Anglicans, but not Catholics, apologise to Darwin, according to articles on the Church of England website and Reuters 16 September 2008.
Rev Dr Malcolm Brown, Director of Mission and Public Affairs for the Church of England, says the Church owes Charles Darwin an apology for misunderstanding him and attacking him in the 1860s. In an article entitled “Good Religion Needs Good Science” Brown writes: “Charles Darwin: 200 years from your birth, the Church of England owes you an apology for misunderstanding you and, by getting our first reaction wrong, encouraging others to misunderstand you still. We try to practice the old virtues of ‘faith seeking understanding’ and hope that makes some amends. But the struggle for your reputation is not over yet, and the problem is not just your religious opponents but those who falsely claim you in support of their own interests. Good religion needs to work constructively with good science – and I dare to suggest that the opposite may be true as well.”
Meanwhile the Vatican has announced it will hold a conference of scientists, theologians and philosophers next year to mark the 150th anniversary of the publication of Darwin’s book, “On the Origin of Species”.
However, the Catholic Church has no intention of issuing an apology. Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi commented: “Maybe we should abandon the idea of issuing apologies as if history was a court eternally in session.” He explained Darwin’s theory was “never condemned by the Catholic Church nor was his book ever banned”. The Catholic Church has accepted the theory of evolution since 1950 when Pope Pius XII described evolution as a valid scientific approach to the development of humans. Pope John Paul II reiterated this view in 1996.
Church of England Reuters
Editorial Comment: There is a need for good religion and good science, but what Brown is proposing is neither. Darwin himself turned away from God because he recognised that his theory of living organisms arising from a process of death, disease and struggle was incompatible with a loving God who made everything good. Therefore, Darwin was more consistent in his religion than those who want to believe evolution was God’s means of creating. Death, disease and struggle are part of the world now, but the Biblical position is that they are the result of degeneration of the world that came after the Fall of Man. They are not creative processes used by God, and as such any current theory of evolution is incompatible with Genesis 1 and 2. In terms of science, Darwin’s descriptions of selection may have been accurate, but his belief that selection could produce new and different kinds of living creatures was just that – a belief, not observed science. Selection can only work on things that already exist, it cannot bring them into existence.
Archbishop Gavassi is right that history is not a “court eternally in session”, but both Catholics and Anglicans should recognise they will be held accountable for not believing God’s word by the eternal Creator and Judge.
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Evidence News 24 September 2008