Here’s one in the “better late than never” category: Church of England to apologize to Charles Darwin:
The Church of England will concede in a statement that it was over-defensive and over-emotional in dismissing Darwin’s ideas. It will call “anti-evolutionary fervour” an “indictment” on the Church…
“The statement will read: 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.”
Darwin, as he has been dead 126 years, had no comment on the apology at this time. However, a descendent of Darwin thinks it’s kind of silly:
Andrew Darwin, a great-great grandson of the eminent scientist, said he was ‘bemused’ by the apology, which seemed ‘pointless’.
“Why bother?” he said. “When an apology is made after 200 years, it’s not so much to right a wrong, but to make the person or organisation making the apology feel better.”
Oh, I don’t know about that. Sure, wording the apology to Charles Darwin himself is a little goofy; Darwin’s well beyond caring about such things. But it’s not insignificant that a religious institution which had previously held scientific ideas in contempt steps forward and says “our bad.” Likewise, it’s always nice when a major religion can come around to acknowledging that science and the scienctific discovery of the natural world is not an inherent and inimical threat to everything that religion stands for. Whether this changes anything on this side of the Atlantic (other than the Archbishop of Canterbury’s season pass to the Creation Museum being unilaterally voided) is another thing entirely, of course. But one takes one’s victories where one may.
To celebrate this meeting of minds, I suggest a trip to Darwin Online, for the complete published and private writings of the no-longer-quite-so-heretical Charles Darwin. Enjoy. And learn! Both Darwin and the Church of England would want it that way.