Publication:Johnson City Press; Date:Feb 2, 2008; Section:Faith; Page Number:1C


Evolution Weekend set for Feb. 10

• Event promotes idea that science, religion complement each other.

By REX BARBER Press Staff Writer rbarber@johnsoncitypress.com



    The theory of evolution and the notion that God created all are usually at odds.

    However, they need not be, according to ministers participating in a worldwide event on Feb. 10.

    Next weekend, a few area churches will participate in Evolution Weekend, a time for pastors to promote the notion that science and religion complement each other.

    “Here, my sermon Sunday on the 10th will just be about the relationship of science and religion,” said the Rev. Jacqueline Luck of Holston Valley Unitarian Universalist Church in Gray. “And for me my message is that science is revelation. I don’t know why we separate the two.”

    Luck recently became minister of HVUUC, moving to the area from a church in Mississippi.

    She was one of the signers of the Clergy Letter Project, of which Evolution Weekend is a part.

    “We were trying to make a visible statement that not all people, not all clergy, were as vocal about teaching creation as opposed to evolution,” Luck said of the letter, which was drafted and sent to Congress.

    In Mississippi she was the only minister who signed on to the letter and for its product — Evolution Weekend. As a result of that, she was contacted and interviewed by a British author who was writing about American attitudes toward evolution.

    Luck said that the Book of Revelation is not sealed, meaning it continues unfinished. It disturbs her that sometimes there is no room for inter-
pretation or debate in religion.

    “Some people take it literally and they latch onto the thought that this story written hundreds of years ago, thousands of years ago, that’s the only way it is,” she said.

    A former art teacher, Luck said she was confronted with students who would argue with her that Egyptian art could not be 3,000 years old because humanity had not been in existence that long.

    That is one reason, Luck said, it is important to discuss scientific theories with congregations, because regardless of a person’s position on the subject, college and other aspects of life will undoubtedly expose them to scientific material.

    “It’s the relationship between religion and science,” she said. “They don’t exclude each other. They both complement each other.

    “(Ignoring scientific theories is) setting people up to where they get somewhere, they’re told about this and they lose their whole religion,” she said. “I do think it creates an uncaring dichotomy that creates a lot of pain and a lot of confusion in this world and it doesn’t need to be there.”

    First Presbyterian Church in Elizabethton also is participating in Evolution Weekend.

    The Rev. John Shuck pastors there and has participated in the event for three years.

    He said two new members came to the church and one negative letter to the editor was printed after the first Evolution

    Weekend,

then called Evolution Sunday.

    The sermon Shuck is preparing for the event will focus on how the universe is a neverending process of creation.

    “We’re going to use some different liturgy and talk about some imagery and poetry on the beginning of the universe and how we’re part of this ongoing process,” Shuck said.

    His congregation has planned a trip to the General Shale Brick and East Tennessee State University Natural History Museum and Fossil Site at Gray following the sermon.

    Luck planned to check out the fossil site prior to Evolution Weekend.

    “It’s distressing me for us to be backsliding in science and in religion,” she said. “Progressive religion should not be a threat to anyone. So I’m very glad that we have ETSU scientists and religious people all living together in this area supporting something like the fossil museum.”

    As part of her sermon, Luck was poring over books that would provide inspiration for a sermon hoping to “find points of science that are awesome, points of awe that call up reverence for all creation,” she said.

    For more information on the event, visit www.evolutionweekend.org.