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Last Updated: Friday, 20 October 2006, 15:57 GMT 16:57 UK
Faces of the week
Faces of the week

Our regular look at some of the faces which have made the news this week. Above are Charles Darwin (main picture), with Charles Kennedy, Isabelle Dinoire, Camila Batmanghelidjh and Wesley Snipes.

Charles Darwin

The complete works of Charles Darwin are to be made available online. With the debate between evolutionists and believers in "intelligent design" raging in the United States, the revered 19th-Century scientist remains as controversial as ever.

The new online Darwin archive is an immense undertaking.

Due to be completed in 2009, the bicentenary of his birth, the searchable resource will make 50,000 pages of text and 40,000 images freely available to both professional researchers and laypersons.

Included in the archive is Darwin's first major work, The Voyage of HMS Beagle.

This account of almost five years' journeying around the globe, including stops in South America, Australia and, most importantly, the Galapagos Islands of the Pacific, sets the scene for his later work on evolution.

Evolution from ape to human
Evolution: Darwin's 150 year-old theory is still challenged
His most famous book, the full title of which is On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life, published in 1859, spawned a huge, often vicious, debate.

Arguing that mankind was descended from primates, Darwin faced criticism from those who said that he was rejecting God. Others scorned the idea that humans were animals.

And today, the battle between evolutionists and creationists rages on, especially in the United States.

Recent studies show that, despite scientific evidence that life on Earth began in its most primitive form some four billion years ago, many Americans remain unconvinced.

Heated debate

One poll, commissioned by CBS News, revealed that more than half of the US population believes that God created human beings in their present form.

The same poll indicates that some 48% of respondents think that this divine creation event occurred "within the last 10,000 years".

When taken with others commissioned by CNN and NBC, this poll constitutes the clearest evidence yet that the burgeoning American evangelical movement is using its considerable influence to re-educate its adherents.

The Galapagos Islands
The Galapagos Islands spurred Darwin to think further about creation
With 57% of Americans believing the Biblical account of creation and with 44% also saying that the world was created in six days, scientific rationalists and people of faith who believe in evolution, including the Anglican and Catholic churches, seemingly face a new challenge.

The political power of the US's religious right has also made itself felt in the debate.

Bills that would allow or require teachers to make reference to alternatives to evolution have been debated in Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma and Utah. In Kansas and Ohio, the state education boards have agreed guidelines allowing for the critical examination of evolution.

Legal battles

Evangelical Christians like Ken Ham, who runs the Answers in Genesis organisation, teach a literal Biblical version of creation.

Indeed, his website argues that the Earth "couldn't be more than about 10,000 years old". Beyond this, it associates Darwin with racism and sexism.

At its bluntest, the debate boils down to that old chestnut, the struggle between science and faith. Its newest battleground is the concept of "intelligent design" (ID).

Charles Darwin
Charles Darwin was abused after publishing The Origin of Species
The idea of ID centres on the belief that "certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection."

This definition comes from a US-based organisation - the Discovery Institute - a high-profile, well-funded, promoter of ID.

Most recently, the Institute has been a key player in the Kitzmiller v Dover Area School District case, an attempt to put the teaching of ID on an even par with evolution in Pennsylvania.

In this instance, the creationists lost. But, should they succeed, the pressure on an increasingly-conservative Supreme Court to view creationism as scientifically- and not faith-based, for the purposes of the US Constitution, will be great.

World-views clash

The First Amendment of the Constitution states: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion."

This separation of church and state effectively prevents religious practice in all US state schools. Successive Supreme Court decisions, most notably Engel v. Vitale (1962), which banned the Lord's Prayer, have upheld the constitutional ban on religion in schools.

President George W Bush
President Bush has called for creationism to be taught in schools
According to their critics, those who promote ID are attempting to bring religious teaching in by the back door.

And in August 2005, the President himself weighed-in to the argument.

Asked about creationism and evolution in schools, he replied: "Both sides ought to be properly taught, so people can understand what the debate is about."

The scientific world is becoming increasingly irritated by the continuing argument over evolution, a debate which it feels is, for the most part, over and done with.

Even so, the clash of world-views engendered by Charles Darwin some 150 years ago shows no sign of abating.

Chalres Kennedy: Awards no-show
Charles Kennedy

The former Liberal Democrat leader, Charles Kennedy, pulled out of hosting an awards ceremony just hours before it began. Mr Kennedy, who has admitted to an alcohol problem, was replaced by the BBC's Jeremy Vine, who quipped "I am sorry I am not Charles. I don't have any policies anyway." A spokesman for Mr Kennedy said: "I spoke to Charles about the event and I gather some problems with the script occurred but I don't know about anything else."

Relieved: Isabelle Dinoire
Isabelle Dinoire

The recipient of the world's first face transplant, Isabelle Dinoire, has been speaking of her experience. In an interview with the BBC, Ms Dinoire, a mother of two who was severely injured after being attacked by a dog, described the first time she saw herself in a mirror after the operation. "I was scared to look at myself," she said. "But when I did it was already marvellous and I couldn't believe it."

Woman of the Year: Camila Batmanhelidjh
Camila Batmanghelidjh

Camila Batmanghelidjh, an Iranian refugee who founded two children's charities providing therapeutic and practical support to vulnerable youngsters, has been named Woman of the Year. Ms Batmanghelidjh, who is known as the Angel of Peckham, has helped 11,000 troubled boys and girls. She said: "I have a lot of respect for these awards because they recognise ordinary people who do extraordinary things, and they're one of the best for recognising what's really important."

Wesley Snipes: Tax charges
Wesley Snipes

The Hollywood actor Wesley Snipes has been charged with eight counts of tax evasion. The star of the Blade trilogy and White Men Can't Jump is accused of making $12m of false refund claims and not filing returns for six years. If convicted Snipes, who is currently on location in Namibia, could face 16 years in prison - five years each on two conspiracy counts and one year each on six counts regarding tax returns.

Written by BBC News Profiles Unit's Andrew Walker

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