Monday, January 28, 2008


Sundays With Charles

Michael Zimmerman, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and professor of biology at Butler University in Indianapolis, is the founder of The Clergy Letter Project. He has a piece in the Houston Chronicle about the Project and Evolution Weekend Feb. 8-10.

[T]he scientific community has begun to take notice of the activity of religious colleagues and they've started to work collaboratively with clergy. When the National Academy of Sciences recently released its new book (Science, Evolution and Creationism) defending evolution and explaining why it's imperative that it be taught in science classes, for example, it pointed to The Letter as evidence that evolutionary teaching needn't be a controversial topic.

And, when The Clergy Letter Project created a list of scientific consultants, experts willing to answer questions posed by clerical colleagues, more than 500 scientists representing every state and 29 countries quickly signed up.
I can almost hear the Discovery Institute now: You criticized us for publishing in a sectarian religious magazine, but it's okay for "Darwinists" to become advisers to equally sectarian groups?

And my answer is: Yes. The reason for the distinction is that these religious leaders came to scientists asking to better understand science as it is, not asking that scientists engage in dishonest PR attempts to redefine science to better fit their religious dogma by removing its "materialistic bias" (otherwise known as its objectivity), as is the case with ID. And, of course, scientists actually do science. Advising the religious about what science says is a very minor part of what scientists do. Proselytizing is all that the IDeologist do.

It is the simple difference between education and propaganda.

Update: Here is more on Evolution Weekend from Episcopal Life, including information on appearances by Sandra D. Michael, SUNY Distinguished Service Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Binghamton University in New York, at St. John's Episcopal Church in Northampton, Massachusetts and Thomas J. Lindell, professor emeritus in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology at the University of Arizona, at St. Philip's in the Hills, Tucson, Arizona.

Let's have a blog-a-thon that weekend, and encourage bloggers to devote at least one post that weekend to the topic of evolution and religion. For many of us, the odds are we would have touched on the issue that weekend anyway, but it may encourage others to devote attention to the topic that might not have done so otherwise.

As I said over at your place, it's a good idea ... if I can get my swiss-cheese memory to function. I hope you'll post a reminder closer to the event.
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