The Evolution vs. Creationism debate has been going on ever since people realised that science is the way to go and others decided to stick with the ol’ holy texts. Most people accept that evolution makes sense and believe it happened and is happening still – but this story out of Kenya really does make you realise just who holds the moral high ground at least.
Evangelists want fossil exhibits kept out of sight
Robin McKie, science editor
Sunday September 10, 2006
The world’s most important collection of human fossils may soon be hidden from public view – if religious leaders get their way.In a move that has stunned scientists, senior clergy have demanded that the bones and skulls currently exhibited in Nairobi’s National Museum of Kenya be removed from display to prevent young Africans from being corrupted.
‘It’s creating a big weapon against Christians that’s killing our faith,’ said Bishop Boniface Adoyo, who is leading the hide-the-bones campaign. ‘When children go to museums they’ll start believing we evolved from these apes.’ Not surprisingly, the bishop’s remarks have infuriated scientists who consider the museum’s collection to be unrivalled anywhere else in the world. Its fossils include those of the 4 million-year-old apeman, Australopithecus anamensis, the 1.5 million-year-old remains of the Nariokotome boy, the most complete skeleton of an ancient human ever found, and a series of other bones that highlight crucial phases of our evolutionary past.
Many of these fossils were discovered by palaeontologists Louis and Mary Leakey in areas around Lake Victoria and Lake Turkana and are generally regarded as providing stark demonstrations of how our species was shaped by natural selection.
Their son, Richard Leakey, and his wife Maeve, have continued this fossil-hunting tradition. They too have been dismayed by the bid to suppress the museum’s fossils. ‘The church is being ridiculous,’ said Richard Leakey. ‘Its leaders are out of step. Evolution theory is accepted across the world. This is scientific history and Kenya has the best of this evolutional history. Globally, few can match that claim to fame.’
The National Museum of Kenya is currently preparing to reopen next year after completing massive EU-funded renovations. As part of that work a special exhibit, The Origins Of Man, which displays the key finds around Africa’s Great Rift Valley – considered by many the cradle of humanity – is now being set up.
However, it is this display that African evangelicals say they find offensive, because it promotes Darwin’s theory of evolution. As a result, they are demanding that the display be removed or at least shunted to a less prominent location.
‘When museums put it out there that man evolved from apes, theologically they are affecting many people who are Christians, who believe God created us,’ says Bishop Adoyo, the chairman of the Evangelical Alliance of Kenya, which claims to represent churches of 35 denominations with nine million members.
What can be easily gained from this story is that the Kenyan Bishop realises that evidence exists which flatly and clearly does away with the creation myth but simply wants to hide it away to keep alive his own beliefs; even though they are clearly wrong.
It is somewhat baffling in many respects – not only that anyone can hold any given belief when there is very solid evidence that directly contradicts it; but also that the same person would want that evidence hidden away even though they are completely unable to disprove that evidence.
Can anyone justify such an action?