Recently, our very own United Methodist Church made news by preventing Seattle-based intelligent design advocacy group, Discovery Institute, from sponsoring an information table in the exhibit hall of our upcoming General Conference in Portland, Oregon. This is the first year that the UMC has allowed outside organizations to have such tables. These organizations help foot the bill for a very expensive conference.
Apparently, the Discovery Institute’s message is so dangerous that the UMC has to protect conference-goers from being exposed to it.
And what is that message? According to the Discovery Institute itself, the message is that “life and the universe show evidence of being the result of purposeful design rather than unguided processes.”
Taking the Discovery Institute’s claim at face value, what Christian doesn’t believe this? Who (among Christians) doesn’t think that the universe offers evidence of purposeful design? What’s wrong with an organization that attempts to make that case?
The committee responsible for the decision appealed to our Book of Discipline’s Social Principles, one of which (¶ 160 § F) says:
We recognize science as a legitimate interpretation of God’s natural world. We affirm the validity of the claims of science in describing the natural world and in determining what is scientific. We preclude science from making authoritative claims about theological issues and theology from making authoritative claims about scientific issues. We find that science’s descriptions of cosmological, geological, and biological evolution are not in conflict with theology.
Among other things, something called “science” doesn’t make authoritative claims about anything; scientists do. Inasmuch as scientists say that geology, biology, and cosmology can account for the creation of our universe and the origin and development of life independent of a Creator, these scientists are wrong. Indeed, they are making “authoritative claims about theological issues,” which also violates our Social Principles.
If officials at the UMC don’t think that scientists often make these claims, they’re not paying attention.
I get it: any scientific description of “how we got here” will leave God out. Because the scientific method excludes the metaphysical by definition. Therefore, while any such scientific description may be truthful as far as it goes, it will never go far enough.
Again, what’s wrong with saying so—especially to an audience of Christians?