The Sunday Telegraph reports that, in the bicentennial year of Darwin’s birth and the 150th anniversary of the publication of the revolutionary book, Origin of Species, the Church of England is to issue an official apology to Charles Darwin for its initial rejection of his scientific theories.
The statement, on a church website dedicated to Darwin’s theories, 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 the old virtues of ‘faith seeking understanding’ and hope that makes some amends.
I’m not really sure why they feel the need to say this, but it’s nice all the same.
The most famous conflict between the church and advocates of Darwin’s theories was the Oxford Union Debate in 1860. most memorable for an exchange between Thomas Henry Huxley and Samuel Wilberforce, the Bishop of Oxford. Wilberforce asked Huxley whether it was through his grandfather or his grandmother that he claimed his descent from a monkey. Huxley responded that he would not be ashamed to have a monkey for his ancestor, but he would be ashamed to be connected with a man who used his great gifts to obscure the truth.