Planet Earth

Darwin Tangles With Religion, Part II: Clergyman Defenestrated

DiscoblogBy Andrew MosemanSep 16, 2008 7:34 PM

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The Charles Darwin news keeps on coming this week. Yesterday we reported on the fracas at Britain's Royal Society, where Nobel laureates threw a fit after the society's education director, Michael Reiss, appeared to endorse science teachers discussing creationism. Reiss tried to say that he was misquoted, but it was too little, too late: Today he formally resigned. If Reiss is honest that he was misrepresented, and he really meant that science teachers should be able to discuss (but not endorse) creationism with students who bring it up, then his departure is unfortunate. First, it's more fodder for those peddling the nonsense that science is just like a religion because it persecutes dissenters. And second, Reiss is right: Teachers need to be able to talk to creationist students. Dismissing them as dumb or informed is no way to get students interested in science. The other Darwin development across the pond was the statement by Anglican minister Malcolm Brown that the Church of England was wrong about Darwin and evolution all along, and owed him an apology. At a conference today, the Vatican announced that you shouldn't expect anything similar from the pope. The Roman Catholic Church has accepted evolution as a valid scientific approach, they said in a statement. And because the church neither condemned Darwin nor banned his book, they say, they have nothing to apologize for. Given that the old naturalist died in 1882, he's probably not too worried about it. Image: Wikimedia Commons

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