On Evolution and Church

Charles Darwin’s 200th birthday (this past February) sparked many interesting posts; and I read many. The event also served as the foundation for polls from both Gallup and the Pew Research Center – and I read both. Collectively, I initiated expansion of my own knowledge base by focusing on three books:

  • Saving Darwin: How to be a Christian and Believe in Evolution (Karl Giberson)
  • Finding Darwin’s God: A Scientist’s Search for Common Ground between God and Evolution (Kenneth Miller)
  • Storms over Genesis: Biblical Battleground in America’s Wars of Religion (William Jennings)

Angle Point 1
The primary sources of information for people are schools and churches. In terms of schools, my experiences lead me to believe that science teachers can be divided into groups regarding evolution: Those avoiding it, those teaching it poorly, and those teaching it well. My gut tells me that the latter group is the smallest.

Angle Point 2
I’m convinced that many don’t know how science works; most may even be most.

Angle Point 3
When it comes to churches, there’s no doubt that the congregations against evolution actively educate their members. Meanwhile, congregations who don’t have issues with evolution at the organizational level do NOT educate their flock about the relationship between religion and science, thus perpetuating misinformation held by the public. Christian denominations in this group include mainline Protestants, Anglicans, and Roman Catholics. Interestingly Jews, moderate Muslims, Unitarians, and Buddhists are also supportive of evolution, but I’m unfamiliar with how they address this issue with their members.

Angle Point 4
Yes, some evolutionists are atheists, but not all. Yes, some evolutionists use evolution to say God doesn’t exist, but that’s a small number. There is more support in the religious community that people realize and the fundamentalists don’t speak for all Christians, thus churches should educate their members.

My Goal & Action Plan
At this point, I am concentrating my efforts at the congregation level in the church I attend. I’ve already had Round 1 discussions with one of our pastors about the importance of teaching a course on science and religion because members need to know that evolution is ok and here’s why. I have been promised additional discussion with others. After all, if I can move one domino, maybe others will fall.

The Bottom Line
As science has learned so much since Darwin and Alfred Wallace announced their findings, religious scholars continue to study and learn about the theological perspective. Although the conservative and fundamental Christians selectively point to Genesis to justify their means, I’m still amazed that they give God so little credit.