Conservative Christian televangelist Pat Robertson told citizens of a Pennsylvania town that they had rejected God by voting their school board out of office for supporting "intelligent design" and warned them on Thursday not to be surprised if disaster struck.One of the irritating things about this is that, by associating Intelligent Design with Christianity (if that is what you call the worldly and mendacious religion that he practices), Robertson is actually feeding the very slander that critics of ID have so successfully achieved. Michael Behe and William Dembski have gone to great lengths to demonstrate that what they do is legitimate science and has no basis in any religion, Christian or otherwise. Then along comes Robertson and pisses it all away by calling down the wrath of God.
He is even wrong from a theological point of view. Here is his actual quote:
"I'd like to say to the good citizens of Dover: if there is a disaster in your area, don't turn to God, you just rejected Him from your city," Robertson said on his daily television show broadcast from Virginia, "The 700 Club."Even assuming that Robertson had the authority to speak on God's behalf (which I categorically deny), this is just not a biblical view of God's judgment. Telling people not to turn to God has no precedent in even the harshest prophets of the Old Testament.
"And don't wonder why He hasn't helped you when problems begin, if they begin. I'm not saying they will, but if they do, just remember, you just voted God out of your city. And if that's the case, don't ask for His help because he might not be there," he said.
It is true that God will sometimes respond to extreme unfaithfulness with and implacable justice which he declares in advance will not be remitted. I am currently teaching a study on the book of the prophet Hosea who had the thankless task of telling the Northern kingdom of Israel that their doom was fixed. Chapter 1 contains one of the two or three scariest passages in the entire bible: "Call her name Lo-Ruhamah, for I will no longer have mercy on the house of Israel, but I will utterly take them away." [Hos 1:6] Yet, in several times throughout the book, Hosea is careful to say that, after the judgment has occurred and the people are repentant "I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely, for My anger has turned away from him." [Hos 14:4] (If you want a more complete discussion of this book, you will have to show up at St. Luke's. :)
Just as we demand that "modern" Muslims condemn the extremists in their midst, good Christians really ought to send Robertson packing. This is just ridiculous and should embarrass every decent person of faith out there. Absolutely outrageous.I agree. One minor quibble with Tammy's post, however. Many conservative Christians do deplore Robertson and Falwell and do so as publicly as we are able. However, our objections do not make the front pages -- much less the careful, thoughtful and constructive contributions we make in our churches and daily lives. I am not a conspiracy theorist by any means, but I have become convinced that Robertson and his ilk are useful to the MSM precisely because they show Christianity in a bad light. Sending him packing would be a dream come true for many of us, but is not a very realistic option in the current environment.
Update: Incidentally, here is what Michael Behe has to say about the court case (mentioned in the article):
As far as the "ordeal" goes, despite what the LA Times article makes it seem, it was actually all rather exhilirating. I rather enjoyed myself on the witness stand, because I got to explain in very great detail the argument for intelligent design, and the other side had to sit there and listen.
The cross examination was fun too, and showed that the other side really does have only rhetoric and bluster. At one point the lawyer for the other side who was cross examining me ostentatiously piled a bunch of papers on the witness stand that putatively had to do with the evolution of the immune system. But it was obvious from a cursory examination that they were more examples of hand waving speculations, which I had earlier discussed in my direct testimony. So I was able to smile and say that they had nothing more to say than the other papers. I then thought to myself, that here the NCSE, ACLU, and everyone in the world who is against ID had their shot to show where we were wrong, and just trotted out more speculation. It actually made me feel real good about things.
From what I read from Casey's blog about Scott Minnich's testimony, he seemed to have the same experience. I haven't the foggiest idea how the Judge will rule, but I think we got to show a lot of people that ID is a very serious idea.