Remembering Charles Darwin

As the bicentennial of the birth of Charles Darwin in 1809 and the 150th year since the publication of On the Origin of Species approaches, the Church of England has added a section to its web site commemorating Charles Darwin, naturalist and deacon.

Meanwhile, the British press speculates about whether or not the Church of England will apologize for its initial mistreatment of Darwin after the publication of his theories.

From the CofE website:

As media interest grows in the bicentenary, the pages analyse Darwin’s faith and his relationship with the Church of England. A new essay by the Revd Dr Malcolm Brown, Director of Mission and Public Affairs, gives a personal view of Darwin’s contribution to science, whilst warning of social misapplications of his theories.

The Bishop of Swindon, Rt Revd Lee Rayfield, himself a former biological scientist, has contributed a welcome page to the section, and commented: “Theology and science each have much to contribute in the assertion of the Psalmist that we are ‘fearfully and wonderfully made’. I hope that this new section will not only provide a source of information and knowledge about Charles Darwin and his work, but that it will prove to be a resource for growing in wisdom and understanding.”

In the new section, Darwin and the Church reveals that Darwin was surrounded by the influence of the Church his entire life. Having attended a Church of England boarding school in Shrewsbury, he trained to be a clergyman in Cambridge; was inspired to follow his calling into science by another clergyman who lived and breathed botany; and married into a staunch Anglican family.

However, Darwin and Faith shows, quoting Darwin’s own words, how he slowly lost his personal Christian faith, the erosion made complete by a need for evidence, and the sad death of a beloved daughter.

It is this need for humans to think, and love, that forms the centrepiece of the essay by the Revd Dr Malcolm Brown, called Good Religion Needs Good Science.

After warning of the social misapplication of Darwin’s discoveries, where natural selection justifies racism and other forms of discrimination – perhaps predicted in the “misguided” over-reaction of the Church in the 1860s – Malcolm Brown writes: “Christians will want to stress, instead, the human capacity for love, for altruism, and for self-sacrifice.”

The Rev. Dr. Malcolm Brown writes: “There is no reason to doubt that Christ still draws people towards truth through the work of scientists as well as others, and many scientists are motivated in their work by a perception of the deep beauty of the created world.”

Check out the site here.

See Thinking Anglicans which has a round up of the advance press coverage here and here.

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