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Faith-based science: a detail worth noting

by Jeremy Hooper

Picture 7-105Longtime 'mo foe Robert Knight is lashing out against ABC News for a recent report that they ran on the "nature vs. nurture" gay debate. His major point of contention? Well, he feels that the Alphabet net gave more credence to the side of science, while making sure to indicate when someone on the "nurture" side of things was operating with a faith-based mindset. Knight says the following:

The report is framed around a boy named Zack, who, along with his parents, believes he was "born gay." The lone dissenter, Dr. Stanton Jones, is introduced as "a clinical psychologist and evangelical Christian." No one else's religious beliefs are mentioned. The message: Pay no attention to this man. His views are religious, not scientific.

But here's the thing: Stanton Jones is provost and professor of psychology at Wheaton College, a Christian school. He has also written or co-written such books as Homosexuality: The Use of Scientific Research in the Church's Moral Debate and the faith-based book The Gay Debate, as well as served as the editor of publications like Psychology and Christianity: Four Views. So it's not like he is a researcher who just so happens to be a Christian. He is someone whose religious views clearly influence his positions on matters of science.

We're not judging Mr. Jones for whatever hierarchy informs his analytical views. He has every right to form his own opinions, and every right to take to the airwaves to disseminate the same. But it's completely disingenuous for someone like Robert Knight to paint ABC News as being unethical because they felt a responsibility to inform viewers of Mr. Jones' faith connection. Because if we're being really honest here, we'll all admit that it's almost impossible to find an atheist who believes that gays "choose" and can "change" their lifestyles. The staunch supporters of the "nurture" mindset are virtually all also of the Lord's Prayer-reciting mindset. And so anyone who reports on this subject has a journalistic duty to be honest about the theological underpinnings at play.

You believe God didn't make any gay people? Fair enough. But you and your team need to also be fair enough to acknowledge that when you refer to the man upstairs who has guided your views, you're not talking about the aged biology professor who works on the ninth floor!

ABC Follows ‘Born Gay’ Script to a T [CMI]

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Your thoughts

That is what I love about the Christian homophobes. Peer reviewed science means nothing to them. But their faith which is not peer reviewed stands above all.

Posted by: Tony P | Apr 1, 2008 3:00:27 PM


Posted by: Alonzo | Apr 1, 2008 3:55:44 PM

These people ALWAYS want an "ex-gay" presence when something positive is said about gay people on TV or whatever, but do you think a church or one of these "ex-gay" organizations would allow a stable (one thing no known "ex-gay" IS) openly gay person to counter the ridiculous "testimony" of an "ex-gay"?

Posted by: Scott | Apr 1, 2008 4:37:14 PM

I would have liked to ask Mr. Knight if he thought Dr. Jones should have tried to hide his Christianity. if Dr. Jones is proud of his religion, he should have delighted in it being mentioned. If his research is good, it would only serve to impress those watching the show. If his research is misinformed and leans to propaganda, he may have reason to want to hide his faith.

Posted by: Mike in the Tndra | Apr 1, 2008 4:48:28 PM

Show me an "ex-gay" who changed without the influence of a faith that says homosexuality is sin - then I might be able to get fully behind the notion.

Posted by: Alonzo | Apr 1, 2008 5:59:02 PM

"Pay no attention to this man. His views are religious, not scientific."

Sounds about right to me.

Posted by: Patrick B | Apr 1, 2008 6:46:16 PM

“Robert Knight: "And of course," continued Sawyer, "what about the people who still believe that homosexuality is a choice?”

Wink, wink. These are the same folks who still believe in a flat earth.”
Well aren’t they? Oh wait a minute, I was thinking about the folks who still believe that dinosaurs and humans coexisted some few thousand years ago. My mistake.

Posted by: Emproph | Apr 1, 2008 6:59:58 PM

Robert Knight: “Dr. Stanton Jones, is introduced as “a clinical psychologist and evangelical Christian.” No one else’s religious beliefs are mentioned. The message: Pay no attention to this man. His views are religious, not scientific.”
Oh Knighty Knight Knight, besides the “here’s a strand of DNA and I don’t see a gay gene therefore gays choose it” scientific legitimacy that you seek, it’s really MUCH worse than that.

Homosexuality: The Use of Scientific Research in the Church’s Moral Debate, Stanton L. Jones & Mark A. Yarhouse, Page 181:

“Even if the homosexual condition of desiring intimacy and sexual union with a person of the same gender is cause in its entirety by causal factors outside of the personal control of the person, that does not constitute moral affirmation of acting on those desires. If it did, the pedophile who desires sex with children, the alcoholic who desires the pursuit of drunkenness, and the person with Antisocial Personality Disorder who desires the thrill of victimization and pain infliction would all have an equal case for moral approval of their exploits.”
Thus, Jones, *with* Yarhouse, are on record as defining the homosexual desire for intimacy (SSA), as being the moral equivalent of the desire to victimize and inflict pain.

No. Difference. What. So. Ever.

If the worst Knight and his anti-gay ilk are associated with is the belief in a flat earth, then they should overwhelmed with gratitude.

Posted by: Emproph | Apr 1, 2008 8:46:40 PM

Stanton Jones is, along with Mark Yarhouse, the author of Ex-Gay? A Longitudinal Study of Religiously Mediated Change in Sexual Orientation.

The Jones and Yarhouse study (as it's known) purported to track 98 ex-gays over a number of years and reported:

33 people reported change in the desired manner.

Except that if you read the book rather than just the advance spin, you find that "reported change" simply meant that they stopped calling themself gay and started calling themself "well I'm not gay... just maybe bisexual, yeah bisexual". When the same group were asked if their orientation was homosexual there was ZERO net "change in the desired manner".

These study participants agreed to call themself something else but were honest enough to tell Jones and Yarhouse that their sexual attractions had not changed. Pitty Jones didn't tell that in the spin sent out to the Christian press.

Then Jones and Yarhouse comingled the results of a prospective sample (measure at the beginning and go forward) with a retropective sample (ask people what they recall from three years ago). They claimed that there was statistical proof of change.

But when you untangled the two, you find that the prospective sample showed that ex-gay efforts resulted in no statistically measurable change in sexual attraction over the three year time period.

And then J&Y reported that 15% of their sample obtained heterosexuality. Unfortunately that heterosexuality included same-sex erotic dreams, wandering eyes, and constant effort to stay straight. And one of their few "heterosexuals" wrote them to tell them that he had just been telling them what they wanted to hear.

After all of that, it takes some real faith to convince yourself that ex-gay ministries work. If Jones has that kind of faith, it is relevant to the story.

Posted by: Timothy Kincaid | Apr 1, 2008 8:55:03 PM

The article says: "He is someone whose religious views clearly influence his positions on matters of science."

Because people's views clearly influence their positions in matters of science, we should generally disregard the positions other people take on matters of science and simply regard the science itself. We are all free to take on board the pure unadulterated science, and then come to our own positions regarding it, and that is really our duty as free thinkers, rather than taking on someone else's position which has only been influenced by that person's views.

Posted by: Glenn Shrom | May 25, 2008 7:00:46 PM

Timothy Kincaid posted, "These study participants agreed to call themself something else but were honest enough to tell Jones and Yarhouse that their sexual attractions had not changed."

There were six different measures of homosexuality in the study. If there was no change on the attraction scale, and the persons no longer considered themselves gay, then that is because they saw changes on some of the other scales.

Posted by: Glenn Shrom | May 25, 2008 7:04:15 PM

I couldn't help but notice the title here: "Good As You." Of course that is the same thing as saying "Bad As You."

The book God's Grace and the Homosexual Next Door does a good job of pointing out the Christian position that no sin is worse or better than any other in God's eyes, and measured on our goodness alone, we are all destined for hell - every gay and every straight. I really recommend the book if you want support for the "Good As You" slogan coming from Christian authors.

Posted by: Glenn Shrom | May 25, 2008 7:07:33 PM

Glenn: Most folks on this website have more than a passing knowledge of Alan Chambers and the "ex-gay" movement in general. We get what's going on with that whole endeavor.

Your comments are more of the same from that side. It's fine if you embrace their teachings; but don't expect that your words are going to sway too many.

Posted by: G-A-Y | May 25, 2008 7:48:15 PM

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