Preaching Darwin

Yesterday, for those of you who missed it–and that would include me–was Evolution Sunday, a day on which “ministers at several hundred churches around the country preached … against recent efforts to undermine the theory of evolution,” according to this story in The New York Times.

Evolution Sunday evolved (sorry) from the Clergy Letter Project, which was initiated last year by clergy and academics in Wisconsin in response to efforts to discredit the teaching of evolutionary theory in public schools.

“There was a growing need to demonstrate that the loud, shrill voices of fundamentalists claiming that Christians had to choose between modern science and religion were presenting a false dichotomy,” Michael Zimmerman, dean of the College of Letters and Sciences at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh and the major organizer of the letter project, told the Times.

“Mr. Zimmerman said more than 10,000 ministers had signed the letter, which states, in part, that the theory of evolution is ‘a foundational scientific truth.’ To reject it, the letter continues, ‘is to deliberately embrace scientific ignorance and transmit such ignorance to our children.’ ”

I accept the theory fo evolution. Denying it seems akin to denying the theory of gravity. But I can’t really see the point in preaching on evolution any more than I can see the point of preaching on gravity. I accept that God uses evolution for divine purposes, but I don’t pretend to understand why or what this tells us about the nature of God.

Come to think of it, then, I guess I’d love to hear a sermon that took that issue seriously, but I’d be a lot less interested in hearing another critique of the Intelligent Design movement.

Speaking of which, Shankar Vedantam of The Washington Post Magazine has written an excellent cover story about what is at stake theologically in the debate over Darwin’s work. He also fielded questions in an online chat.

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