REASON ADVANCES in small but welcome steps. In the Journal Gazette in Fort Wayne, Indiana, we spotted this article: Methodist advocates evolution. The headline surprised us.
We’ve previously mentioned Statements from Religious Organizations, at the excellent website of Eugenie Scott’s National Center for Science Education, which made it clear — at least to us — that the United Methodist Church hasn’t had a problem with evolution for quite some time, if it ever did.
But then we looked again. Their statement, adopted in 1984, isn’t exactly what we had assumed. It “… opposes efforts to introduce ‘Scientific’ creationism into the science curriculum of the public schools.” That’s fine, but the statement is mostly an affirmation of the First Amendment; it doesn’t really embrace the theory of evolution.
Note the year of that statement, by the way. 1984 was smack in the middle of an earlier creationist campaign to get “equal time for creationism” laws passed in the states. We’ve discussed some of that history here: Creationism: the Unending Crusade.
Anyway, we always assumed the Methodists weren’t anti-evolution, but we read the article in the Journal Gazette to see what was going on now. Here are some excerpts, with bold added for emphasis:
A Fort Wayne man says he has finally nudged the United Methodist Church “into the 21st century” on the subject of evolution.
Al Kuelling, 67, a retired engineer trained in physics, wrote two of three proposals on evolution adopted as church policy at the denomination’s 2008 quadrennial national conference this summer in Fort Worth, Texas.
All right, we’re interested. What happened?
One of Kuelling’s proposals amends the Science and Technology section of the church’s Book of Discipline. It was approved by 80 percent of voting delegates. It now states, in part: “We find that science’s descriptions of cosmological, geological and biological evolution are not in conflict with theology.”
That’s good. Very good. Much better than the earlier statement which merely said that creation “science” doesn’t belong in public schools. What else happened in Fort Worth?
The second proposal, which passed with 96 percent of the vote, was added to the church’s Book of Resolutions. It endorses The Clergy Letter Project led by David Zimmerman, an ecologist and dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Butler University in Indianapolis.
The proposal encourages Methodist pastors to sign an open letter on evolution that affirms that “the timeless truths of the Bible and the discoveries of modern science may comfortably coexist” and supports the teaching of evolution alone in schools instead of as “one theory among others.”
That refers to The Clergy Letter Project, a strong, pro-evolution statement signed by over 11,000 Christian clergymen. We’ve written about it before, most recently here: The Clergy Letter Project: Update.
The article says that the church adopted three evolution proposals. What else did the Methodists do? Here’s one more excerpt:
A third evolution resolution, advanced by a church regional body in Kansas, puts the church on record as opposing the teaching of “faith-based theories such as Creationism and Intelligent Design” in public-school science classes.
That initiative came from Kansas, one of the most creationist states we’ve got. To illustrate what an impressive event this is, here are links to all of our earlier articles about Kathy Martin and Kansas politics.
So that’s the news. One less denomination is wallowing in the mud of the Dark Ages. Creationists are even more isolated than before. But they don’t care. After all, they’ve got the TRUTH!