Fundamentalism at WaPo

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fundamentals.jpg“Evolution runs directly counter to most major world religions, which teach that God created the world in some form or another.” That pithy, “Voice of God” sentence was written yesterday by Julia Duin, late of the Washington Times, now anchor of the Washington Post‘s On Faith daily discussion of religion in the news. Come again?

Evolution does not run directly counter to Buddhism or Hinduism; indeed, the latter tends to be sympathetic to evolutionary ways of thinking. Nor does Islam consider itself “countered” by evolution. Much of the Judeo-Christian world accepts evolution, and not just liberal Protestantism. Mainstream Orthodox Judaism is down with evolution, “properly understood.” So is the Vatican. Mormonism has no official position on the subject.

Sure, you can find adherents of all of the above religious traditions who oppose evolution. But the only tradition that believes itself to be directly countered by evolution is fundamentalist Christianity, which emerged in the early 20th century in part to combat Darwinian theory and what it considered its baleful effects on Christian orthodoxy. To that end, the early fundamentalists invented the idea of biblical “inerrancy” and made it a pillar of their faith.

Duin advances the notion that what sets the world’s religions against evolution is the widely shared (“in some form or other”) teaching that God created the world. But such a view only makes sense if your understanding of creation is the classic inerrantist one: creation according to the Genesis account of the Six Days, complete with all the living creatures in their present form. It’s fair to say, however, that the preponderance of magisterial religious teaching these days is that evolution is consistent with divine creation.