Fundies in Kenya target hominid fossil exhibit
NAIROBI -- The global debate between scientists and conservative Christians over evolution has hit Kenya, where an exhibit of one of the world's finest collections of early hominid fossils is under threat.
As the famed National Museum of Kenya (NMK) prepares to re-open next year after massive EU-funded renovations, evangelicals are demanding that the display be removed or at least shunted to a less prominent location.
The "Origins of Man" exhibit, comprised of prehistoric finds from around Africa's Great Rift Valley considered by many to be the cradle of humanity, is offensive as it promotes Charles Darwin's theory of evolution, they say.
Ironically, though the Kenyan fundies regard their country's hominid fossils as a source of shame, the British once regarded their Piltdown Man -- exposed as a hoax in 1953 -- as a source of pride. Wikipedia says of the Piltdown Man,
It has been suggested that nationalism and racism also played a role in the acceptance of the fossil as genuine, as it satisfied European expectations that the earliest humans would be found in Eurasia. The British, it has been claimed, also wanted a first Briton to set against fossil hominids found elsewhere in the world, including France and Germany.
Logically, it would seem that in terms of nationalism and racism, the Kenyan museum display of hominid fossils turns the tables on the British, but the Kenyan fundies don't see it that way.
Another website says,
In 1856 the first Neanderthal fossil discovery was made and the hunt was on to find fossil remains of human ancestors. In the next half century finds were made in continental Europe and in Asia but not in Britain. Finally, in 1912, the sun rose on British paleontology -- fossil remains of an ancient pleistocene hominid were found in the Piltdown quarries in Sussex . . . .
Piltdown man is one of the most famous frauds in the history of science. In 1912 Charles Dawson discovered the first of two skulls found in the Piltdown quarry in Sussex, England, skulls of an apparently primitive hominid, an ancestor of man. Piltdown man, or Eoanthropus dawsoni to use his scientific name, was a sensation. He was the expected "missing link" a mixture of human and ape with the noble brow of Homo sapiens and a primitive jaw. Best of all, he was British!
Considering Africa's recent history of instability, I think it would be a good idea for the museum to appease the fundies and maybe even move at least some of the fossils out of the country for safety. Better safe than sorry.
Labels: Evolution controversy abroad