I found this letter on a blog of an Episcopal priest I enjoy reading and find funny, insightful, intelligent and well informed - in other word we tend to see things the same way. While the issue of evolutionary science tends not to be an issue in the West Hartford school system, I do think it can shed some light on other issues, such as climate change.
I have never understood why some people (right or left - Fox or NPR) see religion and science as irreconcilably at odds with each other. About once a year NPR's science Friday program is dedicated to this very idea. The large number of callers who state this conflict as “settled” makes me crazy. I have actually found myself yelling at the radio (there's a sign of intelligence). The fact is that the more you listen to either side—science or religion—the more you realize how completely uninformed people can be.
I am not going to spend any time defending science, just take my word for it—I am onboard. The problem is that the people I hear complaining about religion and organized religion (whatever that is) specifically know very little about it. Ignorance is not bliss, it is just ignorance, and this goes both ways.
Here is where this letter comes in. It states clearly what I am trying to say, so just read it and you will get what I am talking about.
The Clergy Letter - from American Christian Clergy
– An Open Letter Concerning Religion and Science
Within the community of Christian believers there are areas of dispute and disagreement, including the proper way to interpret Holy Scripture. While virtually all Christians take the Bible seriously and hold it to be authoritative in matters of faith and practice, the overwhelming majority do not read the Bible literally, as they would a science textbook. Many of the beloved stories found in the Bible – the Creation, Adam and Eve, Noah and the ark – convey timeless truths about God, human beings, and the proper relationship between Creator and creation expressed in the only form capable of transmitting these truths from generation to generation. Religious truth is of a different order from scientific truth. Its purpose is not to convey scientific information but to transform hearts.
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.
The Rev. Bob Hooper is the rector of St. James’s Episcopal Church. He blogs for St. James’s every Tuesday, reflecting on the community, parish life and (being Rector) anything else he likes.