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Viewpoint from Revd Neil Spencer for 27th Feb.

Revd. Neil Spencer,
Rector of Ormesby St Margaret with Scratby, Ormesby St Michael and St George’s, Rollesby.
A great event this month has been the bicentenary of the birth of Charles Darwin, father of the Theory of viewpoints cross logo jpegEvolution. There have been many articles and lectures, and of course all the old chestnuts have come out again – “evolution proves there is no God” and “Darwin became an atheist when he discovered evolution” and “the church tried to suppress Darwin’s theories” and so on. All nonsense.
It is true that Darwin lost his faith, but that had nothing to do the theory of evolution – it was in grief at the death of his beloved daughter Annie at the age of 10. His work on evolution had begun long before, and had not affected his faith.
Nor is it true that “the church” condemned his theories while “science” welcomed them. It really wasn’t as cut and dried as that. Some churchmen condemned him, but many accepted evolution enthusiastically, while many scientists were horrified and vehemently opposed him. In 1860, only a year after the publication of Origin of Species, Frederick Temple for instance, who was later to become Archbishop of Canterbury, preached a sermon praising Darwin for showing how God works through natural processes.
And that is really the point. It is absolute nonsense to think that Evolution proves there is no God, or that science is somehow against religion. The only people who think that are those who are too lazy and self-involved to worry about whether God exists, so they take the easy and lazy way out and say that “science has disproved God.” If that were so it’s amazing that so many great scientists have been faithful believers.
The truth, as Temple and most leading thinkers of his time, includDove righting churchmen, correctly saw, was that Darwin’s work gave us for the first time an insight into how God works in the world. God created the world, and set things up so that the world doesn’t stand still, but develops. Human beings, like millions of other creatures, develop and grow and change. If we stop learning and developing we stagnate and become lazy, and refuse to continue looking for the truth, like so many atheists and agnostics.
Many people do not accept the Theory of Evolution. A 2006 BBC poll found that 52% of people in this country do not believe that evolution alone explains life on earth, and that there must have been an “Intelligent designer” who started the whole process. 25% of people believe in “Young Earth Creationism” – that the earth is only 10,000 years old and God put fossils in the rocks only to test our faith. I don’t accept that personally, as I don’t believe that God plays tricks in that way.
But the point is that for anyone who wants to think about life, God is very much still part of the question. Why not go along to your local church, and join the rest of who are trying lo learn more about the ways of God, and about ourselves?