We can add another “i-word” to describe those who reject evolutionary theory—immodest. Let us consider the case of Pastor Rick Warren of the Saddleback Church of Lake Forest, California. Warren had this to say about evolution:
I believed that evolution and the account of the Bible about creation could exist along side of each other very well. I just didn't see what the big argument was all about. I had some friends who had been studying the Bible much longer than I had who saw it differently...Eventually, I came to the conclusion, through my study of the Bible and science, that the two positions of evolution and creation just could not fit together. There are some real problems with the idea that God created through evolution... My prayer is that you will have this same experience!
The Bible's picture is that dinosaurs and man lived together on the earth, an earth that was filled with vegetation and beauty...man and dinosaurs lived at the same time...From the very beginning of creation, God gave man dominion over all that was made, even over the dinosaurs.
It’s bad enough—although not altogether unsurprising—that Warren, an evangelical Christian, would reject all things scientific in favor of a literal interpretation of Genesis. But this interpretation also rejects some of the most respected and age-old tenets of the Christian church. Saint Augustine, writing in 408 A.D. said:
It not infrequently happens that something about the earth, about the sky, about other elements of this world, about the motion and rotation or even the magnitude and distances of the stars, about definite eclipses of the sun and moon, about the passage of years and seasons, about the nature of animals, of fruits, of stones, and of other such things, may be known with the greatest certainty by reasoning or by experience, even by one who is not a Christian. It is too disgraceful and ruinous, though, and greatly to be avoided, that he [the non-Christian] should hear a Christian speaking so idiotically on these matters, and as if in accord with Christian writings, that he might say that he could scarcely keep from laughing when he saw how totally in error they are.
As P. J. Bowler makes clear in his excellent work Evolution: The History of an Idea, early Christian thinkers were not usually biblical literalists, and even many lay people understood that the scriptures were to be read as mystical, magical tales, and not as scientific textbooks. Indeed, it was not until the beginnings of the Protestant Reformation in the 17th Century that “modern” creationism was proposed (and immediately challenged by every branch of newly-emerging science), and not until the late 19th Century was Young-Earth Creationism accepted by more than just a few. Ironically, the rise of Natural Theology during the Enlightenment stripped away some of the mystical emblemism associated with plants and animals, and eventually helped lead to the formation of evolutionary ideas by those such as Lamarck and Darwin.
One might assume that a religious leader like Rick Warren would be aware of this history, since he holds a Doctor of Ministry. It seems impossible that a prestigious institution like the Fuller Theological Seminary of Pasadena, California, would bestow such a degree without a class or two on the history of Christian thought. Yet Warren rejects the collected wisdom of Western Civilization, from Augustine to Darwin, in favor of a worldview that insists that (as Lewis Black put it) The Flintstones is a documentary.