By Mike Ghouse, Dallas, Texas
Several Abrahamic Religious leaders â€˜assumeâ€™ that evolution is in conflict with creationism. It frightens them about the unknown; which is human. They have an unquestionable need to believe that what they know is the final word of God; a different point of view is anathema to them. The non-Abrahamic faith followers need not gloat; a new idea is usually an abomination to someone or the other including some of them. Whether you are a believer in a God, or several or no God, you would still find a new idea bring insecurity, like some one has pulled the rug from under you and you are out of your comfort zone.
We need to give God a lot more credit than we have given him (her or it) now. Letâ€™s give him the benefit of doubt that his word (or wisdom) perhaps includes evolution and every one of us needs to push the refresh button of our thinking, and find meaning in it. Letâ€™s make Good look good. Religion is about what we believe.
Is it possible that Adam was the first man in the process of evolution who was able to communicate coherently, take care of himself and survive against the natureâ€™s oddities? He was able to survive the fires, storms, blizzards, floods and furies of nature. Did God feel pleased with this new species that finally perfected to become a permanent part of the universe unlike the others that faded into oblivion? Did God call him â€œAdamâ€ because he was the first one to stand out on his own? Godâ€™s word is all embracing and that is what he may have meant in the Bible, Torah and Qurâ€™aan. I am sure the other scriptures carry similar wisdom; it is rather our shortcoming in understanding the spectrum of Godâ€™s word rather than the word itself. Letâ€™s be open to learning.
An old Jewish folk tale makes the point. One day God said to Abraham, â€œIf it werenâ€™t for me, you wouldnâ€™t be here,â€ to which Abraham replied, â€œTrue, but if I werenâ€™t here there wouldnâ€™t be anyone to think about you.â€
Pastor Randy Spaulding, â€œScience was a art of the ancient world, but religion and science had not split into â€œsacredâ€ and â€œsecularâ€ realms. They existed side by side as simply two ways of being curious about life.
â€The great chasm between science and religion came in the 16th century, when Copernicus guessed that the earth circled the sun instead of vice versa. This was counter to the biblical understanding that believed everything revolved around the earth. Copernicus and the Bible could not both be right. The Church stuck with the Bible and the scientific community separated from the church, finding themselves condemned as heretics and heathens.â€
The key word is, â€œunderstandingâ€, which implies incomplete understanding. Spaulding, â€œReligion is superstitious and locked in a vintage paradigm!â€ yells Science. â€œScience is nihilistic and devoid of morals!â€ Shouts Religion. For a progressive Christian like myself, and perhaps some of you, I find myself caught in the middle. My conservative Christian friends and family frown at me for affirming Evolution. My liberal and scientific friends roll their eyes at me for believing in God.â€
Rev. Paul J. Kottke, â€œIt is a false choice to feel that one must choose between science and faith. The language of one is factual [focused on the part s]. The language of the other is liturgical, metaphorical [focused on the â€œwhole,â€ the being of life]. Both science and faith are gifts of Godâ€™s revelation to us â€“ to be used in ways that create hope, meaning, and the fulfillment of lifeâ€ and he continues, â€œTo me, it is self-evident that both creation and evolution are gifts of Godâ€™s revelation into the world. If one is perceptive enough, then one will see the evidence of Godâ€™s presence in both the beauty of creation and in the theory of evolution.â€
Robert Tucker, a Unitarian Universalist Minister writes, â€œI am also careful to stay informed as to what science says, so that I can distinguish â€œfaithâ€ from â€œfact.â€ That is something many Christian clergy fail to do. A classic example occurred the year following Darwinâ€™s publication of on The Origin of Species. In June of 1860, a famous meeting took place at Oxford University. Speaking for the Church was Bishop Samuel Wilberforce.
Defending the scientific view was biologist, philosopher and paleontologist Thomas Henry Huxley. After his savage speech denouncing Darwin and Huxley, Bishop Wilberforce asked the scientist: â€œIf anyone were to be willing to trace his descent through an ape as his grandfather, would he be willing to trace his descent similarly on the side of his grandmother?â€ â€œThe audience greeted this with rapturous applause.â€ Huxley responded: â€œA man has no reason to be ashamed of having an ape for his grandfather. If there were an ancestor whom I should feel shame in recalling, it would rather be a man who, not content with an equivocal success in his own sphere of [religious] activity plunges into scientific questions with which he has no real acquaintance.â€ [I.e., the Bishop!] At this point â€œbedlam broke out…and ladies fainted from shock. From that moment the relationship of science to religion would never again be the same.â€ [Fadiman, revised ed., 283f.] To which I can only say, â€œAmen!â€
I close with this prayer of the scientist and the priest, Father Teilhard de Chardin:
Lord, we know and feel that you are everywhere around us; but it seems that there is a veil before our eyes. Let the light of your countenance shine upon us in its fullness. May your deep brilliance light up the innermost part of the [shadows] in which we move. And, to that end, send us your Spirit, whose flaming action alone can operate the birth and achievement of the great tr ansformation which sums up all inward perfection and towards the unity for which your creation yearns. [The Divine Milieu, p. 132]
This year represents the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin (12 February 1809) and the 150th anniversary of the publication of his seminal work On the Origin of Species in 1859. This backdrop provides a rich opportunity to demonstrate that religion and science have much to offer one another. Please join us and congregations all around the world in celebrating Evolution Weekend 2009!
13 -15 February 2009 — Evolution Weekend
From the Clergy Letter â€œEvolution Weekend is an opportunity for serious discussion and reflection on the relationship between religion and science. One important goal is to elevate the quality20of the discussion on this critical topic – to move beyond sound bites. A second critical goal is to demonstrate that religious people from many faiths and locations understand that evolution is sound science and poses no problems for their faith.
Evolution Weekend makes it clear that those claiming that people must choose between religion and science are creating a false dichotomy. Through sermons, discussion groups, meaningful conversations and seminars, the leaders listed below will show that religion and science are not adversaries.
Let the discussions for and against continue, on the way, we would learn more about it.
Mike Ghouse He is a frequent guest on talk radio and local television network discussing interfaith, political and civic issues. His can be found on the Websites and Blogs listed at his personal website www.MikeGhouse.net. Mike can be reached at MikeGhouse@gmail.com.