Famously, it took the Church about 400 years to concede that Galileo was right to reject geocentricity, the idea that the earth is at the center of the universe.  Now the Vatican is restating its view of recent years that Darwin was right about the origin of species, that human beings evolved from less complex life forms. They’re getting quicker: Darwin was born 200 years ago today, his theory completely transforming the foundations of biology and profoundly changing the studies of paleontology, genetics, cosmology, physics and many more scientific disciplines.

Originally, the Church rejected Darwin’s explanation of the origins of complex life because it so clearly contradicted their literal reading of the book of Genesis, the first book of the bible which tells the story of God creating the universe out of nothing in six days. Now the Vatican concedes that they were simply misreading the bible: Genesis was never intended to be read literally, but rather as a metaphor asserting that God is the originator of life and all that we see (the authors of Genesis, living thousands of years before Darwin, of course had no scientific knowledge of exactly how God did it!).

From a Times article today:

Conceding that the Church had been hostile to Darwin because his theory appeared to conflict with the account of creation in Genesis, Archbishop Ravasi argued yesterday that biological evolution and the Christian view of Creation were complementary.

Marc Leclerc, who teaches natural philosophy at the [Pontifical] Gregorian University, said that no scholar could “remain indifferent” to the 200th anniversary of Darwin’s birth tomorrow.