Lots of people have been emailing me the story that the Archbishop of Canterbury backs evolution. I have to confess to mixed feelings.
On the one hand, it’s good to have a religious authority figure coming down on the side of sense. I applaud the sentiment of his statements, and hope they have some positive influence.
On the other hand, I don’t give a flying firkin what the Archbishop of Canterbury thinks, and would question his authority to even make such a pronouncement. If people are going to accept things because someone who wears a funny hat on Sunday says so, where are they going to learn the critical thinking to question when said funny-hat wearer announces that crackers magically turn into meat or that an omnipotent invisible super-being is very fussy about where you put your penis? I simply do not recognize the foundation for his authority.
To be honest, I much prefer stories where religious people in ornate garments say crazy stupid things, because I want to see their authority diminished. I will be very worried when the Mormon elders, Desmond Tutu, the president of American Atheists, the Pope, a voudoun priestess, the Dalai Lama, JZ Knight, the Archbishop of Canterbury, some dessicated ascetic hermit from North Africa, the Raelians, Pat Robertson, the Unitarians, etc., all get together and announce that they are going to simply acknowledge and accept the scientific and natural explanations for the origin and evolution of life and stop meddling in the materialist issues to focus exclusively on the purely ‘spiritual’ life of their flocks. If that day comes, I won’t have any looney religious ideas to complain about, and there goes half the outrage that drives me to write. And I will also fear that the kooks and frauds are simply consolidating their power in claims beyond anyone’s power to test.
I have those suspicions of the Archbishop of Canterbury, too—I think he’s just trying to make sure his authority is based on ideas not subject to empirical testing.