The evolution of faith?

Evolution Festival, Media releases

A church service is probably the last thing you would expect to kick off a year-long celebration of evolution-but that’s exactly what’s happening at St Paul’s Anglican Cathedral in Melbourne at 2 pm on Sunday 8 February.

Entitled Science and Faith: the Intersection the service will be the first official event of Evolution – the Festival, a public celebration of 200 years since the birth of Charles Darwin and 150 years since the publication of the book in which he set out his theory of evolution by natural selection, On the Origin of Species. 2009 is also the International Year of Astronomy, celebrating 400 years since Galileo first pointed a telescope at the sky.

Given that many Christian groups still dispute the idea of evolution by natural selection, and that the Roman Catholic church placed Galileo under house arrest for his view that the Earth revolved around the Sun, the service sets out to explore whether faith and science can be harmonised as different paths to truth.

“I have never believed science and faith to be at odds,” says Prof. Phil Batterham, a committed Baptist, who is associate Dean of Science at Melbourne University and a speaker at the service.

“There is much common ground between the pursuits of faith and science. Both search for truth.” Batterham is chair of the organising committee for Evolution – The Experience, a major conference on the impact of Darwin to be held in the Melbourne Convention Centre from 9 February to 13 February.

He will be providing his views at the service, along with the Anglican Archbishop of Melbourne, the Most Revd Dr Philip Freier, whose first degree was in biological science, and emeritus Professor of Physics at Monash University, Prof. John Pilbrow, who is current president of the Institute for the Study of Christianity in an Age of Science and Technology (ISCAST).

All are welcome at the service, says its organiser, the Dean of St Paul’s, the Right Revd Dr Mark Burton. There will be something for everyone.

As well as the discussion of science and faith, the service will include the unveiling of a new work by performance poet, Cameron Semmens, and incorporate singing by popular entertainer Richard Thomas. In addition, there will be a small display which will include two Aboriginal paintings of the origin of life and a first edition of Darwin’s book.

For interviews contact:

  • Phil Batterham for the Festival, (03) 8344 2363, 0418 598 562
  • Roland Ashby for Archbishop Freier, 03 9653 4215
  • Niall Byrne, (03) 9398 1416, 0417 131 977 or

For further information on the Science and Faith: the Intersection Service, visit—the-intersection

Other events marking Darwin’s birthday include an ‘eat your way through the evolutionary tree’ party at the Melbourne Museum.

For more public information about events that celebrate evolution and Darwin: >