Ahead of the 200th anniversary of the pioneering naturalist's birth on Thursday, they warn that militant atheists are turning people away from evolution by using it as a weapon with which to attack religion.Several religious and scientific leaders signed the letter below, which is reprinted from the Daily Telegraph.
However, in a letter published in The Daily Telegraph, they also urge believers in creationism to acknowledge the overwhelming body of evidence that now exists to back up Darwin's theory of how life on Earth has developed.
Evolution, we believe, has become caught in the crossfire of a religious battle in which Darwin himself had little personal interest.
We respectfully encourage those who reject evolution to weigh the now overwhelming evidence, hugely strengthened by recent advances in genetics, which testifies to the theory's validity.
At the same time, we respectfully ask those contemporary Darwinians who seem intent on using Darwin's theory as a vehicle for promoting an anti-theistic agenda to desist from doing so as they are, albeit unintentionally, turning people away from the theory.
In this year of all years, we should be celebrating Darwin's great biological achievements and not fighting over his legacy as some kind of anti-theologian.