What he wishes to be taken seriously about is his assertion that the church was a bit too hard on Charles Darwin. I mean, it's not like how human beings came into existence is important, or anything. Brown writes:
- Darwin's meticulous application of the principles of evidence-based research was not the problem. His theory caused offence because it challenged the view that God had created human beings as an entirely different kind of creation to the rest of the animal world.
But whilst it is not difficult to see why evolutionary thinking was offensive at the time, on reflection it is not such an earth-shattering idea. Yes, Christians believe that God became incarnate as a human being in the person of Jesus and thereby demonstrated God's especial love for humanity. But how can that special relationship be undermined just because we develop a different understanding of the processes by which humanity came to be? It is hard to avoid the thought that the reaction against Darwin was largely based on what we would now call the 'yuk factor' (an emotional not an intellectual response) when he proposed a lineage from apes to humans.
- There is no integrity to be found either in rejecting Darwin's ideas wholesale or in elevating them into the kind of grand theory which reduces humanity to the sum of our evolutionary urges. For the sake of human integrity – and thus for the sake of good Christian living – some rapprochement between Darwin and Christian faith is essential.
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 practice the old virtues of 'faith seeking understanding' and hope that makes some amends. But the struggle for your reputation is not over yet, and the problem is not just your religious opponents but those who falsely claim you in support of their own interests. Good religion needs to work constructively with good science – and I dare to suggest that the opposite may be true as well.