Reconciliation Not Met with Open Arms

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1055597/Church-makes–8216-ludicrous-8217-apology-Charles-Darwin–126-years-death.html

This news article was published by Mail Online, a couple of years ago in 2008, as the article also references Sarah Palin as a US Vice Presidential Candidate. The Church of England apologized to Darwin for its years of attacks claiming that they misunderstood his theory of evolution. This comes 126 years after Charles Darwin’s death. The apology is considered to be similar to Pope John Paul II’s apology to Galileo for his Vatican trial. Charles Darwin’s great grandson dismissed the apology as pointless, but did say that the apology would have pleased Darwin as his wife was a committed Christian, and that he never wished to offend anyone.

Many people criticized the apology as being “ludicrous” saying that, “the Church already apologized for slavery and the crusades, when is it all going to stop?” In this article we see a conflict of opinions based on motive and point of this apology. The Church claims that it is trying to relieve itself of the wrongs committed by their predecessors. Critics view this as pointless and see this as making the Church of England look weak.

I think that this article poses a question. What does this apology accomplish? When you dig deeper in this article it references a debate that took place in England between Darwin’s theory and the Church’s theory. Playing off of these earlier tensions in society that occurred all over the world and in the United States, I also think of the Following Question. If Darwin’s theory had been first introduced today, would we be more accepting of his theory, or is it the conflict that has moved us as a society to the point we are now?

Petre, Mail on Sunday Reporter, Jonathan. “Church Makes ‘ludicrous’ Apology to Charles Darwin – 126 Years after His Death.” Mail Online. Associated Newspapers, 13 Sept. 2008. Web. 13 Oct. 2014.

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22 Responses to Reconciliation Not Met with Open Arms

  1. gatorade15 says:

    Great post serrobert! I think that this article illustrates a trend with the Christian ideology and its belated acceptance of certain ideologies. The article references how the church apologized, posthumously, to Galileo for arguing his theory of the planets; although many religious groups initially decry theories that contradict their respective Holy Texts, eventually as evidence piles up, these groups reconcile with these new theories and accept them as true.
    So this concept can be used with the theory of natural selection based evolution. I think that eventually we can expect religious groups to accept this theory as more and more evidence piles up, making it virtually impossible to go against these beliefs and sound sane. Do you guys agree with me on this point? That religious groups will ultimately accept scientific findings when enough evidence is present?
    It’s also interesting that the Church of England chose to apologize to Darwin himself; this ties in with the idea from glowlouds article last week about how Darwin should not be labeled as the founder of evolution. The church states that they are apologizing to Darwin for “his theory of evolution”.

    • Gatorade15- in regard to your question: “That religious groups will ultimately accept scientific findings when enough evidence is present?,” I would answer yes. In my opinion, based on articles and conversations I have had with the religious community, I believe that the reason why religious institutions are beginning to agree with scientific findings is to not look ignorant to truth. The Catholic church, for example, now recognizes that the Bible is an “instruction manual,” for a lack of better terms, to help followers get to heaven; not to be taken as literal interpretations but rather find the themes of each story and apply it to our life. Serrobit- to answer your question, “What does this apology accomplish?,” this apology helps strengthen the relationship between religion and science. Charles Darwin’s grandson may think its pointless, apologizing to a dead person, but as we look at the bigger picture, we can see that different religious institutions are beginning to create a bond with science, which in my opinion is a good thing. Your second question is hard to answer, everything we now know about evolution, in perspective to biology, genetics, ect., was due to Charles Darwin and his ideas that sparked curiosity in others. If society was to not know about evolution until now, I believe it would have the same response as it did back in the Victorian age.

      • butterjones says:

        In response to both gatorade and californiarepublic– At first, I had thought that the apology was pointless. What’s the use apologizing to a long dead man? It’s a formality, I guess, but a pretty useless one. But then, after californiarepublic’s comment, I remembered that there is a very deep, long-in-the-making rift between science and religion, that can start to be repaired with small, seemingly pointless actions like this. I agree with californiarepublic that it is a good thing that religious institutions are begging to “bond” with science, and I have always thought that religion is much more valuable (or at least, much less harmful) when used as a moral guidebook, rather than a historical textbook. Anything that lessens this rift is important, because it makes way for a world in which logic and religion can coexist.

        That being said, I don’t think I quite agree with gatorade’s thought that religious groups will accept science once there is more evidence. I personally don’t think that there’s any particular lack of evidence right now…. yes, there are some holes in the timeline, but we have a whole fricken museum full of tangible, irrefutable evidence, and there are still people walking through, refusing to see it for what it is. Yes, a lot of organizations have become more reasonable in recent years (shoutout to the catholics, specifically), but there are still those that pride themselves, build their identity off the idea that they reject “secular science”. It’s not a matter of lack of evidence with those people, so I doubt that more evidence would do much to sway them.

    • serrobert says:

      Well I would be inclined to agree with gatorade. Have you thought, perhaps, that the church might have apologized to Darwin for the personal attacks on Darwin and his life’s work?

      • Serrobert- I do not believe it is a direct apology just to Darwin himself. I believe it’s an apology to both Darwin and his ideas. Why would the church dislike Darwin if it had not been for his “crazy” ideas? The church did not attack the person but rather the idea, resulting in having to “control” the person in order to prove that the church had power. For example, the Catholic church had to imprison and excommunicate Galileo in order to show its authority and ensure that no one else would get “crazy” ideas about the world. After that, Galileo was an undesirable person among the community, which was primarily Catholic.

    • To draw out Gatorade15’s point of connection to last weeks discussion. I see the connection as well. Darwin acts as the figurehead for the evolutionary theory. Whether people think that it is right, beneficial, wrong, or detrimental, I would argue that it is simply the case. When most people think evolution they think Darwin. Unless they are further educated on the matter. However, by apologizing to Darwin, the church is able to inadvertently apologize to the scientific community as a whole. More specifically the biologists and supporters of evolution. I think that while the apology was a nice sign of respect to Darwin, even though pointless to Darwin, it was a necessary move if seen under the light of apologizing to the scientific community for the years of combat. This apology however, was simply made easier and more personal by attaching it to Darwin. In regards to serrobert’s question, I would be surprised if we responded any better in todays world. Ignoring the implications that evolution has had on the development of our society, people are still very closed minded despite the popularity of being open- minded.

      • pigfish1116 says:

        Vikingsfootball33, I like your statement about how the church was making their apology sound personal by addressing it to Darwin. I agree with you saying that we probably wouldn’t respond any better than when it was first introduced. Of course the acceptance would vary in degree depending on a person’s background, I would guess that young adults would be more open-minded and accepting while the opposite affect you would see from older people.

    • Gatorade15, I would love to believe that as more evidence comes out about evolution via natural selection that the church will have no choice but to accept it. However, ever since Darwin and Origin of the Species, more information about this topic has been coming out consistently, and the church has just as consistently argued against it. I think that the churches eventual acceptance of evolution is more dependent on scientists using to bend rhetoric to their favor, as suggested in the Seccarelli article that we read, and less dependent on on the progression of actual factual evidence.

      • serrobert says:

        You raise an interesting point, do you think that if scientists where better in the public debate arena that we might accept scientific fact sooner than we would normally?

  2. serrobert says:

    So you say that the apology is pointless to Darwin, but do you think that the church feels this way. As the Church of England believes in the afterlife could this apology actually be directly addressed to Darwin himself? Or do you think that the Church really had an ulterior motive for the apology as Vikingsfootball suggests?

    • Serrobert- before this apology by the Church of England, I would doubt that the church believed that Darwin was in heaven. Like I mentioned above, this is an apology to both Darwin and the scientific community, mainly towards biologists and proponents of evolution.

      • I think that these apologies are a way for the church to show the public that it has moved on from its former ways of legalism in an attempt to gain back the ground that it is losing. Often the church is viewed as out of touch or outdated. Maybe the apology is a way to reverse that image by showing its acceptance of science.

  3. pigfish1116 says:

    I understand why Darwin’s grandson would see their apology as pointless because it definitely seems like the Church of England did this more for publicity purposes rather than a sincere apology to Darwin, who scientifically can’t accept the apology. I think gatorade15’s statement about religious communities eventually accepting science when presented with enough information has exceptions. There are numerous religious and spiritual communities spread throughout the earth and some are still so deep rooted in their ancient traditions, especially in Africa, that any other way of viewing life would probably seem totally ludicrous to them. So more so, well-known religious groups who are constantly trying to outreach and convert more people will make their ideologies seem less extreme for a world that is starting to value more moderate perspectives rather than hardcore extremists. So in response to serrobert’s question on what this apology accomplishes, it makes the Church of England seem more moderate and accepting of scientific views so they can reach a broader audience to convert.

    • serrobert says:

      So would you agree with the critics who think that it makes the church of England look weak from the view of the “hardcore extremists”?

      • pigfish1116 says:

        Oh definitely, serrobert. This article written by creation.com takes Rev. Michael Brown’s apology to Darwin and rips it apart, literally analyzing every sentence and its faults and why Anglicans should stick to the literal Bible teaching.
        But to others like nonbelievers, the church’s apology, like i stated before, might be appealing and make the church seem more accepting.

      • moneytrees3001 says:

        I’m feeling a little solidarity with creationists for the first time ever. If the goal of religion is to spread widely, and the way they accomplish this is by creating more moderate and appealing belief systems, where is the line? How much will the Church have to change their beliefs, claiming past mistakes and distancing themselves from “extremists” as new science comes out. At least the creationists are sticking to their guns (and god!)

  4. serrobert says:

    In the article it says that Darwin never intended to offend anyone. Yet he clearly did. Darwin was discredited as a person, his own religion turned against his work and by extension to him. That must have put immense social pressure on Darwin himself. What do you think the “original” intent of the apology was? The article also talks about Sarah Palin announcing that this would ignite the creationism debate the United States again, do you think this happened?

  5. macnplease says:

    Honestly, I rather appreciate the Anglican church’s move in apologizing. It is not necessarily a practical step in convincing others to accept the science, but it certainly is a a benign move for the official human record. It allows for a bit of breathing room between science in religion – and in these times, any ground counts.

    • graduallychanging says:

      Macnplease, I think “breathing room” is a great way to qualify the effect of the Anglican Church’s apology.
      By apologizing to Darwin, and the scientific community as a whole, future scientific advances will be less likely to draw people away from the Church. It appears that the Church is attempting to facilitate the reconciliation of current and future controversial theories by declaring that evolution does not contradict any teachings of the Bible.

  6. sunny2018 says:

    I feel like this apology is mostly a bid to win the public’s favor; but I think it is also an attempt to modernize within the Church and begin to really bring science into the fold. It’s a large step for churches to accept any aspect of evolutionary theory. So while I feel that this apology is for mostly the wrong reasons, its at least a semblance of a step in the right direction.

  7. serrobert says:

    Do you think that this apology brought about a renewed debate in the United States as Sarah Palin thought?

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