In a previous post referring to the attack of intelligent design (ID) on society and religion (see Intelligent Design and the Threat to Christianity) I suggested that Christians “too often stand aside as if the conflict is not their problem.” This was a bit unfair. While there is a tendency to see ID as a problem for science rather than religion many Christians do fight back. A worthwhile example is the Clergy Letter Project. This is a open letter signed by American Christian clergy of different denominations rejecting creationism, with specific reference to points raised by intelligent design proponents. Begun in 2004 it currently has 11,130 signatories supporting this statement:
“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.”
Putting this in context
I am aware that the signatories to this open letter represent Christian leaders rather than rank and file members of Christian churches or self-proclaimed adherents to Christianity and many of the latter may think differently. Creationist ideas, and biblical literalism, may have emotional appeal those Christians who don’t critically consider the available information. In contrast the theological teachings of their church or widely accepted scientific theories often seem counter-intuitive.
Many such Christians may be influenced by the list of scientists maintained by the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture – an ID “think tank.” This list, started in 2001, is often touted as demonstrating support amongst scientists for ID. It currently has only 730 signatories. I will discuss the relevance on this list to science in a future post but surely the numbers suggest that more thinking Christians support evolutionary theory than oppose it.
When Christians discuss evolutionary theory they will sometimes refer to the Discovery Institutes’s list as support for ID/creationism (over 700 signatures). If they wish to get into numbers I would like to see them also refer to the Clergy Letter list supporting evolutionary theory and “God’s good gifts (of) human minds capable of critical thought” (over 11,100 signatures).
Intelligent Design and the Threat to Christianity
Intelligent design and scientific method
Can religion answer the questions science can’t?
Bringing the supernatural into science
Intelligent design – a war on science
New Zealand supports evolution
Intelligent design at the shopping mall
Intelligent design attacks on Christianity
Isaac Newton and intelligent design
Evolution’s threat to religion?