here's how he proves it:
The Virgin Mary is an interesting prism through which to examine America's emphasis on faith because most Biblical scholars regard the evidence for the Virgin Birth, and for Mary's assumption into Heaven (which was proclaimed as Catholic dogma only in 1950), as so shaky that it pretty much has to be a leap of faith. … Yet despite the lack of scientific or historical evidence, and despite the doubts of Biblical scholars, America is so pious that not only do 91 percent of Christians say they believe in the Virgin Birth, but so do an astonishing 47 percent of U.S. non-Christians. ...1
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