(Photo: Michael Zimmerman)
More than 500 churches in ten different countries have agreed to consider this weekend whether Darwinism is compatible with Christianity, as a result of the prompting of The Clergy Letter Project, a group promoting Darwinism as sound science.
Officials from the project say churches all across the United States will be celebrating "Evolution Weekend." But the event has troubled some who note that one of the intentions of the event is to advance the idea that Darwin's theory of evolution is sound.
Michael Zimmerman, founder and executive director of the Project, told The Christian Post that the purpose of "Evolution Weekend" is for the sake of interfaith dialogue regarding religion and science and that deeply religious individuals can also believe that Darwin's theory is true.
"Evolution Weekend was called Evolution Sunday because we were focused only on Christian congregations but in year three we broadened our focus and renamed the event Evolution Weekend to be more welcoming to members of other religions," said Zimmerman.
However, Mark Looy, chief communications officer for Answers in Genesis and the Creation Museum, told CP that he found the observance "a sad state of affairs."
"Christians who accept evolution are essentially saying that while they believe God's teaching about the crucifixion and the miracle of the resurrection of Christ, they do not trust Him when He tells us about the miracle of creation," said Looy.
"It is a sad state of affairs within the church when we see pastors trying to compromise Christianity with Darwin – somehow attempting to squeeze evolution into the Bible."
Zimmerman clarified that The Clergy Letter Project "is not designed to be an organization that 'converts' people to any particular religious position. Rather, our mere existence makes it clear that you can be deeply religious, in any of the world's major faith traditions, while still accepting the premises of modern science."
As he sees it, the Genesis account of creation has value, but is outside of scientific knowledge. "I believe that the power of the moral teachings in Genesis, the metaphors that undergird Genesis, is what the Bible is all about," said Zimmerman.
"The clergy members who comprise The Clergy Letter Project don't look to science to confirm or deny their faith. Their faith is independent of any particular scientific finding."
Zimmerman is an atheist but noted to CP that his religious views "should not be the issue since I am not a clergy member and I have not signed any of our Clergy Letters. [Those] who have signed our Letters and who are running Evolution Weekend events are the only ones who can make the statements, with authority, about how religion and science is compatible with their view of faith."
Looy is skeptical of the intentions of the project, describing to CP his own experiences growing up as a Christian who believed in the theory of evolution and the problems it gave him. He argues that science and Scripture can be compatible, but asserts that Darwinism may not be sound science.
"As a young Christian and evolutionist, I experienced something of a crisis of faith when I started to read the book of Genesis and saw how it was completely incompatible with my belief in evolution," said Looy.
"In God's timing, I was soon blessed to be able to hear a talk by creationist, Dr. Duane Gish, on the fossil record, and how fossils supported Genesis, not evolution. Here was a scientist, with a Ph.D. from one of the finest schools in America, UC Berkeley, who showed me that the Bible was reliable."