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Acceptance of evolution by religious groups

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Not to be confused with Evolution and religion.

With only 16% of people in the United States polling that they believe in "secular evolution,"[1] the official positions of most churches must be that evolution is wrong and we should not be teaching it, right?

Not quite...

In fact, not...

Judaism[edit]

There are no formal bodies within the Jewish world making doctrine, so the best we can do is look at what various Jewish organizations have had to say.

Rabbinical Council of America[edit]

Largest council of Orthodox rabbis in the US:

...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...
...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.

They also acknowledge that evolution (and no other, associated doctrines) should be taught at secular schools, though they add the right of religious schools to teach what they will.[2]

Central Conference of American Rabbis[edit]

Largest council of Reform and Conservative 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" it is important to teach evolution in the public schools of the US, and to remove any reference to special creation.[3]

Christianity[edit]

Episcopal Church[edit]

While God is the Creator,

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...
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[4]

Lutheran World Federation[edit]

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
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.[5][6]

Presbyterian Church USA[edit]

"God is the Creator," but

there is no contradiction between an evolutionary theory of human origins and the doctrine of God as Creator

And in regards to education,

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.[7]

Roman Catholic Church[edit]

(Note: There are significant reasons to believe this position has been changed by Pope Benedict XVI.)

[The] Bible...does not wish to teach how heaven was made, but how one goes to heaven.

And further,

Today... 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.

Evolution is correct and true *for animals*, but God has directly intervened for humans.[8]

United Methodist Church[edit]

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.[9]

Islam[edit]

There being no central authority for Islam capable of producing definitive statements of doctrine on any subject, and the concept of evolution as presently understood not being the topic of any point on which there is general Islamic consensus (as such consensus, where it exists, formed in the centuries immediately following the religion's birth), there is no definitive way to determine whether Islam "accepts" or "rejects" evolution, and thus the positions of individual Muslims may vary. However, according to Wikipedia, "Evolutionary biology is included in the high-school curricula of most Muslim countries. Science foundations of 14 Muslim countries, including Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, Indonesia, and Egypt, recently signed a statement by the Interacademy Panel (IAP, a global network of science academies), in support of the teaching of evolution, including human evolution."[10]

So who is saying evolution is wrong[edit]

Like most social issues, the loudest voices are not always the most populous. Fundamentalists, often with the support of conservative politicians at local and national levels, are louder and more emphatic than their organized brethren in the above groups. Fundamentalists appeal to people who may belong to formal organizations but do not know of or trust the formal statements regarding evolution. They play on the position of fear and the innate sense humans carry that we are somehow "different" and "special" from all other animals.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. HuffPo: 40 Percent Of Americans Still Believe In Creationism 25 May 2011
  2. December 22nd 2005 1 Kislev 5766
  3. Adopted at the 95th Annual Convention of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, 18-21 June 1984, at Grossinger’s, New York.
  4. Episcopal Church, General Convention, Resolution A, 129. (2006)
  5. Admittedly, this feels more quote mined than the others, as the LWF has not made an unambiguous statement about the veracity of Evolution or it's importance in the education systems
  6. Encyclopedia of the Lutheran Church, as published by the Luteran World Federation, 1965)
  7. 214 General Assembly (2002) of the PCUSA
  8. Magisterium Is Concerned with Question of Evolution For It Involves Conception of Man, Pope John Paul II, 1996
  9. Resolution of the Annual Conference, held in Iowa, 1984
  10. Islamic views on evolution: Muslim societies