Andrew Marr has written and presented a three part BBC TV series on the impact of “Darwin’s Dangerous Idea” – I managed to cath the second half of last night’s installment, which was the first. He’s written an article on the BBC News website, The danger of worshipping Darwin, in which he writes about his atheism and asks whether we are elevating Darwin to a religious figure. In fact I don’t think he really thinks this is the case (and I wonder whether the article is really intended as a publicity piece for his TV series). At the end of his article, he concludes
I believe Darwin was right and that as science advances, he is proved more prescient, not less.
But religions are absolute. They bring their truth and then repel all boarders. They divide mankind into the saved and the ignorant damned.
In this story, there is no us and them. Darwinism, as I take it, is a creed of observation, fact, a deep modesty about conclusions and lifelong readiness to be proved wrong.
I don’t say it offers everything that religion can. But I do say that, in this respect, it is better.
However we celebrate the old man, we mustn’t let his work crust into creed or harden to dogma.
I think in the course of his article, Marr answers his question – there is no chance of Darwin’s work, or that of his successors crusting into creed or hardening into dogma – for there lies the difference between science and religion. Being founded on evidence, evolutionary concepts will always be subject to revision and modification. I think that the possibility of the perception of “Darwin worship” has been one of the potential problems with the Darwin 200 celebrations, but I think if there is such a public perception, it is mistaken.
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