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Westminster Abbey challenged to mark the 200th anniversary of Darwin’s birth

A MEMBER of the British Humanist Association, Rupert Young, is challenging “the authority and exclusivity of the Church of England” by means of a petition calling on Westminster Abbey to mark the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birth.

Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin

Says Young:

Darwin was undoubtedly one of this country’s greatest scientists and one of the world’s most significant thinkers, and his work has given humanity profound insight into our origins and elemental nature. Those insights and their scientific basis take an important place in the psyche of many rationalist, and religious, people in the United Kingdom.

As the established church, of which Westminster Abbey is a part, the Church of England has a responsibility to cater to the ‘spiritual’ needs of all people irrespective of the nature of their beliefs, or non-belief. As such Darwin deserves to be commemorated at a national level, and what better place than Westminster Abbey – not only the focus of commemorations of national importance but the place where Darwin is buried.

Young originally submitted his petition to the 10 Downing Street petition website, but it was rejected, and Westminster Abbey has set its face against such a commemoration (You can read his correspondence with the Government and Westminster Abbey officials on the links provided in the petition.)

The petition reads:

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Queen to hold a service of commemoration for the life and work of Charles Robert Darwin at Westminster Abbey to mark the 200th anniversary his birth, on the 12th of February 2009.

NOTE: You do not have to be a UK resident to sign the petition.

4 responses to “Westminster Abbey challenged to mark the 200th anniversary of Darwin’s birth”

  1. newspaniard says:

    Quite right too. Now, where did I put my pen?

  2. SilverTiger says:

    I find this distinctly odd. Why would atheists want Westminster Abbey (or any other religious institution) to hold a ceremony for Darwin when such a ceremony would obviously be religious? I for one do not want this and therefore will not be signing the petition.

    There have already been secular celebrations of Darwin and his work and these are far more appropriate in my view.

  3. TooMuchFun says:

    Why would anyone want to commemorate one of the greatest scientific minds ever in what is essentially a temple to mythologist nut jobs?

  4. Fifi says:

    It’s a good test for the C of E who celebrate all kinds of literary & scientific achievement. So why would they discriminate against Darwin? – they failed the test.