Tell World Magazine what you think about its attempt to ‘debunk’ theistic evolution

Write to World Magazine! (photo by Flickr user Guddmorning!) Write to World Magazine! (photo by Flickr user Guddmorning!)

Our most recent post, on a World Magazine contributor’s attempt to “debunk” theistic evolution, sparked such a spirited debate — especially over on Reddit — that I thought it warranted a brief follow-up. And when I say “follow-up,” I mean a CALL TO INTERNET ACTION.

That’s right, I’m calling for a letter writing campaign. If you agree with me, that John Hultink’s recent essay was inappropriate fare for the “lead story” of a major national publication of evangelical news and perspectives, then let them know.

Here’s a copy of the letter I sent in this morning. Feel free to adapt it or otherwise allow it to inspire you in your own epistolary endeavors:

Dear World,

I’m writing to voice my sincere displeasure with your publication of the Aug. 17 (online publication date) of John Hultink’s essay, “Just say the Word.” When I learned that your publication was going to be exploring the evolution debate more in depth this year, I was hopeful that those who accept the overwhelming scientific evidence for common descent would receive, at least, a fair and even-handed hearing. I can now see how naive I was.

The article was poorly written and even more poorly reasoned. The author’s discussion of science was not only laughably incorrect but blatantly contradicted his own previous points about how God’s methods of creation would always lie well beyond the reach of our feeble intuition. His use of scripture, far outside the context of its plain meaning, ultimately served as nothing more than a pointed, “I’m a better Christian than you are” playground taunt. Overall, the article failed miserably and utterly in its purported goal of demonstrating how “creation bears testimony against theistic evolution.”

I’m an evangelical Christian who has only begun following this publication this year. The idea of an evangelical news magazine is fairly exciting to me, but your publication of this essay as “a lead story” has lost you a lot of credibility in my eyes (for what it’s worth). What’s up next? A positive argument for “how creation bears testimony against” the idea of a spherical earth and heliocentric solar system? A pro-slavery, pro-segregation polemic from a supporter of the Confederacy? Or perhaps even a call for a new Crusade into the Holy Land?

I’m a journalist myself, albeit on a much smaller scale. Nevertheless, I understand that it’s not always an easy game, especially in the opinion department. But still, this is simply unacceptable. Your readers deserve better.

Thanks for listening,
Tyler

I also included a link to yesterday’s post so they could see my full response, but I wouldn’t expect you to do that. Letters to the editor may be sent directly to mailbag@worldmag.com.

I’m not sure what, if anything, we should expect to come from this, but if nothing else, perhaps we can hope that the editors at World will think twice next time before publishing an opinion piece that disparages a worldview that has a growing number of adherents and both scientific evidence and scholarly support.

Update: A couple readers have posted copies of their own letters to World Magazine in the comment thread below. Feel free to do likewise!

Tyler Francke

  • David Buchanan

    Here is my letter to World
    I sit here in my office listening to “Days of Elijah” and reading the
    essay in World Magazine written by Gary Hultnik. I encounter the
    following sentence “Their contention that God is the author of a messy
    process of evolution birthed by mysterious physic-chemical chance
    processes resulting in the malfunctioning or malformation of existing
    perfect genes and driven by a natural selection of whatever it is that
    is out there to be selected over a period of billions of years borders
    on blasphemy” toward the end of the article. I don’t know whether to put
    on my “grammar cap” and point out a run-on sentence or to put on my
    “Christian who is a scientist cap” and just weep. It was not a surprise
    to find this sentence at the end of an essay in which the author
    displays an astounding lack of understanding of the theistic evolution
    position. It was, however, a surprise that World magazine would provide
    readers with such an ill-thought out essay. “Existing perfect genes”
    ????? “Natural selection of whatever it is that is out there” ???? I
    really wonder if the writer has spent the necessary time reading the
    writings of people like Francis Collins, Simon Conway Morris, Denis
    Alexander, Deborah Haarsma, Tim Keller or any of the other writers who
    make thoughtful statements in support of the idea that theistic
    evolution is a position that can be adopted while still remaining
    faithful to the scriptures. He just declares theistic evolution as
    something which “borders on blasphemy” without really giving it any
    thoughtful reflection. Theistic evolution, as an idea, has much to
    provide and also can be subjected to careful scrutiny and may be found
    wanting in places. Hultnik has not contributed to the needed
    discussion.

    • An excellent response! Gracious and well-written. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  • Zachary Lawson

    I wrote to them! Here’s a copy for what it’s worth:

    Dear World,

    I recently read Hultnik’s article on theistic evolution hoping to find a decent critique that would give me some food for thought. I was sorely disappointed.

    What
    I found instead was an incoherent pile of word salad. I read the
    article multiple times trying to tease out what Hultnik’s argument
    actually was. The best I could come up with was ‘science doesn’t work so
    just have faith in my interpretation of Genesis. Also, Lazarus’.

    This
    article, aside from being horribly structured, provided not even a
    remotely serious dealing with any of the evidence for an ancient earth
    nor biological evolution. It seems as if Hultnik thinks just because he
    said ‘science doesn’t work for the past’, he has somehow solved the
    distant starlight problem, the geological column problem, the
    radiometric dating problem, the ice core problem, the volume of
    bio-deposits problem, the apparent merging of chromosome #2 and the
    several thousand other scientific problems that plague the young
    earth model. Moreover, he didn’t attempt to defend the alleged
    hermeneutic difficulties in the popular young earth interpretation of
    Genesis.

    It seems to me that if Hultnik thinks ‘creation bears testimony against theistic evolution’, it might behoove him to list at least one piece of evidence of this testimony. The only evidence provided to falsify evolution was…evolution (that whole wolf thing).

    This
    article is an example of some of the sloppiest scholarship I have seen
    in a long time. I really think that you have done yourself a disservice
    by even having this paper associated with your magazine.

    Thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts.
    -Zachary Lawson

    • An excellent response! Very well-written — I especially liked this part:

      I read the article multiple times trying to tease out what Hultnik’s argument
      actually was. The best I could come up with was ‘science doesn’t work so
      just have faith in my interpretation of Genesis. Also, Lazarus’.

      Hilarious! Thanks for sharing!

  • Warren Collier

    Here was my brief letter of complaint:

    To the Editor;

    I just finished reading John Hultink’s attempt to refute Theistic Evolution and I felt
    compelled to briefly file my complaint over this poor excuse at theology
    as well as science. As a reputable Christian magazine, I would expect
    far more discernment in your selection of authors.

    John demonstrates an astounding ignorance of a growing segment of the
    Christian and scientific community who understand the elegant
    compatibility of the science and faith.

    I am disappointed in this article and disappointed in the lack of credence and respect
    given to this increasingly important subject. I pray that your editors
    would do more research before trying to address this topic again, which
    it rightly deserves.

    Sincerely in Christ,

  • Zachary Lawson

    So, I wrote to World and as it turns out, Hultink wrote me back! He and I have been in a bit of a dialogue on this issue now. So far, it’s only been four emails, but, I think there’s potential here.

    • Cool! World Magazine forwarded me a response from Hultink, which I know was a copy-and-paste of at least one other “response” he sent to another letter writer who espoused a theistic evolutionary view. I responded to that anyway, but haven’t heard back yet. However, an editor with World did respond to my letter (with only a little prompting), so I hope to continue a discussion of some sort with him.