Statements from Religious Organizations

For more information about religious perspectives on evolution, please see the Science and Religion section of our website.

Statements added since the 3rd Edition are denoted with a *

188 Wisconsin Clergy

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 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 rest. 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.

Affiliation of Christian Geologists *

The Affiliation of Christian Geologists is committed to the historic Christian faith and to its meaningful integration with the best available science. This effort reflects our desire to serve God with all our minds. Data from science also help us to serve our neighbors and to care for God’s creation. Investigations of the Earth and the universe have been ongoing for hundreds of years using such scientific methodologies as:

  • astronomical data from telescopes and satellites
  • observation of the physical makeup and arrangement of earth and extraterrestrial materials
  • chemical and physical analytical study of rocks, sediments, soils, water, air, ice, and meteorites found on Earth as well as lunar and Martian materials
  • experimental synthesis to determine the origins of earth and extraterrestrial matter
  • analytical determination of absolute ages of natural materials, and
  • mathematical and computer modeling of the above observations and processes.

Beginning in the mid-1600’s, geologists and astronomers (including many Christians) have consistently found that the scientific evidence clearly favors a vast age for the earth and the universe. Current scientific calculations indicate that the universe began about 13 billion years ago and the earth about 4.6 billion years ago. These conclusions are based on cumulative evidence and are refined with each new study. All scientific knowledge is constrained by the limitations of the methods of inquiry and discovery. We are limited and sometimes mistaken in our understanding of both nature and Scripture, but ultimately the two must not conflict, both coming from the same Creator. Although Scripture contains essential information on origins that gives meaning and perspective, technical details of the method and timing of creation are not major concerns of the Biblical text, and many orthodox theologians do not see a conflict between the Bible and an old creation.

African-Americans for Humanism

In recent years, religious fundamentalists have increased their efforts to teach Creationism in the public schools as an alternative to the theory of evolution. But though Creationism is pushed by religious adherents, the real conflict is not merely between religion and science, but between science and pseudoscience. Creationism does not qualify as a scientific theory because it begins with a conclusion (i.e., God created the universe) and seeks to support it, while scientific theories are prone to change (and may even be dismissed) in the light of new evidence. Creationism may or may not be good religion, but it is not good science, and should have no place in the public schools.

Many Creationists assert that evolution is used to further racism. But the scientific evidence has not led to racist conclusions in reputable scientific circles. On the contrary, human diversity is regarded as a product of genetic processes and natural selection, and "races" are always changing, often as a result of intermarriage among various peoples.

Conversely, many Creationists have propagated the racist "myth of Ham," or the belief that the "colored" peoples (who are supposedly descended from the eponymous Ham, the son of Noah) are cursed by God with servitude to whites. (Not surprisingly, such thinking spawned counter-myths among some black groups, such as the Nation of Islam, whose members have asserted that whites are a race of devils.) Evolution, far from supporting such notions, helps to dispel them.

Moreover, AAH is concerned that Blacks and other minorities are woefully underrepresented in the sciences. It will become increasingly difficult to attract and retain minority students to the sciences if they are constantly bombarded with pseudoscientific misinformation and unscientific methods of investigation. For these reasons, AAH opposes the introduction of Creationism into all science curricula of the U.S. public schools.

American Humanist Association

For many years it has been well established scientifically that all known forms of life, including human beings, have developed by a lengthy process of evolution. It is also verifiable today that very primitive forms of life, ancestral to all living forms, came into being thousands of millions of years ago. They constituted the trunk of a "tree of life" that, in growing, branched more and more; that is, some of the later descendants of these earliest living things, in growing more complex, became ever more diverse and increasingly different from one another. Humans and other highly organized types of today constitute the present twigend of that tree. The human twig and that of the apes sprang from the same apelike progenitor branch.

Scientists consider that none of their principles, no matter how seemingly firmly established — and no ordinary "facts" of direct observation either — are absolute certainties. Some possibility of human error, even if very slight, always exists. Scientists welcome the challenge of further testing of any view whatever. They use such terms as firmly established only for conclusions, founded on rigorous evidence, that have continued to withstand searching criticism.

The principle of biological evolution, as just stated, meets these criteria exceptionally well. It rests upon a multitude of discoveries of very different kinds that concur and complement one another. It is therefore accepted into humanity's general body of knowledge by scientists and other reasonable persons who have familiarized themselves with the evidence.

In recent years, the evidence for the principle of evolution has continued to accumulate. This has resulted in a firm understanding of biological evolution, including the further confirmation of the principle of natural selection and adaptation that Darwin and Wallace over a century ago showed to be an essential part of the process of biological evolution.

There are no alternative theories to the principle of evolution, with its "tree of life" pattern, that any competent biologist of today takes seriously. Moreover, the principle is so important for an understanding of the world we live in and of ourselves that the public in general, including students taking biology in school, should be made aware of it, and of the fact that it is firmly established in the view of the modern scientific community.

Creationism is not scientific; it is a purely religious view held by some religious sects and persons and strongly opposed by other religious sects and persons. Evolution is the only presently known strictly scientific and nonreligious explanation for the existence and diversity of living organisms. It is therefore the only view that should be expounded in publicschool courses on science, which are distinct from those on religion.

We, the undersigned, call upon all local school boards, manufacturers of textbooks and teaching materials, elementary and secondary teachers of biological science, concerned citizens, and educational agencies to do the following:

— Resist and oppose measures currently before several state legislatures that would require that creationist views of origins be given equal treatment and emphasis in publicschool biology classes and text materials.

— Reject the concept, currently being put forth by certain religious and creationist pressure groups, that alleges that evolution is itself a tenet of a religion of "secular humanism," and as such is unsuitable for inclusion in the publicschool science curriculum.

— Give vigorous support and aid to those classroom teachers who present the subject matter of evolution fairly and who often encounter community opposition.

American Jewish Committee

Creationism or "creation science" — the belief that the origin of the world and the development of life were due to divine intervention — is not a scientific theory, but rather a matter of religious faith. As such, AJC has opposed its being taught in public school science classes and filed an amicus brief in the case of Edwards v. Aguillard in which the Supreme Court in 1987 struck down a state law mandating the teaching of creationism whenever the Darwinian theory of evolution was taught in public schools. In recent years, the forces determined to put creationism back in the public school curricula have been very active. AJC continues to oppose the teaching of "creation science" in public school science classes and opposes laws mandating its instruction alongside the theory of evolution. However, AJC does not oppose reference to "creationism" as a religious belief in elective courses, for example on comparative religion, at an age-appropriate level.

American Jewish Congress

The American Jewish Congress is a national organization committed to the vigorous enforcement of the First Amendment provision requiring separation of church and state. The First Amendment provides "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion." This provision — often called the establishment clause — forbids the government from performing or aiding in the performance of a religious function.

Our appearance at this hearing today arises from our concern that Proclamation 60 (both alone and together with Board Rule 5) abrogates the establishment clause in three fundamental ways. The first constitutional deficiency lies in the Proclamation's glaring omission of any reference to the Darwinian theory of evolution. The second constitutional deficiency lies in the Board Rule's requirement that evolution be singled out for a special negative treatment not required in connection with the teaching of any other scientific theory. The third constitutional deficiency arises from the fact that the proposed textbook standards allow for the teaching of scientific creationism. Despite attempts to describe scientific creationism as scientific theory, it is our position that scientific creationism is a religious theory and that, therefore, the First Amendment's establishment clause prohibits its being taught as science in public school classes.

It seems apparent that, in establishing the proposed textbook standards, the intent of the State Board of Education has been to avoid conflict with a particular religious doctrine and to allow for the inclusion of religious theory in the science curriculum. The United States Supreme Court has made clear that the approach employed by Proclamation 60 is unconstitutional. In 1968, in a case titled Epperson vs Arkansas, an Arkansas biology teacher asked the Supreme Court to declare void a state statute which prohibited the teaching of evolution and which prohibited the selection, adoption or use of textbooks teaching that doctrine. The Supreme Court held that the statute was unconstitutional. In its opinion the Supreme Court stated:

"The First Amendment's prohibition is absolute. It forbids alike the preference of a religious doctrine or the prohibition of a theory which is deemed antagonistic to a particular dogma."

Under the standards so clearly articulated by the Supreme Court, Proclamation 60 and Board Rule 5, as presently written, fail to satisfy the constitutional requirement of separation of church and state. In order to comply with the applicable constitutional provisions, the proclamation and board rule should be revised in three ways. First, evolution should be clearly included in the science curriculum. Second, evolution should be taught as are all scientific theories and should not be singled out for special negative comment. Finally, the proposed textbook standards should make clear that scientific creationism is not to be taught as scientific theory. Rather, because there is no constitutional objection to teaching about religion, public school teachers should simply tell their students, when evolution is taught, that there are certain religious groups whose members do not accept the Darwinian theory and advise them to consult with their parents or religious advisers for further guidance on the subject.

The American Jewish Congress believes that this approach is not only fully consistent with the Constitution but is also an effective means by which to resolve objections to the teaching of evolution.

Should the Board of Education fail to take the steps necessary to make the Proclamation constitutional, then the result could lead to textbooks which do not meet constitutional standards. And that mistake would be a costly one to the taxpayers.

American Scientific Affiliation

... After polling the membership on its views, the Executive Council of the American Scientific Affiliation hereby directs the following Resolution to public school teachers, administrators, school boards, and producers of elementary and secondary science textbooks or other educational materials:

Because it is our common desire to promote excellence and integrity in science education as well as in science; and

Because it is our common desire to bring to an end wasteful controversy generated by inappropriate entanglement of the scientific concept of evolution with political, philosophical, or religious perspectives;

We strongly urge that, in science education, the terms evolution and theory of evolution should be carefully defined and used in a consistently scientific manner; and

We further urge that, to make classroom instruction more stimulating while guarding it against the intrusion of extra-scientific beliefs, the teaching of any scientific subject, including evolutionary biology, should include (1) forceful presentation of well-established scientific data and conclusions; (2) clear distinction between evidence and inference; and (3) candid discussion of unsolved problems and open questions.

Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences

The universe is more mysterious than either science or religion can ever fully disclose, and the urgencies of humankind and the natural environment demand an honest interaction between the discoveries of nature, the empowerment afforded us by appropriate technology, the inherent value of the environment, and the demand that we commit ourselves to a future in which all species can flourish. We can no longer afford the stalemate of past centuries between theology and science, for this leaves nature Godless and religion worldless. When this happens, our culture, hungering after science for something to fill the void of its lost spiritual resources, is easy prey to New Age illusions wrapped in scientific-sounding language — the 'cosmic self-realization movement' and the 'wow of physics' — while our 'denatured' religion, attempting to correct social wrong and to provide meaning and support for life's journey, is incapable of making its moral claims persuasive or its spiritual comfort effective because its cognitive claims are not credible. Nor can we allow science and religion to be seen as adversaries, for they will be locked in a conflict of mutual conquest, such as "creation science" which costs religion its credibility or a philosophical stance of "scientific materialism" which costs science its innocence....

Central Conference of American Rabbis

Whereas the principles and concepts of biological evolution are basic to understanding science; and

Whereas students who are not taught these principles, or who hear "creationism" presented as a scientific alternative, will not be receiving an education based on modern scientific knowledge; and

Whereas these students' ignorance about evolution will seriously undermine their understanding of the world and the natural laws governing it, and their introduction to other explanations described as "scientific" will give them false ideas about scientific methods and criteria,

Therefore be it resolved that the Central Conference of American Rabbis commend the Texas State Board of Education for affirming the constitutional separation of Church and State, and the principle that no group, no matter how large or small, may use the organs of government, of which the public schools are among the most conspicuous and influential, to foist its religious beliefs on others;

Be it further resolved that we call upon publishers of science textbooks to reject those texts that clearly distort the integrity of science and to treat other explanations of human origins for just what they are — beyond the realm of science;

Be it further resolved that we call upon science teachers and local school authorities in all states to demand quality textbooks that are based on modern, scientific knowledge and that exclude "scientific" creationism;

Be it further resolved that we call upon parents and other citizens concerned about the quality of science education in the public schools to urge their Boards of Education, publishers, and science teachers to implement these needed reforms.

Council for Democratic and Secular Humanism

Concerning the origin and historical diversity of life on earth, secular humanists accept the fact of evolution as the essential framework of modern biology. Physico-chemical development paved the way for the origin of life about four billion years ago. Subsequent organic evolution is now documented by empirical evidence from geology, paleontology, biogeography, anthropology and genetics as well as comparative studies in taxonomy, biochemistry, embryology, anatomy and physiology. The ages of rock strata, with their fossils and artifacts in the geological column, are determined by radiometric dating techniques. Grounded in science and reason, evolution has descriptive and explanatory powers free from supernatural claims and dogmatic religious beliefs. Concerning models, mechanisms and interpretations, the present Neodarwinian synthesis in biological evolution is always subject to modification and expansion in light of new discoveries in science and widening perspectives in philosophy.

Defending the constitutional separation of church and state, secular humanists deplore the efforts of biblical fundamentalists or so-called scientific creationists to invade science classrooms and pressure textbook publishers with their religious myth and political agenda. We reject the teaching of religious fundamentalism as a viable alternative to organic evolution in science texts and biology classes. In fact, all religious beliefs and practices have evolved throughout human socio-cultural development. Clearly, a strict and literal interpretation of Genesis is merely a religious account for the origin of life that is not subject to testing by evidence, experience and experimentation. Consequently, biblical creationism is an ongoing and serious threat to science education, responsible research, critical thought and free inquiry. Authority and revelation are not reliable substitutes for the scientific method and logical procedure. In short, rigorous scrutiny shows evolutionary science and scriptural literalism, with its appeals to miraculous causes, to be opposing explanations for the appearance of all life forms on this planet.

Furthermore, secular humanists boldly accept the far-reaching consequences of evolution and extinction for understanding and appreciating the place our species occupies within earth history and this dynamic universe. The human animal is a product of, dependent upon, and totally within organic evolution. Comparative DNA studies show that humankind shares a common ancestry with the three great apes (orangutan, chimpanzee and gorilla). Fossil hominid evidence recently found in central East Africa documents the emergence of our species over the past four million years. No doubt, future discoveries will shed additional light on the origin and history of humankind from ape-like ancestors.

Religious beliefs in a personal god, human immortality, and a divine destiny for our species are inadmissible as scientific statements. And questions concerning metaphysics, epistemology, ethics and values are best answered in terms of science, reason and human experience within a humanist framework and a naturalist worldview.

Episcopal Bishop of Atlanta, Pastoral Letter

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

Legislation is pending before the Georgia State Legislature which calls for the public financing and teaching of Scientific Creationism as a counter-understanding to Evolution, wherever the evolutionary view is taught in the public schools.

Scientific Creationism understands the cosmos and the world to have originated as the Bible describes the process in the opening chapters of Genesis.

The 74th Annual Council of the Diocese of Atlanta, in formal action on January 31, 1981, acted without a dissenting vote to oppose by resolution any action by the Georgia Legislature to impose the teaching of Scientific Creationism on the public school system. A copy of the resolution is attached to this Pastoral.

It seems important that the Episcopal Church in this diocese add to its brief resolution a statement of its own teaching. The office of Bishop is historically a teaching office, and I believe it is timely to offer instruction as to this Church's understanding of what has become a contested public issue.

To begin with creation is a fact. The world exists. We exist. Evolution is a theory. As a theory, evolution expresses human response to the fact of creation, since existence raises questions: how did creation come to be, and why?

The question of why is the deeper one. It takes us into the realm of value and purpose. This urgent inquiry is expressed in human history through religion and statements of faith. Christians cherish the Bible as the source book of appropriating the point and purpose of life. We regard the Bible as the Word of God, His revelation of Himself, the meaning of His work and the place of humanity in it.

The question of how is secondary, because human life has been lived heroically and to high purpose with the most primitive knowledge of the how of creation. Exploration of this secondary question is the work of science. Despite enormous scientific achievement, humanity continues to live with large uncertainty. Science, advancing on the question of how, will always raise as many questions as it answers. The stars of the exterior heavens beyond us and the subatomic structure of the interior deep beneath us beckon research as never before.

Religion and science are therefore distinguishable, but in some sense inseparable, because each is an enterprise, more or less, of every human being who asks why and how in dealing with existence. Religion and science interrelate as land and water, which are clearly not the same but need each other, since the land is the basin for all the waters of the earth and yet without the waters the land would be barren of the life inherent to its soil.

In the Bible the intermingling of why and how is evident, especially in the opening chapters of Genesis. There the majestic statements of God's action, its value and the place of humanity in it, use an orderly and sequential statement of method. The why of the divine work is carried in a primitive description of how the work was done.

But even here the distinction between religion and science is clear. In Genesis there is not one creation statement but two. They agree as to why and who, but are quite different as to how and when. The statements are set forth in tandem, chapter one of Genesis using one description of method and chapter two another. According to the first, humanity was created, male and female, after the creation of plants and animals. According to the second, man was created first, then the trees, the animals and finally the woman and not from the earth as in the first account, but from the rib of the man. Textual research shows that these two accounts are from two distinct eras, the first later in history, the second earlier.

From this evidence, internal to the very text of the Bible, we draw two conclusions.

First, God's revelation of purpose is the overarching constant. The creation is not accidental, aimless, devoid of feeling. Creation is the work of an orderly, purposeful Goodness. Beneath and around the cosmos are the everlasting arms. Touching the cosmos at every point of its advance, in depth and height, is a sovereign beauty and tenderness. Humanity is brooded over by an invincible Love that values the whole of the world as very good; that is the first deduction: God is constant.

Second, creation itself and the human factors are inconstant. Creation moves and changes. Human understanding moves and changes. Evolution as a contemporary description of the how of creation is anticipated in its newness by the very fluidity of the biblical text by the Bible's use of two distinct statements of human comprehension at the time of writing. As a theoretical deduction from the most careful and massive observation of the creation, the layers and deposits and undulations of this ever-changing old earth, evolution is itself a fluid perception. It raises as many questions as it answers. Evolution represents the best formulation of the knowledge that creation has disclosed to us, but it is the latest word from science, not the last.

If the world is not God's, the most eloquent or belligerent arguments will not make it so. If it is God's world, and this is the first declaration of our creed, then faith has no fear of anything the world itself reveals to the searching eye of science.

Insistence upon dated and partially contradictory statements of how as conditions for true belief in the why of creation cannot qualify either as faithful religion or as intelligent science. Neither evolution over an immensity of time nor the work done in a six-day week are articles of the creeds. It is a symptom of fearful and unsound religion to contend with one another as if they were. Historic creedal Christianity joyfully insists on God as sovereign and frees the human spirit to trust and seek that sovereignty in a world full of surprises.

Episcopal Church, General Convention (1982)

Whereas, the state legislatures of several states have recently passed so called "balanced treatment" laws requiring the teaching of "Creation-science" whenever evolutionary models are taught; and

Whereas, in many other states political pressures are developing for such "balanced treatment" laws; and

Whereas, the terms "Creationism" and "Creation-science" as understood in these laws do not refer simply to the affirmation that God created the Earth and Heavens and everything in them, but specify certain methods and timing of the creative acts, and impose limits on these acts which are neither scriptural nor accepted by many Christians; and

Whereas, the dogma of "Creationism" and "Creation-science" as understood in the above contexts has been discredited by scientific and theologic studies and rejected in the statements of many church leaders; and

Whereas, "Creationism" and "Creation-science" is not limited to just the origin of life, but intends to monitor public school courses, such as biology, life science, anthropology, sociology, and often also English, physics, chemistry, world history, philosophy, and social studies; therefore be it

Resolved, the House of Bishops concurring, That this 67th General Convention affirm its belief in the glorious ability of God to create in any manner, and in this affirmation reject the rigid dogmatism of the "Creationist" movement, and be it further

Resolved, That we affirm our support of the scientists, educators, and theologians in the search for truth in this creation that God has given and entrusted to us.

Episcopal Church, General Convention (2006)

Resolved, That the 75th General Convention affirm that God is Creator, in accordance with the witness of Scripture and the ancient Creeds of the Church; and be it further,

Resolved, That the theory of evolution provides a fruitful and unifying scientific explanation for the emergence of life on earth, that many theological interpretations of origins can readily embrace an evolutionary outlook, and that an acceptance of evolution is entirely compatible with an authentic and living Christian faith; and be it further

Resolved, That Episcopalians strongly encourage state legislatures and state and local boards of education to establish standards for science education based on the best available scientific knowledge as accepted by a consensus of the scientific community; and be it further

Resolved, That Episcopal dioceses and congregations seek the assistance of scientists and science educators in understanding what constitutes reliable scientific knowledge.

Explanation

The theory of evolution is broadly accepted by the overwhelming majority in the scientific community as the most adequate explanation for the emergence of life on earth, and the ongoing adaptation of life to changes in environments. For example, knowledge of how evolution functions is essential in understanding the resistance of bacteria to antibiotics, the resistance of insects to insecticides, and the appearance of viruses such as HIV and influenza.

The teaching of evolution is a crucial contribution to the development of scientific literacy among the nation's youth, yet state legislators and state and local school boards continue to challenge, limit, or seek to supplant the teaching of evolution. Limiting the teaching of evolution in our schools has the potential to compromise students' ability to understand constantly changing living systems, and may undermine, for instance, the understanding and treatment of diseases of the future.

Since the sixteenth century, Anglicans have described their faith in terms of the "three-legged stool" of Scripture, Tradition and Reason. The quest to understand the origins of life on earth, and the forces that drive the ongoing changes in living organisms involves Reason and is in no way incompatible with the central truths of Scripture and Christian Tradition. Episcopalians generally accept that it is appropriate to seek to understand, through scientific probing, the origins both of the cosmos and life on earth, and that evolution is a valid explanation of the development of all living things, including humanity. Several leading Anglican theologians, past and present, among them priest-scientists William G. Pollard, Arthur Peacocke, and Sir John Polkinghorne, have shown how an evolutionary world view can be integrated with a theology of creation. The 67th General Convention affirmed a belief "in the glorious ability of God to create in any manner", and its "support of scientists, educators, and theologians in the search for truth" (GC Resolution 1982-D090).

General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA)

The 214th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA):
  1. Reaffirms that God is Creator, in accordance with the witness of Scripture and The Reformed Confessions.
  2. Reaffirms that there is no contradiction between an evolutionary theory of human origins and the doctrine of God as Creator.
  3. Encourages State Boards of Education across the nation to establish standards for science education in public schools based on the most reliable content of scientific knowledge as determined by the scientific community.
  4. Calls upon Presbyterian scientists and science educators to assist congregations, presbyteries, communities, and the public to understand what constitutes reliable scientific knowledge.

Humanist Association of Canada

Evolution is the basis of modern biology. A student cannot possibly understand any of the life sciences without understanding the process of evolution that is the foundation of these sciences. It is the unifying web that links them together. Without evolution, biology is only a series of disconnected facts. With evolution, comes a comprehension of adaptation to local ecologies, the relationships among species, and the relationships among plants and animals and environments.

The physical sciences also depend on an accurate knowledge of the origins of the universe, radioactive decay, the age of the earth, chemical reactions and many physical relationships that change uniformly over time.

All these facts complement and reinforce each other. To comprehend the age of the universe, students must learn about the speed of light, what a red shift is, and something about spectroscopy. To understand the age of the earth, they must understand sedimentation, fossilization, and radioactive decay. To understand human origins they must understand genetic drift, carbon dating, archeology and linguistic change. Then they can begin to appreciate how these different systems reinforce each other and mutually confirm many diverse facts. They will then appreciate how a scientific hypothesis must fit in with all the observed and confirmed facts of the universe. Gravitation, relativity, radioactive decay, molecular genetics; one odd observation or a new theory cannot overturn these well-established truths. For instance, Einstein's relativity did not change the observations Newton had made. Newton's laws of gravity and motion still work correctly, unless one is dealing with objects moving nearly at the speed of light. Students must learn that a new theory must still fit in with the old facts, while explaining observations that were previously unexplained.

Evolution is an area where great strides are being made yearly, especially in the area of human origins. Students should learn how science changes because of new information.

Students should learn how science progresses through the accumulation of facts, through testing theories to see if they explain the facts, or if any facts disprove the theory.

Science education must avoid implying that science is a received and unchangeable set of dogmas for students to memorize, but must also teach those facts that are true.

So-called creation science is merely misnamed religious propaganda. There is nothing of science in it beyond the name. Creationists do not accept any evidence that goes against their case and will not listen to any arguments that don't go their way. Science is interested in the truth, and seeks out tests that might disprove a new theory. Creationists do not recognize anything that contradicts their beliefs. They have simply decided in advance what the conclusion must be, and head toward it without consideration of any contrary evidence that may be in the path. Creationism is an attempt to sneak a narrow sectarian religious creed into public classrooms and impose it on everyone. It is based, despite denials, upon the Genesis texts of the Jewish and Christian bible. Only a few Christian denominations, and a few Jewish sects, demand literal interpretation of these myths. Creation science is a religious dogma. Most of all, it is false and it is inaccurate. There is no evidence to support the creationist argument.

There is no room in science for believing without evidence. The whole of humanity's scientific enterprise is based on testing every belief and relinquishing those that fail the tests. Any public school teacher or public school board that lets "creation science" into a classroom, has abandoned teaching and taken up preaching and should be stopped.

International Society for Science & Religion *

The authors of this statement constitute a group set up for the purpose by the Executive Committee of the International Society for Science and Religion. Through a process involving consultation with all members of the Society, the statement has now been accepted by the Executive Committee for publication as a statement made on behalf of the Society.

The Society retains the copyright of the statement, but gives general permission to reproduce it, in whole or in part, provided that the statement in the paragraph immediately preceding this is reproduced.

Comments on the statement can be found by clicking here.

The International Society for Science and Religion is a scholarly society devoted to ongoing dialogue between the sciences and the community of world faiths (see www.issr.org.uk). It was established in 2002 for the purpose of promoting education through the support of interdisciplinary learning and research in the fields of science and religion, conducted where possible in an international and multi-faith context.

The society greatly values modern science, while deploring efforts to drive a wedge between science and religion. Science operates with a common set of methodological approaches that gives freedom to scientists from a range of religious backgrounds to unite in a common endeavor. This approach does not deny the existence of a metaphysical realm but rather opens up the natural world to a range of explorations that have been incredibly productive, especially over the last 400 years or so.

The intelligent-design (ID) movement began in the late 1980s as a challenge to the perceived secularization of the scientific community, which leaders of the movement maintained had been coloured with the philosophy of atheistic naturalism. ID theorists have focused their critique primarily on biological evolution and the neo-Darwinian paradigm. They claim that because certain biological features appear to be "irreducibly complex" and thus incapable of evolving incrementally by natural selection, they must have been created by the intervention of an intelligent designer. Despite this focus on evolution, intelligent design should not be confused with biblical or "scientific" creationism, which relies on a particular interpretation of the Genesis account of creation.

We believe that intelligent design is neither sound science nor good theology. Although the boundaries of science are open to change, allowing supernatural explanations to count as science undercuts the very purpose of science, which is to explain the workings of nature without recourse to religious language. Attributing complexity to the interruption of natural law by a divine designer is, as some critics have claimed, a science stopper. Besides, ID has not yet opened up a new research program. In the opinion of the overwhelming majority of research biologists, it has not provided examples of "irreducible complexity" in biological evolution that could not be explained as well by normal scientifically understood processes. Students of nature once considered the vertebrate eye to be too complex to explain naturally, but subsequent research has led to the conclusion that this remarkable structure can be readily understood as a product of natural selection. This shows that what may appear to be "irreducibly complex" today may be explained naturalistically tomorrow.

Scientific explanations are always incomplete. We grant that a comprehensive account of evolutionary natural history remains open to complementary philosophical, metaphysical, and religious dimensions. Darwinian natural history does preempt certain accounts of creation, leading, for example, to the contemporary creationist and ID controversies. However, in most instances, biology and religion operate at different and non-competing levels. In many religious traditions, such as some found in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Taoism, the notion of intelligent design is irrelevant. We recognize that natural theology may be a legitimate enterprise in its own right, but we resist the insistence of intelligent-design advocates that their enterprise be taken as genuine science — just as we oppose efforts of others to elevate science into a comprehensive world view (so-called scientism).

Lexington Alliance of Religious Leaders

The following ministers and religious leaders are very much concerned with and opposed to the possibility of "Scientific Creationism" being taught in the science curriculum of Fayette County Schools.

As religious leaders we share a deep faith in the God who created heaven and earth and all that is in them, and take with utmost seriousness the Biblical witness to this God who is our Creator. However, we find no incompatibility between the God of creation and a theory of evolution which uses universally verifiable data to explain the probable process by which life developed into its present form.

We understand that you may shortly receive considerable pressure from groups advocating the teaching of "Scientific Creationism" alongside of the theory of evolution. However, we feel strongly that to introduce such teaching into our schools would be both divisive and offensive to many members of the religious community of Fayette County, as well as to those not identified with any religious group.

Please be assured of our continuing interest in this issue, and of our strong desire that the Fayette County Public Schools not permit the teaching of "Scientific Creationism" as an alternative "theory" to evolution in science courses.

Lutheran World Federation

Symbolic of the prominence of the evolutionary idea in contemporary thought is the occurrence of "evolved" as the last word of the famous closing paragraph of Darwin's The Origin of Species, 1859. While not original with the emergence of Darwinism, evolution has nevertheless been intimately associated with it and has in the intervening century become one of the most comprehensive concepts of the modern mind. Consequently the issue cannot be stated in terms of the restricted alternative whether any one phase of evolution (especially the biological) is still "only a scientific theory" or long since "an established fact." Neither is it a matter of holding out the hope that if only enough fault can be found with Darwin the church's doctrine of creation will automatically be accepted and religion can then be at peace with science.

Rather, the evolutionary dynamisms of today's world compel a more realistic confrontation. One area of reality after another has been analyzed and described on the basis of some kind of progressive change until the whole may be viewed as a single process. The standpoint of the one who views this unitary development may be avowedly atheistic in the sense of ruling out the supernatural (Sir Julian Huxley) or just as avowedly Christian in the sense of finding in evolution an infusion of new life into Christianity, with Christianity alone dynamic enough to unify the world with God (Teilhard de Chardin).

In whatever way the process may be ultimately explained, it has come about that an idea which has been most thoroughly explored in the field of biology (lower forms of life evolving into higher) has by means of organismic analogy found universal application. Phenomena thus accounted for range from physical realities (evolution of the atoms and expanding galaxies) to man and his social experience (the evolution of cultural values) including his understanding of time and history (the evolutionary vision of scientific eschatology). Hence there is posited a movement of cumulative change in the organic and the inorganic; in the evolution of life and of man, of social institutions and political constitutions, of emerging races and nations, of language and art forms, of school systems and educational methods, of religion and doctrine; and of science and of the theory of evolution itself.

In the 1959 University of Chicago Centennial Discussions of Evolution After Darwin a working definition given to the term evolution was that of a long temporal process, operating everywhere, in which a unidirectional and irreversible natural development generates newness, variety, and "higher levels of organization" (Vol. I, p. 18; Vol. III, p. 111). A noteworthy feature of these discussions was the forthrightness with which at least some of the participants presented evolution in an uncompromising opposition to any notion of the supernatural and in a consistent upholding of naturalistic self sufficiency in a cosmos which was not created but which has evolved.

With biological evolution (ostensibly a matter of pure science) thereby becoming a metaphysics of evolution it needs to be determined whether religion's proper quarrel is with the science which permits itself such dogmatic extension or whether the misgivings are primarily with the particular philosophical interpretation involved. To the evolutionary concept in general there are however (in spite of innumerable variations) basically two religious reactions.

As in the days of the Scopes trial all evolution may still be denied on the grounds of a literalistic interpretation of the Bible, especially Genesis 111. Not content with the commitment of faith in the Creator expressed in the First Article of the Apostles' Creed this interpretation may demand a specific answer also to the questions of when creation occurred and how long it took. On the premise of a literal acceptance of the Scriptures as authoritative also in matters of science the whole of past existence is comprehended within the limited time span of biblical chronologies and genealogies. The vastness of astronomical time with its incredible number of light years may be accounted for as an instantaneous arrival of light and the eras of geological and biological time with their strata, fossils, and dinosaurs pointing to the existence of life and death on the earth ages before the arrival of man may be reduced to one literal week of creative activity.

On the other hand there are those who can no more close their eyes to the evidence which substantiates some kind of lengthy evolutionary process in the opinion of the vast majority of those scientists most competent to judge than they could deny the awesome reality of God's presence in nature and their own experience of complete dependence upon the creative and sustaining hand of God revealed in the Scriptures. In reference to creation, Langdon Gilkey (Maker of Heaven and Earth , 1959, pp. 30 f.) interprets the doctrine as affirming ultimate dependence upon God and distinguishes it from scientific hypotheses which properly deal with finite processes only. Among Lutheran theologians George Forell (The Protestant Faith, 1960, p. 109) sees the doctrine of creation not as expressing "a theory about the origin of the world" but as describing man's situation in the world, and Jaroslav Pelikan (Evolution After Darwin, Vol. III, p. 31) presents the creation accounts of Genesis as "not chiefly cosmogony" and furthermore sketches a development in the church which by the 19th century had emphasized those aspects of the doctrine of the creation to which Darwin represented a particular challenge and had neglected other important aspects which could be maintained independently of biological research.

An assessment of the prevailing situation makes it clear that evolution's assumptions are as much around us as the air we breathe and no more escapable. At the same time theology's affirmations are being made as responsibly as ever. In this sense both science and religion are here to stay, and the demands of either are great enough to keep most (if not all) from daring to profess competence in both. To preserve their own integrity both science and religion need to remain in a healthful tension of respect toward one another and to engage in a searching debate which no more permits theologians to pose as scientists than it permits scientists to pose as theologians.

National Council of Jewish Women

The National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) supports quality education in public schools and strongly opposes efforts to add faith-based interpretations of the creation of the universe to the curriculum. Specifically, "intelligent design" is not a scientific theory, but rather an effort to explain the origins of the earth and human life in religious terms. As such, it has no place in the public schools that are funded by tax dollars.

The constitutional separation of religion and state protects the rights of all citizens regardless of their beliefs. This principle enables a diverse, pluralistic society to function equitably. A clear line between religious belief and scientific theory must be maintained to ensure that no one set of beliefs is elevated over another.

The current campaign to add intelligent design to public school curricula and classrooms and to denigrate the theory of evolution follows closely on the heels of attempts to add creationism to public school classrooms and textbooks. NCJW opposes this effort to use government funds to subsidize the teaching of religion in our public schools. We firmly believe that the responsibility for religious education is a private matter that belongs in our homes and in our places of worship, not in our public institutions and certainly not in our public schools.

Rabbinical Council of America

In response to the public debate over Intelligent Design and Scientific theory, the RCA has issued the following statement clarifying its view on this matter as it relates to Torah Judaism, and the biblical account of creation.

In light of the ongoing public controversy about Evolution, Creationism and Intelligent Design, the RCA notes that significant Jewish authorities have maintained that evolutionary theory, properly understood, is not incompatible with belief in a Divine Creator, nor with the first 2 chapters of Genesis.

There are authentic, respected voices in the Jewish community that take a literalist position with regard to these issues; at the same time, Judaism has a history of diverse approaches to the understanding of the biblical account of creation. As Rabbi Joseph Hertz wrote, "While the fact of creation has to this day remained the first of the articles of the Jewish creed, there is no uniform and binding belief as to the manner of creation, i.e. as to the process whereby the universe came into existence. The manner of the Divine creative activity is presented in varying forms and under differing metaphors by Prophet, Psalmist and Sage; by the Rabbis in Talmudic times, as well as by our medieval Jewish thinkers." Some refer to the Midrash (Koheleth Rabbah 3:13) which speaks of God "developing and destroying many worlds" before our current epoch. Others explain that the word "yom" in Biblical Hebrew, usually translated as "day," can also refer to an undefined period of time, as in Isaiah 11:10–11. Maimonides stated that "what the Torah writes about the Account of Creation is not all to be taken literally, as believed by the masses" (Guide to the Perplexed II:29), and recent Rabbinic leaders who have discussed the topic of creation, such as Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch and Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, saw no difficulty in explaining Genesis as a theological text rather than a scientific account.

Judaism affirms the idea that God is the Creator of the Universe and the Being responsible for the presence of human beings in this world.

Nonetheless, there have long been different schools of thought within Judaism regarding the extent of divine intervention in natural processes. One respected view was expressed by Maimonides who wrote that "we should endeavor to integrate the Torah with rational thought, affirming that events take place in accordance with the natural order wherever possible." (Letter to the Jews of Yemen) All schools concur that God is the ultimate cause and that humanity was an intended end result of Creation.

For us, these fundamental beliefs do not rest on the purported weaknesses of Evolutionary Theory, and cannot be undermined by the elimination of gaps in scientific knowledge.

Judaism has always preferred to see science and Torah as two aspects of the "Mind of God" (to borrow Stephen Hawking's phrase) that are ultimately unitary in the reality given to us by the Creator. As the Zohar says (Genesis 134a): "istakel be-'oraita u-vara 'alma," God looked into the Torah and used it as His blueprint for creating the Universe.

Roman Catholic Church (1981)

Cosmogony itself speaks to us of the origins of the universe and its makeup, not in order to provide us with a scientific treatise but in order to state the correct relationship of man with God and with the universe. Sacred Scripture wishes simply to declare that the world was created by God, and in order to teach this truth, it expresses itself in the terms of the cosmology in use at the time of the writer. The sacred book likewise wishes to tell men that the world was not created as the seat of the gods, as was taught by other cosmogonies and cosmologies, but was rather created for the service of man and the glory of God. Any other teaching about the origin and makeup of the universe is alien to the intentions of the Bible, which does not wish to teach how heaven was made but how one goes to heaven.

Roman Catholic Church (1996)

Message to Pontifical Academy of Sciences
October 22, 1996


To the Members of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences taking part in the Plenary Assembly

With great pleasure I address cordial greetings to you, Mr President, and to all of you who constitute the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, on the occasion of your plenary assembly. I offer my best wishes in particular to the new academicians, who have come to take part in your work for the first time. I would also like to remember the academicians who died during the past year, whom I commend to the Lord of life.

1. In celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Academy's refoundation, I would like to recall the intentions of my predecessor Pius XI, who wished to surround himself with a select group of scholars, relying on them to inform the Holy See in complete freedom about developments in scientific research, and thereby to assist him in his reflections.

He asked those whom he called the Church's Senatus scientificus to serve the truth. I again extend this same invitation to you today, certain that we will all be able to profit from the fruitfulness of a trustful dialogue between the Church and science (cf. Address to the Academy of Sciences, n. 1, 28 October 1986, L'Osservatore Romano English edition, 24 November 1986, p. 22).

Science at the dawn of the third millennium

2. I am pleased with the first theme you have chosen, that of the origins of life and evolution, an essential subject which deeply interests the Church, since Revelation, for its part, contains teaching concerning the nature and origins of man. How do the conclusions reached by the various scientific disciplines coincide with those contained in the message of Revelation? And if, at first sight, there are apparent contradictions, in what direction do we look for their solution? We know, in fact, that truth cannot contradict truth (cf. Leo XIII, Encyclical Providentissimus Deus). Moreover, to shed greater light on historical truth, your research on the Church's relations with science between the 16th and 18th centuries is of great importance.

During this plenary session' you are undertaking a "reflection on science at the dawn of the third millennium", starting with the identification of the principal problems created by the sciences and which affect humanity's future. With this step you point the way to solutions which will be beneficial to the whole human community. In the domain of inanimate and animate nature, the evolution of science and its applications gives rise to new questions. The better the Church's knowledge is of their essential aspects, the more she will understand their impact. Consequently, in accordance with her specific mission she will. be able to offer criteria for discerning the moral conduct required of all human beings in view of their integral salvation.

3. Before offering you several reflections that more specifically concern the subject of the origin of life and its evolution, I would like to remind you that the Magisterium of the Church has already made pronouncements on these matters within the framework of her own competence. I will cite here two interventions.

In his Encyclical Humani generis (1950), my predecessor Pius XII had already stated that there was no opposition between evolution and the doctrine of the faith about man and his vocation, on condition that one did not lose sight of several indisputable points (cf. AAS 42 [1950], pp. 575-576).

For my part, when I received those taking part in your Academy's plenary assembly on 31 October 1992, I had the opportunity, with regard to Galileo, to draw attention to the need of a rigorous hermeneutic for the correct interpretation of the inspired word. It is necessary to determine the proper sense of Scripture, while avoiding any unwarranted interpretations that make it say what it does not intend to say. In order to delineate the field of their own study, the exegete and the theologian must keep informed about the results achieved by the natural sciences (cf. AAS 85 [1993] pp. 764-772; Address to the Pontifical Biblical Commission, 23 April 1993, announcing the document on The interpretation of the Bible in the Church: AAS 86 [1994] pp. 232-243).

Evolution and the Church's Magisterium

4. Taking into account the state of scientific research at the time as well as of the requirements of theology, the Encyclical Humani generis considered the doctrine of "evolutionism" a serious hypothesis, worthy of investigation and in-depth study equal to that of the opposing hypothesis. Pius XII added two methodological conditions: that this opinion should not be adopted as though it were a certain, proven doctrine and as though one could totally prescind from Revelation with regard to the questions it raises. He also spelled out the condition on which this opinion would be compatible with the Christian faith, a point to which I will return.

Today, almost half a century after the publication of the Encyclical, fresh knowledge has led to the recognition that evolution is more than a hypothesis. It is indeed remarkable that this theory has been progressively accepted by researchers, following a series of discoveries in various fields of knowledge. The convergence, neither sought nor fabricated, of the results of work that was conducted independently is in itself a significant argument in favour of this theory.

What is the significance of such a theory? To address this question is to enter the field of epistemology. A theory is a metascientific elaboration, distinct from the results of observation but consistent with them. By means of it a series of independent data and facts can be related and interpreted in a unified explanation. A theory's validity depends on whether or not it can be verified, it is constantly tested against the facts; wherever it can no longer explain the latter, it shows its limitations and unsuitability. It must then be rethought.

Furthermore, while the formulation of a theory like that of evolution complies with the need for consistency with the observed data, it borrows certain notions from natural philosophy. And, to tell the truth, rather than the theory of evolution, we should speak of several theories of evolution. On the one hand, this plurality has to do with the different explanations advanced for the mechanism of evolution, and on the other, with the various philosophies on which it is based. Hence the existence of materialist, reductionist and spiritualist interpretations. What is to be decided here is the true role of philosophy and, beyond it, of theology.

5. The Church's Magisterium is directly concerned with the question of evolution, for it involves the conception of man: Revelation teaches us that he was created in the image and likeness of God (cf. Gn 1:27-29). The conciliar Constitution Gaudium et spes has magnificently explained this doc, tri, ne, which is pivotal to Christian thought. It recalled that man is :the only creature on earth that God has wanted for its own sake" (n. 24). In other terms, the human individual cannot be subordinated as a pure means or a pure instrument, either to the species or to society, he has value per se. He is a person. With his intellect and his will, he is capable of forming a relationship of communion, solidarity and self-giving with his peers. St Thomas observes that man's likeness to God resides especially in his speculative intellect for his relationship with the object of his knowledge resembles God's relationship with what he has created (Summa Theologica, I-II, q. 3, a. 5, ad 1). But even more, man is called to enter into a relationship of knowledge and love with God himself, a relationship which will find its complete fulfilment beyond time, in eternity. All the depth and grandeur of this vocation are revealed to us in the mystery of the risen Christ (cf. Gaudium et spes, n. 22). It is by virtue of his spiritual soul that the whole person possesses such a dignity even in his body. Pius XII stressed this essential point: if the human body takes its origin from pre-existent living matter the spiritual soul is immediately created by God ("animal enim a Deo immediate creari catholica fides nos retinere inhet"; Encyclical Humani generic, AAS 42 [1950], p. 575).

Consequently, theories of evolution which, in accordance with the philosophies inspiring them, consider the mind as emerging from the forces of living matter, or as a mere epiphenomenon of this matter, are incompatible with the truth about man. Nor are they able to ground the dignity of the person.

6. With man, then, we find ourselves in the presence of an ontological difference, an ontological leap, one could say. However, does not the posing of such ontological discontinuity run counter to that physical continuity which seems to be the main thread of research into evolution in the field of physics and chemistry? Consideration of the method used in the various branches of knowledge makes it possible to reconcile two points of view which would seem irreconcilable. The sciences of observation describe and measure the multiple manifestations of life with increasing precision and correlate them with the time line. The moment of transition into the spiritual cannot be the object of this kind of observation, which nevertheless can discover at the experimental level a series of very valuable signs indicating what is specific to the human being. But the experience of metaphysical knowledge, of self-awareness and self-reflection, of moral conscience, freedom, or again, of aesthetic and religious experience, falls within the competence of philosophical analysis and reflection while theology brings out its ultimate meaning according to the Creator's plans.

We are called to enter eternal life

7. In conclusion, I would like to call to mind a Gospel truth which can shed a higher light on the horizon of your research into the origins and unfolding of living matter. The Bible in fact bears an extraordinary message of life. It gives us a wise vision of life inasmuch as it describes the loftiest forms of existence. This vision guided me in the Encyclical which I dedicated to respect for human life, and which I called precisely Evangelium vitae.

It is significant that in St John's Gospel life refers to the divine light which Christ communicates to us. We are called to enter into eternal life, that is to say, into the eternity of divine beatitude.

To warn us against the serious temptations threatening us, our Lord quotes the great saying of Deuteronomy: "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God" (Dt 8:3, cf. Mt 4:4).

Even more, "life" is one of the most beautiful titles which the Bible attributes to God. He is the living God.

I cordially invoke an abundance of divine blessings upon you and upon all who are close to you.

The United Methodist Church (2008) *

We recognize science as a legitimate interpretation of God’s natural world. We affirm the validity of the claims of science in describing the natural world and in determining what is scientific. We preclude science from making authoritative claims about theological issues and theology from making authoritative claims about scientific issues. We find that science’s descriptions of cosmological, geological, and biological evolution are not in conflict with theology. We recognize medical, technical, and scientific technologies as legitimate uses of God’s natural world when such use enhances human life and enables all of God’s children to develop their God-given creative potential without violating our ethical convictions about the relationship of humanity to the natural world. We reexamine our ethical convictions as our understanding of the natural world increases. We find that as science expands human understanding of the natural world, our understanding of the mysteries of God’s creation and word are enhanced.

In acknowledging the important roles of science and technology, however, we also believe that theological understandings of human experience are crucial to a full understanding of the place of humanity in the universe. Science and theology are complementary rather than mutually incompatible. We therefore encourage dialogue between the scientific and theological communities and seek the kind of participation that will enable humanity to sustain life on earth and, by God’s grace, increase the quality of our common lives together.

The United Methodist Church (2008) *

WHEREAS, The United Methodist Church has for many years supported the separation of church and State (¶ 164C, Book of Discipline, 2004, p. 119);

Therefore, be it resolved, that the General Conference of The United Methodist Church go on record as opposing the introduction of any faith-based theories such as Creationism or Intelligent Design into the science curriculum of our public schools.

Union for Reform Judaism *

Background

Objective scientific process should not be subverted to serve political or ideological goals. In recent years, however, substantial evidence has surfaced indicating that policymakers within the federal government are attempting to suppress objective scientific evidence, to distort scientific findings and to appoint or place individuals in a variety of positions in order to promote a political and ideological agenda. Such concerns have been raised in various contexts, perhaps most notably in areas affecting our nation's environment and public health. These concerns have been documented in the newspapers, congressional hearings and reports from respected scientific organizations such as the National Academy of Sciences and the Union of Concerned Scientists. These investigations document several ways in which science is being misused: through efforts to suppress or distort scientific findings, through the appointment of scientists and researchers who meet certain political and ideological rather than professional criteria, through funding politically self-serving scientific studies and through the intimidation of scientists. These alarming efforts undermine the integrity of the scientific process.

The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) recently conducted an investigation into allegations of the politicization of science within the federal government, which found evidence suggesting a systematic effort to suppress and distort scientific findings in order to promote certain political ends. For example, according to the UCS, under pressure from the White House, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) replaced a web site fact sheet containing information on proper condom use, the efficacy of different types of condoms, and a study showing that condom education does not lead to an increase in sexual activity with information on condom failure and the value of abstinence. Additionally, information suggesting a link between breast cancer and abortion was posted on the National Cancer Institute's web site against the objection of CDC staff who denounced such information as long-refuted and unsubstantiated.

The same report indicates that the Bush administration delayed for nine months an EPA report (eventually leaked) that indicated that 8 percent of women between the ages of 16 and 49 have blood mercury levels that could lead to reduced I.Q. and motor skills in their offspring. When new rules of mercury emissions were finally released by the EPA, at least 12 paragraphs were transferred, sometimes verbatim, from a legal document prepared by industry attorneys.

Additionally, several reports commissioned by Representative Henry Waxman (D-CA)5 have documented numerous distortions of science by the executive branch, including the widespread incorporation of erroneous, politicized information in federally funded abstinence-only curricula. Some of these misrepresentations include inaccurate statistics about contraception, a false linkage between abortions and breast cancer, the labeling of a 43-day-old fetus as a "thinking person" and the notion that "sweat and tears" can transmit HIV. There is also growing use of political litmus tests for scientific appointees, who, reports indicate, have been asked about their political affiliations rather than their professional credentials. For example, the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering and the Institute of Medicine released a report in the Winter of 2005 entitled "Ensuring the Best Presidential and Federal Advisory Committee Science and Technology Appointments." Among their recommendations was that "it is no more appropriate to ask S&T [Science and Technology] experts to provide irrelevant information — such as voting record, political-party affiliation or position on particular policies — than to ask them other personal and immaterial information, such as hair color or height."

Furthermore, the scientific theory of evolution is being challenged in school districts and the courts by proponents of "intelligent design." According to the Discovery Institute, a Seattle-based organization that is a leading intelligent design (ID) proponent, "The theory of intelligent design holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection."

ID proponents are increasingly, and with success, seeking to use public schools to advance this concept, suggesting that "intelligent design" holds scientific merit equal to the theory of evolution. The overwhelming majority of the scientific community, which supports theories that are testable by experiment or observation, oppose treating ID, which is neither, as scientific theory. A 1999 report by the National Academy of Sciences states, "Creationism, intelligent design, and other claims of supernatural intervention in the origin of life or of species are not science because they are not testable by the methods of science." Public officials have supported public schools teaching intelligent design alongside evolution in science curricula.

There are several legislative proposals seeking to prevent the obstruction of federally funded scientific research, censoring findings, or disseminating scientific information known to be false or misleading. Politicizing science is antithetical to Jewish values. Maimonides notes, "The spiritual perfection of a person consists in becoming an intelligent being — one who knows all that he [or she] is capable of learning. And such knowledge is obtained not by virtue or piety, but through inquiry and research." The scientific process requires the generation and analysis of objective data. The insertion of politics and ideology into science represents the subversion of that process.

THEREFORE, the Union for Reform Judaism resolves to:

  1. Demand that public officials and appointees to governmental and advisory bodies respect the integrity of the scientific process and not manipulate scientific data and evidence to achieve political or ideological objectives;
  2. Call upon all levels of government to ensure that the appointment of scientists to government positions and advisory boards be made on the basis of scientific experience, expertise and accomplishment;
  3. Demand that federal funding of scientific research result from a merit-based peer review of proposals, relying strictly upon scientifically objective criteria;
  4. Demand that government-employed scientists and scientists conducting research under government sponsorship be free from threats and intimidation that might compromise their scientific integrity;
  5. Support appropriate measures to ensure that all of the above principles are adhered to and valued; and
  6. Oppose government efforts and policies that seek to redefine science or the scientific method to incorporate religious, theological or other theories, including "intelligent design" and creationism, that are neither testable by experiment nor observation.

Unitarian Universalist Association (1977)

Whereas, currently there are efforts being made to insert the creation story of Genesis into public school science textbooks; and

Whereas,such action would be in direct contradiction with the concept of separation of church and state;

Therefore be it resolved: That the 1977 General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association goes on record as opposing such efforts.

Be it further resolved: That individual societies are urged to immediately provide petitions on the subject to be signed by members and sent to their legislators; and

Be it further resolved: That this resolution be forwarded to the textbook selection committee of each state department of education by the Department of Ministerial and Congregational Services.

Unitarian Universalist Association (1982)

Whereas, the constitutional principles of religious liberty and the separation of church and state that safeguards liberty, and the ideal of a pluralistic society are under increasing attack in the Congress of the United States, in state legislatures, and in some sectors of the communications media by a combination of sectarian and secular special interests;

Be it resolved: That the 1982 General Assembly of UUA reaffirms its support for these principles and urges the Board of Trustees and President of the Association, member societies, and Unitarian Universalists in the United States to: ... 2. Uphold religious neutrality in public education, oppose all government mandated or sponsored prayers, devotional observances, and religious indoctrination in public schools; and oppose efforts to compromise the integrity of public school teaching by the introduction of sectarian religious doctrines, such as "scientific creationism," and by exclusion of educational materials on sectarian grounds. ...

United Church Board for Homeland Ministries

I. Background On The Creationism Issue

Creationism is a relatively recent development in an older and on-going controversy concerning the relationship between science and religion. In the 1920's the teaching about evolution in public schools (specifically the work of Charles Darwin) was challenged on the basis of perceived conflict with biblical teaching. In Tennessee John Scopes was convicted of violating a law which made it "illegal ... to teach any theory that denies the story of the divine creation of man as taught in the Bible, and to teach instead that man has descended from a lower order of animals." Although the conviction was overturned on a technicality, the Tennessee Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the law which was not repealed until 1967.

The central issue in challenges such as this is the apparent conflict between scientific explanations about the origins of life, even the cosmos itself, and biblical accounts of creation. Science and religion often are perceived as being in basic conflict concerning creation.

In more recent decades, the debate has taken a new twist. While still opposing the scientific theories of evolution concerning the origins of life, a number of persons began to suggest that certain scientific data and/or approaches could 'prove' the validity of biblical accounts concerning creation. In the 1960's and early 1970's, several organizations were formed to promote the idea that the creation accounts recorded in the book of Genesis were supported by scientific data. The terms "creation-science," "scientific creationism," and "creationism" are used to describe this interpretation of scripture.

This movement took on more focused activity in 1977 when over twenty state legislatures recorded bills requiring teaching of "creation-science" when evolution was taught. This "balanced treatment" proposition was passed as model legislation by the Arkansas Legislature in 1981.

Opponents of the Act, including religious leaders, educators, and scientists, challenged the constitutionality of the Act in the federal courts (McLean v Arkansas Board of Education) and in 1982 the law was declared unconstitutional. A similar law was passed in Louisiana and litigation went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. The court in Edwards v Aguillard declared the law unconstitutional in 1987. the Supreme Court decision has been applied in subsequent cases involving individual teachers who chose to teach "creation-science" outside the curriculum. Federal courts declared that teaching "creation-science" was a religious advocacy and, therefore, unconstitutional. Courts have taken special care to protect the religious independence of students in the public schools.

Since the Supreme Court decision in Edwards, creationists have concentrated their efforts at the level of the local school board, where they pressure educators to teach "creation-science," omit or qualify the teaching of evolution, and/or adopt textbooks that exclude evolution. Additional terms for "creation-science," such as "abrupt appearance theory" or "intelligent design theory" are attempts to avoid the constitutional issue of religious advocacy. However, beyond the notion of "equal time" other issues are emerging. The attempts to use scientific data and methods to prove certain biblical claims are raising concerns among many educators and scientists about the integrity of scientific inquiry itself and what students may be learning about the nature and role of science. Science and scientific methods can be abused by setting out to prove certain assumptions rather than allowing even those assumptions to be open to inquiry and discussion.

The concerns over current activities by creationists touch basic affirmations about the public school made by the United Church Board for Homeland Ministries. The effort to make creationism part of the science curriculum in the public schools tests our commitments to the public school, excellence in education, the integrity of science, and academic freedom. It also tests our interpretation of the Bible and our belief in God's unlimited creative powers.

It is therefore appropriate amidst this controversy for the United Church Board to work with members of the United Church of Christ and others to understand this issue from the perspective of our religious and educational traditions. We mean to assist persons to participate fearlessly in open inquiry, debate, and action concerning the goals of education; to understand the role of science, including an appropriate relationship between science and faith; to help develop consensus in public policy issues affecting the public school; and to support academic freedom at all levels of the educational experience.

II. Affirmations

1) We testify to our belief that the historic Christian doctrine of the Creator God does not depend upon any particular account of the origins of life for its truth and validity. The effort of the creationists to change the book of Genesis into a scientific treatise dangerously obscures what we believe to be the theological purpose of Genesis, viz., to witness to the creation, meaning, and significance of the universe and of human existence under the governance of God. The assumption that the Bible contains scientific data about origins misreads a literature which emerged in a pre-scientific age.

2) We acknowledge modern evolutionary theory as the best present-day scientific explanation of the existence of life on earth; such a conviction is in no way at odds with our belief in a Creator God, or in the revelation and presence of that God in Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.

3) We affirm the freedom of conscience and freedom of religion set forth and protected in the U.S. Constitution, including the right of the creationists to their religious beliefs.

4) We believe that the nurturing of faith and religious commitment is the responsibility of the church and home, not of the public school. No person or group should use the school to compel the teaching or acceptance of any creed or to impose conformity to any specific religious belief or practice. Requiring the teaching of the religious beliefs of creationists in the public school violates this basic principle of American democracy. We concur with judicial rulings that the teaching of the religious beliefs of the creationists in the public school science curriculum is unconstitutional.

5) We assert that the public school science curriculum is not the proper arena for the expression of religious doctrine. However, we believe that the public school does have the responsibility to teach about religion, in order to help individuals formulate an intelligent understanding and appreciation of the role of religion in the life and culture of all people and nations. In this context, it is fully appropriate for the public school to include in its non-science curriculum consideration of the variety of religious literature about the creation and origins of human life.

6) We reaffirm our historic commitment to the public school, and declare that each student has the right to an education which rests firmly on the best understandings of the academic community.

7) We affirm our historic commitment to academic freedom in the public school; in that context, the open and full search for truth about all issues in science including creation must proceed in the light of responsible scholarship and research, subject always to the process of peer review, and of factual and logical verification, and of scientific replication.

8) We reject any modification of science textbooks to include the point of view of the creationists or that weakens scientific teachings, and we support publishers who resist this effort. To do otherwise would abridge both academic freedom and the customary practices of careful scholarship.

9) We affirm the responsibility of professional educators to make final decisions about the public school curriculum. These decisions should be based on sound scholarship, competent teaching practices, and policies of local and state school boards which are accountable to the public and in keeping with judicial decisions upholding Constitutional values.

III. Recommendations

1) That through study and discussion we, as church people, become informed about issues of creation raised by both science and religion, including the "creation-science" controversy.

2) That we urge pastors and teachers to preach and teach about issues of creation, particularly the ways of understanding the first eleven chapters of Genesis, the first chapter of the Gospel of John, and other relevant Scripture passages. We further urge pastors and teachers to teach about the problems of biblical literalism in blocking creative dialogue between the faith community and contemporary educational, scientific, and political communities.

3) That we support the determination of schools, school boards, and textbook publishers to retain their professional integrity in treating the creationism issue, carefully recognizing the distinction between promoting religion and teaching about religion.

4) That we make all efforts to resist any viewpoint which would maintain that belief in both a Creator God and in evolutionary theory are in any way incompatible. Confident in our conviction that God is the ultimate source of all wisdom and truth, we encourage the free development of science and all other forms of intellectual inquiry.

5) That clergy and laity exercise their civic responsibility to monitor the work of state legislatures, taking care that any discussion of proposed "creation-science" legislation include educational and constitutional questions, and affirming that such legislation is a violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution.

6) That informed persons, including clergy and laity, in each community monitor the work of local school boards and state departments of education, so that issues of 'creation-science" may be discussed fully and openly if and when they come to their agendas. In communities being divided by the creationism controversy, we ask our people to be both a source of reconciliation and a community of support for those who oppose efforts to present creationism as a science.

7) That concerned educators and citizens work with teachers to support their efforts to teach their disciplines with integrity, rather than omit subjects such as evolution as a way of avoiding controversy.

9) That the church renew efforts to understand and relate to science and technology, not only to comprehend and respond to issues of controversy, but also to discover new way, s o, f appreciating and expressing God's creative and redeem, ing activity.

IV. For Further Reading

Ronald S. Cole Turner, An Unavoidable Challenge: Our Church in an Age of Science and Technology, a Foundation Paper on science and technology as a lifelong issue for education, available from the Division of Education and Publication, UCBHM, Cleveland.

Langdon Gilkey, Creationism on Trial: Evolution & God at Little Rock, Harper & Row, 1985.

Betty McCollister, ed., Voices for Evolution, the National Center for Science Education, Inc. (P.O. Box 9477, Berkeley, CA 94709

United Methodist Church

Whereas, "Scientific" creationism seeks to prove that natural history conforms absolutely to the Genesis account of origins; and,

Whereas, adherence to immutable theories is fundamentally antithetical to the nature of science; and,

Whereas, "Scientific" creationism seeks covertly to promote a particular religious dogma; and,

Whereas, the promulgation of religious dogma in public schools is contrary to the First Amendment to the United States Constitution; therefore,

Be it resolved that The Iowa Annual Conference opposes efforts to introduce "Scientific" creationism into the science curriculum of the public schools.

United Presbyterian Church in the USA (1982)

I. Resolution

Whereas, The Program Agency of the United Presbyterian Church in the USA notes with concern a concerted effort to introduce legislation and other means for the adoption of a public school curriculum variously known as "Creationism" or "Creation Science,"

Whereas, over several years, fundamentalist church leadership, resourced by the Creation Science Research Center and the Institute for Creation Research, has prepared legislation for a number of states calling for "balanced treatment" for "creation-science" and "evolution-science," requiring that wherever one is taught the other must be granted a comparable presentation in the classroom;

Whereas, this issue represents a new situation, there are General Assembly policies on Church and State and Public Education which guide us to assert once again that the state cannot legislate the establishment of religion in the public domain;

Whereas, the dispute is not really over biology or faith, but is essentially about Biblical interpretation, particularly over two irreconcilable viewpoints regarding the characteristics of Biblical literature and the nature of Biblical authority:

Therefore, the Program Agency recommends to the 194th General Assembly (1982) the adoption of the following affirmation:

Affirms that, despite efforts to establish "creationism" or "creation-science" as a valid science, it is teaching based upon a particular religious dogma as agreed by the court (McLean vs Arkansas Board of Education);

Affirms that, the imposition of a fundamentalist viewpoint about the interpretation of Biblical literature — where every word is taken with uniform literalness and becomes an absolute authority on all matters, whether moral, religious, political, historical or scientific — is in conflict with the perspective on Biblical interpretation characteristically maintained by Biblical scholars and theological schools in the mainstream of Protestantism, Roman Catholicism and Judaism. Such scholars find that the scientific theory of evolution does not conflict with their interpretation of the origins of life found in Biblical literature.

Affirms that, academic freedom of both teachers and students is being further limited by the impositions of the campaign most notably in the modification of textbooks which limits the teaching about evolution but also by the threats to the professional authority and freedom of teachers to teach and students to learn;

Affirms that, required teaching of such a view constitutes an establishment of religion and a violation of the separation of church and state, as provided in the First Amendment to the Constitution and laws of the United States;

Affirms that, exposure to the Genesis account is best sought through the teaching about religion, history, social studies and literature, provinces other than the discipline of natural science, and

Calls upon Presbyterians, and upon legislators and school board members, to resist all efforts to establish any requirements upon teachers and schools to teach "creationism" or "creation science."

United Presbyterian Church in the USA (1983)

Current efforts to legislate the teaching of "creation-science" in the public school challenge and violate basic principles which guide public schools and their responsibility for education of a public that is characterized by its cultural pluralism. These basic principles are grounded both in law (General Welfare Clause of Section 8, Article 1, of U.S. Constitution) and in the Reformed understanding that human response to God's gracious calling is expressed through faithfulness, freedom, and self-determination amidst different claims and alternatives. This Reformed understanding is set forth in the public policy position on public education adopted by the 119th General Assembly:

The biblical impetus toward growth for faith and justice is reaffirmed in the theological stance of the Reformed tradition. This impetus calls for a unique combination of teaching learning experiences: in home, in church, and in public education.

Persons are called "to glorify God and enjoy him forever." Within the Reformed tradition, this calling is God's act of grace. On the Christian's side the act of grace is affirmed through commitment. But commitment is not simply the acceptance of the truth of certain doctrinal statements. It is much more the embodiment of the lifestyle of Jesus. This embodiment takes place in the everyday struggle to make decisions about the common life of God's creatures. Decision-making implies the freedom of self-determination. It calls for consciousness of alternatives and their consequences. Growth in self-determination is thus best achieved in a setting where alternate loyalties are experienced and reflected upon and where the freedom to create new alternatives is not only permitted but encouraged. Pluralism comprises such a setting, and the public school is the context of pluralism which provides an appropriate atmosphere for growth and development toward the maturity of decision-making and commitment.

In addition, Christian love and respect for persons demand that all persons be free to search for the truth wherever they may find it. This free search for truth which is essential to maturity calls for an appreciation and respect for all human efforts toward justice and love. When public education is not restricted by theological positions or secular ideologies, it provides such an arena for free inquiry and appreciation of all efforts toward humanization.

The Reformed tradition seeks, therefore, to sustain and support all efforts toward the removal of ignorance and bigotry and toward the establishment of free institutions as a source of a high degree of social stability. Public education can be such a free institution where ignorance and bigotry are challenged.*

The creation-science controversy thus touches basic tenets that are deeply rooted in the nation and in the Reformed tradition. Our primary intent is to contribute to moral discourse, as these issues are debated within the community of faith as well as within the scientific and educational communities. Our purpose is to help people consider how to think rather than to dictate what they are to think.

The goals of this dialogue are to develop public policies which both safeguard individual freedom and contribute to the public good and which strengthen the public school as one of society's most essential institutions, serving all the people. We would mark the discrete functions of the church and the school, while at the same time acknowledging their common commitment to the development of persons and to the formation of a just and humane society.

We accept a responsibility to participate in the education of the public on the issues raised by the creationism controversy and in the continuing formation of public policy affecting the public school. We make these affirmations and offer recommendations for consideration by synods, presbyteries, congregations, and the various publics represented in their membership.

Affirmations

1. As citizens of the United States, we are firmly committed to the right and freedom of conscience and freedom of religion, that is, freedom of each citizen in the determination of his or her religious allegiance, and the freedom of religious groups and institutions in the declaration of their beliefs.

2. As Christians, we believe every individual has the right to an education aimed at the full development of the individual's capacities as a human being created by God, including both intellect and character. We also believe that we have the responsibility to educate and thus will seek maximum educational opportunities for every child of God, that all persons may be prepared for responsible participation in the common life.

3. We affirm that each individual has the right to an education which recognizes rather than obscures the ethnic, racial and religious pluralism of our country and which prepares persons for life in the emerging world culture of the 21st century. Such an education views the individual as a whole person for whom discursive intellect, aesthetic sensitivity and moral perspective are intimately related.

4. We reaffirm our historic commitment to the public school as one of the basic educational institutions of the society. We celebrate its inclusiveness and its role as a major cohesive force, carrying our hopes for a fully democratic and pluralistic society. We further reaffirm the responsibility of public institutions to serve all the population as equitably as possible, neglecting none as expendable or undeserving of educational opportunity.

5. We affirm our faith that God is the author of truth and the Holy Spirit is present in all of our common life, to lead us all into truth. Ours is a journey of faith and of revelation in which the human spirit is fed and led but not coerced.

6. We believe that the nurturing of faith is the responsibility of the home and the church, not the public school. Neither the church nor the state should use the public school to compel acceptance of any creed or conformity to any specific religious belief or practice.

7. We affirm the professional responsibility of educators to make judgments about school curriculum which are based on sound scholarship and sound teaching practices.

8. We affirm that it is inappropriate for the state to mandate the teaching of the specific religious beliefs of the creationists in accord with the Overton ruling (McLean vs Arkansas Board of Education). We also affirm the responsibility of the public school to teach about religious beliefs, ideas and values as an integral part of our cultural heritage. We believe the public school has an obligation to help individuals formulate an intelligent understanding and appreciation of the role of religion in the life of people of all cultures. In the context of teaching about religion, it is appropriate to include in the public school curriculum consideration of the variety of religious interpretations of creation and the origins of human life.

9. We affirm our uncompromising commitment to academic freedom, that is, freedom to teach and to learn. Access to ideas and opportunities to consider the broad range of questions and experiences which constitute the proper preparation for a life of responsible citizenship must never be defined by the interests of any single viewpoint or segment of the public.

10. We acknowledge the need to enlarge the public participation in open inquiry, debate and action concerning the goals of education, and in the development of those educational reforms which equip children, youth and adults with equal opportunities to participate fully in the society. This participation must respect the constitutional and intellectual rights guaranteed school personnel and students by our law and tradition.

11. We pledge our continuing efforts to strengthen the public school as the most valuable, open, and accessible institution for formal education for all the people; we assert that educational needs are more important than economic, political and religious ideologies as the basis upon which to formulate educational policies.

12. We affirm anew our faith and oneness in Christ, the way, the truth and the life, as we struggle to make a faithful witness amid the conflict of convictions and conclusions between sisters and brothers who bear a common name.

Recommendations

For Congregations

1. That the General Assembly encourage congregations to study the issues in the creation-science controversy, giving particular attention to:
  • the historic role of the churches in the founding and developing of the public school.
  • the diversity of belief about creation and human origin present in our society.
  • the principles and assumptions which guide the development of the science curriculum in the public school and the use of scientific inquiry within all disciplines and subjects.
  • the essentials of the church-state issues as they apply to the public school, including a review of the major U.S. Supreme Court decisions and the recent court decisions on the creationism issue (i.e. McLean vs Arkansas Board of Education).
  • the processes of policymaking for the public school including the appropriate roles of the community, the educator, the parent, and the church.
2. That the General Assembly urge congregations to encourage local school boards to discuss issues of creation-science fully and openly, if and when they come onto the board's agenda.

3. That the General Assembly urge congregations to encourage and assist teachers and administrators in becoming sensitive to the religious perspectives of all persons in the schools, without sacrificing their professional commitments and standards regarding the teaching of science and teaching about religion.

4. That the General Assembly encourage congregations in communities divided by the creationism controversy to work for reconciliation and to provide a community of support for those struggling to keep the schools free of ideological indoctrination.

5. That the General Assembly encourage pastors and Christian educators to help their congregations to interpret the biblical passages dealing with creation and the origins of human life in ways that take their message seriously.

6. That the Mission Board provide study resources including the study paper prepared by the United Ministries in Education, "Creationism, the Church, and the Public School." (The paper is available from United Ministries in Education, c/o American Baptist Churches, Valley Forge, PA 19481.)

7. That the General Assembly commend the paper, "The Dialogue Between Theology and Science" (adopted by the 122nd General Assembly), as a study document addressing the basic issues related to the ongoing debate regarding the teaching of evolution and creationism in public schools.

For Synods and Presbyteries

8. That the General Assembly encourage synods and presbyteries to give attention to the work of state legislatures and their committees, taking care that any discussion of proposed creation-science legislation include broader educational, religious, and constitutional questions, and to join with others to have creation-science legislation declared unconstitutional when it is in violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

9. That the General Assembly urge synods and presbyteries to encourage educators and citizens to examine the textbooks being used now in the public schools for the adequacy of their teaching about creation and evolution and about the differing religious perspective and interpretations of origins, and to resist every effort to purge or discredit data which are held to be part of our common history and heritage.

10. That the General Assembly encourage presbyteries to provide in resource centers information about creation-science, evolution-science and related public school issues.