Dry Bones

So the jargon has reached Kenya. The aggrieved irritated ‘uncomfortable’ fretful worried Christians know what to say.

Powerful evangelical churches are pressing Kenya’s national museum to sideline its world-famous collection of hominid bones pointing to man’s evolution from ape to human. Leaders of the country’s six-million-strong Pentecostal congregation want Dr Richard Leakey’s ground-breaking finds relegated to a back room instead of being given their usual prime billing…”The Christian community here is very uncomfortable that Leakey and his group want their theories presented as fact,” said Bishop Bonifes Adoyo, the head of Christ is the Answer Ministries, the largest Pentecostal church in Kenya. “Our doctrine is not that we evolved from apes, and we have grave concerns that the museum wants to enhance the prominence of something presented as fact which is just one theory.”

The C word, of course, but also the doctrine thing. ‘Our doctrine is not that we evolved from apes.’ Well no, of course it’s not, and the doctrine of Goddesses is – whatever they feel like making up at any given moment. What of it? What’s anyone’s doctrine got to do with anything? The bones are there; that’s not doctrine, that’s bones; a doctrine that requires a museum to hide them in a back room is a pretty feeble doctrine, if you ask me.

Richard Leakey isn’t much impressed either.

Dr Leakey said the churches’ plans were “the most outrageous comments I have ever heard”…Calling the Pentecostal church fundamentalists, Dr Leakey added: “Their theories are far, far from the mainstream on this. They cannot be allowed to meddle with what is the world’s leading collection of these types of fossils.”

Well yes but you see, the museum murmured, you see it’s like this…

The museum said it was in a “tricky situation” as it tried to redesign its exhibition space to accommodate the expectations of all its visitors. “We have a responsibility to present all our artefacts in the best way that we can…But things can get tricky when you have religious beliefs on one side, and intellectuals, scientists or researchers on the other, saying the opposite.”

Yes, but museums are not churches, and religious beliefs ought not to trump evidence-based findings in educational institutions like museums; on the contrary, in educational institutions like museums (and zoos, aquariums, schools, libraries), evidence-based findings ought to trump religious beliefs, and that’s that. Leakey won’t bring his bones into your churches, so you don’t get to tell the museums to hide the bones. But of course that won’t stop you.

And people wonder why I’m such a noisy kind of atheist. Pffffff.

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