If you’ve read my blog for any length of time, you know I’ve had my share to say about Conservative Christianity and its view of evolution as being mutually exclusive with faith. I’ve talked about how appalling it is for parents to teach their children as fact something that is not only NOT evidence-based, but which flies in the face of all sound science. I’ve discussed my concerns about a creationist mentality encroaching into our laws and our schools. I’m concerned about the general dumbing-down of American in the name of God.
Luckily, it turns out that I’m not the only one with those concerns! Even more luckily, Christians themselves are raising their voices in support of evolution science. In 2006, a large group of clergy (467 in total) came together to sign a letter decrying the false dichotomy of religion vs science. Rather than force people to choose between their religion/denomination’s beliefs and strong scientific evidence, they instead started looking for ways to show that scientific theory and spirituality aren’t in opposition to each other. This year, 642 congregations, which include groups from every state and 13 countries, to demonstrate that:
Religious people from many diverse faith traditions and locations around the world understand that evolution is quite simply sound science; and for them, it does not in any way threaten, demean, or diminish their faith in God. In fact, for many, the wonders of science often enhance and deepen their awe and gratitude towards God.
Or, as pastor Carl Gregg so eloquently states it, “As people of faith in the 21st century, we can do better, and Evolution Sunday is an explicit invitation to remind both ourselves and our congregations that we shouldn’t have to check our brain at the door of the church.”
Or, as my former biology teacher, Dr. Wes McCoy, put it, “Understanding how humans are intimately connected through genetics to all other living species fills my soul with wonder. My understanding of evolution does nothing to diminish my faith in God. In fact, my connection to God is deepened when I contemplate the intricate beauty of evolution.”
Secular science and religious belief don’t have to negate each other. Nearly 650 congregations have come together to declare this. That’s nearly 650 congregations full of people who don’t think the Bible has to be believed at the expense of research or our own exploration of the world. That so many people can embrace the compatibility of both spirituality and science shines a rather pointed light on those who say the two must be in opposition. Evolutionary Christians are out there, exploring how science and faith can relate, be reconciled. Every single one of them makes the science-deniers look all the more foolish.
Why would the God you believe in give you an incisive brain if he didn’t want you to put it to good use? I’m legitimately sorry for those who believe in a God who gave them a brain and keen senses in order to trick or tempt or fool them. What a sad state you must exist in, trying to figure out if every bit of evidence is another attempt to lead you astray and then punish you for it. You decry all the evidence as being chicanery on the part of scientists, some kind of devil, or God, because you believe what you have been told: believing in science means you can’t believe in God. How very sad for you that your own denomination or congregation works so hard to keep you in your own private Dark Ages.
I want to see more evolutionary Christians in the world. If faith is going to continue to play such a huge part in our society — and I see no way around that — I hope for a rise in the number of congregations who don’t accept a handful of narrow interpretations of translations of widely-varying accuracy of millennia-old texts over the mountain of evidence supporting contemporary scientific theory. The secular and the spiritual can live together in harmony. There can and should be a place for both. There shouldn’t, however, be a place where “it’s true because I believe it” outweighs “it’s true because the data supports it.” Faith can make us strong or compassionate or hopeful. Blind faith just makes us dumb.