The American Vision: A Biblical Worldview Ministry

When Religious Leaders Lose Their Credibility: Part 1

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It seems the only way to get a religious book published by a secular press these days is to write some outrageous things about what the Bible claims to teach and how conservative Christians are evil, stupid, misguided, and just downright hateful. The most recent example is Pastor Oliver “Buzz” Thomas who has written 10 Things Your Minister Wants to Tell You (But Can’t Because He Needs the Job). In an article in USA Today (November 20, 2006), we’re told that it’s “an upcoming book.” I hope so, since it’s filled with so many logical, historical, biblical, and commonsense errors that it’s going to need a time consuming rewrite if his article “When religion loses its credibility” is any indication of how he argues for these “10 things.”

Thomas begins the article with a question: “What if Christian leaders are wrong abut homosexuality?” A simple retort would be, “What if they’re right?” He doesn’t consider this. He begins by claiming that “homosexuality is . . . determined at birth and is not to be condemned by God’s followers.” Later in the article he writes that there is “mounting scientific evidence that sexual orientation has little or nothing to do with choice.” Actually, the “mounting scientific evidence” is inconclusive at best and fraudulent at worst.[1]

For the sake of argument, let’s assume that Thomas’ assessment of the “mounting scientific evidence” for a “gay gene” is correct. How does a genetic cause support the claim that homosexuality is a behavior that should be supported by the church and turned into a civil rights issue? The behavior is irrational in terms of sexual “equipment,” self-inhibiting (no progeny except by artificial means) unsanitary, and disease causing (AIDS). Surely science has something to say about these issues. Then there is the problem of other behaviors that claim to have a genetic cause. Consider the following:

  • “Some of us, it seems, were just born to be bad. Scientists say they are on the verge of pinning down genetic and biochemical abnormalities that predispose their bearers to violence. An article in the journal Science . . . carried the headline EVIDENCE FOUND FOR POSSIBLE ‘AGGRESSION’ GENE.”[2]
  • “Why do gamblers often bet more after a losing hand? Or investors throw good money after bad? The answer may lie in the science of the brain.”[3]
  • “Is racism simply human nature or something learned from society? Neither, says a team of psychologists who, despite criticism, argue that racism represents an accidental side effect of evolution.”[4]
  • A recent article published in The Sciences, a New York Academy of Science magazine, stated that “rape is a ‘natural, biological’ phenomenon, springing from men’s evolutionary urge to reproduce.”[5]

Why is it that only homosexuality gets a genetic pass? If we follow Pastor Thomas’ logic, should we decriminalize violent acts, racism, and rape? Will he ask the question, “What if Christian leaders are wrong about violence, race, and rape given new scientific information based on genetic studies?” Of course he won’t.

Thomas brings up Galileo as a way of trying to demonstrate that the church has been wrong before, so it could be wrong again. What he fails to tell his readers, and is probably unaware of himself, was that the church had embraced the science of the day over what the Bible actually taught. The church had adopted an Aristotelian cosmology and interpreted the Bible through its distorted lens. Charles E. Hummel writes, “The real authoritarianism that engineered Galileo’s downfall was that of the Aristotelian scientific outlook in the universities. Only after Galileo had attacked that establishment for decades did his enemies turn their controversy into a theological issue.”[6] Preaching in terms of today’s science is risky, as the church in Galileo’s day found out.


[1] For example, “Is There a ‘Gay Gene,’”? (National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality)
[2] Dennis Overbye, “Born to Raise Hell?,” Time (February 21, 1994), 76.
[3] Faye Flam, “Study: Reckless gambler, blame your brain,” The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (March 22, 2002), A18.
[4] Dan Vergano, “Racism may have evolutionary link,” USA Today (December 11, 2001), 11.
[5] Dan Vergano, “‘Natural, biological’ theory of rape creates instant storm,” USA Today (January 28, 2000), 8D.
[6] Charles E. Hummel, The Galileo Connection: Resolving Conflicts between Science and the Bible (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1986), 122–123.

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