The Clergy Letter Project

August 16, 2011 § Leave a comment

The Clergy Letter Project is an organization that has created and maintains a statement signed by American Christian clergy of different denominations rejecting creationism, with specific reference to points raised by intelligent design proponents. This effort was initiated in 2004 by biologist Michael Zimmerman, and the letter was written by the Rev. John McFadden, pastor of the First Congregational United Church of Christ in Appleton, Wisconsin.

By April 7, 2010, the Clergy Letter Project had collected 12,508 signatures of US Christian clergy, 471 signatures from rabbis, and 224 signatures from Unitarian Universalist Clergy.It continues to collect more.

The project was organized in 2004 by Zimmerman, then a biology professor at University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh and Dean of the College of Science and Letters there. He was motivated to create a petition by the actions of the school board in Grantsburg, Wisconsin, which had passed some anti-evolution policies in the summer of 2004. The final straw came when Zimmerman saw some Christian fundamentalist clergymen from Dover, Pennsylvania on the television programNightline, insisting that decisions about teaching evolution in schools was equivalent to a choice between heaven and hell.

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 EveNoah and the ark – convey timeless truths about Godhuman 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

Creationists fight back

After more than a decade of effort the Discovery Institute proudly announced in 2007 that it had got some 700 doctoral-level scientists and engineers to sign “A Scientific Dissent from Darwinism.” Though the number may strike some observers as rather large, it represented less than 0.023 percent of the world’s scientists. On the scientific front of the much ballyhooed “Evolution Wars”, the Darwinists were winning handily. The ideological struggle between (methodological) naturalism and supernaturalism continued largely in the fantasies of the faithful and the hyperbole of the press.

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