Anglican Official Says Church Should Apologize to Darwin
The Church of England official feels the Church should apologize to Charles Darwin for having been too slow to accept his ideas in the 19th century. The statement, to be posted on a website promoting Darwin’s views, reads:
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 practise the old virtues of ‘faith seeking understanding’ and hope that makes some amends.
According to The Telegraph, the statement was written by Malcolm Brown, the church’s director of mission and public affairs. He believes the church repeated the mistakes of the Catholic church in their treatment of Galileo.
Brown’s statement also considers “anti-evolutionary fervour” an “indictment” on the church. Regis Nicoll on Breakpoint exclaimed, “An apology to a dead man by a dead church about a theory that is dead wrong. Astounding!” Lord Ickenham, “someone who has had an ongoing struggle with the Anglican Communion his entire adult life, and to whom the current, obvious, and slow-motion destruction of the entire historical Anglican Church brings no joy,” wrote some thoughts on what is going on in a blog post at Uncommon Descent.
Meanwhile, the Royal Society is up in arms over finding out its education director, Professor Michael Reiss, allegedly suggested that creationism could be discussed in science classes if students bring up the subject, reported The Guardian. The interview that started the ruckus can also be found at The Guardian, where he labeled creationism (including intelligent design) a “non-scientific way of seeing the world.” Even though he overtly denied that creationism had scientific merit, apparently his policy on politely reasoning with students instead of ridiculing them was too mild for some. Next day, the BBC News reported that Reiss stepped down from his position as director of education under pressure from the Royal Society – despite the fact that he felt his opinion had been misinterpreted. What he meant, the article said, is that “his experience had led him to believe it was more effective to include discussion about creationism alongside scientific theories such as the Big Bang and evolution – rather than simply giving the impression that such children were wrong.”
The Royal Society itself believes that if a student brings up the subject, the teacher should be free “to explain why evolution is a sound scientific theory and why creationism is not, in any way, scientific,” so their reaction appeared hypocritical to some. The BBC quoted a professor of science and society at Imperial College who feels the Royal Society diminished itself by pressuring Reiss to step down. “This individual was arguing that we should engage with and address public misconceptions about science – something that the Royal Society should applaud.”
An even sterner editorial on First Post said the Royal Society has become the Rotten Society. Robert Matthews accused the Royal Society’s intemperate purge of an Anglican society (who is no creationist) as a madrassa-like intolerance. “Fundamentalism is spreading across science,” he said, “with zealots ready to attack anyone who dares question the accepted teaching – be it the unquestionable importance of animal experiments or the unimpeachable evidence for dramatic global warming.”
The most detailed account of the controversy was published by Nature News. Reiss’s critics seem to admit that he was well qualified for the job and never advocated teaching creationism in science class. The Royal Society was initially supportive but then pressured him out when an angry letter from three Nobel laureates called for his resignation. Even atheist Richard Dawkins, who believes his religious ties disqualified Reiss from a leadership position, lamented the action, saying “to call for his resignation on those grounds comes a little too close to a witch-hunt for my squeamish taste.”
Creationism survives in England despite the hostility of evolutionists in the scientific societies. In fact, Reiss said in the audio recording for The Guardian that the number of creationists coming into UK science classrooms is on the rise. Julian Joyce published an article in the BBC News entitled, “Who are the British creationists?” The article centered on the Genesis Expo, a creationist museum in Portsmouth, but also mentioned the row over Michael Reiss’s statement and the Anglican Church apology.
Oh, puke. Such obsequious prostrations to the Bearded Buddha like Brown’s apology only encourage the proliferation of dogmatism like that of the Rotten Society wigheads. If you have connections to the UK Anglican church this is reason enough to get out. We must point out that the apology is the opinion of one church official, not necessarily all of them, and does not necessarily represent the views of the rank and file in the dying, diminishing UK churches. Many Anglican churches around the world operate independently of the British hierarchy. Still, where is the outcry from other leaders and from the membership? The silence is deafening. It’s a default acquiescence to Brown’s views.
The Royal Society, founded largely by Puritans, has devolved into an arm of the modern Darwinist totalitarianism, in which even mentioning the C word creationist is grounds for expulsion. Reiss is no creationist but had the audacity to suggest it might be good policy to sentence teachers to less than the usual punishment for crimethink. He apparently failed to remember the policy: creationists are not even worth the expenditure of their contempt (05/12/2008, bullet 5). Aren’t you proud of the leaders of science these days. If their intolerance can even make Dawkins squeamish (hinting that he still feels a debt somewhere to Christian virtues like fairness), you know things are rotten. It’s time to clean house and send in the reformers. How about Sarah Palin?
How did it come to this? Answer: amnesia and ingrown reinforcement of lies. They’ve got their history all wrong. Galileo was not a victim of faith vs science (see biography) – and especially not Darwin. In Victorian England, the Anglicans jumped onto the Darwin bandwagon wholeheartedly. In fact, they had jumped onto the evolutionary bandwagon when Robert Chambers published his evolutionary myth Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation in 1845. Darwin biographer Janet Browne noted the “remarkable flexibility of the Anglican church when faced with evolutionary issues” by pointing to Anglican theologian Charles Kingsley, who endorsed Darwin’s theory within the pages of The Origin itself (Charles Darwin: The Power of Place, p. 96; see more on Kingsley at CMI). In addition, the Archbishop of Canterbury was defending writers like Darwin who were attacking the foundations of church doctrine. After Darwin’s death, the Church of England welcomed his body into Westminster Abbey. Except for a few conservative theologians like Bishop Samuel Wilberforce, the main Anglican critics of Darwin’s theory were the scientists, like Sedgwick and Owen, who understood the danger of attributing God’s hand to blind, undirected process of chance (see article at CMI).
And they’ve got their science all wrong. Darwin subverted science by dismantling the requirements of evidence and opening the door to storytellers (12/22/2003 commentary) and empowering his fellow secularists to usurp the Academy and expel any opportunity for scientific criticism of his views (05/12/2008).
And they’ve got their theology all wrong. Darwin could not have employed reason, nor argued for the truth of propositions and the values of honest investigation, without plagiarizing Christian theological presuppositions that give meaning to these concepts. Had he been consistent with his own presuppositions, he would have grunted nonsense to get meaningless sex at the mercy of his animal past.
If the Anglicans really had faith seeking understanding, they would rewrite the statement as follows: “Charles Darwin: 200 years from your birth, the Church of England owes you and the world an apology for accepting your views uncritically and failing to foresee the damage that accrued to our church, culture, society, politics, law, education, philosophy, theology and general well-being of the millions of individuals your damnable doctrines relegated to the category of the unfit. Though too late to help the 148 million people killed by state-sponsored democide under regimes inspired by your false and pretentious claims (11/30/2005), we try to practice the old virtues of ‘speaking the truth in love’ and so hope that by raising awareness of the deadly power of lies we can make some amends.”
Leaders of other churches without hobbles and blinders on might do well to make this their official proclamation before the scientific societies parade their Emperor Charles in new clothes next year (02/11/2008).