— Flocks of the Christian faithful in the US will this Sunday hold special services celebrating Charles Darwin's theory of evolution. The idea is to stand up to creationism, which claims the biblical account of creation is literally true, and which is increasingly being promoted under the guise of "intelligent design". Proponents of ID say the universe is so complex it must have been created by some unnamed designer.
Support for "Evolution Sunday" has grown 13 per cent to 530 congregations this year, from the 467 that celebrated the inaugural event last year. Organisers see it as increasing proof that Christians are comfortable with evolution.
"For far too long, strident voices, in the name of Christianity, have been claiming that people must choose between religion and modern science," says Michael Zimmerman, founder of Evolution Sunday and dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Butler University in Indianapolis. "We're saying you can have your faith, and you can also have science."
Zimmerman and his backers believe the biblical account of creation is allegorical. "Creationists fear that if you believe evolution, you're an atheist," he says. But for Zimmerman, attempts to try and "ratify God's existence" through intelligent design signify lack of faith. "If you have enough faith, you don't need science to prove God exists, and science can't prove this anyway," he says.
The event arose from the Clergy Letter Project, a pro-evolution letter signed in 2004 by 10,500 Christian clergy. It is spreading internationally, and this year will also be celebrated in Australia, the UK, Canada and Nigeria. Seven publishers are donating material for the services.