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By Al Webb
Religion News Service

London – Some 126 years after Charles Darwin’s death, the Church of England has gone into 21st-century cyberspace to issue an official apology to the naturalist for its own 19th-century “misunderstanding” over his theory of evolution.
Darwin’s thesis that all life evolved over millions of years was published in 1859 in his book, “On The Origin of Species,” and almost instantly triggered controversy that still continues.
His antagonists, including the Church of England, vilified him for questioning their own creationist convictions that the universe and all its parts were solely the work of God perhaps around 6,000 BC and certainly no earlier than 10,000 years ago.
But in a new section of the Church of England’s Web site, the Rev.
Malcolm Brown, director of missions and public affairs, addressed Darwin and conceded that the church “owes you an apology for misunderstanding you, by getting our first reaction wrong.”
That reaction, Brown added, resulted in “encouraging others to misunderstand you still.”
Just last week in Britain, a leading biologist, the Rev. Professor Michael Reiss, called for creationism to be included in school science lessons alongside Darwin’s theory of evolution and the “Big Bang” theory of the birth of the universe.
In his online apology, Brown likened the Darwin controversy to the Vatican’s trial in 1633 of Galileo, the Italian astronomer who angered it by asserting that the Earth revolved around the sun.
“Some church people did it again in the 1860s with Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection,” Brown wrote.
Copyright 2008 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.

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