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Churches to honor Darwin during 'Evolution Sunday'

Lisa Anderson Chicago Tribune Feb. 12, 2006 12:00 AM

NEW YORK - Nearly 450 Christian churches around the country plan to celebrate the 197th birthday of Charles Darwin today with programs and sermons intended to emphasize that his theory of biological evolution is compatible with faith and that Christians have no need to choose between religion and science.

"It's to demonstrate, by Christian leaders and members of the clergy, that you don't have to make that choice," said Michael Zimmerman, dean of the College of Letters and Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, who organized the event. "You can have both."

Darwin's theory holds that all life on Earth, including humans, shares common ancestry and developed over millions of years through the mechanisms of natural selection and random mutation. The concept is repugnant to many conservative Christians because it conflicts with their belief that man was specially created in the image of God.

"Evolution Sunday" has drawn participation from a variety of denominational and non-denominational churches, including Methodist, Lutheran, Episcopalian, Presbyterian, Unitarian, Congregationalist, United Church of Christ, Baptist and a host of community churches.

Evolution Sunday drew sharp criticism from the Discovery Institute. The Seattle-based think tank funds research into challenges to neo-Darwinian evolutionary theory, such as the concept of intelligent design, which posits that some complexities of life, yet unexplained by evolution, best are attributed to an unnamed and unseen intelligence.

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