Hundreds of atheists have laid siege to the home of renowned ethnologist and evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins after he reported finding an image of Charles Darwin on a piece of toast yesterday morning.

Dawkins said, “I was just settling down with a cup of tea when I noticed the face of a bearded man on my toast. Upon closer examination I could see that it was the face of Charles Darwin. At first I thought I was imagining it. Thank God I didn’t spread butter and marmalade on it.”

Outside his home, queues of atheists, evolutionists and toast-lovers waited patiently for a sight of the toast, believed to be a slice of Warburton’s Crusty Bloomer. Shortly before lunchtime, Dawkins sellotaped the by then revered object to the inside of his front window and the pilgrims raised their arms joyfully in the air and sang praises to Dawkins and Darwin.

Police struggled to keep the crowd, by then estimated to be about 5,000 strong, under control.

Said Sergeant Brian Dibbler, “Largely they were well behaved, but by mid afternoon they were beginning to get a bit hungry. Fortunately, someone was able to supply some fish paste sandwiches and they calmed down.”

Ms Rhea Liste, 42, an emergency aromatherapy consultant from Rochdale, said, “When I heard the news, I thought, ‘Christ, I have to be there, I mean, it’s a miracle!’ How often does one get the chance to have your beliefs reinforced, especially in times of doubt?”

Humanist Coby Kenoby agreed. “There have been times recently when I thought I was losing my faith. I began to doubt the existence of science as expert after expert was derided, and realists found themselves crucified in the press if they espoused facts and evidence in support of evolution, or indeed anything that had been proven beyond a shadow of doubt.”

However, religious leaders condemned the event as a piece of propaganda, a subterfuge to raise the declining profile of scientific zealots.

“As belief in events that have no basis in fact strengthens to the detriment of proven theories, atheists and evolutionists are obviously going to become more creative in highlighting their outmoded truths,” said Bishop Accrington of St Stanley. Father Peter Fiall added, “To be honest, it doesn’t even look like Darwin. I thought it could be the Virgin fella, Richard Branson, or yer man Archduke Franz Ferdinand.”

Dawkins said that he was thinking of having the toast mounted in a gilded frame and displayed in a specially constructed building which people could visit.

“I hope that seeing the iconic comestible will give people comfort in these dark times, and that somehow it will provide a path of communication to the great man himself.”

Christopher Hitchens was unavailable for comment on account of being dead.