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Sunday, February 11, 2007
(9:35 AM) | Stephen:
St. Charles of Shrewsbury

It's Sunday morning. By most common estimates, somewhere around 40% of this nation's population is getting up, getting dressed and heading to a Christian church of some sort.

In the Church, various Sundays are used throughout the year to commemorate important events in the life of Jesus - Christmas, Easter - or in the history of the Church - Pentecost, Reformation Sunday (oops, now I'm anti-Catholic) - and other feasts and fasts. Some churches follow the ancient liturgical calendar, others pretty much just make up their own.

Today, at least 600 congregations will take part in a relatively new addition to the liturgical calendar: Evolution Sunday.

Evolution Sunday is an outgrowth of the Clergy Letter Project, "an endeavor designed to demonstrate that religion and science can be compatible and to elevate the quality of the debate of this issue." They have over 10,000 signatories to this letter, which is pretty good. Certainly there are clergymembers out there who agree with these sentiments who either haven't heard of this project, or perhaps don't care about signing things like this, or are leading churches that wouldn't be able to handle such a thing. Obviously this is something with quite a bit of broad support.

It's probably clear that I'm a "stick it to the fundiegelicals" kind of guy. I appreciate good political theater, and I certainly like it when people are willing to take a stand. And if these churches were celebrating Evolution Saturday or Thursday, I wouldn't have a problem with it.

But Evolution Sunday? Every Sunday is supposed to be Resurrection Sunday. That's why the fasting season of Lent doesn't count Sundays - whatever a person gives up for Lent is not only ok to do or consume on Sunday, it's beneficial, because that helps us to remember the grace expressed to us by God through the resurrection and the extent of the joy that is now ours because of our identification with Jesus and adoption as God's children.*

Charles Darwin was a pretty good guy. But he's not St. Darwin. Despite his early ministerial education, he was no clergyman, no monk, no theologian. We don't celebrate Newtonian Physics Sunday, or Relativity Sunday or any other Sunday given over to the commemoration of a scientist - or politician or engineer or anything else.

I understand the desire to be distinct from the Creationist crowd, some of whose churches will spend a series of Sundays dedicated to refuting Darwin, as if at the Pearly Gates there will be a quiz of some sort that determines the depth of one's rejection of post-15th century scientific developments.

There is a rather large segment of America's churches that are simply wasting everyone's time, offering up Sunday morning "worship" services and "sermons" that are the bastard children of pop-psychology, conservative politics and anti-intellectualism, held together by sinews of fear. The answer to this, however, is not to adopt the same tactics, not to join them in abandoning the true focus of having Christian worship services on Sundays however good our intentions or correct our science.

The Clergy Letter Project and its accompanying Evolution Sunday seek to
"elevate the quality of the debate" over religion and science in this country. The Letter Project does exactly that. It's a great step forward. Evolution Sunday, unfortunately, provides the proverbial two steps back.

*I'm not trying to proselytize or be too Christian-y here, just pointing out the Christian understanding of Sunday.

cross-posted at Ezra's place

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