For Immediate Release
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Evolution and Christian Theology are Compatible, Scientists and Theologians Say
Ben Stein's New Movie Expelled Ignores Years of Constructive Dialogue
BERKELEY, California, May 21, 2008 -Research undertaken by the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences (CTNS) has shown that evolutionary biology does not threaten religious belief, but in fact provides great insight into how God relates to the world. Going beyond the common perception of a "battle" and "conflict" between science and faith, CTNS and its affiliated researchers argue that engagement and interaction better characterize the relationship between science and religion. Yet the movie Expelled (2008) starring Ben Stein ignores decades of discoveries and research that show the compatibility of Christian theology and evolutionary theory.
"There is no conflict between Christian belief and evolution," says Robert John Russell, the Ian G. Barbour Professor of Theology and Science. "The movie Expelled does a disservice to religious believers and scientists alike by failing to offer a constructive alternative to conflict. Happily, faith and science can be brought into a creative relationship that is enriching to scientists and religious believers. And this relationship doesn't require challenging mainstream science."
Much of the controversy surrounding the movie has centered on its supposedly uncovering a concerted effort to silence scientists who express religious beliefs. CTNS has provided opportunities for hundreds of leading scientists to talk about their own spiritual and religious beliefs in an open and respectful manner, and it has supported research on the relationship between science and religion. Retribution of the type that Expelled argues sometimes occurs, but is not frequent. In fact, a number of scientists who have been open about their religious beliefs have continued to prosper in their institutions and have reached the highest levels of success.
Francisco Ayala, a member of the CTNS Board of Advisors, is a biologist and professor at the University of California, Irvine. In 2002 he was awarded the National Medal of Science by President George W. Bush. Ayala has recently published a book on the compatibility of religious belief and evolution titled Darwin's Gift to Science and Religion (2007).
Francis Collins, the head of the Human Genome Research Institute, speaks openly of how his evangelical Christian faith and his work as a scientist are mutually enriching, and has published a book, The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief (2006), that argues for the compatibility of science and religious belief.
Martinez J. Hewlett, professor emeritus in the departments of Medicine and Molecular and Cellular Biology at the University of Arizona, co-wrote a book with theologian Ted Peters on how Christians should view evolutionary biology (Can You Believe in God and Evolution? A Guide for the Perplexed, 2006). He and Peters–and many others--argue that religious believers can accept Darwinian evolution and maintain a strong faith in God.
These are but three examples of the types of leading scientists who find no conflict between religious belief and scientific inquiry. Far from being punished for talking openly about their religious beliefs, these scientists continue to be supported in their active and successful scientific careers.
Movies like Expelled perpetuate the misunderstandings about the relationship between science and religion. CTNS and its affiliated scholars continue to provide an alternative model of constructive, open, and honest engagement between science and theology.
"It is not accurate to claim that religion and science are in conflict," says Russell. "Many scientists are religious believers themselves. And many religious believers are fascinated by the discoveries and insights gained through scientific inquiry. What religion and science need most are constructive models that help all of us work together toward greater clarity and understanding about this stunningly complex universe we inhabit."
The mission of The Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences is to promote the creative mutual interaction between theology and the natural sciences, carried out through three program areas: research, teaching and public service. Founded in 1981, by Dr. Robert John Russell, physicist and theologian, CTNS is a non-profit membership organization and an affiliate of the Graduate Theological Union (GTU) in Berkeley, California. Currently, CTNS is managing the four-year program, STARS: Science and Transcendence Advanced Research Series, a joint program with the Vatican Observatory on the Problem of Natural Evil. CTNS previously managed the successful multi-year programs, Science and the Spiritual Quest, The Science and Religion Course Program and the joint program Scientific Perspectives on Divine Action with the Vatican Observatory. Included in the stellar Board of Directors are a Nobel laureate, a former AAAS president, an astrophysicist and a Cardinal. CTNS faculty offer courses at the doctoral and seminary levels in order to bring future clergy and faculty to a greater awareness of this important interdisciplinary work.
For more information, visit www.ctns.org, call 510-649-2564 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.