Reformed Theological Seminary (RTS) Professor Bruce Waltke was forced to resign because he observed that faith and evolutionary science are compatible in a video in which he said, according to a reconstruction of his remarks by USA Today:
If the data is overwhelmingly in favor of evolution, to deny that reality will make us a cult … some odd group that is not really interacting with the world. And rightly so, because we are not using our gifts and trusting God’s Providence that brought us to this point of our awareness.
His remarks had to be reconstructed because Waltke was apparently driven by the “culture of fear” which pervades the evangelical community to ask the BioLogos Foundation, which had posted the video as part of their advocacy of science’s compatibility with faith, to take it down. And they did, yet Waltke was still compelled to resign.
The reaction is a surprise in part because Waltke isn’t otherwise a liberal, as Tony Cartledge explains:
Waltke is by most measures a very conservative scholar. Though he accepts a theistic version of evolution (acknowledging the reality of evolution while trusting that God guided the process), he also believes in an inerrant Bible and a literal Adam and Eve. But even that is too big a stretch for the most ardent inerrantists, leading to RTS’s over-the-top response.
Perhaps Waltke’s use of the word “cult” was the step too far.
If so, the reaction to his comments gives it legs.
[H/T: Tony Cartledge]
Now, we all do.
“What we teach in the public schools matters,” [Charles Haynes, senior scholar at the First Amendment Center in Washington, D.C.] told a group at Northaven United Methodist Church in Dallas during the “Faith & Freedom Speaker Series,” sponsored by the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund.
What emerges from the ashes, then, after the New Atheists and the intelligent design theorists have employed their weapons of mass destruction? The deeper questions still call for attention. We still ask what it means to be human, who we are, and how we should act in the world. What stories will we tell about ourselves and the universe? Which of those stories are true and which are false? How should we tell them differently in light of the best empirical data and theories?
This new discussion does not entail a different kind of science, though it does call for science without ideology. It does, however, call for a broader view of religion. John Haught puts it brilliantly in his forthcoming book, Making Sense of Evolution: Darwin, God, and the Drama of Life: “If we measure the movement of life in terms of a narrow human preoccupation with design, evolution seems blind and aimless.” …
Read the rest here.
Florida state Sen. Steve Wise, R-Jacksonville, introduced legislation which the Florida Academy of Science says “leaves the door open for the introduction in the public school curriculum of nonscientific and covertly religious doctrines.”
Standard Creationist strategy these days.
Creationism failed when social conservatives brought “strengths and weaknesses” back to the table today. A “compromise” prevailed in a 13-2 vote.
The adopted compromise says:
In all fields of science, analyze, evaluate and critique scientific explanations by using empirical evidence, logical reasoning, and experimental and observational testing, including examining all sides of scientific evidence of those scientific explanations so as to encourage critical thinking by the student.
Although that language seems clear, this decades-long battle has a way of knotting itself back up into lawsuits.
Evens so, the “strengths and weaknesses” charade is at this level over. Everything appears to be about implementation now.
The last-gasp effort died on a deadlocked 7-7 vote of the Texas State Board of Education. The lost motion would have restored a 20-year-old requirement that science classes discuss the so-called weaknesses in the theory of evolution.
Social conservatives did make less important amendments, but the basic teaching of evolution as accepted science will now be written into science textbooks.
The final decision, expected today, is of overarching importance because the size of the Texas textbook market gives it sweeping, national impact on the way school science textbooks in general are written.
It still isn’t there. Religious musings apparently activate the same kinds of brain structures as do more mundane preoccupations, say scientists in in the latest Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Other primates may not, however, have the brain functionality required to support a cohesive notion of religion. Something our early ancestors also had.
All of which (surprise) still leaves us with a lot to examine.
The Clergy Letter Project celebrates Evolution Weekend on Feb. 13 through 15. It is an auspicious time, for it is the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin’s birth is Feb, 12. This is also the year of the 150th anniversary of the publication of On the Origin of Species.
The letter has been signed some 12,500 clergy who agree, in essence, that:
Religious truth is of a different order from scientific truth. Its purpose is not to convey scientific information, but to transform hearts.
There are three versions of the letter: Christian Clergy, Rabbi and Unitarian Universalist. Although there isn’t a specifically Muslim letter, the project is promoted by The American Muslim. Some argue with good reason that the project should be extended to Hindus and other faiths as well.
Some 929 congregations are signed up to participate. They hail from all 50 States, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands and
14 countries.Michael Zimmerman of Butler University.The project has three goals:
- To elevate the quality of the discussion on this critical topic – to move beyond sound bites.
- To demonstrate that religious people from many faiths and locations understand that evolution is sound science and poses no problems for their faith.
- To make it clear that those claiming that people must choose between religion and science are creating a false dichotomy.
To sign up a congregation or if you are clergy, to sign one of the letters, contact Professor Michael Zimmerman of Butler University at firstname.lastname@example.org.