23 March 2006


Darwin and the Archbishop

Further to my post on 14 February about 'Darwin and the Bishops' I'm glad to say that the Archbishop of Canterbury has now entered the fray by making a pronouncement against teaching creationism in schools: It was reported in

the guardian

He says: "I think creationism is ... a kind of category mistake, as if the Bible were a theory like other theories ... if creationism is presented as a stark alternative theory alongside other theories I think there's just been a jarring of categories ... My worry is creationism can end up reducing the doctrine of creation rather than enhancing it."

Personally I think he should direct his guns more in this direction, against the anti-science evangelicals, rather than concentrating on the homosexual question, which can only lead to worse divisions in his church.

It seems that Charles Clarke, the Home Secretary, has also opposed teaching of creationism, as reported in

the telegraph

However, from what others have said who were present at the time, it seems his statement was not as clearcut as stated in this report, since he is still in favout of faith biased schools.

I would like to think that the Archbishop's statement is in part a result of my own efforts over the past few years to get such a statement from the Church of England. I wrote to the Archbishop, but my letter was directed to one of his theological advisors with whom I had an exchange of three letters. In the end he seemed reluctant to say anything on the grounds that it was a matter of scientific opinion. However, I pointed out that the Church was prepared to make statements on the far more controversial issue (among scientists) of global warming and environmental change.

I also wrote to many of the Bishops of the Church and got a variety of responses, but only expressing individual opinions, some positive but not committal of the Church's position.

Finally the 'Darwin Day' article I published in Leicester Mercury on 11th February this year was successful in getting a positive and public response from the Bishop of Leicester. And now the Archbishop has backed this up. I daresay the publicity surrounding the Dover USA trial on teaching 'Intelligent Design' in the schools may also have helped to bring the matter to a head.

I will be giving a presentation and conducting a discussion at Secular Hall, on Sunday 11th June 6:30 pm, on 'Countering Creationism'. This will take the form of a look at some of the publications issued by creationist organisations, and the way in which they misrepresent scientific findings in a manner that it is often difficult for non-specialists to refute, and providing some of the clearest ways of arguing against their claims.

I agree we should be utterly skeptical. Given that Nick Cohen writes for the Observer et al, it was somewhat optimistic of the Guardian to headline their interview with the archbish' last week as if he had suddenly become all cold on faith in schools. Williams' comments on creationism were predictable and a minor part of the long interview with him that they published. See http://www.the-brights.net/forums/forum/index.php?s=&showtopic=4736&view=findpost&p=70744

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