PARIS/LONDON (Reuters) - Even 150 years after it first appeared in print, Charles Darwin's "On The Origin of Species" still fuels clashes between scientists convinced of its truth and critics who reject its view of life without a creator.
This "Darwin Year" -- so named because February 12 was the 200th anniversary of the British naturalist's birth and November 24 the 150th anniversary of his book -- has seen a flood of books, articles and conferences debating his theory of evolution.
While many covered well-trodden ground, some have taken new paths. But no consensus is in sight, probably because Darwinian evolution is both a powerful scientific theory describing how life forms develop through natural selection and a basis for philosophies and social views that often include atheism.
"People are encountering and rejecting evolution not so much as a science but as a philosophy," Nick Spencer, director of studies at the public theology think-tank Theos in London, told Reuters.
"Today's most eloquent Darwinians often associate evolution with atheism ... amorality (and) the idea there is no design or purpose in the universe."
He said many people had embraced anti-evolution views in the United States and Britain in recent decades "not so much because they are rejecting evolution as a science, although that is often how that sentiment is articulated, but because they're rejecting it as a philosophy about life."
"It's quite possible to be an evolutionist and not to hold that philosophy about life, to be an evolutionist and still believe in God and purpose and design," he said. ...