March 15, 2008


In Britain, creationist theory is evolving: Groups that oppose Darwin are making headway in schools. (Gregory Katz, March 15, 2008, AP)

After the Sunday service in Westminster Chapel, where worshipers were exhorted to wage "the culture war" in the World War II spirit of Sir Winston Churchill, cabbie James McLean delivered his verdict on Charles Darwin's theory of evolution.

"Evolution is a lie, and it's being taught in schools as fact, and it's leading our kids in the wrong direction," said McLean, chatting outside the chapel. "But now people like Ken Ham are tearing evolution to pieces."

Ken Ham is the founder of Answers in Genesis, a Kentucky-based organization that is part of an ambitious effort to bring creationist theory to Britain and the rest of Europe. McLean is one of a growing number of evangelicals embracing that message -- that the true history of the Earth is told in the Bible, not Darwin's "The Origin of Species."

Europeans have long viewed the conflict between evolutionists and creationists as primarily an American phenomenon, but it has recently jumped the Atlantic with skirmishes in Italy, Germany, Poland and, notably, Britain, where Darwin was born and where he published his 1859 classic. [...]

All this activity has lifted spirits at the Westminster Chapel, a 165-year-old evangelical church that is not affiliated with nearby Westminster Abbey, where Darwin is buried.

In the chapel, the Rev. Greg Haslam tells 150 believers that they are in a conflict with secularism that can only be won if they heed Churchill's exhortation and never give up.

"The first thing you have to do is realize we are in a war, and identify the enemy, and learn how to defeat the enemy," he said [...]

Terry Sanderson, president of Britain's National Secular Society, a group founded in 1866 to limit the influence of religious leaders, said that the groups advocating a literal interpretation of the Bible are making headway.

"Creationism is creeping into the schools," he said. "There is a constant pressure to get these ideas into the schools."

If it's unsurprising that only about 13% of Americans believe in Darwinism--the Founding, after all, being premised on Creationism--it's rather more revealing that less than half of Britain believes in evolution theory, despite the natural nationalistic pride in the notions of a native son that made them so susceptible to the Piltdown and peppered moth hoaxes.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 15, 2008 6:22 PM
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