The Metacriticism of Biblical Scholarship consultation for the 2014 Society of Biblical Literature meeting is getting its sessions in order and it looks like we have some really good papers.
The exception is this one, by yours truly:
In Search of the Biblical Flintstones?
Some Thoughts on Creationism, Academic Freedom, and Scholarly Obligation
(Academic Freedom Session)
In early 2014, the famous science educator, Bill Nye, debated Ken Ham, the founder of Kentucky’s (in)famous Creation Museum. This event provided Ham with publicity and badly needed donations and earned Nye criticism for giving the impression that creationism was even worthy of scientific debate. In this paper I argue that secular biblical scholars should be at least as engaged in countering creationism, as are some scientists. Creationist objections to evolutionary and other sciences are not based on science but religion. What is really at stake is not the integrity of science but whether the creationists’ reading of the Bible is internally consistent and reasonable, let alone being the default mode of understanding it. Allowing scientists to carry the burden of refuting creationist claims presents the Bible to the public from polarized parties, neither of which are likely to give much heed to critical Bible research. Biblical scholars are much better trained than scientists in the calling the hermeneutics of creationists into question. Creationists also confront other Christians who maintain that evolution and an earth billions of years old are compatible with their faith. This directly affects some biblical scholars, as a number of Christian colleges are now enforcing compliance with a creationist doctrine. Non-religious biblical scholars should also defend their Christian counterparts against violations of ideals of academic freedom in Christian schools, even if, in the end, they may part ways on a number of issues, including whether “theistic evolution” makes sense. Since publically refuting creationism is not likely to convince many creationists to rethink their views, biblical scholars should direct their engagement with creationism to those who may be sitting on the fence, or have a curiosity about the Bible but no direct familiarity. Besides helping to defend science education from creationists, biblical scholars could also take the opportunity to the legitimacy and relevance of biblical scholarship in the public eye and combat the impression given by many noted science advocates that the Bible and religion is worthy only of denigration and not of serious inquiry as products of human culture.
All of this reminds me of the creationist Lolcat competition I ran a few years back. The winner was Martha G: