The following statement was made after Professor Richard Dawkins spoke as part of the New Zealand Post Writers and Readers Week (March 10), and following the prior three-page feature of Professor Dawkins and his views in The Dominion Post’s “Your Weekend” (February 27), and his subsequent television interview on TV One’s “Close Up” programme (March 17).
The Wellington Theological Consortium co-ordinated the development of the statement with those who endorse it. In so doing the Council has received advice from both scientists and from other academics working in relevant fields.
“We speak as professional scientists who hold orthodox Christian faith, and who respect the rational disciplines of both science and Christian theology.
“We affirm and treasure the place which reason has in Christian life, in reflecting on the revelation of God in nature and history.
“We work within a secularised society which holds science in higher esteem than it does the Christian intellectual tradition, yet often takes note of that science only when it is convenient.
“We serve as members of a Church which in this country sadly does not always respect either science or theology, and in doing so falls away from the fullness of the Christian tradition, which honours intellectual endeavour and integrity as a proper response to God’s wisdom and God’s good creation.
“We, with contemporary theologians, affirm that historic Christian faith is compatible with an evolutionary unfolding of life.
“We reject the suggestions of those like Richard Dawkins who would use science to promote atheism, and who often mirror the dogmatism they say they reject. We believe that such promotion is both incompatible with scientific methods and conclusions, and an abuse of its status and role in society.
“We note with deep concern the denial of rational thought which is taking place in both society and Church in relation to gathering environmental and ecological crises.
“In the context of the gathering crises which threaten the web of life, the alleged conflict between science and religion, and (at this time of the recent commemoration of Charles Darwin) the alleged conflict between evolution and Christianity, are dangerous distractions, to both society and Church. Indeed, historians tell us that these ‘conflicts’ have been distorted into a myth of dubious historical truth.
“We earnestly ask the Christian communities of New Zealand to respect and affirm the work of scientists, and to act prudently and courageously on their conclusions, in the light of Christian faith and values.”
Endorsed by: Dr Neil D. Broom, Dr Sean Devine, Dr Graeme Finlay, Dr Jonathan Gauntlett, Dr Grant Gillett, Dr Dennis P. Gordon , Professor D Gareth Jones, Dr Carolyn King D.Phil, Rev Dr Graham O’Brien, Associate Professor Andrew Shelling and Dr Jeff Tallon.