THE Church of England will make an official apology to naturalist Charles Darwin for criticising his famous theory of evolution
Coming 126 years after his death, the church's apology will focus on how wrong it was for senior bishops in the past to misunderstand and attack Darwin's theory about man being descended from apes.
Senior church officials will post the apology in the form of an article written by the Reverend Dr Malcolm Brown on the church's website tomorrow.
"Charles Darwin, 200 years from your birth (in 1809), the Church of England owes you an apology for misunderstanding you and, by getting our first reaction wrong, encouraging others to misunderstand you still,'' the article says, according to extracts printed by The Mail on Sunday newspaper.
"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.''
But the apology by Dr Brown, who is the director of mission and public affairs of the Archbishops' Council, has been dismissed as "pointless'' by Darwin's great great grandson Andrew Darwin.
"Why bother? he said.
"When an apology is made after 200 years, it's not so much to right a wrong, but to make the person or organisation making the apology feel better.''
But Dr Brown says everyone makes mistakes, the church included.
"When a big new idea emerges that changes the way people look at the world, it's easy to feel that every old idea, every certainty, is under attack and then to do battle against the new insights,'' he writes.
"The church made that mistake with Galileo's astronomy and has since realised its error.
"Some Church people did it again in the 1860s with Charles Darwin's theory of natural selection.
"So it is important to think again about Darwin's impact on religious thinking, then and now.''
Dr Brown said there was nothing incompatible between Darwin's scientific theories and Christian teaching.