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This weekend, congregations from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and 13 countries will participate in the 10th Annual Evolution Weekend. Evolution Weekend is part of the Clergy Letter Project, “an endeavor designed to demonstrate that religion and science can be compatible, and to elevate the quality of the debate of the issue.”

So far the letter has garnered almost 14,000 clergy signatures from several religious traditions, and states, in part, that, “While [many] Christians take the Bible seriously … the overwhelming majority do not read the Bible literally, as they would a science textbook. Many of the beloved stories in the Bible convey timeless truths about God, human beings, and the proper relationship between Creator and creation … [but] religious truth is of a different order from scientific truth… We believe that the timeless truths of the Bible and the discoveries of modern science may comfortably coexist.”

You can find out more here: www.evolutionweekend.org.

Evolution Weekend falls on or near Charles Darwin's birthday, Feb. 12, 1809. Darwin was born in England, entered the University of Edinburgh in the fall of 1825 to study medicine, but found it was not a good fit for him, as he was troubled by the physical suffering of his patients. Instead he graduated six years later with a degree in divinity from Christ's College at Cambridge University.

In addition to studying theology, Darwin cultivated a keen interest in botany. He expected to become a clergyman and serve a parish, until an unexpected opportunity arose for him to set sail on the famous voyage of the H.M.S. Beagle. The trip lasted five years, wherein Darwin collected the specimens that would become the foundation of his scientific inquiry. He returned home in 1836, never leaving England again.

A common misconception about Darwin is that he was an atheist. He was actually a very religious man who engaged his scientific exploration through the lens of his faith. In fact, Darwin chronicled his spiritual journey in a section on religion in his autobiography, which sheds light on the evolutionary process of Darwin's own faith journey. He was deeply pained at the idea that his observations and theories would trouble people’s religious faith. Yet he had the courage and faith to publish the truth as he understood it. His example of intelligence informing faith is worthy of celebration.

Ryder is co-pastor of New Covenant Community, Normal. Contact her at susan@nccnormal.org.

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