Fake News, Climate Change, and Testosterone

Remember when some clever analysts of evangelicals attributed their blindness about Donald Trump’s immorality to presuppositionalism and a biblical w-w that grants power to the mind in determining truth? Well, Andrew Sullivan comes through with a healthy reminder that residents and citizens of the United States may have bigger worries than Jerry Falwell, Jr., Liberty University, David Barton, and Shane Claiborne:

The deeper question for me is why anyone would try to insist that biology is largely irrelevant in, of all arenas, sports. I can see trying to minimize biological sex differences in many, many areas where the distinction is trivial — but something as obviously physically rooted as athletics? It’s almost perverse. An ACLU blog post defending the participation of trans girls in school sports states that there is “ample evidence that girls can compete and win against boys,” but somehow avoids the conclusion that there should therefore be all-sexes leagues or contests, where men, women, and intersex people can all compete together. Or you can have an article in Deadspinwhich ridicules any idea of a testosterone advantage for trans women:

The thing about all this talk equating hormone replacement therapy to doping, and the threat to “biological females,” and the “unfair advantages” of “male puberty,” is that it’s based entirely on social perceptions of gender. “There’s absolutely no scientific evidence at all that supports their position,” said Rachel McKinnon.

McKinnon is a philosophy professor. The idea that there is “absolutely no scientific evidence” that male puberty dramatically increases the physical strength of boys compared with girls is, well, unhinged. It’s the left’s version of climate change denial.

And for what? Why are the differences between men and women on average so offensive? Why is it problematic that men are physically stronger on average than women? Why should strength have some kind of normative value? I honestly cannot understand.

I suspect it’s related to postmodernism’s attempt to turn everything in the world into something humans have created and can therefore control. “Nature” is outside that rubric and so must be interrogated and deconstructed until it has been whittled away to nothing. Even science is a social construction, the argument goes, and so any advantage conferred by testosterone must be entirely a function of patriarchy. “Gender” absorbs “sex” altogether. But even if you end patriarchy, you are never going to end sex difference.

Then there’s the well-intentioned pursuit of equality. All inequalities, we are told, are socially created and need to be eradicated for full human freedom to flourish. Accepting natural differences seems like a backdoor to bigotry. And, yes, discrimination is often rooted in a crude idea of “nature.” That’s why making such distinctions requires nuance and exactitude.

There is a distinction between equality and sameness, just as there is a crucial distinction between inequality and difference. If the social-justice ideologues attempted to make all sports coed, there would be a universal outcry. Outside a few pockets of wokeness, it would seem absurd. And yet we are stuck in a discourse that presents this unreality as if it has some kind of science behind it. It doesn’t. We should be able to accept our inequalities as part of human diversity, and celebrate them, while treating each other as political and moral equals. The deeper laws of nature establishing this core human equality are enshrined in America’s Declaration of Independence. They do not mean we are all substantively the same, or will all end up in the same place. We are just morally and politically equal.

Who, after all, would want to live in a world like this — where we are all interchangeable, where nature is irrelevant, where men are the same as women, and where acknowledging the variations of humanity is relegated to the precincts of bigotry? How much drearier than the actual, diverse, fascinating natural world we live in.

Surely this is a point upon which Sohrab Ahmari and David French would agree and by uniting with Andrew Sullivan make liberalism great again.

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"The Stakes Have Never Been Higher"

Really?

According to ABC News, and its report on the resignation of Bruce Waltke from Reformed Theological Seminary, both sides agree that the stakes are indeed that high. Higher than the Scopes Trial? I was glad that they did not bring up William Jennings Bryan and his difficult testimony before Clarence Darrow’s badgering. But from what I could tell, the stakes this news reporter discovered are completely beside the point.

The way the press usually treats these things, it is a case of intolerance versus open mindedness, or science versus dogma, or a religious group’s retrenchment and inability to cope with modern ideas versus a community of faith that swims along quite elegantly in the waters of modern knowledge. And they can generally find religious scholars like Pete Enns and Randall Balmer who, siding more with the reporters than their fellow believers, will back up this set of contrasts (but who actually should know that there are more than two sides since they are experts on religion and the reporters aren’t).

This set of tensions could apply to the Waltke-RTS situation, but they don’t. The major contention has been the historicity of Adam, not whether he emerged from an evolutionary process. And beyond that, the questions have been largely theological, not scientific: what happens to the doctrine of original sin or federal headship if Adam was simply a mythical figure? And what happens to Paul’s two-Adam construction of covenant theology if one of those Adams is an ethereal character of unknown identity who may have hooked up with the mother of all humanity (that mother being confirmed by geneticists and anthropologists and thus supplying the evidence necessary for the unity of the human race).

So have the stakes ever been higher for federal theology? I’m not so sure. I’d need the help of historical theologians to make that call.

But to the idea that if Christians do not accept the idea of evolution they run the risk of becoming a cult, I wonder if Waltke or his supporter Enns, or ABC’s expert interviewee, Balmer, ever considered what belief in the resurrection of Christ makes the church look like before the scientifically knowledgeable world. Granted, the Genesis account of God’s creation of the parents of the human race may from a scientific perspective be hard to believe. I, frankly, am not sure that the naturalistic accounts of human origins are any easier to understand or believe. Be that as it may, do the Christians advocating evolution – and I am not going to give them too hard a time since one of my favorite theologians (sorry, Gary), Benjamin Warfield was one of them – really think the idea of Christ’s resurrection makes Christians soft, cuddly, and scientifically mainstream?

The stakes have been what they’ve always been. The Bible contains a lot of events and ideas that are hard to believe, whether you are scientific or not (think of all the premoderns who saw and heard Christ and did not believe). If not for the longevity of Christianity in Europe and North America, reporters might actually think that Christianity resembles Mormonism more than it does the Unitarian Church.

But for the record, when a three-time presidential nominee and one of the nation’s leading attorneys square off in courtroom proceedings that are broadcast nationally – which is what happened in Dayton, Tennessee in 1925 – the stakes are pretty high, higher I’d say than the recent unpleasantness between Waltke and RTS. (And those stakes had more to do with majority rule and local government than with reason versus faith — but that’s another story.)