The Evangelical Roots of Our Post-Truth Society

THE arrival of the “post-truth” political climate came as a shock to many Americans. But to the Christian writer Rachel Held Evans, charges of “fake news” are nothing new. “The deep distrust of the media, of scientific consensus — those were prevalent narratives growing up,” she told me.

.. She was taught to distrust information coming from the scientific or media elite because these sources did not hold a “biblical worldview.”

.. this conviction gives that natural human aversion to unwelcome facts a special power on the right.

.. Ever since the scientific revolution, two compulsions have guided conservative Protestant intellectual life: the impulse to defend the Bible as a reliable scientific authority and the impulse to place the Bible beyond the claims of science entirely.

.. The second impulse, the one that rejects scientists’ standing to challenge the Bible, evolved by the early 20th century into a school of thought called presuppositionalism.

.. Cornelius Van Til, a theologian who promoted this idea, rejected the premise that all humans have access to objective reality. “We really do not grant that you see any fact in any dimension of life truly,”

.. he doesn’t see “how you can teach ‘Christian journalism’ any more than you can teach ‘Christian mathematics.’ ”

.. a network of institutions and experts versed in shadow versions of climate change science, biology and other fields

.. Dr. Jeanson calls himself a “presuppositionalist evidentialist” — which we might define as someone who accepts evidence when it happens to affirm his nonnegotiable presuppositions.

.. “The skeptic looks at something and says, ‘I wonder,’ ” he said. “The cynic says, ‘I know,’ and then stops thinking.”

.. “cynicism and tribalism are very closely related. You protect your tribe, your way of life and thinking, and you try to annihilate anything that might call that into question.”