Sunday, August 20, 2006

Evolution: it isn't just dissed in the United States anymore...

Most people, at least here in the United States, think that this is the only place where the theory of evolution doesn't get any respect. But I ran across a couple of stories this week that show this isn't the case at all.

First up, in Nairobi, Kenya, according to the Telegraph, evangelical churches in that nation are lobbying the national museum there to put its collection of hominid fossils in a "back room" because evolution is "just one theory". Dr. Richard Leakey, whose team discovered many of the fossils in the museum called the churches' plan to force the museum to downplay anything that looks like evidence for evolution "the most outrageous comments I have ever heard", and that the museum should "be extremely strong in presenting a very forceful case for the evolutionary theory in the origins of mankind". He called the Pentecostal churches in question "fundamentalist" and said that their view of human origins "far from the mainstream".

The public relations manager of the museum was less forceful in his statement, saying that the museum has a responsibility to show the fossils in a way that gives the public "a full understanding of their significance", but that doing so can "get tricky when you have religious beliefs on one side, and intellectuals, scientists or researchers on the other, saying the opposite."

The thing that I don't understand is why people with religion think that they have a right force others to present their viewpoints. I doubt that Richard Leakey has any intention of going into their churches and lecturing them on evolution; they don't have any more right to march into a museum and expect the curators to mount exhibits that cater to their particular beliefs.

In another report, meanwhile, this time from Yahoo news, Greek scientists are calling on their nation's education ministry to begin teaching evolution, which they say is almost unheard of in the country's schools. They say that while information on evolution appears in the textbooks the schools use, it is situated at the end of the books, and most teachers never get to that material before the end of the school eyar. Two hundred scientists signed a petition setting out their request to the ministry. Evidently the influential Greek Orthodox church, which favors creationism, didn't have any comment on the appeal from scientists.

NOTE: Unfortunately, the Yahoo news report has apparently expired, so I've removed the link.

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