The United Methodist Church passed a resolution at its recent General Conference opposing the teaching of Creation Science and Intelligent Design in public schools.
The statement, passed during a 10-day conference in Fort Worth, Texas, that ended May 2, put the denomination 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.”
“Creationism and Intelligent Design are appropriate topics in public education classes such as comparative religion, literature, or philosophy since scientific method incorporates critical thinking processes,” said the resolution adopted by a vote of 508 to 323. “All truth is God’s truth. The promotion of religion or any particular religion in the public schools is contrary to the First Amendment.
Another statement on the environment endorsed The Clergy Letter Project, a multi-year effort promoted by Butler University scientist Michael Zimmerman, that includes annual observance of Evolution Sunday on the weekend nearest the birthday of Charles Darwin.
“Participation in Evolution Weekend is not meant to deify Darwin but to demonstrate the strong, positive interactions that religion and science can have,” Zimmerman said in a letter to supporters. “It is an opportunity to elevate the quality of the dialogue about this important relationship.”
“Doing so is no less critical now than it has been since the legislatures of various states are currently attempting to move forward with legislation that would permit narrow religious instruction to become a part of the public school science classroom,” he said. “Similarly, a group in England is moving forward with plans to build a multi-million dollar creationist theme park, similar to the one recently opened in Kentucky. Religious leaders and scientists need to band together to demonstrate to the public that religion and science need not be at war with one another.”
A reported 814 congregations from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and 9 countries reportedly participated in Evolution Weekend 2008. Next year’s Evolution Weekend, Feb. 13-15, marks Darwin’s 200th birthday and 150th anniversary of the publication of On the Origin of Species.
The Methodist resolution on “God’s Creation and the Church” endorses The Clergy Letter Project “and its reconciliatory programs between religion and science and urges United Methodist clergy participation.”
It also designates one Sunday each year, preferably the Sunday closest to Earth Day, as a Festival of God’s Creation, “celebrating God’s gracious work in creating the earth and all living things, incorporating it into the church’s liturgical calendar, and developing appropriate ways for congregations to celebrate it.”
It encourages “a simplified and environmentally sound lifestyle throughout the church and requests that Church agencies, conferences and congregations be stewards of God’s creation by reducing levels of consumption and participating in programs that reuse and recycle goods.”
It also encourages United Methodist institutions to “perform energy audits, improve energy efficiency and pursue use of alternative clean energy sources such as wind and solar power where available.”
A third statement recognized science “as a legitimate interpretation of God’s natural world.”
“We believe that many apparent scientific references in our Bible and creeds are intended to be metaphorical in nature and should be considered as such,” the statement said in part. “We accept that apparent scientific references were included to help understand the religious principles, but not to teach science.”
The petition’s stated intent was to remove “ambiguities that Christians face while wrestling with differences between literal Biblical interpretations and current scientific understandings.”
“Our concern is that Methodism articulate a position that avoids historical blunders, embraces the scientific knowledge of today, and does so without negating the beauty of our sacred textual metaphors,” the petition said.
Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.