Spirit of Darwin: Resources for churches promoting dialogue on faith and science

Happy Birthday,
Charles Darwin!

Darwin Day is coming and so is Evolution Weekend, when many churches make an effort to demonstrate that faith and science aren’t enemies. At least two major American institutions—the Pew Forum and National Geographic—marked the earlier bicentennial of Charles Darwin’s birth on Feb 12, 1809, with extensive reports on Darwin, evolution and the spiritual reflections surrounding Darwin’s discoveries. For 2010, National Geographic added a fascinating report on the evolutionary journey of Darwin’s own family! Science shows that Darwin’s family actually migrated out of Africa thousands of years ago.

We want your help! Email us if you’re aware of a Darwin or faith-and-science resource we should share with readers—a new book, film, TV show or Web site. Or, email us if you’ve got a sermon you found inspiring on this topic! Our email is [email protected]

Clergy Letter Project / Evolution Weekend …

Here’s an innovative grass-roots approach to encouraging a truce between faith and science—especially developed for those who still feelanxious about the boundaries between the two realms. It’s called the
Clergy Letter Project
and it’s coordinated by Michael Zimmerman, professor of biology at Butler University. This link gives you some background on the project. Or, here’s another entry-point to the Web site where you can read about plans and resources for the 2010 Evolution Weekend.

Darwin Day …

The American Humanist Association also has a Darwin-Evolution Web site and is trying to build support for an annual, national observance of Darwin Day—as a celebration of scientific inquiry. (You’ll find an online petition within the site asking the President to declare such an observance.) The Darwin Day site is intriguing and includes a fairly elaborate online biography of Darwin, complete with maps and colorful photographs of some of the sites that were a part of his life.

Helpful Resources …

FANS OF C.S. LEWIS recommend (via their Lewis newsletter) an Oxford University Press book that relates Lewis’ science fiction trilogy to streams of post-Darwin thinking. It’s called “C.S. Lewis on the Final Frontier: Science and the Supernatural in the Space Trilogy.” The new book is by Sanford Schwartz and here’s the Amazon link.

  TWO MORE INTRIGUING BOOKS: ReadTheSpirit strongly recommends: “Darwin’s Armada: Four Voyages and the Battle for the Theory of Evolution” from Norton. If you’ve read other work by McCalman, then you know that he’s a respected historian of the 18th and 19th centuries and a lively writer as well, especially interested in unusual ideas as they emerge. This 400-page book looks at the voyages not only of Darwin but also Joseph Hooker, Thomas Huxley and Alfred Wallace. If you love history and books about science, we can assure you—this is a flat out “good read.” You might also want, “The Young Charles Darwin,” by Keith Thomson, although this is more for true history-and-science buffs who really want to dig deeper. Published by Yale and written by Thomson, a venerable Oxford-based scholar and author in the field, this book explores the vigorous younger life of Darwin.

FINDING DARWIN’S GOD: Bob Bruttel, Adjunct Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Detroit Mercy, sent us this recommendation:
A definite add to the collection is a book by the well-respected cell biologist from Brown, Dr. Kenneth Miller. His book, “Finding Darwin’s God: A Scientist’s Search for Common Ground Between God and Evolution” is an outstanding resource that my students all rate very highly when I assign it in “Religion and Science in the West.” Miller has become the go-to scientist in defense of evolution whenever the intelligent design-creationist debate reaches the courts. Miller is a Christian believer and a cell biologist whose narrative is a nice pairing of the two. He is not struggling with either. In fact, he has developed what might be called a theology of evolution that is engaging and many will find compelling. Those who decide to read the book will find that they are not alone. Dr. Miller himself is amazed at how popular the book has become. I highly recommend it. If, however, you don’t have time to read this or any of Miller’s other books on evolution, I recommend that you search Youtube.com for Kenneth Miller. For Millerphiles, there is plenty available from that resource also.

    EVEN MORE GREAT STUFF FOR KIDS and FAMILIES! A big “Thank you!” to reader Lawrence Bartel in Old Forge, N.Y., for recommending “One Beetle Too Many: The Extraordinary Adventures of Charles Darwin”
(that title link takes you to Amazon).
    Lawrence writes: “The resources you mentioned prompted me to pull a slim book off my shelf titled ‘One Beetle Too Many,’ by Kathryn Lasky and illustrated by Matthew Trueman. The snappy narrative of Darwin’s formative journey and the whimsical illustrations delight my senses every time I read the book. When you asked readers to send in resources on Darwin’s life and legacy we find inspiring, I knew that I needed to send this recommendation to you.
    And, we’re so glad you did, Lawrence! This is a Candlewick book, which already is a golden recommendation in children’s literature. We’ve reviewed and recommended a good number of Candlewick titles in the past. Can’t wait to read it to a young person!

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Originally published at readthespirit.com, an online magazine covering religion and cultural diversity.

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