August 12, 2006
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 collection includes the most complete skeleton yet found of Homo erectus, the 1.7 million-year-old Turkana Boy unearthed by Dr Leakey’s team in 1984 at Nariokotome, near Lake Turkana in northern Kenya.
… As part of an ongoing expansion funded by the EU, the National Museums of Kenya, which manages the country’s cultural sites, is conducting a survey to determine what visitors to its Nairobi headquarters most want to see.
Church leaders aim to hijack that process. “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.”
… Dr Leakey said the churches’ plans were “the most outrageous comments I have ever heard”.
He told The Daily Telegraph: “The National Museums of Kenya should be extremely strong in presenting a very forceful case for the evolutionary theory of the origins of mankind.”
… 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.”
… “We have a responsibility to present all our artefacts in the best way that we can so that everyone who sees them can gain a full understanding of their significance,” said Ali Chege, public relations manager for the National Museums of Kenya.
“But things can get tricky when you have religious beliefs on one side, and intellectuals, scientists or researchers on the other, saying the opposite.”
Let me see: fact vs. fiction. Nope, don’t see anything tricky there.
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