Religious Leaders on Science

The reader who has followed this blog from the beginning will recognize that I embrace religion and science.  Humankind cannot live without some sort of faith; each one of us needs both anchors and adventure, we need both activity and repose.  I reject, however, dualism of spirit and matter.  As to Christian faith, indeed, any religious faith, I have consistently quoted Jesus: “By their fruits you will know them.”  I note with appreciation that recently our new pope, Francis, has embraced even those who claim atheism, not in the theological sense of “going to heaven, ” or “being saved,” but with the theological notion of redemption.  I particularly like that notion of redemption because,  not only can it be used in the biblical sense as a necessary condition for “being saved,” or “going to heaven,” but it also can have concrete relational significance.

In our transition from science and philosophy to faith and theology, I have quoted extensively others who have examined the great scientists of our era concerning religion, God, and spirituality.  I find the same to be true concerning religious leaders’ views of  science and of the relationship between science and religion.  We will later examine in greater depth modern theology; but, as a bridge from science to religion, I will repost a significant part of the article by David H.  Bailey posted at :

David H. Bailey
31 Mar 2013 (c) 2013

Just as the public broadly perceives scientists as completely opposed to religion, many also believe that major religious leaders and movements are utterly opposed to science in general and to evolution in particular. Indeed, many believe that major religions are pitched in battle with the world of science. There is some truth to this assertion. Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis, the evangelical organization that operates the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky (a suburb of Cincinnati, Ohio), declared, “[M]illions of years of evolution not only contradicts the clear teaching of Genesis and the rest of Scripture but also impugns the character of God.” [Ham2009]. In a similar vein, John G. West of the Discovery Institute, the organization behind the intelligent design movement, declared that Darwinian evolution fundamentally cannot be reconciled with Judeo-Christian theism [West2007].

However, numerous other theologians, religious officials and religious organizations have stated that they see no fundamental conflict with science in general, or with evolution and the creation scriptures in particular. Here are some statements from several large religious organizations (listed in alphabetical order):

  1. Catholic Church [Pope1996] (Pope John Paul II): “In his encyclical Humani Generis (1950), my predecessor Pius XII has already affirmed that there is no conflict between evolution and the doctrine of the faith regarding man and his vocation, provided that we do not lose sight of certain fixed points. … Today, more than a half-century after the appearance of that encyclical, some new findings lead us toward the recognition of evolution as more than an hypothesis. In fact, it is remarkable that this theory has had progressively greater influence on the spirit of researchers, following a series of discoveries in different scholarly disciplines. The convergence in the results of these independent studies — which was neither planned nor sought — constitutes in itself a significant argument in favor of the theory.”

  2. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (“LDS” or “Mormon”) [Evenson1992]: “The scriptures tell why man was created, but they do not tell how, though the Lord has promised that he will tell that when he comes again (D&C 101:32-33). In 1931, when there was intense discussion on the issue of organic evolution, the First Presidency of the Church, then consisting of Presidents Heber J. Grant, Anthony W. Ivins, and Charles W. Nibley, addressed all of the General Authorities of the Church on the matter, and concluded, ‘Upon the fundamental doctrines of the Church we are all agreed. Our mission is to bear the message of the restored gospel to the world. Leave geology, biology, archaeology, and anthropology, no one of which has to do with the salvation of the souls of mankind, to scientific research, while we magnify our calling in the realm of the Church.'”

  3. Episcopal Church [Episcopal2009]: “Episcopalians believe that the Bible “contains all things necessary to salvation” (Book of Common Prayer, p. 868): it is the inspired and authoritative source of truth about God, Christ, and the Christian life. But physicist and priest John Polkinghorne, following sixteenth-century Anglican theologian Richard Hooker, reminds us Anglicans and Episcopalians that the Bible does not contain all necessary truths about everything else. The Bible, including Genesis, is not a divinely dictated scientific textbook. We discover scientific knowledge about God’s universe in nature not Scripture.”

  4. Presbyterian Church in the USA [Presbyterian1969]: “We conclude that the true relation between the evolutionary theory and the Bible is that of non-contradiction. … We re-affirm our belief in the uniqueness of man as a creature whom God has made in His own image.”

  5. Rabbinical Council of America [Rabbinical2005]: “[The Rabbinical Council of America] notes that significant Jewish authorities have maintained that evolutionary theory, properly understood, is not incompatible with belief in a Divine Creator, nor with the first 2 chapters of Genesis.”

  6. United Methodist Church [Methodist2004]: “Science and theology are complementary rather than mutually incompatible. We therefore encourage dialogue between the scientific and theological communities and seek the kind of participation that will enable humanity to sustain life on earth and, by God’s grace, increase the quality of our common lives together.”

See the above site for a more comprehensive review of major Christian denominations , its clergy, its people, and leaders of other religions.  The site has other precious resources concerning religion as well as its relationship with science.

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