A friend writes to say that a museum curators’ journal article, “Curating creation: allowing ‘the divine a foot in the door’ of Leeds City Museum?” by Elizabeth Carnegiea ( Museum Management and Curatorship v 29, no. 5) advises (Abstract):
This article examines critical and visitor responses to a section on ‘alternative’
creation stories located within Life on Earth, a science-led natural history gallery, at Leeds Museums and Galleries, UK. This section, by inviting visitors to express alternative creation stories, appears to allow ‘a foot in the door’ of the science-led gallery to non-fact-based religious beliefs. The museological debates surrounding this inclusion offer broad insights into the tensions between fact-based, and essentially secular, interpretations within museums displays and the relationships that an increasingly multi-faith public have or can expect to have with the museum as a provider of and location of, knowledge. A consideration of the visitor comments suggests that the public are less concerned with the appropriateness of museum categories than they are with taking the opportunity to express their own thoughts and beliefs.
(Note: The “foot in the door” reference is to Lewontin’s Divine Foot in the door, which must be excluded even at the cost of believing “ patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism.”)
Yeah. Reminded me of something, and here it is:
Evolution after Darwin had set itself up to be something more than science. It was a popular science, the science of the marketplace and the museum, and it was a religion—whether this be purely secular or blended in with a form of liberal Christianity.
*For an informative account of the role of museums in the spread of evolution as a religion, see Michael Ruse, The Evolution Wars: A Guide to the Debates (Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2000), pp. 103–05. For his own ambivalent view, see pp. 113–14.
In May 2000, Michael Ruse (philosopher of science, and atheist) wrote:
“Evolution is promoted by its practitioners as more than mere science. Evolution is promulgated as an ideology, a secular religion–a full-fledged alternative to Christianity, with meaning and morality. I am an ardent evolutionist and an ex-Christian, but I must admit that in this one complaint–and Mr. Gish is but one of many to make it–the literalists are absolutely right. Evolution is a religion. This was true of evolution in the beginning, and it is true of evolution still today.”– Ruse, M., “How evolution became a religion: creationists correct? Darwinians wrongly mix science with morality, politics”, National Post,pp. B1, B3, B7 (May 13, 2000)
Ruse is actually the best known Darwinian philosopher, and much appreciated for his honest and cynical admission of the facts in these matters.
Ruse seemed (just a subjective opinion) quite comfortable with the situation, despite his protestations. For one thing, it enabled science writers and museum curators alike to wave pom poms enthusiastically instead of address non-Darwinian facts about our origins.
It’s not true, of course, that Darwinian interpretations are based on fact. They are based on naturalism. Conflicting facts must yield. This is especially true when human evolution is discussed, where fact bases are simply reinterpreted to support the overall thesis that man is the trousered ape.
On the whole, it is best to treat museum presentations on origins issues as one would campaign flyers during an election. May be worth believing, may be not.
See also: Human origins: The war of trivial explanations
Why human evolution happened only once: the question no one has to answer
A deep and abiding need for Neanderthals to be stupid. Why?
Note also museum Dawin frauds