Charles Darwin in Church

Hey, you know that old conflict between religion and science? Remember the Scopes monkey trial in 1925 or the 1960 film about the case? How about the legislative battles of the last few years in Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Kansas over the mandatory inclusion of intelligent design alongside evolution in public schools?

Waiting for worldviews to change to accommodate new science is like watching the emergence of multicellularity. Keep in mind that Darwin’s On the Origin of Species is only 150 years old. Copernicus’s On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres was published in 1543. That book wasn’t completely dropped from the Vatican’s list of banned books for another 300 years. (I wonder if foundation-shattering books would fly under heresy radars if the titles didn’t start with “On the…”)

Chuck, on the other hand, just got fast-tracked! On Darwin’s 200th birthday, the Vatican is officially on board with evolution! Also, more than 800 pastors and rabbis are celebrating “Evolution Weekend” following Darwin’s 200th birthday February 12.

NPR reported that even in The Bible Belt there is a quiet shift away from biblical literalism. Henry Green, a Southern Baptist minister in Maryland is one of the pastors now preaching about evolution in the pulpit.

“Well, guess what, I believe God created,” says Green, “but I also believe that the scientists have it right in understanding that creation.”

This shift that’s taking place integrates contemporary science with spiritual insights in religious texts. As a minister myself, I think this piece is a necessity when it comes to getting our flocks on board with healing the Earth as an integral part of faith.

When we can no longer remember when religion and science were at odds with one another – when as one species we recognize that we have only been here for a blink of an eye in the history of life on Earth – we’ll be unified in seeing the seriousness of the violence against Creation/Earth that we’ve done in our short lifespan. Maybe then we’ll have the common will needed to restructure our institutions and businesses in life-giving rather than destructive ways. Maybe we’re ready to pick up the shovels now.

Evolution Weekend gives me hope for that kind of future.

More on this topic:

Religion and Darwin…and Politics, Business & Environmental Stewardship

photo credit: armincifuentes (CC licensed)

  1. Ben

    I maintain that Darwin proposed evolution as an explanation for life as we see it that did not rely on a supernatural being at the helm. Yet, the slow acceptance of religiously minded individuals has resulted in some grotesque, scientifically unverified hybrid system where evolution occurs with supernatural guidance. However, it is superfluous to add such a being because the proposition was designed to explain creation without one, in the first place. Ockham’s razor would seemingly eliminate the unnecessary, but his own Catholic tradition distracts from the purpose at hand.

    Undoubtedly, that won’t characterize the mindsets of most religious people, but religion has always been an “infinitely elastic” concept. Positions can never be inferred from widely held belief and doctrine is often re-interpreted at will to fit a rebuttal, regardless of the appropriate authority’s position.

  2. Chad Crawford

    What we’re seeing this weekend from religious groups is a shift away from pseudoscience.

    I go to a science book when I want to learn more about biology, and I go to a theology or philosophy book when I want to know more about metaphysics. These disciplines have their own turf and can coexist.

    You don’t see theologians trying to explain heliocentrism, and the same thing will happen eventually with evolution.

    Worldviews will always need to be revised and updated to accommodate new cosmological insights – that has happened since the beginning of human civilization.

  3. Bobby B.

    And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness. (2Th 2:11-12)

    Personally, I agree that science and religion can co-exist. However, the conflict generally occurs when science attempts to displace religion in whole or in part. What many non-scientists fail to understand is that science is man’s way of understanding the universe in which he lives by methods of approximation. The scientific method relies upon the gathering of data and the manipulation of mathematics to understand an experiment’s outcome. The weak link is often the mathematics, because all mathematics beyond basic arithmetic relies heavily on approximation. Statistics, calculus, differential equations, etc. are higher level mathematics that were developed to simplify the process of approximation. Consider the mathematical constant Pi for a moment. We generally carry it to the fifth decimal place (3.14159), however, Pi has been calculated to thousands of decimal places. In nearly all of the engineering calculations that I will ever solve, five decimal places for Pi will be enough to generate an answer that is close enough. Unfortunately, an answer that is close enough on this planet will likely be unacceptable when extrapolated to something as large as the solar system, much less the galaxy or the universe. Mathematical approximation that works well in a limited system always breaks down when expanded to an immense or infinite system. Unfortunately, modern scientists have rejected the limitations of their own methods and modern non-scientists are ignorant that such limitations even exist. When the scientific method fails to result in a scientific FACT, a scientist can reject, restate or reinforce his proposed THEORY. In today’s world, scientists have built both business and religious models on reinforcing THEORIES without having to establish FACTS. Using established methods of propaganda, these THEORIES have become FACTOIDS and are being used to lead many astray. Regardless of religion’s move to accept Darwinism, Darwin’s conclusion remains a manmade THEORY that modern science has co-opted to discredit a supernatural supposition.

  4. DrA

    “Using established methods of propaganda, these THEORIES have become FACTOIDS and are being used to lead many astray. Regardless of religion’s move to accept Darwinism, Darwin’s conclusion remains a manmade THEORY that modern science has co-opted to discredit a supernatural supposition.”

    Quite frankly I don’t know what this religo-babble means or what Bobby B. is trying to say. Of course, all theories are man-made. All theories are constructed of many hypotheses, some of which are so well confirmed that we quite legitimately and operationally can call them facts. For example, natural selection has been demonstrated operating so many times it is indeed a fact. Science provides testable explanations that have replaced supernatural ones. Disease, birth defects, mental illness, etc. are no longer considered to be a displeased god’s punishment. And yes, we operate as if theories are true because they are the best explanation so far. So what is the problem? The best argument for the truth of evolution, which has moved far beyond Darwin in 150 years of research, is simply that it works. Again and again it predicts how life works and interacts. Again and again religious explanations of the natural world have proved useless.

  5. Bobby B.

    First, ask any Darwinist if a modern cat and a modern dog are cousins and he will likely say, “No.” Ask the same Darwinist if a modern man and a modern chimpanzee are cousins and he will likely answer, “Yes.” He may even follow with a declaration that man is merely the evolutionary pinnacle of the order Primate. The dichotomy in Darwinism is the claim to a singular source for all life (the primordial ooze) and then the arbitrary separation of the evolutionary pathways for all plant and animal life. If all life originated in the ooze, then should not one form of life be equally related to all other forms of life? As such, the monkey should have no greater claim to its advanced cousin (modern man) than a cantaloupe.

    Second, saying that “we operate as if theories are true because they are the best explanation so far” fails to make any THEORY an experimentally repeatable scientific FACT. Also, citing a few scientific FACTS as proof that other scientific THEORIES have merit lacks credibility. Review the definitions of the two terms from a purely scientific viewpoint and you will see that Darwinism hits a snag precisely because it is a theory that cannot be tested. The acceptance of any theory that cannot be tested to a repeatable outcome requires as much faith as the acceptance of a Creator directing an intelligent design. In both cases, science is left on the doorstep and spiritual faith takes over.

    Third, if natural selection is indeed a scientific fact, challenge yourself to explain the success of man. He possesses poorly developed senses (sight, smell, hearing, etc.) when compared to most other animals. He runs slower and has less strength pound-for-pound than most other animals. He swims poorly and generally not for long periods of time. He cannot fly without the aid of a mechanical device. He has no razor sharp claws on his hands or feet, and a small mouth that lacks fangs. He has no fur for warmth and no natural body armor for defense. If abandoned naked in the wilderness, his chances for survival are slim. Natural selection should have eliminated mankind eons ago. However, mankind sits in direct contradiction to natural selection, because he has survived and assumed the highest order of all creatures. To credit his intelligence only leads to another question, because there are no “almost intelligent” beings between man and the dumb animals that roam the planet. Natural selection cannot account for such a leap.

    Fourth, put the “www” in front of the following link, paste it in your url, and read the piece to learn how mathematics can lead to questionable results:



  6. Royce

    G’day, like all political parties and control organisations, the Vatican has finally sniffed the political wind. I think it realises that Adam breeding with his own rib is the ultimate incest. As a matter of fact, the human race is probably stretching the gene pool as it is, but that’s another discussion.

    If enough Catholics start to question the existence of a god, in whatever form, I think you’ll see the Vatican eventually change its views on that as well. Dissenting people are impossible to govern effectively.

  7. Bobby B.

    Royce has hit upon an interesting point. Although he singles out Catholicism, he perpetuates the atheist/anarchist ideology that views any religious organization as nothing more than a control organization. This view is a bit narrow minded because it focuses solely on power and ignores the economics of religion, which is also a topic that is better left to another discussion.

    Royce is absolutely correct in his assertion that many churches have altered their scriptural views to accommodate changing worldviews, and that this trend will likely continue. What he and many others fail to realize is that the person of God (if He exists) and His Holy Scriptures are constant. Mankind may manipulate or misinterpret the text to suit a given situation or a historical time period. However, God, His Word, and His intended meaning remain unchanged. Religions are manmade and completely fallible. Faith results from God’s perfect grace independent of religion. The temporal hope of any person of faith is that people perceive a piece of God when interacting with him or her on this world. The eternal hope involves the eternal residence of the believer’s soul.

    Getting back to the issue of control, one could argue that a person of faith who answers to a Supreme Being is even more difficult to govern than an anti-religious dissenter.

  8. Jim Lyle

    Dan’s right. The electrolysis produces a dilute solution of hypochlorous acid (bleach). If people would simply dilute commercial bleach sufficiently, they would have the equivalent solution, without the expensive apparatus. A couple of drops of 5% bleach in a bucket of water is all that is needed to kill common bacteria. Of more concern, is the dilute sodium hydroxide solution that is produced by the electrolysis and is used as a degreaser. Sodium hydroxide is much more dangerous than most commercial degreasers, even at low concentrations.

    This doesn’t pass the sniff test! You will note that the author never consulted any chemists!

  9. Jonathan CHM

    Genesis 1:27, “So God made man in his own image”.
    Genesis 2:7, “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground.”
    Genesis 2:21-22, “And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, …the Lord had taken from man, made he a woman, & brought her unto the man”.
    From the above verses, it is obvious that God formed man/woman from dust instead of transforming apes to human beings.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *