For the past couple of weeks I have been posting off and on about a possible debate between another minister in our area and myself regarding evolution and creationism. I say "possible" as I am not interested in this debate unless it is hosted by a college or university. That is being considered now but it is by no means definite.
My colleague, Rev. Wesley Simons, challenged me to a public debate to prove a statement made in the newspaper regarding Evolution Sunday. He wants me to prove that evolution is a fact. I am not sure what "proof" would entail for him. To defend my statement, I defer to the National Academy of Sciences.
They have just published a book entitled, Science, Evolution, and Creationism.
It is a resource
"...for people who find themselves embroiled in debates about evolution. It provides information about the role that evolution plays in modern biology and the reasons why only scientifically based explanations should be included in public school science courses. Interested readers may include school board members, science teachers and other education leaders, policy makers, legal scholars, and others in the community who are committed to providing students with quality science education. This booklet is also directed to the broader audience of high-quality school and college students as well as adults who wish to become more familiar with the many strands of evidence supporting evolution and to understand why evolution is both a fact and a process that accounts for the diversity of life on Earth." (pp. xi-xii, emphasis mine)
One more quote from this booklet to answer the question whether or not evolution is a fact. After a brief explanation why teaching creationism and intelligent design in public school science courses has been ruled as unconstitutional because they are based on religious conviction and not science, the National Academy of Sciences writes:
"Others have argued that science teachers should teach the "controversies" surrounding evolution. But there is no controversy in the scientific community about whether evolution has occurred. On the contrary, the evidence supporting descent with modification, as Charles Darwin termed it, is both overwhelming and compelling. In the century and a half since Darwin, scientists have uncovered exquisite details about many of the mechanisms that underlie biological variation, inheritance, and natural selection, and they have shown how these mechanisms lead to biological change over time. Because of this immense body of evidence, scientists treat the occurrence of evolution as one of the most securely established of scientific facts." (p. xiii, emphasis mine)
I recommend this booklet. As I listened to Rev. Simons' radio broadcast in which he responded to the article in the Elizabethton Star, it was difficult to imagine how we could even have a debate. He is a nice guy and sincere. But we really are from different worlds.
I guess the most I could hope for is to present my side that evolution is a fact of science, does not threaten religious belief, and that our theology should speak to how evolution is the way of creation not opposed to the doctrine of creation.
The real difference between us is how we interpret the Bible. How we may regard the Bible will be something about which I can speak.