Statements from Various Religious Organizations
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ( Mormon )
The position of the Church on the origin of man was
published by the First Presidency in 1909 and stated again by a different First
Presidency in 1925:
“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, basing
its belief on divine revelation, ancient and modern, declares man to be the
direct and lineal offspring of Deity. . . . Man is the child of God, formed in
the divine image and endowed with divine attributes .”
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, the First Presidency said:
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.
For more information on the Mormon church stance, see Official Statements
Pope John Paul II
Message to Pontifical Academy of Sciences1
To the Members of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences taking part in the Plenary Assembly
With great pleasure I address cordial greetings to you, Mr President, and to all of you who constitute the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, on the occasion of your plenary assembly. I offer my best wishes in particular to the new academicians, who have come to take part in your work for the first time. I would also like to remember the academicians who died during the past year, whom I commend to the Lord of life.
1. In celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Academy's refoundation, I would like to recall the intentions of my predecessor Pius XI, who wished to surround himself with a select group of scholars, relying on them to inform the Holy See in complete freedom about developments in scientific research, and thereby to assist him in his reflections.
He asked those whom he called the Church's Senatus scientificus to serve the truth. I again extend this same invitation to you today, certain that we will all be able to profit from the fruitfulness of a trustful dialogue between the Church and science (cf. Address to the Academy of Sciences, n. 1, 28 October 1986, L'Osservatore Romano English edition, 24 November 1986, p. 22).
Science at the dawn of the third millennium
2. I am pleased with the first theme you have chosen, that of the origins of life and evolution, an essential subject which deeply interests the Church, since Revelation, for its part, contains teaching concerning the nature and origins of man. How do the conclusions reached by the various scientific disciplines coincide with those contained in the message of Revelation? And if, at first sight, there are apparent contradictions, in what direction do we look for their solution? We know, in fact, that truth cannot contradict truth (cf. Leo XIII, Encyclical Providentissimus Deus). Moreover, to shed greater light on historical truth, your research on the Church's relations with science between the 16th and 18th centuries is of great importance.
During this plenary session' you are undertaking a "reflection on science at the dawn of the third millennium", starting with the identification of the principal problems created by the sciences and which affect humanity's future. With this step you point the way to solutions which will be beneficial to the whole human community. In the domain of inanimate and animate nature, the evolution of science and its applications gives rise to new questions. The better the Church's knowledge is of their essential aspects, the more she will understand their impact. Consequently, in accordance with her specific mission she will. be able to offer criteria for discerning the moral conduct required of all human beings in view of their integral salvation.
3. Before offering you several reflections that more specifically concern the subject of the origin of life and its evolution, I would like to remind you that the Magisterium of the Church has already made pronouncements on these matters within the framework of her own competence. I will cite here two interventions.
In his Encyclical Humani generis (1950), my predecessor Pius XII had already stated that there was no opposition between evolution and the doctrine of the faith about man and his vocation, on condition that one did not lose sight of several indisputable points (cf. AAS 42 , pp. 575-576).
For my part, when I received those taking part in your Academy's plenary assembly on 31 October 1992, I had the opportunity, with regard to Galileo, to draw attention to the need of a rigorous hermeneutic for the correct interpretation of the inspired word. It is necessary to determine the proper sense of Scripture, while avoiding any unwarranted interpretations that make it say what it does not intend to say. In order to delineate the field of their own study, the exegete and the theologian must keep informed about the results achieved by the natural sciences (cf. AAS 85  pp. 764-772; Address to the Pontifical Biblical Commission, 23 April 1993, announcing the document on The interpretation of the Bible in the Church: AAS 86  pp. 232-243).
Evolution and the Church's Magisterium
4. Taking into account the state of scientific research at the time as well as of the requirements of theology, the Encyclical Humani generis considered the doctrine of "evolutionism" a serious hypothesis, worthy of investigation and in-depth study equal to that of the opposing hypothesis. Pius XII added two methodological conditions: that this opinion should not be adopted as though it were a certain, proven doctrine and as though one could totally prescind from Revelation with regard to the questions it raises. He also spelled out the condition on which this opinion would be compatible with the Christian faith, a point to which I will return.
Today, almost half a century after the publication of the Encyclical, fresh knowledge has led to the recognition that evolution is more than a hypothesis. It is indeed remarkable that this theory has been progressively accepted by researchers, following a series of discoveries in various fields of knowledge. The convergence, neither sought nor fabricated, of the results of work that was conducted independently is in itself a significant argument in favour of this theory.
What is the significance of such a theory? To address this question is to enter the field of epistemology. A theory is a metascientific elaboration, distinct from the results of observation but consistent with them. By means of it a series of independent data and facts can be related and interpreted in a unified explanation. A theory's validity depends on whether or not it can be verified, it is constantly tested against the facts; wherever it can no longer explain the latter, it shows its limitations and unsuitability. It must then be rethought.
Furthermore, while the formulation of a theory like that of evolution complies with the need for consistency with the observed data, it borrows certain notions from natural philosophy. And, to tell the truth, rather than the theory of evolution, we should speak of several theories of evolution. On the one hand, this plurality has to do with the different explanations advanced for the mechanism of evolution, and on the other, with the various philosophies on which it is based. Hence the existence of materialist, reduc tionist and spiritualist interpretations. What is to be decided here is the true role of philosophy and, beyond it, of theology.
5. The Church's Magisterium is directly concerned with the question of evolution, for it involves the conception of man: Revelation teaches us that he was created in the image and likeness of God (cf. Gn 1:27-29). The conciliar Constitution Gaudium et spes has magnificently explained this doctrine, which is pivotal to Christian thought. It recalled that man is :the only creature on earth that God has wanted for its own sake" (n. 24). In other terms, the human individual cannot be subordinated as a pure means or a pure instrument, either to the species or to society, he has value per se. He is a person. With his intellect and his will, he is capable of forming a relationship of communion, solidarity and self-giving with his peers. St Thomas observes that man's likeness to God resides especially in his speculative intellect for his relationship with the object of his knowledge resembles God's relationship with what he has created (Summa Theologica, I-II, q. 3, a. 5, ad 1). But even more, man is called to enter into a relationship of knowledge and love with God himself, a relationship which will find its complete fulfilment beyond time, in eternity. All the depth and grandeur of this vocation are revealed to us in the mystery of the risen Christ (cf. Gaudium et spes, n. 22). It is by virtue of his spiritual soul that the whole person possesses such a dignity even in his body. Pius XII stressed this essential point: if the human body takes its origin from pre-existent living matter the spiritual soul is immediately created by God ("animal enim a Deo immediate creari catholica fides nos retinere inhet"; Encyclical Humani generic, AAS 42 , p. 575).
Consequently, theories of evolution which, in accordance with the philosophies inspiring them, consider the mind as emerging from the forces of living matter, or as a mere epiphenomenon of this matter, are incompatible with the truth about man. Nor are they able to ground the dignity of the person.
6. With man, then, we find ourselves in the presence of an ontological difference, an ontological leap, one could say. However, does not the posing of such ontological discontinuity run counter to that physical continuity which seems to be the main thread of research into evolution in the field of physics and chemistry? Consideration of the method used in the various branches of knowledge makes it possible to reconcile two points of view which would seem irreconcilable. The sciences of observation describe and measure the multiple manifestations of life with increasing precision and correlate them with the time line. The moment of transition into the spiritual cannot be the object of this kind of observation, which nevertheless can discover at the experimental level a series of very valuable signs indicating what is specific to the human being. But the experience of metaphysical knowledge, of self-awareness and self-reflection, of moral conscience, freedom, or again, of aesthetic and religious experience, falls within the competence of philosophical analysis and reflection while theology brings out its ultimate meaning according to the Creator's plans.
We are called to enter eternal life
7. In conclusion, I would like to call to mind a Gospel truth which can shed a higher light on the horizon of your research into the origins and unfolding of living matter. The Bible in fact bears an extraordinary message of life. It gives us a wise vision of life inasmuch as it describes the loftiest forms of existence. This vision guided me in the Encyclical which I dedicated to respect for human life, and which I called precisely Evangelium vitae.
It is significant that in St John's Gospel life refers to the divine light which Christ communicates to us. We are called to enter into eternal life, that is to say, into the eternity of divine beatitude.
To warn us against the serious temptations threatening us, our Lord quotes the great saying of Deuteronomy: "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God" (Dt 8:3, cf. Mt 4:4).
Even more, "life" is one of the most beautiful titles which the Bible attributes to God. He is the living God.
I cordially invoke an abundance of divine blessings upon you and upon all who are close to you.
From the Vatican, 22 October 1996.
1Official translation published in
L'Osservatore Romano, "Weekly Edition in English," 30
UNITARIAN UNIVERSALIST ASSOCIATION (1977)
Whereas, currently there are efforts being made to insert the creation story of Genesis into public school science textbooks; and
Whereas,such action would be in direct contradiction with the concept of separation of church and state;
Therefore be it resolved: That the 1977 General Assembly of the UnitarianUniversalist Association goes on record as opposing such efforts.
Be it further resolved: That individual societies are urged to immediately provide petitions on the subject to be signed by members and sent to their legislators; and
Be it further resolved: That this resolution be forwarded to the textbook selection committee of each state department of education by the Department of Ministerial and Congregational Services.
Passed at the 1977 General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association.
return to top
UNITARIAN UNIVERSALIST ASSOCIATION (1982)
Whereas, the constitutional principles of religious liberty and the separation of church and state that safeguards liberty, and the ideal of a pluralistic society are under increasing attack in the Congress of the United States, in state legislatures, and in some sectors of the communications media by a combination of sectarian and secular special interests;
Be it resolved: That the 1982 General Assembly of UUA reaffirms its support for these principles and urges the Board of Trustees and President of the Association, member societies, and UnitarianUniversalists in the United States to: . . . 2. Uphold religious neutrality in public education, oppose all government mandated or sponsored prayers, devotional observances, and religious indoctrination in public schools; and oppose efforts to compromise the integrity of public school teaching by the introduction of sectarian religious doctrines, such as "scientific creationism," and by exclusion of educational materials on sectarian grounds. . . .
Passed at the 21st annual General Assembly of the UUA in June 1982. The above excerpt omits other articles of the resolution not directly related to creationism.
return to top
UNITED CHURCH BOARD FOR HOMELAND MINISTRIES:
Creationism, the Church, and the Public School
I. Background On The Creationism Issue
Creationism is a relatively recent development in an older and on-going controversy concerning the relationship between science and religion. In the 1920's the teaching about evolution in public schools (specifically the work of Charles Darwin) was challenged on the basis of perceived conflict with biblical teaching. In Tennessee John Scopes was convicted of violating a law which made it "illegal ... to teach any theory that denies the story of the divine creation of man as taught in the Bible, and to teach instead that man has descended from a lower order of animals." Although the conviction was overturned on a technicality, the Tennessee Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the law which was not repealed until 1967.
The central issue in challenges such as this is the apparent conflict between scientific explanations about the origins of life, even the cosmos itself, and biblical accounts of creation. Science and religion often are perceived as being in basic conflict concerning creation.
In more recent decades, the debate has taken a new twist. While still opposing the scientific theories of evolution concerning the origins of life, a number of persons began to suggest that certain scientific data and/or approaches could 'prove' the validity of biblical accounts concerning creation. In the 1960's and early 1970's, several organizations were formed to promote the idea that the creation accounts recorded in the book of Genesis were supported by scientific data. The terms "creation-science," "scientific creationism," and "creationism" are used to describe this interpretation of scripture.
This movement took on more focused activity in 1977 when over twenty state legislatures recorded bills requiring teaching of "creation-science" when evolution was taught. This "balanced treatment" proposition was passed as model legislation by the Arkansas Legislature in 1981.
Opponents of the Act, including religious leaders, educators, and scientists, challenged the constitutionality of the Act in the federal courts (McLean v Arkansas Board of Education) and in 1982 the law was declared unconstitutional. A similar law was passed in Louisiana and litigation went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. The court in Edwards v Aguillard declared the law unconstitutional in 1987. the Supreme Court decision has been applied in subsequent cases involving individual teachers who chose to teach "creation-science" outside the curriculum. Federal courts declared that teaching "creation-science" was a religious advocacy and, therefore, unconstitutional. Courts have taken special care to protect the religious independence of students in the public schools.
Since the Supreme Court decision in Edwards, creationists have concentrated their efforts at the level of the local school board, where they pressure educators to teach "creation-science," omit or qualify the teaching of evolution, and/or adopt textbooks that exclude evolution. Additional terms for "creation-science," such as "abrupt appearance theory" or "intelligent design theory" are attempts to avoid the constitutional issue of religious advocacy. However, beyond the notion of "equal time" other issues are emerging. The attempts to use scientific data and methods to prove certain biblical claims are raising concerns among many educators and scientists about the integrity of scientific inquiry itself and what students may be learning about the nature and role of science. Science and scientific methods can be abused by setting out to prove certain assumptions rather than allowing even those assumptions to be open to inquiry and discussion.
The concerns over current activities by creationists touch basic affirmations about the public school made by the United Church Board for Homeland Ministries. The effort to make creationism part of the science curriculum in the public schools tests our commitments to the public school, excellence in education, the integrity of science, and academic freedom. It also tests our interpretation of the Bible and our belief in God's unlimited creative powers.
It is therefore appropriate amidst this controversy for the United Church Board to work with members of the United Church of Christ and others to understand this issue from the perspective of our religious and educational traditions. We mean to assist persons to participate fearlessly in open inquiry, debate, and action concerning the goals of education; to understand the role of science, including an appropriate relationship between science and faith; to help develop consensus in public policy issues affecting the public school; and to support academic freedom at all levels of the educational experience.
1) We testify to our belief that the historic Christian doctrine of the Creator God does not depend upon any particular account of the origins of life for its truth and validity. The effort of the creationists to change the book of Genesis into a scientific treatise dangerously obscures what we believe to be the theological purpose of Genesis, viz., to witness to the creation, meaning, and significance of the universe and of human existence under the governance of God. The assumption that the Bible contains scientific data about origins misreads a literature which emerged in a pre-scientific age.
2) We acknowledge modern evolutionary theory as the best present-day scientific explanation of the existence of life on earth; such a conviction is in no way at odds with our belief in a Creator God, or in the revelation and presence of that God in Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.
3) We affirm the freedom of conscience and freedom of religion set forth and protected in the U.S. Constitution, including the right of the creationists to their religious beliefs.
4) We believe that the nurturing of faith and religious commitment is the responsibility of the church and home, not of the public school. No person or group should use the school to compel the teaching or acceptance of any creed or to impose conformity to any specific religious belief or practice. Requiring the teaching of the religious beliefs of creationists in the public school violates this basic principle of American democracy. We concur with judicial rulings that the teaching of the religious beliefs of the creationists in the public school science curriculum is unconstitutional.
5) We assert that the public school science curriculum is not the proper arena for the expression of religious doctrine. However, we believe that the public school does have the responsibility to teach about religion, in order to help individuals formulate an intelligent understanding and appreciation of the role of religion in the life and culture of all people and nations. In this context, it is fully appropriate for the public school to include in its non-science curriculum consideration of the variety of religious literature about the creation and origins of human life.
6) We reaffirm our historic commitment to the public school, and declare that each student has the right to an education which rests firmly on the best understandings of the academic community.
7) We affirm our historic commitment to academic freedom in the public school; in that context, the open and full search for truth about all issues in science including creation must proceed in the light of responsible scholarship and research, subject always to the process of peer review, and of factual and logical verification, and of scientific replication.
8) We reject any modification of science textbooks to include the point of view of the creationists or that weakens scientific teachings, and we support publishers who resist this effort. To do otherwise would abridge both academic freedom and the customary practices of careful scholarship.
9) We affirm the responsibility of professional educators to make final decisions about the public school curriculum. These decisions should be based on sound scholarship, competent teaching practices, and policies of local and state school boards which are accountable to the public and in keeping with judicial decisions upholding Constitutional values.
1) That through study and discussion we, as church people, become informed about issues of creation raised by both science and religion, including the "creation-science" controversy.
2) That we urge pastors and teachers to preach and teach about issues of creation, particularly the ways of understanding the first eleven chapters of Genesis, the first chapter of the Gospel of John, and other relevant Scripture passages. We further urge pastors and teachers to teach about the problems of biblical literalism in blocking creative dialogue between the faith community and contemporary educational, scientific, and political communities.
3) That we support the determination of schools, school boards, and textbook publishers to retain their professional integrity in treating the creationism issue, carefully recognizing the distinction between promoting religion and teaching about religion.
4) That we make all efforts to resist any viewpoint which would maintain that belief in both a Creator God and in evolutionary theory are in any way incompatible. Confident in our conviction that God is the ultimate source of all wisdom and truth, we encourage the free development of science and all other forms of intellectual inquiry.
5) That clergy and laity exercise their civic responsibility to monitor the work of state legislatures, taking care that any discussion of proposed "creation-science" legislation include educational and constitutional questions, and affirming that such legislation is a violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution.
6) That informed persons, including clergy and laity, in each community monitor the work of local school boards and state departments of education, so that issues of 'creation-science" may be discussed fully and openly if and when they come to their agendas. In communities being divided by the creationism controversy, we ask our people to be both a source of reconciliation and a community of support for those who oppose efforts to present creationism as a science.
7) That concerned educators and citizens work with teachers to support their efforts to teach their disciplines with integrity, rather than omit subjects such as evolution as a way of avoiding controversy.
9) That the church renew efforts to understand and relate to science and technology, not only to comprehend and respond to issues of controversy, but also to discover new ways of appreciating and expressing God's creative and redeeming activity.
IV. For Further Reading
Ronald S. Cole Turner, An Unavoidable Challenge: Our Church in an Age of Science and Technology, a Foundation Paper on science and technology as a lifelong issue for education, available from the Division of Education and Publication, UCBHM, Cleveland.
Langdon Gilkey, Creationism on Trial: Evolution & God at Little Rock, Harper & Row, 1985.
Betty McCollister, ed., Voices for Evolution, the National Center for Science Education, Inc. (P.O. Box 9477, Berkeley, CA 94709
October 1992 (This statement supercedes the 1983 statement printed in the first edition of Voices for Evolution)
return to top
UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
Whereas, "Scientific" creationism seeks to prove that natural history conforms absolutely to the Genesis account of origins; and,
Whereas, adherence to immutable theories is fundamentally antithetical to the nature of science; and,
Whereas, "Scientific" creationism seeks covertly to promote a particular religious dogma; and,
Whereas, the promulgation of religious dogma in public schools is contrary to the First Amendment to the United States Constitution; therefore,
Be it resolved that The Iowa Annual Conference opposes efforts to introduce "Scientific" creationism into the science curriculum of the public schools.
Passed June 1984, Iowa Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.
return to top
UNITED PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH IN THE U.S.A. (1982)
Evolution and Creationism
Whereas, The Program Agency of the United Presbyterian Church in the USA notes with concern a concerted effort to introduce legislation and other means for the adoption of a public school curriculum variously known as "Creationism" or "Creation Science,"
Whereas, over several years, fundamentalist church leadership, resourced by the Creation Science Research Center and the Institute for Creation Research, has prepared legislation for a number of states calling for "balanced treatment" for "creation-science" and "evolution-science," requiring that wherever one is taught the other must be granted a comparable presentation in the classroom;
Whereas, this issue represents a new situation, there are General Assembly policies on Church and State and Public Education which guide us to assert once again that the state cannot legislate the establishment of religion in the public domain;
Whereas, the dispute is not really over biology or faith, but is essentially about Biblical interpretation, particularly over two irreconcilable viewpoints regarding the characteristics of Biblical literature and the nature of Biblical authority:
Therefore, the Program Agency recommends to the 194th General Assembly (1982) the adoption of the following affirmation:
Affirms that, despite efforts to establish "creationism" or "creation-science" as a valid science, it is teaching based upon a particular religious dogma as agreed by the court (McLean vs Arkansas Board of Education); Affirms that, the imposition of a fundamentalist viewpoint about the interpretation of Biblical literature -- where every word is taken with uniform literalness and becomes an absolute authority on all matters, whether moral, religious, political, historical or scientific -- is in conflict with the perspective on Biblical interpretation characteristically maintained by Biblical scholars and theological schools in the mainstream of Protestantism, Roman Catholicism and Judaism. Such scholars find that the scientific theory of evolution does not conflict with their interpretation of the origins of life found in Biblical literature.
Affirms that, academic freedom of both teachers and students is being further limited by the impositions of the campaign most notably in the modification of textbooks which limits the teaching about evolution but also by the threats to the professional authority and freedom of teachers to teach and students to learn;
Affirms that, required teaching of such a view constitutes an establishment of religion and a violation of the separation of church and state, as provided in the First Amendment to the Constitution and laws of the United States;
Affirms that, exposure to the Genesis account is best sought through the teaching about religion, history, social studies and literature, provinces other than the discipline of natural science, and
Calls upon Presbyterians, and upon legislators and school board members, to resist all efforts to establish any requirements upon teachers and schools to teach "creationism" or "creation science."
Adopted by General Assembly, 1982.
return to top
UNITED PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH IN THE U.S.A. (1983)
The Church, the Public School, and Creation Science
Current efforts to legislate the teaching of "creation-science" in the public school challenge and violate basic principles which guide public schools and their responsibility for education of a public that is characterized by its cultural pluralism. These basic principles are grounded both in law (General Welfare Clause of Section 8, Article 1, of U.S. Constitution) and in the Reformed understanding that human response to God's gracious calling is expressed through faithfulness, freedom, and self-determination amidst different claims and alternatives. This Reformed understanding is set forth in the public policy position on public education adopted by the 119th General Assembly:
The biblical impetus toward growth for faith and justice is reaffirmed in the theological stance of the Reformed tradition. This impetus calls for a unique combination of teaching learning experiences: in home, in church, and in public education.
Persons are called "to glorify God and enjoy him forever." Within the Reformed tradition, this calling is God's act of grace. On the Christian's side the act of grace is affirmed through commitment. But commitment is not simply the acceptance of the truth of certain doctrinal statements. It is much more the embodiment of the lifestyle of Jesus. This embodiment takes place in the everyday struggle to make decisions about the common life of God's creatures. Decision-making implies the freedom of self-determination. It calls for consciousness of alternatives and their consequences. Growth in self-determination is thus best achieved in a setting where alternate loyalties are experienced and reflected upon and where the freedom to create new alternatives is not only permitted but encouraged. Pluralism comprises such a setting, and the public school is the context of pluralism which provides an appropriate atmosphere for growth and development toward the maturity of decision-making and commitment.
In addition, Christian love and respect for persons demand that all persons be free to search for the truth wherever they may find it. This free search for truth which is essential to maturity calls for an appreciation and respect for all human efforts toward justice and love. When public education is not restricted by theological positions or secular ideologies, it provides such an arena for free inquiry and appreciation of all efforts toward humanization.
The Reformed tradition seeks, therefore, to sustain and support all efforts toward the removal of ignorance and bigotry and toward the establishment of free institutions as a source of a high degree of social stability. Public education can be such a free institution where ignorance and bigotry are challenged.*
The creation-science controversy thus touches basic tenets that are deeply rooted in the nation and in the Reformed tradition. Our primary intent is to contribute to moral discourse, as these issues are debated within the community of faith as well as within the scientific and educational communities. Our purpose is to help people consider how to think rather than to dictate what they are to think.
The goals of this dialogue are to develop public policies which both safeguard individual freedom and contribute to the public good and which strengthen the public school as one of society's most essential institutions, serving all the people. We would mark the discrete functions of the church and the school, while at the same time acknowledging their common commit, , , ment to the development of persons and to the formation of a just and humane society.
We accept a responsibility to participate in the education of the public on the issues raised by the creationism controversy and in the continuing formation of public policy affecting the public school. We make these affirmations and offer recommendations for consideration by synods, presbyteries, congregations, and the various publics represented in their membership.
1. As citizens of the United States, we are firmly committed to the right and freedom of conscience and freedom of religion, that is, freedom of each citizen in the determination of his or her religious allegiance, and the freedom of religious groups and institutions in the declaration of their beliefs.
2. As Christians, we believe every individual has the right to an education aimed at the full development of the individual's capacities as a human being created by God, including both intellect and character. We also believe that we have the responsibility to educate and thus will seek maximum educational opportunities for every child of God, that all persons may be prepared for responsible participation in the common life.
3. We affirm that each individual has the right to an education which recognizes rather than obscures the ethnic, racial and religious pluralism of our country and which prepares persons for life in the emerging world culture of the 21st century. Such an education views the individual as a whole person for whom discursive intellect, aesthetic sensitivity and moral perspective are intimately related.
4. We reaffirm our historic commitment to the public school as one of the basic educational institutions of the society. We celebrate its inclusiveness and its role as a major cohesive force, carrying our hopes for a fully democratic and pluralistic society. We further reaffirm the responsibility of public institutions to serve all the population as equitably as possible, neglecting none as expendable or undeserving of educational opportunity.
5. We affirm our faith that God is the author of truth and the Holy Spirit is present in all of our common life, to lead us all into truth. Ours is a journey of faith and of revelation in which the human spirit is fed and led but not coerced.
6. We believe that the nurturing of faith is the responsibility of the home and the church, not the public school. Neither the church nor the state should use the public school to compel acceptance of any creed or conformity to any specific religious belief or practice.
7. We affirm the professional responsibility of educators to make judgments about school curriculum which are based on sound scholarship and sound teaching practices.
8. We affirm that it is inappropriate for the state to mandate the teaching of the specific religious beliefs of the creationists in accord with the Overton ruling (McLean vs Arkansas Board of Education). We also affirm the responsibility of the public school to teach about religious beliefs, ideas and values as an integral part of our cultural heritage. We believe the public school has an obligation to help individuals formulate an intelligent understanding and appreciation of the role of religion in the life of people of all cultures. In the context of teaching about religion, it is appropriate to include in the public school curriculum consideration of the variety of religious interpretations of creation and the origins of human life.
9. We affirm our uncompromising commitment to academic freedom, that is, freedom to teach and to learn. Access to ideas and opportunities to consider the broad range of questions and experiences which constitute the proper preparation for a life of responsible citizenship must never be defined by the interests of any single viewpoint or segment of the public.
10. We acknowledge the need to enlarge the public participation in open inquiry, debate and action concerning the goals of education, and in the development of those educational reforms which equip children, youth and adults with equal opportunities to participate fully in the society. This participation must respect the constitutional and intellectual rights guaranteed school personnel and students by our law and tradition.
11. We pledge our continuing efforts to strengthen the public school as the most valuable, open, and accessible institution for formal education for all the people; we assert that educational needs are more important than economic, political and religious ideologies as the basis upon which to formulate educational policies.
12. We affirm anew our faith and oneness in Christ, the way, the truth and the life, as we struggle to make a faithful witness amid the conflict of convictions and conclusions between sisters and brothers who bear a common name.
1. That the General Assembly encourage congregations to study the issues in the creation-science controversy, giving particular attention to:
the historic role of the churches in the founding and developing of the public school.
the diversity of belief about creation and human origin present in our society.
the principles and assumptions which guide the development of the science curriculum in the public school and the use of scientific inquiry within all disciplines and subjects.
the essentials of the church-state issues as they apply to the public school, including a review of the major U.S. Supreme Court decisions and the recent court decisions on the creationism issue (i.e. McLean vs Arkansas Board of Education).
the processes of policymaking for the public school including the appropriate roles of the community, the educator, the parent, and the church.
2. That the General Assembly urge congregations to encourage local school boards to discuss issues of creation-science fully and openly, if and when they come onto the board's agenda.
3. That the General Assembly urge congregations to encourage and assist teachers and administrators in becoming sensitive to the religious perspectives of all persons in the schools, without sacrificing their professional commitments and standards regarding the teaching of science and teaching about religion.
4. That the General Assembly encourage congregations in communities divided by the creationism controversy to work for reconciliation and to provide a community of support for those struggling to keep the schools free of ideological indoctrination.
5. That the General Assembly encourage pastors and Christian educators to help their congregations to interpret the biblical passages dealing with creation and the origins of human life in ways that take their message seriously.
6. That the Mission Board provide study resources including the study paper prepared by the United Ministries in Education, "Creationism, the Church, and the Public School." (The paper is available from United Ministries in Education, c/o American Baptist Churches, Valley Forge, PA 19481.)
7. That the General Assembly commend the paper, "The Dialogue Between Theology and Science" (adopted by the 122nd General Assembly), as a study document addressing the basic issues related to the ongoing debate regarding the teaching of evolution and creationism in public schools.
For Synods and Presbyteries
8. That the General Assembly encourage synods and presbyteries to give attention to the work of state legislatures and their committees, taking care that any discussion of proposed creation-science legislation include broader educational, religious, and constitutional questions, and to join with others to have creation-science legislation declared unconstitutional when it is in violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
9. That the General Assembly urge synods and presbyteries to encourage educators and citizens to examine the textbooks being used now in the public schools for the adequacy of their teaching about creation and evolution and about the differing religious perspective and interpretations of origins, and to resist every effort to purge or discredit data which are held to be part of our common history and heritage.
10. That the General Assembly encourage presbyteries to provide in resource centers information about creation-science, evolution-science and related public school issues.
*Minutes of the 119th General Assembly, p. 526. The paper was adopted by the General Assembly and commended to the Church for study. Passed at the 195th General Assembly of the United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., 1983.
Some of this page was adapted from http://www.ncseweb.org/resources/articles/5025_statements_from_religious_orga_12_19_2002.asp#ajc
Send mail to email@example.com with
questions or comments about this web site.