Seeking the truth: Creationism or evolution?

Seeking the truth: Creationism or evolution?
EVOLUTION SUNDAY The Rev. David J. Ross of North Industry United Methodist Church in Canton Township gets help from Chad Brechbuhler during Sunday’s service. Ross was participating in the Clergy Letter Project, also known as Evolution Sunday, which promotes the idea that religion and science are not adversaries.

The Rev. Darla Ann Kratzer recalls learning that her 13-year-old nephew in Texas was instructed by someone at his church to make a choice - either accept the Genesis account of creation as historical fact or what was taught in science class about evolution.

The nephew was told: "If he didn't (accept Genesis as fact), then he really didn't believe in God," said Kratzer, the pastor of Bethel Lutheran Church in Canton.

Dismayed, her nephew left the church he was attending, she said. At the time, Kratzer wrote a letter to her nephew - who is now in his early 20s - and informed him that not all churches would expect him to choose between science and the Bible, because "to close kids off from certain kinds of knowing just isn't right."

Kratzer gave that same message during her sermon Sunday, participating in the Clergy Letter Project, which promotes the idea that religion and science are not adversaries.

The compatibility of evolution and creation was also the theme of a sermon given Sunday by the Rev. David J. Ross of North Industry United Methodist Church in Canton.

Participating for the first time, Kratzer said Friday, "I have a background in science and that's part of the reason I was immediately interested." She took a class about religion and science at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. Kratzer has a degree in chemistry and a minor in biology from Bethany College in Kansas.

Broaching the subject of evolution at church is risky, acknowledged Kratzer, who preaches to a congregation of about 85 members on an average Sunday.

"I think it does take some courage, and I am curious about how receptive my congregation will be," she said Friday. "This is something where I don't know where everybody in the congregation is on this. I haven't had many conversations with them on this, but I hope this will open up some conversations."

An ordained pastor for about eight years, Kratzer said the topic is important because some churchgoers misinterpret science as a threat to religion and some people in the scientific community misinterpret that the religious community as a whole "won't listen to science."

"Both science and religion are complementary, and both are seeking after the truth," she said. "There's different ways of knowing; there's different ways of looking for the truth.

"As we begin to see the complexity of the scientific understanding of how our world was created, it becomes even more awesome," Kratzer said. "We begin to say, 'Wow, what God has created has such complexity, and ... (the) mind of God must just be incredible to create a world that functions according to certain laws.'"


It's the second year Ross has participated in the Clergy Letter Project, which involves hundreds of congregations from across the country and a host of denominations, according to the project's Web site.

"There needs to be a deeper and wider conservation (on the topic)," said Ross, who preaches to a congregation of about 55 members on a typical Sunday.

"The scientific world view does not prevent us from giving thanks (to God)," he said.

Explaining his plans for this past Sunday's service, he said Friday, "We're going to celebrate and lift up our hearts in praise (and) worship as we think about some of these issues, and discuss the scientific world view every bit as much as ... I'd imagine creationists do those things ... using a literalist seven days of creation world view."

But in large part, Ross believes, "Churches are not so focused on this; churches are off doing good works in their communities on behalf of the poor ... and holding Sunday school to help rear young people and help families."


According to Ross, accommodating religion and science hinges on not taking every passage of the Bible literally.

"I no longer worry about the passages that say, well, 'The sun comes forth from his chamber like a bridegroom,' " said Ross, a pastor for about 25 years and 14 years at North Industry United Methodist. "I know the sun doesn't move, and it's the Earth that moves."

"We're content to be able to read those passages and celebrate the deeper spiritual message that may be part of that," he added.

"The theory of evolution ... doesn't prevent me continuing to give thanks to a creator that is the author and the source of all these good things," Ross said.

Kratzer shares similar views: "I believe Genesis One and Two are made up of reverent images, and they are images that give us a picture of what God has done, and they proclaim this great truth without being history. I don't believe they are documented history, but I believe images have always been at the heart of scripture, and through these images, the scripture proclaims the great truth that God is the one who has created this and what God has created is good.

"Both science and the scriptures are witnesses to the God who is in it all and yet beyond it all."

Reach Repository writer Ed Balint at (330) 580-8315 or e-mail: