An earlier post took an anonymous Fresno-area pastor (highly influential) to task for undermining science education. In the comments section, a rather more distinguished colleague of mine suggested that perhaps I should've identified the fellow. I responded that I was felt conflicted on that point---but perhaps I am mistaken.

I would love to hear what others think on this matter. Since I am likely to go on future commando missions into the pews, I'm likely to encounter a similar situation. When should the errant believer be publicly 'outed' for anti-science rhetoric, and when (if ever) should they be privately counseled? How to judge when they are ignorant, as opposed to deliberately deceptive. Finally, as a believer, should I give fellow believers the 'benefit of the doubt' at any point----and if so, when?


Ian said...

Last point first: my sense is that as a believer I should hold them to a higher standard. If they seek truth, they shouldn't be preaching nonsense. And if they don't, then they are snake oil salesmen ripping off well-intentioned people.

As for the general principle - I'd say call it as you see it. If someone is preaching anti-science crap from the pulpit, I don't see how it would hurt them if a wider audience found out. If they are trying to hide that from the wider community...then you'd have to consider their motivation in hiding it.

My first instinct is not to protect deception...but since you use the word "outing" I need to substitute "creationist" with "gay"...and my righteous indignation suddenly becomes a little embarrassing. Of course, hiding one's creationist views is totally different to hiding one's homosexuality. The former is a choice, a choice to adhere to deception or willful ignorance. The latter is a function of biology. And no matter how much Dembski, Luskin, et al. cry "persecution", it's an insult even to compare the two.

PZ Myers said...

It's a guy who gave a public sermon -- it's not as if he whispered in your ear and asked you to keep it off the record.

Besides, if you must insist on being a Christian, and want to pretend it's something other than snake oil and pixie dust, I think you are obligated to slap your religion around some when fools speak out in its name. If you don't, you're part of the problem.

Blake Stacey said...

I second the comments by Ian and PZ above.

It's been a while since I left the righteous state of Alabama for the infidel environs of Boston, but I do seem to recall repentance playing some role in Christian belief. There is always the chance that the recipient of criticism will take the critique to heart and mend their ways, whereas if the criticism is never voiced aloud, I have little hope that it would effect any beneficial change.