Unlike today, which I spent outdoors writing in my gazebo, yesterday afternoon was spent indoors on my phone.
It started at 1 pm with a call from Beau Underwood of the DC project Faith in Public Life. I had never heard of this organization—or maybe its name was so generic sounding that I didn’t remember it—but the director, Rev. Underwood, had emailed me asking for a time when we could talk on the phone. Someone had given him a copy of The Anointed for Christmas and he loved it.
Faith in Public Life is a pro bono shop that promotes scholars from faith traditions that are not out of touch with reality or constantly at war with all forms of progress. Needless to say, their clients don’t often appear on Fox News. They are looking for people with valuable insights to share with reporters and talk show hosts about how religion functions in America’s public life. Although The Anointed was an analysis of religious dysfunction in American life, Underwood thought that Randall and I are the sorts of voices they would like to promote. Faith in Public Life seems like a classy shop so I said I would be interested in working with them. We will see what comes of that.
At 2 pm I was on an hour-long talk show with Bill Feltner of the Pilgrim Radio Network, to promote my new book The Wonder of the Universe. He has 20,000 “actual” listeners, as he calls them (as opposed to “people whose radio could get the signal with his program on it if they tuned it,” which I understand is how Rush Limbaugh calculates his rapidly diminishing audience.) I also welcomed the opportunity to promote real science to an audience that might rarely hear it in a faith friendly context. The conversation was great and I really enjoyed chatting with Feltner.
At 4 pm I was on a live radio show with a husband and wife tag team—whose names I forget—but who do a really good “Regius and Kathy Lee” show, with comfortable back and forth. They have a very conservative audience and asked me some aggressive questions about the age of the earth and the Big Bang but I enjoyed the conversation. I am so impressed with people who can be so natural on the air. One caller assaulted me so aggressively near the end of the show they had to shut her down so I could answer. This caller assured me that Ken Ham and Al Mohler were right and that the only reason scientists disagreed with them was because they had different “presuppositions.”
This “presupposition” argument—which Ken Ham has on display everywhere in his museum—is so bogus. It’s “philosophy for pre-schoolers.” This argument claims that one’s conclusions derive entirely from one’s starting point, rather than from careful inspection of the world. If one assumes the Bible is scientifically accurate, then all the data line up with the earth being 10,000 years old, and any data that do not can be ignored. Scientists, unfortunately, have this other “godless” assumption that the world needs to be such that all kinds of complicated things can happen on their own. Since this takes time, scientists naturally find that the universe is billions of years old to provide the time demanded by their presupposition. In this strange binary world there is apparently no room for people who think they should look closely at the world, gather facts and make observations, think about this data and then try to explain it. And then try to test those explanations against more data, and so on. No need to do all this hard work, says Ken Ham and my irate caller—just leap boldly from your presupposition to whatever conclusion you need.