Be a scientific consultant for the Clergy Letter Project!

By now, regular readers will probably be familiar with The Clergy Letter Project spearheaded by Michael Zimmerman. Formulated in part to respond to the framing of the evolution controversy as a battle between science and religion, the letter now boasts more than 10,700 signatures from clergy, and have sponsored Evolution Sunday events for the past 2 years.

Well, Zimmerman has a new project now:

Our latest initiative is to create a list of scientists around the world who are willing to answer scientific questions posed by clergy who are supportive of modern science in general and evolution in particular ( In just a bit over three weeks, we already have over 200 scientists signed up to help out. I hasten to add that the information these scientists will be providing will be solely of a scientific nature and thus their personal religious inclinations are absolutely irrelevant.

In addition to creating a useful resource for clergy, I am hoping for the list to make a major political statement: religious leaders and scientists can work together – despite what religious fundamentalists claim. I also would very much like to have more names on this list than the number of scientists the Discovery Institute has on a list it trumpets of scientists claiming to “question” evolution.

If you’re interested, drop an email to Michael ( and include your name, title, address, area(s) of expertise, and email address–and spread the word!

Join the Conversation


  1. Dropped an e-mail. I don’t know if they’ll be interested in listing me, given my impending change in status. Obviously, everything I know will still be the same, but Titles Matter.

    (The Teaching Company — those folks who do the “Great Courses” CD and DVD series — had contacted me a while back about coming out and giving a trial lecture. When I told them I’d no longer be a professor, they were no longer interested in me.)


  2. How can religion and science ever work together? As you go towards one you go away from the other. I don’t see how anyone can support a project that just promotes further compartmentalization of the minds of believers.

  3. So instead should we ignore them because of their beliefs? I mentioned a symposium I was part of back in March that also focused on a dialogue between science and religion that I think was quite fruitful. I may not agree regarding personal beliefs, but I certainly don’t see that as a reason to refuse to bring them scientific outreach.

  4. Oh, we should bring the scientific outreach. We should bring them as much scientific outreach as we can. But the only “dialog” we should have with them is “Your beliefs are wrong, and here is why”. We shouldn’t perpetuate the idea that religion and science can work together.

  5. To have a dialog between science and religion, but also to believe that religion is not true, and is in fact a delusion is sending mixed messages. It’s saying, “We will stand up for truth… unless we might want to get something done. Then we will compromise”.

  6. Me Myself and I asked
    How can religion and science ever work together?

    Religion and science are not like Voldemort and the boy wizard where the one can’t live if the other survives. Sorry I just took my kids to the movie. Why do they have to be so mutually exclusive? One is about proof the other one is about faith.

    Science and religion don’t always have to antagonize each other. Only if they both get so polarized one side says “we’re for truth you’re medieval” and the other side says “we know the truth you’re evil”. Thats an attitude for fundamentalists, scientists or believers I don’t care.

    The kind of certainty where Me Myself and I says science has proved all religions are completely false is kinda fundie itself. They’re not falsifiable so how did they get proved false?

  7. Everyone can seek out scientific truth, and everyone has personal beliefs that are not based on logic or evidence. To deny this is to deny you are human. The beliefs in this situation are not important, extending scientific knowledge is. Are your personal beliefs better than mine?

  8. The clergy has access to libraries if they want to learn anything. Those ‘yellow journalism’ sensationalists will stick to whatever guns they have loaded and fired successfully in the past. I’m not interested in wasting my time trying to change someone’s point of view that they don’t want changed. Live and let live!

  9. Gotta be careful here. There are aspects of what you guys are calling “religion” that are true. There are aspects that are false. Same with science, there are certainly aspects of current science that are false, and aspects that are true. And it is always debatable as to which is which in both of them.

    But there is no need to throw out the baby with the bath water in either of them.

    My own philosophy is to always seek for the company of those who seek for the truth, and run from those who claim they found it in both science and religion.

    Works for me.

  10. [quote]There are aspects of what you guys are calling “religion” that are true.[/quote]

    Name one, meaningful one. I mean, certainly human beings are mentioned in religions and they exist. But that hardly seems like a great credit to religion.

    Why do they have to be so mutually exclusive? One is about proof the other one is about faith.

    True and false are exclusive. So are rationality and irrationality. Sorry, but that’s just how it works.

    Furthermore, when I have said that science has proven “all religions” false? What I have said is that they are exclusive. They are exclusive because they prove things false, or the show that they are irrelevant/redundant/whatever. The God who can’t be falsified is the God that doesn’t matter.

  11. Me Myself and I asked
    How can religion and science ever work together?

    This is silly beyond belief. 82% of the US population identifies itself as christian. 6% is other religions, 11% atheistic. Yet a large share of the world’s science (roughly 50%) is done in the USA and we are so far the acknowledged leader. If science couldn’t coexist with religion this wouldn’t have happened. The US would be some backwater banana republic.

    The scientific revolution started in Europe among a population much more religious than it is now. Many great scientists were religious, Newton, Maxwell, Copernicus, and so on.

    The serious attack on science in the USA is from a few cults in the south central part. Not the mainstream protestants or catholics, the great majority.

    Surprise, fundamental atheists can be just as dogmatic and fanatical as fundie xians. What next a fundie atheist fatwa, crusade, or shrine somewhere? LOL

  12. There can be Christians who do science because we all have the ability to compartmentalize. This doesn’t mean that religion and science can coexist. It just means that we have the capability of not believing things that are consistent with each other. Existing in seperate rooms is not coexistence.

    While I agree that the scientific revolution started in a population much more religious than it is now, isn’t it interesting that from then on the power of religion has been on the decline?

    Finally, while the most serious attack on science comes from ID and creationism (which are hardly a “few” cults) that doesn’t say anything about the rest of religion. Its not like if you give up on ID and creationism, the rest of religion fits in perfectly with scientific beliefs.

  13. Raven, right on!
    Surprise, fundamental atheists can be just as dogmatic and fanatical as fundie xians.

    Like Frank said everyone has personal beliefs. Some people believe their dogs love them. Some people believe a deity loves them. Some people believe all science is all rationality and all religion is all irrational. They’re all beliefs, kinda hard to falsify them.

  14. Adele,

    It would be quite easy to falsify the belief that all science is all rationality and all religion is irrational. Simply find a part of religion that is not irrational.

    However, I do not claim that all religion is irrational. Certainly religions may make correct historical claims. What I have said time and time again is that religion is incompatible with science.

  15. SJ Gould told a story about being questioned by Catholic priests, in Rome, about the “conflict between religion and science” in the USA. He assured them there was no conflict between the two because they relate to different things (his Non Overlapping MAjestaria idea). Writing about that situation, he noted how odd it was for an agnostic Jew to assure Catholic priests that their religion was safe …

  16. Settling the evolution/creation debate

    The controversy rages, evolution versus creation versus intelligent design. Debates involve whether evolution is a hypothesis, theory or fact. Creation is considered religion and as such is taboo for discussion or as a subject suitable for the biology classroom. Intelligent Design is touted as a masquerade for Creationism.
    Then much is accused of being “pseudoscience” a popular term used principally by evolutionists to denigrate anything that opposes what is termed “Evolution science”. The term ‘pseudo science” is an oxymoron in that anything which is false science is not science at all and should never be part of any equation.
    Intelligent Design and Creation science put in the classification of “pseudoscience” is a shameful way of sweeping all unwanted evidence under the rug in the expectation that giving evidence a bad label will keep all supportive evidence from surfacing or from being validly considered as pertinent to the equation.
    When new scientific information is discovered, it is made available to the Evolutionist as well as the Creationist. How the information is assessed and evaluated has much to do with the honesty and integrity of those scientists evaluating the data and whether they are using bias, prejudice, speculation, dishonesty or wishful thinking to support a preconceived notion while discarding evidence that is not “convenient.”.
    Scientists are taught that all available evidence should be considered, weighed carefully, evaluated with open mind and, by letting the weight of the evidence be the overriding factor, make valid determinations and arrive at plausible conclusions.
    If fairness and scientific inquiry along with searching for truth are truly the quest, then scientists worthy of the title should feel the obligation to deal fairly with the evidence. Bias should have no place in the equation. Categorizing all evidence in opposition to a bias under a derogatory term has no place for the true scientist.
    As relates the controversy, there is no rationale for categorizing data and information as
    “creation science” or “evolutionary science”. Science is science, evidence is evidence, truth is truth. They have no affinity. Colleges do not and should not offer courses in”evolutionary science” or “creation science”. They should present information. Grouping or categorizing data and giving it a name for the purpose of suppressing evidence is not only deceitful but is also scientifically disgraceful. If scientific data supports evolution, so be it, if supportive of creation, so be it, but to suppress information that is counter to a belief is blatant censorship and a grave injustice to the scientific method. Many are guilty, even scientists whose scientific disciplines abhor this.
    As to what should be taught in the classroom, it should be science, not evolution, not creation, not intelligent design, but science, all science pertinent and applicable to the project. To do nothing short is a travesty and a terrible injustice to students. To teach only the science that supports evolution is the purest form of censorship. They are in the classroom to be taught science and the scientific method. The classroom is not the arena for propagandizing a favored concept, nor should it be the arena for proselytizing. It is the arena for presenting unbiased scientific knowledge with the intent of challenging the student to apprise the validity of materials presented for the purpose of drawing conclusions based on the weight of the evidence. Only then does the classroom become a “learning experience” rather than a stadium for indoctrination of a specific concept.
    The real travesty in our public schools today is the suppression of information to the degree of censorship so as to endorse one theory over its antithesis. If evolution is true, let it stand the test of scrutiny. If evolution is true, it should be able to stand the test and emerge untainted and undaunted. If Creation is true, allow the scientific evidence to test its validity. Anything less is a terrible disservice to the student and to science, itself.

  17. Joe,

    They don’t relate to different things. They both relate to truth. They both make moral statements. However, science is based on a time-tested process of reasoning and observation. It works.

    Religious truths are based on believing the guy in front of you in the pulpit, for no reason whatsoever. You have a religious belief because you think they great sky daddy told you, or you went to a concert and got all weepy. In short, for no good reason whatsoever.

  18. when materials used to create magnets are created their atomic composition must be aligned to generate the field produced Hold forth your compass and repeat god you have them by the balls for no theory can replace intelligent designe

  19. WHERE THE ANIMALS AT NOAH! by golly i do see dolly the dino plodicus bouncing around in time

  20. follow the compass abundant material of intelligent design! follow the pointy stick road ! global warming offers a trip of a lifetime visit the north pole do some research tell a freind let the athiest down gently its all yours absolutely free dont delay!

  21. The generalization that science depends on reason and religion on faith seems to be intentionally divisive. As Raven aptly noted, the two actually seem to prosper in a kind of sick and twisted… synergy? There can be little doubt that both science and religion are focussed intently on truth, and perhaps this is what causes them to prosper together. I think the fact that we pit religion and science against each other is noble in theory, but it simply escalates to empty words in the end, because there are so many pockets within each side of the argument that it becomes hard if not impossible to attribute the logical arguments to a particular school of thought (and conversely to dish out shame and disrespect to those deserving). I often wonder if the ID crew and the creo’s are as bitchy towards us as we deserve for them to be.

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