Progressive Christian uses “study shows” smokescreen

StudyShowsThe “Study Shows Smokescreen” (see my post here) was recently used by a progressive Christian over at Patheos — Ben Corey. Corey is a Doctor of Missiology student at Fuller Seminary (his third time in a seminary – first two times at Gordon-Conwell).  His post title is:

Study Shows: Reading Your Bible Often Will Make You A Flaming Liberal

His post is peppered with problems — all in an effort to support two of his agendas: (1) Keeping the Bible as a magic book that effects people as God’s Word: Progressive Christians still want their cake and eat it too! (2) his own personal leftist politics.  He does this by feigning to be scientific and using the lulling deceptive phrase “a study shows“.

Corey tells us he “read a study the other day” but only links to a poorly written Christianity Today article with conflates two studies — not one “study”:

(1) Undated, not-yet peer reviewed poll by “LifeWay Research: Biblical Solutions for Life” — they are of the Southern Baptist Convention [guess their bias].  And to top it off, the actual title of their poll is “Americans’ Experience with the King James Version of the Bible” (I found it for you here). Corey doesn’t link to it, of course, only to the Christianity Today article (?”study”).

(2) 2007 Baylor Religion Survey: I found it for you here.  Tom Rees criticizes it here in 2010 (as in other posts of his).

LifeWay_corporate_redBoth of those two surveys are problematic in themselves. And then, to top it off, Corey conflates the two sets of results to make his point — he acts like it is one study and a recent study at that.  Well, the Christianity Today article does that and Corey seems to buy into that because it supports his unfounded position.  Corey tells us:

“Frequent Bible reading has some predictable effects on the reader.” [–> namely that:] “the more often people read their Bible, the more liberal they become

This is complete hogwash.  To support his unscientific smokescreen, Corey then adds insult to injury by telling us his anecdotal story of how reading the Bible made him more liberal.  But actually all he tells us is that by his third time through seminary, he became more liberal and he looks back and credits the Bible for it — of course.  Argghhh!  And he uses his simple, retrospective, post-hoc rationalization with his other errors of mixing of two bad polls, and conflating correlation with causality to try to convince us of the magic power of the Bible.

Note, as my last post said, Corey does not tell us what sort of study he is supposedly reading (qualitative, quantitative …) nor what investment the researchers have (what bias risk).  Instead, I had to dig around and find the actual studies and expose these critical points. His whole effort is to make the appearance of SCIENCE supporting his views.  Reading the comments on his post, it looks like his deception (intentional or not), unfortunately worked. Look at all the time and effort it took me to see through this stuff — and for you to read this. Do you think Corey’s sympathetic Christian readers even paused to doubt the expression “study shows”?  No, certainly not, yet alone to do all the footwork needed to see behind his smokescreen. That is why people use it.

Question to readers:  OK, I am sort of busy, and reviewing this stuff is not my occupation, so maybe I made some mistakes above. But I think I nailed some very important points. But if I made any errors, let me know.



Filed under Philosophy & Religion

8 responses to “Progressive Christian uses “study shows” smokescreen

  1. agentofchaos68

    Hi Sabio, very interesting and insightful article. Good effort on doing the research that Ben Corey was too slack to bother with. You know I have heard quite a few people say that reading the Bible led them to atheism, but this is the first time I have heard of someone saying that it led them to liberalism! Admittedly, I only have anecdotal evidence to go on🙂
    I actually read a study that found that people who use Facebook are often prone to accepting misinformation that people post on their walls, as apparently Facebook use tends to be associated with low cognitive effort to a certain extent. That is, people not bothering to question or check their sources. I am guessing that fans of Christianity Today may be similarly lacking diligence when it comes to checking sources.

  2. @AoC,
    Thank you!
    One of the importances in understanding “type of study” is to understand how polls can come no where to showing causality. And the CC article (the only “study” Corey’s “read” – argghhh), they are mixing the results of two unconnected polls to make their wild suggestion. It thus becomes an exponential error presented as “science”.

  3. HAHAHA! You state “progressive Christians”in the title then talk about Christianity Today, Lifeway, and Baylor. Those are decidedly NOT progressive in the least. Tell me again how Wheaton isn’t conservative while you’re at it.

    What you don’t know fills volumes.

  4. Oops.. and missed the Fuller Seminary too. Progressive?! HA!

  5. Thanx so much for stopping in, Luke.
    If you’d like to tell Ben Corey that you don’t feel he should call himself a “Progressive Christian” without your approval because of his conservative background and because he indiscriminately borrowed from a Christianity Today article to make his point, that might be interesting. He can be found on the “Progressive Christianity” Channel on Patheos. Indiscriminate reading seems a problem with some Progressives, it seems.

  6. Already spoke with him via Facebook. And note, I didn’t say HE wasn’t progressive, the sources aren’t. What was that about indiscriminate reading, again?

    Just point out the obvious flaw in both posts, aside from what you point out: the subjective experience looking to be qualified and confirmed through “studies.” Kinda like how someone doesn’t like the phrase “studies show” which studies show, no one cares. Now if only you can get your post to Brian Williams and Morning Edition on NPR, both used that phrase a few times in their broadcasts.

  7. Ben Corey is a progressive who tried to persuade readers that reading the Bible will make you liberal, just like it did him. He claims “a study” supports his view but merely quoted a Christianity Today article which conflated two polls – and pretended to be scientific. When I pointed it out on Corey’s site, he never acknowledged it.

    Your pitbull attacks here Luke are very telling. Keep at it. You are setting a clear example of a true disciple of Jesus defending the Kingdom of God.

    BTW, I don’t know if you noticed that James McGrath mentioned this post on his blog. James is a progressive that doesn’t feel a need to run to the defense all the time — he can see the truth behind something without feeling threatened.

  8. Look at you trying to shame… it’s cute really. Once again, you miss the point.

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