Evangelical Biologists and Evolution

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Science  01 Jul 2005:
Vol. 309, Issue 5731, pp. 51
DOI: 10.1126/science.309.5731.51d

In his Editorial “Twilight for the Enlightenment?” (8 April, p. 165), Donald Kennedy expresses concern that the teaching of evolution is being contested in 40 states. Even though I consider myself an evangelical Christian, I, too, share that concern. I was educated in a fundamentalist school where a literal 6-day creation period was taught. Yet over the years, Ive come to accept Darwinian evolution.

The evangelical Christian public may be mostly anti-evolutionary, but that may not be true of evangelical Christian biologists. Curious as to how these biologists deal with evolution and creation, I wrote to “the Professor of Biology,” at the 104 schools of the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities listed in the CCCU's Web site. Biologists from six schools refused to participate. Sixty-seven schools responded. Twenty-five percent of the respondents affirmed their belief in a young Earth and a 6-day creation period. Twenty-seven percent hold the theistic evolution position, which accepts the common descent of all living things and believes that God acts through natural laws. The remainder were either reluctant to take a specific stance or were what are called old Earth progressive creationists—Earth is billions of years old, but God acted creatively to bridge the gaps, i.e., between amphibians and reptiles and between reptiles and birds. Five of this group merely sent printed statements of their school's position affirming its belief in a Creator God, but that there are multiple ways in which he might have done it.

Although deeply divided in their views of evolution and creation, there is what I think is a small but significant trend among fundamentalist Christian biologists toward accepting Darwinian evolution. Hopefully, it will continue and spread to the fundamentalist public.

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