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.

Resources

16 thoughts on “On Evolution and Church

  1. Excellent point. I’ve been debating if I should even attempt to start the conversation again regarding various social and science issues with my church.

    The last time was interesting, because practically everyone got upset with me, because I spoke the truth about racism in the church. It was interesting that our White & Native American members came up to thank me for saying what I’ve said about race. A few of our Black members thanked me, and said I was bold for going there.

    I haven’t talked about science too much, but with a few college students that brought it up with me.

    I love the last line the most. Giving God little credit. (Where’s my pen…) 🙂

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    • Tim,
      I would image you would enjoy the 3 books I mentioned … by the way, all from the library! Cha-ching!

      I’m glad you enjoyed the last line. … ah yes, another inspiration for a post. ha ha …

      Thanks for your thoughts!

      Like

    • 3rd Stone,
      Thanks for the nice words. I agree, to a certain extent the extremes of each side won’t agree. On the other hand, from so much of what I read, much of the middle is missing much information and what they have is full of misconceptions. I image I’ll post again on this topic.

      Thanks for the comment!

      Like

  2. hello frank! nice info here.

    although i am not really as devoted as you when it comes to faith and religion, i can say that i do believe in god and in his teachings. i just wish that i am like you. maybe one day, it will come.

    have a great day friend!

    Like

    • Maxi,
      The degree of faith is more as a continuum. Heck, even the most faithful will say they can do more so.

      The info I get is that the evolution-creationism debate is more profound in the US than in other countries – hence one aim of the post. It’s not that the debate isn’t elsewhere, just a greater divide here.

      Thanks for the comment.

      Like

  3. I am often nervous about writing or talking about religion and politics because they are such HOT button topics for some people…I often tend to offend people…Go figure…

    I’ve never understood why people think evolution is a bad thing…Or that God, Or who/whatever you believe in wouldn’t create an amazing world that in many ways is constantly evolving…

    It’s just like…This woman who won’t let her son, who has cancer, to be treated for it…Because of her faith in God…That’s just silly to me…My faith in God tells me that he has created a world where people have learned and studied, and created technology, and EVOLVED…into people who can now save a child with cancer…

    I spent 12 years in Catholic School, nad even served a little time at a Catholic University….When talking about the Bible, one of the best things I heard was don’t believe the stories to be true…The truth is intended by the authors…

    I hope that makes some kind of sense…Great post!

    Like

    • BEEZE,
      LOL … you’re so bashful!

      Great points. I really think many people don’t know, thus a lack of knowledge is enhanced by many misconceptions. The conservatives know the ignorance that exist, thus champion their cause for all Christians — which isn’t inline theologically with many.

      As always, thanks for the comment.

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  4. This is exactly it! I dont understand then conservative Christians on this. We all agree God can do anything, so why didn’t he create us in a kind of ‘put the mixture in the pan and bake for 2billion years at 250F’ sort of a way. It’s way more plausible than making all the species at once 4000 years ago in a secret garden and creating a fake fossil record and all the working physics thats makes the earth seem way older just to keep us guessing. Evolution as Creation. One in the same. With maybe a little Devine poke and prod every now and again as the mixture was rising in the pan to keep the outcome on track.

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      • Its very interesting – I’ll keep reading through (might take a little while and I don’t profess to have anywhere near your level of knowledge of theology!) so I can get a good handle on what you’ve worked through so far! I think this is perhaps my favorite topic for understanding between religion and science. Being a geologist by education, its pretty clear that there are other explanations that are required!

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        • Charlie,
          Glad you like these. My theological knowledge isn’t very deep, but I did include some in my journey, namely John Haught, Ted Peters, and John Walton. Haught is a bit deeper, thus tougher to grasp … but still good.

          I don’t know if you have seen any yet, but I also have book reviews in here, thus you may find some resources that you may want to read.

          Glad to help when I can.

          Like

  5. This exclusivity and sheer propaganda of government-gone-amok (religion) makes me realize they create hell here in hopes of heaven-like rest when they are dead. Just one of many arguments which turns my crank. One of my favorite memes on Facebook is “Too stupid for science? Try religion.”

    Like

    • Red,
      I’m not one who says that one has to make a choice between science and religion. Not only that, I think it’s the loud-and-cranky minority that gives the impression they speak for all.

      Like

      • I am one who does. Religion is a form of government by its own definition. Science is a hierarchy of mathematics in motion which does not waver for faith. Faith (and spirituality) can coexist with science, as it did for the centuries prior to Darwin (ascribing all unknowns to deities). Christian faith can as long as you squint and nod. A. Lot.

        As to the loud-and-cranky, isn’t it always the way? I see that in more arenas than necessary and am equally perturbed by the arenas where there is no mouthpiece at all.

        I know it was not this piece, but you claim to have little background in theology. Mine is not sparse, but it is abandoned for lack of cognitive development in my vicinity to discuss it. Taking a read of some of the fundamental teaching materials from seminary will enlighten you as to why there is a lack of member education.

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        • Membership in the Christian denominations that have no problems with science today is an overwhelming majority – and that includes topics as evolution and the age of the Earth – so faith coexisting with science as it did for Galileo and many others is very alive today.

          From what I can gather, pastors with a science background are more likely to tackle those subjects, otherwise, the pastors aren’t confident about the topic. Of course my response is to team up with a science person!

          Like

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