Evolution

Evangelicals on Evolution and Creation in SCIENCE

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Science, Vol 309, Issue 5731, 51 , 1 July 2005
Letters

Evangelical Biologists and Evolution

In his Editorial “Twilight for the Enlightenment?” (8 April, p. 165), Donald Kennedy expresses concern that the teaching of evolution is being contested in 40 states. Even though I consider myself an evangelical Christian, I, too, share that concern. I was educated in a fundamentalist school where a literal 6-day creation period was taught. Yet over the years, Ive come to accept Darwinian evolution.

The evangelical Christian public may be mostly anti-evolutionary, but that may not be true of evangelical Christian biologists. Curious as to how these biologists deal with evolution and creation, I wrote to “the Professor of Biology,” at the 104 schools of the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities listed in the CCCU’s Web site. Biologists from six schools refused to participate. Sixty-seven schools responded. Twenty-five percent of the respondents affirmed their belief in a young Earth and a 6-day creation period. Twenty-seven percent hold the theistic evolution position, which accepts the common descent of all living things and believes that God acts through natural laws. The remainder were either reluctant to take a specific stance or were what are called old Earth progressive creationists–Earth is billions of years old, but God acted creatively to bridge the gaps, i.e., between amphibians and reptiles and between reptiles and birds. Five of this group merely sent printed statements of their school’s position affirming its belief in a Creator God, but that there are multiple ways in which he might have done it.

Although deeply divided in their views of evolution and creation, there is what I think is a small but significant trend among fundamentalist Christian biologists toward accepting Darwinian evolution. Hopefully, it will continue and spread to the fundamentalist public.

John C. Sutherland
Atkinson, NE, USA
E-mail: johsut@inebraska.com

3 Replies to “Evangelicals on Evolution and Creation in SCIENCE

  1. 1
    Charlie says:

    John C. Sutherland
    Atkinson, NE, USA
    “…there is what I think is a small but significant trend among fundamentalist Christian biologists toward accepting Darwinian evolution. Hopefully, it will continue and spread to the fundamentalist public.”

    “Yet over the years, Ive come to accept Darwinian evolution.”

    —-
    John seems to be having a Tom Cruise moment here..”I have come to have an opinion, so it must be the right opinion, so hopefully everyone will come to have this opinion.”

    He appears hopeful that, apparently through some proselytizing effort, the masses will be swayed and his beliefs will be accepted by the majority. Is it important that the majority approve what one has come to accept? Is it for the comfort of being safely in that majority, or a desire to see everybody as enlightened as oneself?
    Nothing wrong with such enlightenment, I suppose, since I presume most of us must feel that our beliefs are correct (why else hold a belief ?).
    Or is John just trying to curry favour with those who will see him as a useful fool?
    I guess everyone has beliefs, like opinions, and like, well, you know.

    Someone else can comment on the compatibility of Darwinian evolution and Christianity.

  2. 2
    TomG says:

    “Although deeply divided in their views of evolution and creation, there is what I think is a small but significant trend among fundamentalist Christian biologists toward accepting Darwinian evolution. Hopefully, it will continue and spread to the fundamentalist public.”

    Two questions:

    First, how many of these biologists are “fundamentalist” according to the common use of the word today? (That is, belief in orthodox Christian doctrine coupled with all the additional connotations of opposition to change, anti-intellectualism, etc.)?

    I don’t know enough to impugn Mr. Sutherland, but most well-informed evangelicals are pretty careful of that distinction.

    Second, what is the real evidence of a trend here? Is there evidence of change over time as he has suggested? What if the change over time has actually been in the opposite direction? Do we know?

  3. 3

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