ISSR adds its voice for evolution



The International Society for Science and Religion recently adopted a statement on the concept of "intelligent design," describing it as "neither sound science nor good theology." The statement continues, "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."


The authors of the statement -- Denis Alexander, Munawar Anees, Martinez Hewlett, Ronald L. Numbers (chairing the committee), Holmes Rolston III, NCSE Supporter Michael Ruse, and Jeffrey Schloss -- 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. Founded in 2001, the International Society for Science and Religion seeks to facilitate scholarly dialogue between science and religion, which it describes as "one of the most important current areas of debate in terms of understanding the nature of humanity." Membership in ISSR is by invitation only; its small but distinguished membership includes NCSE's Director of Religious Community Outreach Peter M. J. Hess.

The British religious thinktank Ekklesia welcomed the ISSR's statement. In a February 7, 2008, press release, Ekklesia's co-director Simon Barrow described it as "a very important development," adding that "intelligent design" "brings the proper engagement of religion and science into disrepute, and benefits those who wish to pursue dubious ideological agendas at the expense of a common search for truth and wisdom." Accompanying the press release was Barrow's essay "Theology, science and the problem of ID," which discussed the religious, philosophical, and political context of the ISSR's statement, suggesting, "That one of the world's foremost scholarly organizations devoted to the dialogue between science and religion should come out with such a statement at this time is a very important and encouraging development."