Monday, May 12, 2008

The UMC and Science - Some Good News

After all of the bad news I have had to write about the United Methodist Church General Conference’s failure to change its homophobic policies, I am pleased to be able to report some good from that just concluded once-every-four-year legislative conference.

The General Conference overwhelmingly approved the
Clergy Letters Project, an endeavor to demonstrate that science and faith can be compatible without compromising either. The letter that thousands of clergy have signed say

We the undersigned, …believe that the theory of evolution is a foundational scientific truth, one that has stood up to rigorous scrutiny and upon which much of human knowledge and achievement rests. To reject this truth or to treat it as “one theory among others” is to deliberately embrace scientific ignorance and transmit such ignorance to our children.
The UMC is now urging its clergy to participate. But that is not all.

Actions at the General Conference also
amended its statement on “Science and Technology” in The Book of Discipline to read:

We recognize science as a legitimate interpretation of God’s natural world. We affirm the validity of the claims of science in describing the natural world and in determining what is scientific. We preclude science from making authoritative claims about theological issues, and theology from making authoritative claims about scientific issues. We find that science’s descriptions of cosmological, geological, and biological evolution are not in conflict with theology. We recognize medical, technical, and scientific technologies as legitimate uses of God’s natural world when such use enhances human life and enables all of God’s children to develop their God-given creative potential without violating our ethical convictions about the relationship of humanity to the natural world. We re-examine our ethical convictions as our understanding of the natural world increases.
But wait, that’s not all. The final resolution adds a new statement to the United Methodist Book of Resolutions dealing with creationism and intelligent design. The wording reads as follows,

Therefore be it resolved that the General Conference of the United Methodist Church go on record as opposing the introduction of any faith-based theories such as Creationism or Intelligent Design into the science curriculum of our public schools.
I think it is important that the UMC has gone on record in its support of science and its rejection of Creationism and Intelligent Design. Now, if we could just get that body to take science seriously in its pronouncements on homosexuality.

- Milo
UPDATE: In regard to the comment posted below, consider this.
With the Caps Something Else is Meant

There is an important semantic difference between “creationism” and “Creationism.” Most people who believe in God could be called “creationists” because they believe that God created the world. “Creationism” with the capital “C” first appeared in 1979 and is the religious belief in the literal interpretation of the account of creation of the universe and of all living things related in the Bible. It is opposed to the theory of evolution.

Most people who believe in God would also believe in the “intelligent design” of the universe, but with capital “I” and “D” the term is the assertion that "certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection".

National Academy of Sciences has stated that "intelligent design, and other claims of supernatural intervention in the origin of life" are not science because they cannot be tested by experiment, do not generate any predictions, and propose no new hypotheses of their own.

In short, “Creationism” and “Intelligent Design” are religious beliefs, not science. In my article, “Evolution Goes To Church,” I wrote about the Clergy Letters Project and evolution.
Hope this helps clear up confusion. If not, write me back. Thanks!


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