The Clergy Letter Project Grows Again

It’s been quite a while since we last wrote about The Clergy Letter Project, a strong, pro-evolution statement signed by over 12,000 Christian clergymen. There’s also a Wikipedia article on the topic: Clergy Letter Project. The Project is exceedingly troublesome for creationists, because they like to claim that one can’t be a good Christian and also accept evolution.

Except for the ever-growing number of signers, there’s rarely any news about this fine project. The last time we wrote about them they were adding a letter for rabbis. Today we have news of another expansion.

At the Clergy Letter website we read about their new initiative — American Imams. This is the text of the “Imam Letter,” with bold font added by us:

Literalists of various religious traditions who perceive the science of evolution to be in conflict with their personal religious beliefs are seeking to influence public school boards to authorize the teaching of creationism. We, the Imams of the mosques, see this as a breach in the separation of church and state. Those who believe in a literal interpretation of scriptural account of creation are free to teach their perspective in their homes, religious institutions and parochial schools. To teach it in the public schools would be indoctrinating a particular religious point of view in an environment that is supposed to be free of such indoctrination.

We, the undersigned Imams of the mosques, assert that the Qur’an is the primary source of spiritual inspiration and of values for us, though not for everyone, in our country. We believe that the timeless truths of the Qur’an may comfortably coexist with the discoveries of modern science. As Imams we urge public school boards to affirm their commitment to the teaching of the science of evolution. We ask that science remain science and that religion remain religion, two very different, but complementary, forms of truth.

That letter doesn’t literally endorse evolution as being good science, as the Christian Clergy Letter does. That would probably be asking too much of the imams. But it does advocate keeping their Islamic beliefs out of public school science class. That’s sufficient.

The site indicates that they now have 12,722 signatures for the Christian Clergy Letter, 476 for the Rabbi Letter, and 236 for the Unitarian Letter. We don’t yet know how many have signed the new Imam Letter. That one will be interesting to watch.

While we’re linking to lists, we ought to mention the dark side — the woeful list of evolution skeptics who have signed on to the Discovery Institute’s Scientific Dissent From Darwinism. That’s the Wikipedia article about it. Here’s the website the Discoveroids always link to: Discoveroids’ List of Dissenters. They don’t provide a current total, but they frequently mention that it’s “more than 850.” They don’t mention that very few of them are biologists. On the other hand, they’ve got a lot of dentists, sociologists, proctologists, and maybe even chiropractors, so it’s an all-round list of people who are essentially irrelevant to the point at issue.

On the bright side, the National Center for Science Education maintains Project Steve, which now (as of 05 April 2011) lists 1,158 “Steves.” Only 1% of the population have that name (including variants like Steffen, Stefano, Esteban, Stephane, Stephanie, etc.), which indicates that over 110,000 scientists support evolution. And unlike the Discoveroid list, the “Steve” list includes a large percentage of signers who are actually involved in the biological sciences. The last time we wrote about it was a couple of years ago, when the Total Reached 1,000.

So the next time some creationist claims they’ve got a “growing” list of “hundreds” of scientists who are abandoning evolution and supporting Intelligent Design, you can inform him that the sane side has more Steves than they have people. And unlike the creationist list, our guys are mostly biologists or do work in related fields. Don’t forget to remind him of the Clergy Letter Project too.

Copyright © 2011. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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4 responses to “The Clergy Letter Project Grows Again

  1. So the next time some creationist claims they’ve got a “growing” list of “hundreds” of scientists who are abandoning evolution and supporting Intelligent Design, you can inform him that the sane side has more Steves than they have people.

    I don’t think telling a creationist such things will have any effect. They’ll hear you the same way Charlie Brown hears his teacher in school, “Wah wah…wah wah wah.” Instead, if the creationist happens to be trying to convince someone else, bring this up to that someone else. They’re either sitting on the fence (or more likely just don’t care because they think this whole argument doesn’t affect them). That’s where your argument will have the most impact, on the “undecideds”.

  2. If you sign such a document as the Clergy Letter, you’re ipso facto not a “good Christian” in the view of many Christians.

  3. Gary: “Instead, if the creationist happens to be trying to convince someone else, bring this up to that someone else. They’re either sitting on the fence (or more likely just don’t care because they think this whole argument doesn’t affect them).”

    Thank you! It’s so refreshing not to always have to be the only one to remind people that it’s not a simple matter of “us vs. the creationists.” All major critics of ID/creationism know that, but it usually gets lost in the focus on the tiny % of evolution-deniers who are activists on a mission. Those activists, and ~1/4 of the public is beyond hope, so it makes no sense to try to reason with them. But the “undecideds” are an even larger group, ranging from self-described (but salvageable) creationists to those who say things like “I heard that the jury’s still out on evolution.” They are the ones to reach, and are capable of understanding that it is critics, not peddlers, of ID/creationism who truly want them to see what all “sides” have to offer, and why every “side” but evolution fails. And that it’s the peddlers, not the critics, who are trying to brainwash them.

  4. techreseller

    Part of the problem come from the occluded world view and innumeracy of the creationists. They look at their peer group and assume that the percentage of the population that is scientists is roughly the same. Couple that with innumeracy and then “hundreds of scientists” comes across the same as “just about everybody I know” believes x. Creationists hear that number and assume that constitutes a significant percentage of the total number of scientists.

    Sad.