Shuck and Jive

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Presbyterians, Evolution, and Darwinmas

I have been elected to be a delegate for the 2012 General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)  I have never been a delegate before so I am looking forward to the week in Pittsburgh this summer.   One of my hopes for the General Assembly is that they will endorse the Clergy Letter Project like the United Methodist Church has done. 

It is too late to send an overture to General Assembly from my presbytery as we will not meet again until March and it will miss the deadline.  My questions to my Presby friends are these:
  • Has any presbytery submitted an overture affirming the Clergy Letter Project?
  • If not, do you know of any plans to do so?
  • Still no?  Anyone game to work with me on getting this going?
Meanwhile, I hope that you have Darwinmas on your liturgical calendar. Evolution Weekend is February 10-12. I hope it is a sacred time for you as it is for me. And may you experience the joy of natural selection not just during one weekend but the whole year long.


  1. Remember, overtures from Presbytery are only one way of getting business before GA.

    Commissioner's Resolutions are another way. I have never done it, so I am not sure of the process, but I'm sure that information is available.

  2. "And may you experience the joy of natural selection."

    I'd rather not, thanks.

    Seems to me it's one thing to say you have no problem with modern biology, quite another to bid us enjoy what the title of the great book calls "the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life."

  3. I could do a commissioner's resolution. I have been informed that there still might be time for my presbytery to submit it.

  4. @Rick

    It is what it is. Is what is worse because we know about natural selection than when we didn't?

    I have a choice to make and so do you. Be bummed about life and hope for a better future after we are dead or be amazed at what is. I choose the latter.

  5. John, I don't think we have to choose between hope and acceptance of the facts. It is one thing to face up to and accept a dismal fact, another to celebrate it. Disease, weakness, suffering, oppression, and war are all facts which we may or may not be able to do something about. But there is something relentlessly Panglossian about wishing others the "joy" of them.

    And that's been a continuing problem with the public understanding of evolutionary biology, the tendency of its popular proponents to take it outside of biology and give it some sort of normative force. It is surprising how many have taken that tack in the relatively few years since the publication of "On the Origin of Species," and how frequently that practice has worked to justify violence and oppression.

  6. Rick,

    Natural selection is how life happens. If it weren't for it there would be no life. Is life dismal or is life joyful? Your choice.

  7. "I have been informed that there still might be time for my presbytery to submit it."

    Yeah, I'm not sure what the deadlines are, alas, I've been out of the loop since moving and not finding a PCUSA congregation. But I do know there are always two deadlines: an earlier one for anything that would amend the BoO, and a later one for other business.

  8. I was confused as at the last presbytery meeting, we were informed that overtures had to be submitted 120 days. The nuance of different kinds of overtures wasn't mentioned. Now I have learned the truth and I am going to submit one to presbytery in March! I hope I pass the audition.