Posted by mattusmaximus on September 3, 2012
In a welcome bit of science education news, the Clergy Letter Project has announced that it is expanding its effort to include Buddhist clergy. In case you don’t know, this is an effort to get clergy men and women to speak out publicly in support of teaching science (specifically, evolutionary science) in the public schools. These clergy do not see any conflict between their religious beliefs and science, and I think it is an excellent way to counter the blatantly anti-scientific arguments espoused by many creationists. Read on for more info…
Clergy who want science, including Evolution in schools, created the Clergy Letter Project and the chosen theme for this years “Evolution Weekend” is “Religion and Science” and marks the seventh year for the gathering of clergy to discuss science.
“Evolution Weekend is an opportunity for serious discussion and reflection on the relationship between religion and science. An ongoing goal has been to elevate the quality of the discussion on this critical topic, and to show that religion and science are not adversaries. Rather, they look at the natural world from quite different perspectives and ask, and answer, different questions.
Religious people from many diverse faith traditions and locations around the world understand that evolution is quite simply sound science; and for them, it does not in any way threaten, demean, or diminish their faith in God. In fact, for many, the wonders of science often enhance and deepen their awe and gratitude towards God.”
They believe that modern science, including Evolution, and religion are in harmony with each other.
To that end, American Buddhist clergy join in the voices of Christian, Jewish, Unitarian Universalist clergy in writing letters supporting the teaching of Evolutions in public schools. …
Click here to read the entire article
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Posted by mattusmaximus on November 16, 2011
Many of you have already heard about the Clergy Letter Project, an effort to show that when it comes to the issue of accepting evolutionary science one doesn’t necessarily have to be an atheist. Just as there is nothing wrong with being an atheist (I’m one), by the same token I don’t see any inherent problem to being religious while also accepting evolutionary science. As I’ve said before many times, I don’t have a problem with religion, I have a problem with anti-science; and those are different things (though sometimes they do overlap).
As an update, the Clergy Letter Project started back in late 2004 when the latest variant of creationism, so-called “intelligent design”, was coming onto the national scene and causing lots of problems across the country for science education. To date, the letter (which was originally geared towards Christian clergy but now includes Rabbinical, Islamic and Unitarian versions) has gathered nearly 13,500 signatories! :)
Now the Clergy Letter Project is taking part in another kind of outreach: developing a grant proposal designed to help foster discussion and improve understanding between faith communities and scientists. They want to do this by sending out the following questionnaire to clergy members, so if you are a member of the clergy or know someone who is, please give it a look:
**Send all responses to Michael Zimmerman at firstname.lastname@example.org
Read the rest of this entry »
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Posted by mattusmaximus on June 18, 2011
I write a lot of posts about creationists and creationism, and in most cases I’m talking specifically about Young-Earth Creationism – that particular brand of creationism which is described as a kind of Biblical literalism often espoused by fundamentalist Christians in the United States (it is also the most common form of creationism in the U.S.). Of course, there are many different kinds of Christian creationism – as evidenced in my post “Creationism is True!” – Okay, Which Version of Creationism? But beyond that, there are versions of creationism which are rooted in Jewish and Islamic beliefs as well.
And it is on that last point that I wish to focus the rest of this blog entry. The now famous Clergy Letter Project, started back in 2005-2006 by Michael Zimmerman, has as its explicit goal to show that religious believers don’t necessarily have to choose between their religion and an acceptance of modern evolutionary science (and, hence, science in general). Since that time, the famous letter has garnered over 12,700 signatories, but these are all from Christian denominations, and a single-minded focus upon Christianity seemed to be a bit at odds with the broader message of the CLP. So Zimmerman added a letter for Rabbinical leaders (which has gained 470+ signatures) and Unitarian Universalists (230+ signatures), both of which have enjoyed just as much success as the letter for Christian clergy.
Now Zimmerman has added a letter for Islamic Imams, because it is an unfortunate fact that creationism and the rejection of evolutionary science runs rampant in Islamic cultures. This will fill a hole in addressing the issue of creationism, but doing so from a religious perspective. Here is the text of the Imam Letter…
The Clergy Letter – from American Imams
– An Open Letter Concerning Religion and Science
Literalists of various religious traditions who perceive the science of evolution to be in conflict with their personal religious beliefs are seeking to influence public school boards to authorize the teaching of creationism. We, the Imams of the mosques, see this as a breach in the separation of church and state. Those who believe in a literal interpretation of scriptural account of creation are free to teach their perspective in their homes, religious institutions and parochial schools. To teach it in the public schools would be indoctrinating a particular religious point of view in an environment that is supposed to be free of such indoctrination.
We, the undersigned Imams of the mosques, assert that the Qur’an is the primary source of spiritual inspiration and of values for us, though not for everyone, in our country. We believe that the timeless truths of the Qur’an may comfortably coexist with the discoveries of modern science. As Imams we urge public school boards to affirm their commitment to the teaching of the science of evolution. We ask that science remain science and that religion remain religion, two very different, but complementary, forms of truth.
Once again, let me say that despite my personal philosophical outlook of naturalism and atheism, I am more than happy to have religious allies in the fight against those who would distort and damage the teaching of science for their own ideological ends. I think that a member of a religious community who accepts evolutionary science is a far better ambassador to that community on these issues than an atheist like me. And my general goal as a science teacher and skeptic is to get people to think more critically in all aspects of their lives, and both religious and non-religious people can contribute constructively towards that goal. But it will only work if we work together.
So, if you are religious, please pass along this news about the expansion of the Clergy Letter Project. Even if you aren’t religious, pass along the word!
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