Faces of the Clergy Letter Project

Faces of the Clergy Letter Project June 24, 2010

The Clergy Letter Project has a new feature on its web site, “Faces of the Clergy Letter Project,” which provides more about those who have signed the Clergy Letter and their perspective on science and faith. The first person listed is Lori Bievenour, a local minister who is a Butler graduate and on the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences board of visitors.

Also on religion and science in the blogosphere:

Many have drawn attention to a federal judge’s rejection of the Institute for Creation Research’s appeal after their attempt to get accreditation for a ‘degree’ program was turned down. A key quote from the judge about the ICR: “Plaintiff is entirely unable to file a complaint which is not overly verbose, disjointed, incoherent, maundering, and full of irrelevant information.”

The Biologos Forum has a number of interesting recent posts, including most recently a continuing critique of Michael Behe’s argument for design based on “irreducible complexity.” There are other interesting recent posts by Rachel Held Evans, Pete Enns, and Karl Giberson.

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  • James, isn't something like this just as bad as the right wing who sign things like the Colorado springs document etc?Mark

  • Mark, I was tempted to just write "no". 🙂 But I thought maybe it would be worth saying more, if for no other reason than to find out why you think they are comparably bad.The Clergy Letter Project is a response by Christian clergy (and more recently it has expanded to other religious traditions) that is a direct response to those within their own religious tradition who claim that one has to reject mainstream science, in particular evolutionary biology, in order to be a true and faithful adherent of their religion.As such, I believe they stand in the tradition of St. Augustine, who wrote things like “It not infrequently happens that something about the earth, about the sky, about other elements of this world, about the motion and rotation or even the magnitude and distances of the stars, about definite eclipses of the sun and moon, about the passage of years and seasons, about the nature of animals, of fruits, of stones, and of other such things, may be known with the greatest certainty by reasoning or by experience, even by one who is not a Christian. It is too disgraceful and ruinous, though, and greatly to be avoided, that he [the non-Christian] should hear a Christian speaking so idiotically on these matters, and as if in accord with Christian writings, that he might say that he could scarcely keep from laughing when he saw how totally in error they are… In view of this and in keeping it in mind constantly while dealing with the book of Genesis, I have, insofar as I was able, explained in detail and set forth for consideration the meanings of obscure passages, taking care not to affirm rashly some one meaning to the prejudice of another and perhaps better explanation.” The Literal Interpretation of Genesis (De Genesi ad Litteram) 1:19–20, Chapter 19.The key difference between the two sets of signers is that those who signed the Clergy Letter Project were recognizing that in almost all of their cases, biology was not their area of expertise, and so they can do no better than to accept the conclusion of those who are experts in this field. Reading the "Colorado Springs Guidelines" I can only guess that the situation here is reversed, and we have people who know only the slightest bit if anything about the relevant ancient languages or what is involved in translation, making confident assertions that they know what the right way to translate is.So those are my brief thoughts on your comparison. Perhaps you'd like to say more about why you think the two are comparable, or why you find the Clergy Letter Project objectionable?

  • Fair enough, on the basis of what you have said I'd agree with what they are doing but wouldn't sign something like it myself. I don't find it objectionable I was just concerned that is another ting that polarizes the two sides…

  • If I were ordained I would be eager to sign it, and counteract to whatever extent possible the negative impression of Christianity that the pseudoscientific fraud-peddlers of the young-earth creationist movement cause (I was one once, and so I don't speak as a complete outsider). Peddling lies in the name of Jesus is inherently polarizing, and I don't think taking a stand against lies and for the truth, even if polarizing, is inappropriate.