Rev. Creech Rebukes Clergy Letter Signers

Agape press (associated with the American Family Association) has now attacked the , which produce the Clergy Letter signed by more than 10,000 clergy. Starting with their news story Pro-Evolution Clergy Sign Letter Affirming Faith in Darwin’s Theory, in which the headline is inaccurate, and continuing with an opinion piece by Rev. Mark Leech entitled Rebuking the ‘Clergy Letter Project’, in which the author manages to severely misrepresent the issues involved.

Now this attack is not at all surprising. It’s what one would expect the AFA to do. Further, I don’t have a problem with AFA advocating their own position. But these articles are much more an attack on other peoples’ positions, specifically of those Christians who do accept the theory of evolution, and it’s not a very good one.

Let’s look briefly at the two quotes used in the article. First, Theodosius Dobzhansky is quoted talking about the inappropriate standards of evidence which creationists request in their challenges to evolution. The quote is characterized as an admission. But it is important to note that Dobzhansky is not “admitting” anything. He is simply stating the facts of the case. In a theory that involves historical data, the standards of evidence are different, and appropriately so. I have heard creationist speaker’s ask for all steps of evolution between two very distant species, i.e. a fossil for every single physical stage, which would mean many thousands of very specific fossils. This request is ridiculous, and I think those who make the request know that it is. No theory of creation could meet the request either, and no theory with an historical element could manage it.

Dobzhansky is merely stating a fact that should be obvious to anyone with any understanding of the field at all. (As an aside, a theory is never proven; it is always subject to review and could be invalidated by any new discovery. For example, the recent find of a water mammal from the jurassic requires adjustment of portions of the history of life on our planet, but no basic restructuring of the theory of evolution as such. Creationists tend to use such finds as evidence against the theory of evolution, but they are, in fact, some of the best evidence that the scientific method is working in studying the historical aspects of the theory.

Despite this debate over the evidence required for historical reconstruction, there are many aspects of the theory of evolution that are subject to laboratory testing. A theory by nature integrates a variety of data, and not all are necessarily subject to the same type of testing. In general, a theory would not be “proven” by any single experiment. The experimental data would be collected, and individually would either be in accord with the theory’s predictions or not. If they are not in accord with the theory’s predictions, then the theory needs to be updated.

When creationists use this type of argument they merely use the scientific illiteracy of a substantial portion of the public to manipulate them by pretending that routine facts are surprising revelations. This is an excellent reason for improved scientific education in this country. It is also one reason why many creationists attack the public school by attempting to water down teaching of evolutionary theory. If the public understood the nature of a scientific theory and the standards of evidence involved, this type of attack would not work.

(To look at the other quote, from L. Harrison Matthews, see

But what I find even more objectionable in this article is the attack on the faith and commitment of those Christians who accept evolution. Creech says, “Moreover, to doubt a literal interpretation of the creation account is to undermine everything taught in the Bible.” That is an incredibly stupid statement. There is no doubt introduced by believing a portion of the Bible is one type of literature or another. The question is what type of literature it actually is. In fact, someone who demands that one take a figurative passage literally is simply setting up Bible students to lose their faith when they discover that the literal interpretation makes the passage false. (See my comments in my previous entry, The Bible and Young Earth.)

Further Creech then blames a lack of commitment to God on this failure to read Genesis 1 literally. This is a false accusation, and Creech should be deeply ashamed of this sort of tactic. He can’t argue from the literary nature of the text itself, so he resorts to this sort of ad hominem.

Just for the record, I accept the theory of evolution. At the same time I believe that God is constantly and actively present in the universe. Not only my next breath, but every movement of every subatomic particle occurs because God sustains the universe. If God chooses to use evolution to diversify life here–and the evidence is that he has–that’s up to him. If he chooses to represent creation in the Bible with something other than a literal historical narrative, he can do that as well.

And this doesn’t prevent me from being an active Christian. My faith comes first. That’s why I’m a Bible teacher. That’s why I lead seminars on prayer and encourage people to dedicate more time to their faith and to daily time with God. My understanding of the facts of evolution doesn’t prevent any of this. In fact, my study of nature increases my faith in God and my awe of his creative power.

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