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Will the US Churches Change Their View On Evolution?

Posted by on Feb. 13, 2009 at 9:21 PM
  • 39 Replies

ATLANTA – After a lifetime in the church, the Rev. William L. Rhines Jr. lately has started to question one of the Bible's fundamental teachings, that God created man. It's an especially touchy topic in his Wilmington, Del., congregation, where generations of black worshippers have leaned on faith to endure the indignities of racism.

But as the world marks the 200th birthday of evolution theorist Charles Darwin on Thursday, Rhines figures its time for even the most conservative congregations to come to terms with science.

"We're becoming more middle class, upper middle class, so we have more free time ... to ponder these eternal issues," said Rhines, who will encourage a discussion at Ezion-Mt. Carmel United Methodist Church.

Hundreds of churches this week will revisit the question of whether man evolved from lower order species or was created whole by a higher being as part of Evolution Weekend.

Participation through sermons, Sunday school lessons and even evolution dances has expanded into 974 congregations across the country, more than doubling since the weekend began in 2006, said founder Michael Zimmerman, dean of the college of liberal arts and sciences at Butler University in Indianapolis.

Organizers said the churches include a growing number of conservative groups, among them black and Muslim groups typically linked to more traditional views.

Participants say they're not abandoning the Bible's story of Adam and Eve. Rather, they want to blend theories in a way that helps today's faithful reconcile their modern world with Biblical teachings.

"We have to give God a lot more credit than we give him now — we need to give him the benefit of the doubt that his word includes evolution," said Mike Ghouse, president of the World Muslim Congress, a Dallas-based union of 3,000 Muslims that hosted its first ever Evolution Weekend discussion Friday.

The evolution vs. creation debate has simmered for at least the last 150 years since Darwin's "On the Origin of Species." That volume first suggested populations evolve over generations through a process of natural selection.

Zimmerman argues the faithful can accept parts of creationism — the notion that a higher being created man whole — and evolution.

"Faith is related to one's belief system ... science, on the other hand, is in a different domain," said the Rev. Gerald Kersey, who planned a Sunday school lesson and discussion of Darwin's theories at Avondale Estates First Baptist Church in suburban Atlanta.

He blamed religious intolerance for causing many faithful to feel they must choose between science and the Bible.

"I'm presenting the idea that science or evolution is compatible with faith," he said.

Still, many Americans believe that God created man. A 2006 survey by the Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion and Public Life found 63 percent of Americans believed humans and other animals have either always existed in their present form or have evolved over time under the guidance of a supreme being.

That percentage is especially high among the nation's black churchgoers, who have been taught for generations to cope with everything from slavery to Jim Crow by using the Bible's teachings, Rhines said.

"We don't want to tamper with what grandma taught us — we've come this far by faith," Rhines said.

At one of the nation's oldest black churches, the First African Baptist Church in Savannah, Ga., the Rev. Thurmond Tillman doesn't oppose evolution.

But he argued black Americans have other social issues to address, and the faithful should focus on uniting mankind — not dividing his origins.

"What we're judged on his how we first relate with Him," Tillman said. "And the test of how we relate with Him is how we relate with one another."


On the Net:

Evolution Weekend,

by on Feb. 13, 2009 at 9:21 PM
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by on Feb. 13, 2009 at 9:58 PM
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Um, all I can say is if I sit down on Sunday at church and they start discussing evolution and it could be possible, I will standing right back up and walking out and finding another church. 

I firmly believe we came from God and no scientist will change my mind.

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by New Member on Feb. 15, 2009 at 8:55 AM
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I truly do not agree with evolution. I ditto what Jennmarie77 said. 

by Bronze Member on Feb. 15, 2009 at 10:59 AM

I don't believe we came from monkeys, but I do believe we have evolved from what early man looked like. Was it god who create us? Not sure? Was it Marduk? Who knows. ??

by Member on Feb. 15, 2009 at 1:53 PM
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Interesting article,but no, Churches will not  "blend" it's view about Evolution,because it goes against the written breath of God.

The article did say, "Faith is related to one's belief system ... science, on the other hand, is in a different domain," which tells me,while it may acknowledged Evolution it  will not be accepted.

by on Feb. 18, 2009 at 2:56 AM
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Wow - this is seriously about the dumbest thing I've ever heard of a pastor doing. 

No - REAL U.S. CHRISTIAN Churches will not change our views on evolution.  Sure, we'll study science, and how there is no substantial evidence that we are nothing more than glorified apes, as Darwin suggested in his still unproven theory. 

Some of us still know that we were lovingly, purposely created by God, in His very image; and that we were placed here in this world for a reason.  Which would explain why we value life....but that's another topic entirely.  butterfly

by Χριστιανός on Sep. 6, 2015 at 12:49 PM
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It is the Churche's job to uphold the bible, the word of God who is eternal. People (congregants) can choose to see the creation account as literal or symbolic, but it is not the church's place to add in fallible man's theories which are subject to change at any point.

by Ruby Member on Sep. 6, 2015 at 1:01 PM
Naughty science
by Redwood Witch on Sep. 6, 2015 at 1:02 PM
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Um...hello, random post from 2009. Funny seeing you here. 😐
by Ruby Member on Sep. 6, 2015 at 2:18 PM
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Most churches already accept evolution and do not feel it is incompatible with the Bible.

Religious Groups’ Views on Evolution

Updated February 3, 2014


Many Buddhists see no inherent conflict between their religious teachings and evolutionary theory. Indeed, according to some Buddhist thinkers, certain aspects of Darwin’s theory are consistent with some of the religion’s core teachings, such as the notion that all life is impermanent.


The Catholic Church generally accepts evolutionary theory as the scientific explanation for the development of all life. However, this acceptance comes with the understanding that natural selection is a God-directed mechanism of biological development and that man’s soul is the divine creation of God.

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ first public statement on human origins was issued in 1909 and echoed in 1925, when the church’s highest governing body stated, “Man is the child of God, formed in the divine image and endowed with divine attributes.” However, several high-ranking officials have suggested that Darwin’s theory does not directly contradict church teachings.

Episcopal Church

In 1982, the Episcopal Church passed a resolution to “affirm its belief in the glorious ability of God to create in any manner, and in this affirmation reject the rigid dogmatism of the ‘Creationist’ movement.” The church has also expressed skepticism toward the intelligent design movement.

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

While the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has not issued a definitive statement on evolution, it does contend that “God created the universe and all that is therein, only not necessarily in six 24-hour days, and that God actually may have used evolution in the process of creation.”


While there is no single Hindu teaching on the origins of life, many Hindus believe that the universe is a manifestation of Brahman, Hinduism’s highest god and the force behind all creation. However, many Hindus today do not find their beliefs to be incompatible with the theory of evolution.


While the Koran teaches that Allah created human beings as they appear today, Islamic scholars and followers are divided on the theory of evolution. Theologically conservative Muslims who ascribe to literal interpretations of the Koran generally denounce the evolutionary argument for natural selection, whereas many theologically liberal Muslims believe that while man is divinely created, evolution is not necessarily incompatible with Islamic principles.


While all of the major movements of American Judaism – including the Reconstructionist, Reform, Conservative and Orthodox branches – teach that God is the creator of the universe and all life, Jewish teachings generally do not find an inherent conflict between evolutionary theory and faith.

Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod

The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod teaches that “the Genesis account of Creation is true and factual, not merely a ‘myth’ or ‘story’ made up to explain the origin of all things.” The church rejects evolution or any theory that “denies or limits the work of creation as taught in Scripture.”

Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

In 1969, the Presbyterian Church’s governing body amended its previous position on evolution, which was originally drafted in the 19th century, to affirm that evolution and the Bible do not contradict each other. Still, the church has stated that it “should carefully refrain from either affirming or denying the theory of evolution,” and church doctrine continues to hold that man is a unique creation of God, “made in His own image.”

Southern Baptist Convention

In 1982, the Southern Baptist Convention issued a resolution rejecting the theory of evolution and stating that creation science “can be presented solely in terms of scientific evidence without any religious doctrines or concepts.” Some Southern Baptist leaders have spoken out in favor of the intelligent design movement.

United Church of Christ

The United Church of Christ finds evolutionary theory and Christian faith to be compatible, embracing evolution as a means “to see our faith in a new way.”

United Methodist Church

In 2008, the church’s highest legislative body passed a resolution saying that “science’s descriptions of cosmological, geological, and biological evolution are not in conflict with [the church’s] theology.” Moreover, the church states that “many apparent scientific references in [the] Bible … are intended to be metaphorical [and] were included to help understand the religious principles, but not to teach science.”

by Bronze Member on Sep. 6, 2015 at 3:02 PM
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I'm English. .... this truly is bizarre. It's a purely American issue.
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