Dear gentle reader,
As someone who has had an ongoing struggle with the Anglican Communion his entire adult life, and to whom the current, obvious, and slow-motion destruction of the entire historical Anglican Church brings no joy, I have a few comments on the anticipated apology of the Church of England, led by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, to Charles Darwin. Despite indications to the contrary, this clearly has had some thought put into it, as evidenced by the Darwin section of the Church of England and website:
“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. “
- As perceptive observers have already pointed out, there is no historical reason for the Church of England to make an apology to Charles Darwin – please remember that he was awarded an honorary degree from Cambridge, and is buried at Westminster Abbey. There was no persecution, no censure, only debates. Thus the apology for “misunderstanding”.
- This fact then begs the question: What on earth is going on?
- The answer is that this move attempts to accomplish three things. First, as is explicitly stated, it makes a condemnation of those wrong-thinking people that are under the impression there is a conflict between Christian teaching and Darwinian theory by “apologizing”, rather than make the statement directly. Second, it attempts to put the Anglican Communion on par with the Roman Catholic Church in regard to the Galileo affair. Third, the well-written meat of the website by Revd Dr Malcolm Brown gives coaching on how to be a Christian and a Darwinist. To his credit, he also discusses the `dark side’ of Darwin, concluding “his [Darwin’s] theory … has been inflated into a general theory of everything – which is not only erroneous but dangerous.”
- The bigger question is why Rowan Williams and other senior figures in the C of E feel that they need to make the apology. After studying the actions of this man after he became archbishop of Canterbury, my answer to this question is the same to the motives of numerous other inexplicable actions he has made: It makes no sense and I cannot discern any thoughtful leadership. The only straw I can grasp is that the idea sounds good to a certain mindset, that it puts the C of E in the news, and gives him praise from some in positions of secular authority (though evidently the opposite has happened). Perhaps he was thinking there has been a constant stream of bad news about the Anglican Communion in the press, and this would be a nice break. What he doesn’t seem to appreciate is that it is precisely this kind of ridiculous statement (regardless of your views on theology or science) that is a symptom of the larger detachment from reality within the majority of the Anglican church of England, the US, and Canada.
The C of E has apologized for misunderstanding Darwin. Considering the website quotation from Bishop Rayfield, “Theology and science each have much to contribute in the assertion of the Psalmist that we are ‘fearfully and wonderfully made’”, I suspect that most Darwinian biologists would comment that the C of E misunderstands Darwin even today.