Religious Support of Evolution Taught In Schools?

News from Agape Press

A Seattle-based think tank is expressing outrage over an effort to promote "religious Darwinism" in public schools.

The National Center for Science Education (NCSE) and the University of California Museum of Paleontology have spent nearly half-a-million dollars in federal money to create a website to help teachers better teach the theory of evolution. Part of that website, called "Understanding Evolution," encourages teachers to explicitly use religion to endorse evolution.

Dr. John West with the Discovery Institute is hopeful the government will investigate the function and funding of the website because, in his opinion, it is unconstitutional.
Are you allowed to call what the Discovery Institute does "thinking"? It's a really slick website, but they get their news from the Washington Times,, and American Spectator. They're advocating Intelligent Design, which is Creationism all dressed up for the Science Fair. Such logic lets them think that the Understanding Evolution website is advocating a "religious Darwinism", whatever in Hades that is.

What's their beef?
"It's one thing to teach the science of evolution, but to use tax funds to encourage teachers to use religion to endorse evolution? This website actually contains a link to 16 pages of theological statements endorsing evolution, including one from the United Church of Christ."
A link. It actually contains a link.

On the actual website itself, religion comes up very rarely:
2. Student Discomfort

Discomfort with evolution may not stem from a disagreement with science, but from the belief that evolution is incompatible with religious faith. Help students to understand that evolution, like all of science, seeks to explain natural things through natural causes. We are not challenging their religious beliefs, nor are we asking them to “believe” in evolution, but simply to learn about it.

However, no matter what we do or say, some students will not accept the idea of an old Earth and the relatedness of living things. The most fruitful approach with all students is to make information available to them and to allow them to assemble their own understanding of how the world works.

3. Student Challenges
Suppose that students object to having to learn about evolution. Just respond appropriately and continue teaching. Here are four things to keep in mind:

Be very clear on the nature, content, and expectations of science classes.

Teachers and curricula should follow established guidelines, frameworks, and standards that reflect the best current knowledge and consensus of the scientific community.

“Belief” is not part of science. We do not ask students to believe in science; we expect them to learn its ideas and methods.

Students are not required to accept evolution, but they do need to learn what it is and how it functions as a scientific explanation.

Student Roadblocks
There's nothing objectionable here at all. The students are free to form or keep their own ideas on the subject.

Further on, in External Roadblocks, there's a link to the NCSE websites Resources page, which has a link to Statements from Religious Organizations. The United Church of Christ is on this page (under United Church Board For Homeland Ministries), as is the American Jewish Congress, the American Scientific Affiliation, the Center For Theology And The Natural Sciences, the Central Conference Of American Rabbis, the Episcopal Bishop Of Atlanta, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA), the General Convention Of The Episcopal Church, the Lexington Alliance Of Religious Leaders, the Lutheran World Federation, the Roman Catholic Church, the Unitarian Universalist Association, United Church Board For Homeland Ministries, United Methodist Church, and the United Presbyterian Church In The U.S.A.

Let's look at how the Understanding Evolution site links to the NSCE site:
2. Make use of available resources.

While debating creationist challenges is not our job, it would might be a good idea to be familiar with questions typically asked. Here are three useful resources:

Misconceptions—This provides a list of common misconceptions and potential responses if you choose to use them. What can be misconceptions for some may be posed as intentional challenges by others.

NCSE, the National Center for Science Education—Should the teaching of evolution be challenged in your school or district, information and advice are available.

Voices for Evolution—These concise statements, found on the NCSE website, come from science and education organizations and emphasize the status of evolution and its place in science.

Suggested Strategies
The Voices for Evolution is the link that the Discovery Institute thinkers are howling about. But the actual link to the 16 pages of documented religious openness to evolution is on that page. It's a link to a link, and the context is equipping teachers who are facing roadblocks in the course of their teaching. After all, as the site goes on to say, "There are some who would prefer that evolution not be part of our science curriculum, regardless of its veracity, and these people have developed organized efforts to discourage its teaching." The Discovery Institute is one branch of this organized effort.

Please note: the information isn't presented as a link to religious endorsements. It highlights the science and education professionals who also are quoted on a different link at the NCSE site. The religious endorsements are a bonus to any teacher that follows the link. It's a clever way of getting that information into the hands of science teachers without actually establishing religion.

This cleverness is what the Discovery Institute is seeking to capitalize on. What's happened is that somebody was sitting around the office, fuming at the Berkeley site, and happened to click on the Voices link. When they saw the additional unendorsed link at the NCSE website, their brains blew a fuse and they wrote up a press release to vent. They don't have a leg to stand on, demonstrating once again that creationism is a dysfunctional theory that lacks survival skills in the laboratory of scientific thought.