Church of England Sees Wisdom in Understanding Evolution

Posted on September 18, 2008  Comments (2)

Good religion needs good science by Rev Dr Malcolm Brown, Director of Mission and Public Affairs

When a big new idea emerges which changes the way people look at the world, it’s easy to feel that every old idea, every certainty, is under attack and then to do battle against the new insights. The church made that mistake with Galileo’s astronomy, and has since realised its error. Some church people did it again in the 1860s with Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection.

Subsequent generations have built on Darwin’s work but have not significantly undermined his fundamental theory of natural selection. There is nothing here that contradicts Christian teaching. Jesus himself invited people to observe the world around them and to reason from what they saw to an understanding of the nature of God (Matthew 6: 25–33). Christian theologians throughout the centuries have sought knowledge of the world and knowledge of God. For Thomas Aquinas there was no such thing as science versus religion; both existed in the same sphere and to the same end, the glory of God.

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.

Related: Understanding Evolution is Fundamental to Scientific ThoughtYour Inner FishUnderstanding the Evolution of Human Beings by CountryEvolution In Action

2 Responses to “Church of England Sees Wisdom in Understanding Evolution”

  1. kouji
    September 19th, 2008 @ 4:18 am

    that’s great to see. really, i don’t think there are as many irreconcilable differences between religion and science, as some people think. reasonable people can disagree. and reasonable people can agree that there’s no need to engage in certain types of activity, such as criticism or rebuttal in bad faith, and without basis.

  2. Jessica
    September 29th, 2008 @ 5:08 pm

    While I find it commendable that the COE is taking a more measured approach than many other churches, I’m not inclined to heap too much praise upon them for simply acting in their own best interests. Fighting science is generally not good for anyone’s long-term credibility.

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