Anglican Apology to Darwin an Example for Adventists


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The Reverend Dr. Malcolm Brown, Director of Mission and Public Affairs for the Church of England issued a written apology to Charles Darwin saying, "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."

The statement, coming from a leader of the Anglican Church, addresses with symbolic poignancy the extended warfare between the Christian Church and Science. Adventists should take note.

The title of Brown's letter, Good Religion Needs Good Science, suggests an elevating of science alongside religion that may seem antithetical to Christianity for some who worry that Darwin's science opposed Scripture. Reverend Brown thoughtfully replies by noting:

    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).

But Brown is also quick to add that

    [From] social misapplication of Darwin’s theories has sprung insidious forms of racism and other forms of discrimination which are more horribly potent for having the appearance of scientific “truth” behind them.

Some opponents of Darwin's ideas mistakenly extrapolate a paradigm of social ascendancy by the elite, wealthy and powerful as the necessary outcome of Darwin's observation that the organisms best suited to a niche environment stand the best chance of survival. Seeing "the survival of the fittest" in such a light, many Christians reject Charles Darwin en toto.

Brown offers this word of caution:

    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.

Reverend Brown's letter to Charles Darwin artfully reiterates and solidifies what many Christians have already come to believe: Christianity and Science are simply separate means of describing one reality. Or as Brown put it, good religion needs good science.

I think that on this point, Adventists can say "amen".

Be sure to read all of Reverend Dr. Malcolm Brown's eloquent apology.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/975