It takes an enormous amount of confidence to admit that you were wrong. This is true for scientists, whose hypotheses are constantly reviewed, criticised and shot down by peers. The constant improvement which results from the open discourse of true science is what has made it such a powerful force for change throughout human history.
The Church of England has taken the remarkable step of acknowledging that their stance on Darwin’s theory of Evolution (that it was erroneous and contradicted scripture) was in error. According to this article on the Daily Telegraph’s website, the Church will issue a posthumous apology to Darwin for denying the theory of Evolution.
Reverend Dr Malcolm Brown, the Church’s director of mission and public affairs, has written the apology. Rev Dr Brown’s statement will concede that the church was “over-defensive” and “over-emotional” in dismissing Darwin’s ideas, and that their “anti-evolutionary fervor” is an “Indictment on the Church”. Rev Dr Brown continues by likening Christians’ rejection of Evolution to their similar, 17th century, rejection of Galilean astronomy.
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(sic) the old virtues of ‘faith seeking understanding’ and hope that makes some amends.”
Of course, such a statement is likely to cause the christian world a bit of bother as it directly contradicts many of the teachings in the bible. However, in order to survive in this day and age, one can no longer cling to outdated beliefs. The weight of evidence is overwhelmingly in favour of the theory of Evolution, and trying to deny it is proving rather difficult. Surely the Church of England will face an onslaught of disapproval from the religious right, and I can only hope that they stick to their guns on this one.
Adaptation is essential for survival and being confident enough to swim against the tide of christian belief on such an important matter is a huge step into the present. Congratulations Rev Dr Brown.
*edit* here is the link to the COE’s Darwin website