Every February for at least the last 10 years (and including this past week), I have received an urgent invitation via e-mail to participate in something called “The Clergy Letter Project.” I have no idea how my name got on their list. I have never participated or responded in any direct way. Apparently, some 400+ congregations around the country indicate some kind of positive response.
In the larger view, the project is about helping to reconcile science and religion. More specifically, it is a project to build awareness of the absence of conflict between evolution and the Christian faith.
Years ago, I became involved in a fierce volley of correspondence with a man who believed evolution to be a lie and a direct affront to any Christian faith stance. He saw a copy of a pastor’s column from my local church that made its way into the then nationally published United Methodist Reporter. He was livid. His letters to me were hand-written in large bold print. He threatened to write my bishop, my Staff-Parish chair, and my Church Council about my heretical beliefs. To the best of my knowledge, none of these threats ever translated into reality. (Maybe because I refused to send him my church membership mailing list!)
I have always loved the creation narrative in Genesis. In sacred and beautiful imagery—and with considerable poetic imagination—the storyteller puts God squarely behind the “beginnings.” As Father Richard Rohr wrote recently, “It is interesting that the biblical account of creation is done developmentally over six days, almost as if there was an ancient intuition of what we would eventually call evolution.”
Precisely! There is no conflict—so long as we trust that a creative, generous, loving God is behind all that is! I have believed this all of my adult life. Initially trained as a scientist and mathematician, I can love the Creation narratives with my mind as well as my heart. And I can preach those narratives with old-fashioned Methodist enthusiasm.
Rohr further says this in a recent devotional piece: “….to this day, the issue of evolution still divides some Christians, questioning what is rather obvious: that God creates things that create themselves. Wouldn't this be the greatest way that God could create--to give autonomy, freedom, and grace to things to keep self-creating even further?”
Contemporary Christian leadership needs to address this matter in a courageous and proactive fashion—gently, but without ambiguity.
I love to tell the story—of God’s creation! Without hesitation, without scientific conflict or interference, and with the joy and promise of a Divine and good Creator. “In the beginning, God……” (Genesis 1:1)