17 February 2009

Methodist Church welcomes celebration of Darwin Day

The Methodist Church has welcomed a day of celebration dedicated to the achievements of scientist Charles Darwin during the year marking his 200th birthday and 150-year-old theory of evolution.

Methodists praised Darwin's ground-breaking work on the theory of evolution, On the Origin of Species, which sparked a scientific research programme that has continued to this day.

The Revd Dr Philip Luscombe is Principal of Wesley House, Cambridge, and President of the Cambridge Theological Federation where he teaches Systematic Theology, Preaching and Religion and Science.

He said: "Christians believe that God created the world. Charles Darwin gave the first successful scientific account of one important part of God's creation: how life developed from the simplest of forms into the extraordinary variety that we see around us. In doing so, Darwin ruled out some of the ways in which many had assumed that God worked. But as he himself was clear, nothing that he wrote affected the majesty of God in creation.

"An early Christian commentator on Darwin's work wrote that, 'Darwinism appeared, and, under the guise of a foe, did the work of a friend.' Darwin cleared away many misconceptions and helped us towards a better understanding of the truth."

Philip, whose major research interest is the relationship between science and theology, said that Darwin's thesis demonstrated the power of the theory of evolution through natural selection.

"The human genome project is only the latest example of research which is ultimately inspired by Darwin," he added. "All modern biological science relies on the foundation Darwin provided."

"We join in celebrating the life and work of Darwin because he helped us all to see better the intricacy of God's creation, and forced us to wrestle once more with the eternal problems of good and evil."

The Revd Jenny Ellis, Spirituality and Discipleship Officer, said: "Darwin's scientific theory of the mechanics of creation frees us to appreciate the 'faith' truth of the Biblical stories and the precious value and giftedness of God-inspired creation. The stories convey the sense of the wonder and goodness of creation; of the creative, divine Spirit who brings it into being and sustains it; of creation's deep inter-connectedness, its rhythm and balance."

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