Thursday, June 23, 2005


Battle for the Soul

"We're in a battle for the soul of the country," said Rabbi Mark Levin at a panel discussion exploring "The Harmony of Faith and Science" sponsored by the Center for American Progress, in Kansas City Wednesday. "What's at risk is the country we've built."

About 150 people attended the event held at All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church. The panel was moderated by Melody Barnes, a Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress.

Panelists responded to the growing belligerence of those on the religious right. They challenged the growing assertion by fundamentalist Christians that those who do not agree with their views on gay marriage, stem cell research, or creationism are irreligious or somehow not good Christians.

Among the panelists there was also general agreement that people of faith who believe in separation of church and state, and mutual respect between people of different faiths must become more vocal, active, and engaged.

"People of faith are not of one mind," on the cultural issues where science and faith intersect, said Rev. Dr. Myron McCoy, President, Saint Paul School of Theology, in welcoming remarks. "Science and theology are complementary," in Dr. McCoy's view, "not contradictory."

Rabbi Levin and Dr. McCoy were joined by panelists Myra Christopher, Executive Director of the Center for Practical Bioethics; Jack Krebs, Vice President of Kansas Citizens for Science; and John Tamilio III, senior minister at Colonial Church, in a discussion the role of science and religion in society.

The discussion ranged from the controversy over the teaching of evolution in Kansas public schools to stem cell research and the Terry Schiavo case.

"Science and religion are different disciplines," said Rev. Tamilio. "Science asks 'how' questions. Theology asks the 'why' questions."

"By labeling those who believe in evolution as atheists," said Jack Krebs, vice president of Kansas Citizens for Science, "the intelligent design movement's attack on science is really an attack on the majority of Christians who believe in evolution."

"Good ethics start with good facts," said Myra Christopher, who described speaking with uninformed people who believe that babies are sacrificed for their stem cells, not knowing that the cells are actually derived from tiny clumps of cells called blastocysts.

The Center for American Progress which sponsored the panel discussion is a nonpartisan research and educational institute based in Washington, sponsored a panel discussion in Kansas City Wednesday on the Harmony of Faith and Science.


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