The Clergy Letter Project & Evolution Weekend 2010
Posted by mattusmaximus on January 30, 2010
If you’ve followed the battle against creationism over the years, then you’ve no doubt heard the oft-repeated claim by fundamentalist creationists that one cannot accept the science of evolution while also holding religious beliefs. This is a variation on the bogus “evolution is atheistic” claim made by creationists, and it is clearly a false dichotomy, as I know many people who are both religious AND accept evolutionary science. And, despite my own atheism, I more than welcome any allies – religious or not – who are willing to fight the battle against anti-science fundamentalism.
This mean-spirited tactic is clearly meant as a method to intimidate & scare religious people into choosing between their beliefs and modern science, while at the same time painting those who support evolutionary science and atheists as somehow “evil”. Well, the creationists are just plain wrong…
In an effort to put a more public face on battling against this misconception pushed by creationists, there is a group called the Clergy Letter Project made up of over 12,500 Christian clergy, 450 Jewish rabbis, and 200 Unitarian clergy who have signed the following statement(s)…
Within the community of Christian believers there are areas of dispute and disagreement, including the proper way to interpret Holy Scripture. While virtually all Christians take the Bible seriously and hold it to be authoritative in matters of faith and practice, the overwhelming majority do not read the Bible literally, as they would a science textbook. Many of the beloved stories found in the Bible – the Creation, Adam and Eve, Noah and the ark – convey timeless truths about God, human beings, and the proper relationship between Creator and creation expressed in the only form capable of transmitting these truths from generation to generation. Religious truth is of a different order from scientific truth. Its purpose is not to convey scientific information but to transform hearts.
We the undersigned, Christian clergy from many different traditions, believe that the timeless truths of the Bible and the discoveries of modern science may comfortably coexist. We believe that the theory of evolution is a foundational scientific truth, one that has stood up to rigorous scrutiny and upon which much of human knowledge and achievement rests. To reject this truth or to treat it as “one theory among others” is to deliberately embrace scientific ignorance and transmit such ignorance to our children. We believe that among God’s good gifts are human minds capable of critical thought and that the failure to fully employ this gift is a rejection of the will of our Creator. To argue that God’s loving plan of salvation for humanity precludes the full employment of the God-given faculty of reason is to attempt to limit God, an act of hubris. We urge school board members to preserve the integrity of the science curriculum by affirming the teaching of the theory of evolution as a core component of human knowledge. We ask that science remain science and that religion remain religion, two very different, but complementary, forms of truth.
In addition to the letter writing campaign, the Clergy Letter Project holds public outreach events every year to celebrate the birthday of Charles Darwin while promoting good science education. They call this event Evolution Weekend, and I’m happy to say that this year there are almost 800 Evolution Weekend events planned around the world, more than ever before!
If you are a supporter of science, whether you’re a religious believer or non-believer, a scientist, clergy, or just a concerned citizen, I encourage you to check out the Clergy Letter Project and Evolution Weekend websites and pass them along to others. Together, we can stand up to the forces of anti-science 🙂