Archive for April 10th, 2010

Natural Selection does not pit science against religion

| April 10, 2010 | 3 Replies
Natural Selection does not pit science against religion

Michael Zimmerman is a biology professor at Butler University. In 2004, he decided that something needed to done about a big problem: Many well-funded politically-connected creationists were working hard to frame the evolution “controversy” in terms of “science versus religion,” in an attempt to pit all religions against all scientists. This is a false divide, however. It is an undeniable fact that many millions of religious people have concluded that evolution by natural selection is an enormously useful and elegant approach to understanding biology, including the study of human animals. This religious support of Darwin’s theory is clearly illustrated by stalwart scientists like Francis Collins and Kenneth Miller, who both happen to be religious.

Zimmerman founded the Clergy Letter Project to allow members of religious clergy to express their support for teaching evolution.

For too long, the misperception that science and religion are inevitably in conflict has created unnecessary division and confusion, especially concerning the teaching of evolution. I wanted to let the public know that numerous clergy from most denominations have tremendous respect for evolutionary theory and have embraced it as a core component of human knowledge, fully harmonious with religious faith.

How many members of the clergy have signed on as of today? More than 13,000.

There are actually three versions of the letter (Christian, Jewish and Unitarian Universalism). The Christian version declares that the “overwhelming majority” of Christians do not read the Bible “as they would a science textbook.” Therefore, for most Christians:

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.

At the Clergy Letter Project Website, you can even hear sermons in favor of Darwin.

At Huffpo, Michael Zimmerman uses this substantial religious support for the teaching of evolution by natural selection to combat claims by the Discovery Institute, and other creationists, that evolution supposedly pits science against religion:

I am completely opposed to them implying that all who are religious must agree with them. As I’ve said so often, the very existence of The Clergy Letter Project and the more than 13,000 clergy members who have affirmed that they are fully comfortable with both their faith and evolution makes a mockery of such ridiculous claims.

The next time you hear a creationist claiming that “God opposes evolution” or that “The Bible disproves evolution,” remind them that there are tens of thousands of sincere Christian clergy who treasure Darwin’s magnificent insights, and who serve as living proof that the fault-line of the controversy is not drawn between religion and science. Rather, the opposite sides of that fault-line are A) motivated ignorance and fear versus B) Well-informed, rigorous and skeptical scientific inquiry.


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