Friday, March 13, 2009

Forest Reviews via Leaf Nibbling

Alan Jacobs reviews Philip Kitcher's Living with Darwin: Evolution, Design, and the Future of Faith and finds fault:

It is when Kitcher turns to Biblical studies and theology that the book falls apart, largely because of gross ignorance. The confidence of his pronouncements is far out of proportion to the amount of his reading, and on some points — especially regarding the evangelical subculture — he operates on wholly uninvestigated assumptions. Example: “Evangelical Christians prefer the King James translation to the more scholarly (and more prosaic) recent versions.” Well, even the New King James version is only favored by fundamentalists; for many years the leading translation among all evangelicals has been the New International Version. I’ve complained about this particular form of ignorance before, so I won't belabor it again. But man, it gets tiresome.
I have my own ideas of what has gotten tiresome, to wit: the assertion that critics without advanced degrees in theology are guilty of "gross ignorance" without a corresponding accounting of the errors or lacunae the "gross ignorance" caused. What specific shortcomings does Jacobs wish to impute to Kitcher's book? Did he run out of disk space? Is there a twitter-esque character limit on posts over at American Scene?

I hope Jacobs is not asking us to dismiss the book because Kitcher made an error -- if it is one -- about Bible translations. Suppose Christian evangelicals do, as Jacobs says, prefer the NIV to the KJV, and that Kitcher was wrong about it. So what? What larger truth turns on this factoid?

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