What’s the Deal with White People?

The Roy Moore saga might (or might not) finally be coming to an end. Moore lost the Senate race and he might ride his horse into the sunset. The poll results from Alabama, though, give us some puzzles to think about. We might think we understand why so many white evangelicals voted for Moore. But some other groups just don’t make sense.

As we’ve argued in these pages, a central defining feature of white evangelical history over the past century has been what historian George Marsden called the “establishment-or-outsider paradox.” For many white evangelicals, as I explore in my new book about evangelical higher education, America has been both a shining city on a hill and Babylon.

As a result, white evangelical voters have been prone to cheer candidates like our current president who promise to make America great again. President Trump is not the first leader of questionable personal morality to win evangelical votes by pandering to white evangelical yearning to take the USA back to an imagined Christian past, to return the country to Winthrop’s vision.

So I’m not too shocked to read that 80% of white evangelical voters in Alabama voted for Judge Moore. There is one result that befuddles me, though. A slim majority of white college-educated women also went for Moore. By a margin of 52% to 48%, this group voted for a man credibly accused of preying on teenage girls.

What gives?

We can even extend this question to the 2016 presidential election. The number of white evangelical voters who voted for Trump and Moore is very similar: 81% and 80%. While a slim majority of college-educated white women voted for Secretary Clinton over President Trump, Trump still claimed a surprising 45% of the college-educated white woman vote.

Can someone explain this one to me?Moore election results

Why do so many white college-educated women vote for these candidates? I have a feeling my cultural blinders are making it hard for me to understand this apparent truth about the American electorate.


Do YOU Hate Science?

We all know the stereotypes: Conservatives love God and hate science, vice versa for progressives. But it’s utterly untrue, and every once in a while we see new evidence to prove it. These days, the frouforale over James Damore’s gender/diversity manifesto at Google has us asking the question again: Who hates science?

We’ll get to Damore’s story in a minute, but first, a necessary reminder. SAGLRROILYBYGTH are sick of hearing this, but I’m not interested in attacking or defending Damore. If I have to pick a side, I’ll generally stick with my progressive roots. Luckily, I don’t have to pick a side, so today I’ll bring up more interesting questions. I’m working these days on a new book about American creationism. One of the vital points to understanding creationism, especially the radical young-earth variant, is that creationists are not anti-science. Creationists LOVE science.

As anthropologist Chris Toumey puts it in his terrific and under-appreciated book God’s Own Scientists, radical creationists are just like the rest of America. They don’t dispute the authority of capital-s Science. In Toumey’s words, radical creationists have deep faith in the

plenary authority of science; that is, the idea that something is more valuable and more credible when it is believed that science endorses it.

For radical creationists, the problem isn’t science. The problem, rather, is that benighted false scientists have hijacked science and replaced it with ideologically driven materialism.

Of course, to the rest of us, creationists’ preference for their own bizarre “zombie science” makes their claims to love science hardly credible. To the rest of us, radical creationists seem to insist on their own outlandish scientific beliefs in the face of overwhelming evidence from real science.

Are Damore’s opponents guilty of the same thing?

If you haven’t followed the story, Damore was a Google engineer who was fired for a leaked ten-page memo. In the memo, Damore opined that Google’s diversity policy was deeply flawed. The goal of hiring equal numbers of male and female engineers, Damore wrote, didn’t match reality. In fact, Damore wrote, there are biological differences between men and women that make men—as a statistical group—more interested in engineering.

Like Larry Summers before him, Damore was fired and vilified for his words. And like ex-president Summers, Damore insisted he was only citing scientific data.

At least one scientist agrees with Damore. Writing in the Globe and Mail, Debra Soh argues that

the memo was fair and factually accurate. Scientific studies have confirmed sex differences in the brain that lead to differences in our interests and behaviour.

I’m no scientist, of gender or anything else. But conservative pundits have latched onto Soh’s comments to howl that progressives are just as blind to real science as are radical religious folks. As Benedictine pundit Rod Dreher frothed wordily,

Gender non-essentialists are the young earth creationists of the Left.

Maybe, maybe not. But in one thing, at least, Dreher is exactly right. Just like young-earth creationists, the anti-Damorists insist they have real science on their side. When it comes to culture-war issues—whether it’s the nature of gender or the origin of our species—everyone insists they are the side of true science.