Many of us that accept the scientific consensus for evolution find it difficult to find like-minded individuals interested in exploring the theological implications of an evolving creation. Many others (maybe most Evangelical ECs) would risk membership in their Christian community (Church, mission, etc.) if their views were known. (See for example our past discussion on the question: Would your church allow you to publicly support evolution).
In a new post on changing beliefs, Cliff Martin comments on his frustration in finding this type of community:
So I am facing a conundrum. I am motivated to prepare my friends for what I consider an inevitable paradigm shift, and to develop a community of believers who will study the Bible with me from an evolutionary perspective. But I am having no success. And I risk alienating my own friends if I continue.The irony is that in seeking to bring together a community that values integrity in both science and faith, we risk being ostracized from both the community of faith and the community of science.
Collins on Creating a New Community
Francis Collins is trying to rectify this problem. In a recent post on “Creating a Community to Explore the Harmony of Science and Faith”, Collins stated that he would like to:
[encourage] a new and vibrant community dedicated to finding the truth in both science and faith. The shrill voices at the poles of the science and faith discussion that claim the scientific and spiritual worldviews are incompatible have their own organized communities. But what about the vast majority that seeks a third way?From my own limited experience / knowledge, I think Collins belief that a “vast majority” seek this 3rd way is probably overly optimistic. But he is absolutely right that the situation is much better now than it was even a decade ago. He comments that:
There are encouraging signs that people who trust both God and science are beginning to create such a community.All of us should be thankful to Collins, Falk, Giberson, and the rest of the Biologos team for starting to provide resources for building this type of community. I’m also happy to see Collins is looking for input from other EC/TEs. He states:
These are just initial efforts to help catalyze a community devoted to seeking harmony in science and faith. We'd love to hear any ideas that could help in building this community.A Suggestion
Well, since he asked, here is my suggestion. I think we should publish an “Evangelical Statement on Evolution” that succinctly states that an Evangelical expression of the Christian faith, and the scientific theory of evolution are compatible. This could be modeled after the Clergy Letter Project, but crafted in a way to ensure it has an explicitly Evangelical character. The statement sponsoring signatories should include evangelical leaders from 1) a broad range of denominations 2) several different academic disciplines (at least scientists, biblical scholars and theologians - yes, we definitely need those timid theologians) and 3) a cross section of Evangelical organizations (eg. missions, umbrella groups like the EFC and the NAE). The statement should also have some mechanism for allowing the rest of us to sign on as well.
And, come to think of it, that November meeting that Tim Keller, Collins and other leading scientists, biblical scholars, and theologians are having would be a great forum to launch this initiative.
Ok, that’s my idea. What do you think? Do you think the time is right for an Evangelical Statement on Evolution? Would it be a positive step in the discussion, or would it serve only to raise more divisiveness? Do you have any other ideas you’d like to suggest to the Biologos team?