Science and Religion
by Peter M. J. Hess, Director, Religious Community Outreach
In public discussions of evolution and creationism, we are sometimes told by creationists and opponents of religion alike that we must choose between belief in creation and acceptance of the theory of evolution, between religion and science. Is this a fair demand? Is the choice that stark? Can one believe in God and accept evolution? Can one both accept what science teaches and engage in religious belief and practice?
These are complex issues, and deserve thoughtful consideration before a decision is made. Theologians, clergy, scientists, and others belonging to many religious traditions have concluded that their religious views are compatible with evolution, and are even enhanced by the knowledge of nature that science provides. Just as vigorously, other theologians, clergy, and members of other religious traditions reject evolution as contradictory to and thus incompatible with their faith positions. And some nonbelievers argue that the methodology and findings of science are philosophically incompatible with any meaningful form of faith. Passions often run high on all sides.
This section of our website offers resources for exploring a wide array of religious perspectives on scientific questions, and scientific perspectives on topics of interest to various religious groups. We also provide resources for anyone interested in a general exploration of the relationship between science, especially the evolutionary sciences, and religion. One goal of this section of the website is to make the public aware that the dichotomous view represented by creationists and antireligious atheists leaves out a large range of more moderate religious views. We hope that you find these materials useful in considering these important issues.
- God and Evolution
- Reading the Bible
- The Clergy Letter Project
- "Do Scientists Really Reject God?"
- Resources especially for clergy
Resources for Clergy
I. Primarily Science and Theology
Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences (CTNS)
“CTNS is an international non-profit organization dedicated to research, teaching and public service. The central scientific focus of CTNS is on developments in physics, cosmology, evolutionary biology, and genetics, with additional topics in the neurosciences, the environmental sciences, and mathematics. With regard to the theological task, CTNS engages in both Christian and multi-religious reflection. The Christian theological agenda focuses on the various doctrinal loci of systematic theology. The multi-religious agenda attends primarily to theological issues arising from the engagement between the sciences and religious traditions such as Buddhism, Confucianism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Taoism, and indigenous spiritualities.”
International Society for Science and Religion (ISSR)
“Our central aim is the facilitation of dialogue between the two academic disciplines of science and religion, one of the most important current areas of debate in terms of understanding the nature of humanity. This includes both the enhancement of the profile of the science-religion interface in the public eye, as well as the safeguarding of the quality and rigour of the debate in the more formal, academic arena.”
European Society for the Study of Science and Religion (ESSSAT)
“ESSSAT is a scholarly, non-confessional organization, based in Europe, which aims to promote the study of relationships between the natural sciences and theological views. ESSSAT has members from almost every European country as well as members from other continents. They have different confessional backgrounds, and may include believers as well as non-believers and atheists. As scientists, theologians, philosophers and historians they work on a better understanding of the interactions between two of the most powerful human pursuits, namely religion and science.”
Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion, DoSER AAAS
“AAAS established the Program of Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion (DoSER) in 1995 to facilitate communication between scientific and religious communities. The Dialogue builds on AAAS's long-standing commitment to relate scientific knowledge and technological development to the purposes and concerns of society at large. Questions of meaning and religion emerge from our deepening understanding of the natural order. Issues of value and meaning are grounded in the disciplines of ethics and religion. The scientific community needs to be in dialogue with both fields in order to understand the cultural context within which science operates and to respond to the societal issues opened up by scientific discovery and technological development. AAAS provides a uniquely credible forum for that engagement because of its disciplinary breadth.”
“BioLogos invites the church and the world to see the harmony between science and biblical faith as we present an evolutionary understanding of God’s creation.
- We embrace the historical Christian faith, upholding the authority and inspiration of the Bible.
- We affirm evolutionary creation, recognizing God as Creator of all life over billions of years.
- We seek truth, ever learning as we study the natural world and the Bible.
- We strive for humility and gracious dialogue with those who hold other views.
- We aim for excellence in all areas, from science to education to business practices.”
The Institute on Religion in an Age of Science, (IRAS)
“IRAS is a society of natural scientists, social scientists, philosophers, religion scholars, theologians and others who seek to provide a forum for discussing issues of relevance to religion in an age of science.”
II. Primarily Climate Change and Theology
Catholic Climate Covenant (CCC)
“After decades of steady progress in reclaiming and advancing the Catholic Church’s efforts to embrace an ethic of environmental stewardship, the Catholic Climate Covenant (previously, the Catholic Coalition on Climate Change) was formed in 2006 with the support of both the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and the National Religious Partnership for the Environment.”
Young Evangelicals for Climate Action, Y.E.C.A.
“We are young evangelicals in the United States who are coming together and taking action to overcome the climate crisis as part of our Christian discipleship and witness.”
Project NOAH (UK)
“Project Noah is a tool to explore and document wildlife and a platform to harness the power of citizen scientists everywhere.”
The Yale Forum on Religion and Ecology
“The Forum on Religion and Ecology is the largest international multireligious project of its kind. With its conferences, publications, and website it is engaged in exploring religious worldviews, texts, and ethics in order to broaden understanding of the complex nature of current environmental concerns. The Forum recognizes that religions need to be in dialogue with other disciplines (e.g., science, ethics, economics, education, public policy, gender) in seeking comprehensive solutions to both global and local environmental problems.”
The Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL)
“50 Jewish leaders commit to reduce energy use, advocate for energy security: Leaders across the political and religious spectrum celebrate Tu B’shvat by setting goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 14% by 2014.”
Last Rev. 22 June 2012