Original Research

The Bible and evolution: Opinions amongst southern African clergy and theologians from the Reformed church tradition

Peet J. van Dyk
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 34, No 1 | a776 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v34i1.776 | © 2013 Peet J. van Dyk | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 01 August 2012 | Published: 03 June 2013


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Abstract

The main objectives of the present study were to determine the opinions of southern African clergy and theologians (from the Reformed church tradition) about evolution and faith and to assess their degree of knowledge regarding the biological theory of evolution. A total of 1720 structured electronic questionnaires were sent out via email to all clergy belonging to the ‘Nederduitse Gereformeerde’ and ‘Hervormde’ churches, of which 89 were received back. The SPSS 20 statistical program was used to conduct descriptive and inferential statistical analyses of these data. Most participants were positive about the theory of biological evolution, but expressed the belief that evolution should be seen as a process guided by God. However, most participants failed to appreciate the fact that this view was contrary to the non-teleological nature of the biological theory of evolution and failed to distinguish between what should be accepted in faith and what can be demonstrated or ‘proved’ (e.g. as is common in intelligent design circles). Many participants were not clear about the finer aspects of evolutionary theory and therefore often believed common misconceptions about it. In conclusion, one could say that participants were positive about evolution and, at least nominally, agreed with non-fundamentalist views of the Bible.


Keywords

Creationism; Evolution; Faith; Fundamentalism

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