Church of England apologizes to Charles Darwin
OK, they're Anglicans. And so what? Malcolm Brown, Director of Mission and Public Affairs for the Church of England:
Darwin’s meticulous application of the principles of evidence-based research was not the problem. His theory caused offence because it challenged the view that God had created human beings as an entirely different kind of creation to the rest of the animal world.
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.
At which my hackles rose. But then I thought about this point that Brown raises:
Humanity has acquired the capacity to reflect, to imagine, and to reason from what is known to what is not yet known. Some animals may have these features in a very rudimentary form, but the human capacity is so much greater as to be effectively unique. It is our capacity to imagine other people as more than bodies, but as persons, which marks us out. It is that, above all, which has enabled the human mind and will to achieve so much. And if this capacity – which we can characterise as the capacity for love – is consistent with Darwin’s ideas of natural selection, it suggests that our capacity as a species to act in ways which appear to be against our personal interests has, paradoxically, enabled us to survive as “fitted” to our context and environment. So the pseudo-Darwinian reductionism, which elevates selfishness into a virtue and celebrates power and dominance, is not only a misunderstanding of Darwin but may even contribute to human decline by eroding those aspects of being human which have given us such a natural advantage. Even the more sophisticated versions of 'Social Darwinism', which interpret all human behaviour in terms of the struggle for dominance and the maximisation of genetic advantage through the generations, risk presenting us with an image of being human which makes us slaves to some kind of evolutionary imperative, as if we are programmed in ways we cannot over-rule. But the point of natural selection is that it is precisely by being most fully human that we demonstrate our fitness. And being fully human means refusing to abdicate our ability to act selflessly or lovingly and to challenge thin concepts of rationality which equate “being rational” to material self interest. It is vital that Darwin’s theories are rescued from political and ideological agendas that are more about controlling human imagination and unpredictability than about good science.
Yeppers. He's talkin sense, Merle.