Pentecostals Want Fossils Hidden in Kenya

This will cause you to become rather angry, if you have any sense:

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.

The museum also holds bones from several specimens of Australopithecus anamensis, believed to be the first hominid to walk upright, four million years ago. Together the artefacts amount to the clearest record yet discovered of the origins of Homo sapiens.

Hide the evidence, hide the evidence. Maybe reality will change as a result. Or not.

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."

I guess it's refreshing to know that Kenyan creationists are just as absurd as American creationists.

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The story about the ranking of evolution support in Western nations did not include any data on Africa. America's standing might have looked a little better if it did; the news from Kenya is not good. Evangelical churches want to suppress the Kenya national museum's fossil collection. This includes…
Darwin's Evolution of Man. . Richard Leakey, the famous paleoanthropologist, is battling with powerful evangelical church leaders in Kenya. These fundamentalist wingnuts are pressuring Kenya's national museum to hide its world-famous collection of hominid fossils that detail the evolution of…
This story has been simmering for a while: Kenyan fundamentalists are trying to suppress the fossil evidence, so well represented in their country, of human evolution. On one side, we have Richard Leakey: He told The Daily Telegraph (London): "The National Museums of Kenya should be extremely…
Bartholomew has a lot more detail on Bishop Bonifes Adoyo, the head of the Pentecostal church in Kenya trying to get all the hominid fossils found there hidden from view in the national museum. As expected, he has a long history of nuttiness including claiming that golf might lead to demon…

"Refreshing!" "Bracing," maybe, but not refreshing.

Look at it from a Christian point of view: Early converts to Christianity in Kenya probably were Anglicans, and the missionaries spent time trying to disabuse converts of old, damaging superstitions. That there are now so many Pentacostalists in Kenya preaching superstition and ignorance about geology, archaeology, paleontology, medicine, genetics and other biologies, only means that darkness is once again spreading across the face of Africa.

So, once again, creationists have taken a firm position opposite that of Christianity. And, from the article, it doesn't appear that this is a small cell of a couple dozen people who are urging the lights be put out on Kenyan science.

It's enough to make Lucy roll over in her grave.

Refreshing? Hardly. Kenya has some of the oldest humanoid fossils known to exist. If the fundies manage to gain traction there, who knows what harm they could do to archeological research. Certainly, they would have no qualms about destroying evidence. It's been done before.

BruceH,

"Certainly, they would have no qualms about destroying evidence. It's been done before."

I didn't know that. Could you give me an example or a reference for further reading?

On the other hand, this could be a rhetorical victory against Creationism. The next time some Creationist rants about how the evil atheist conspiracy is suppressing the Truth of Creation, ask them to explain this behavior.

Why do they fear these fossils?

Julia,

Christians destroyed the library at Alexandria, Egypt after flaying its curator with abalone shells (while she was alive).

Were you interested in general christian wickedness, or specific to destroying fossils?

The part about Hypatia is true though:
http://physics.weber.edu/carroll/honors-time/cosmos.htm

Here is an interesting quote from her:

All formal dogmatic religions are fallacious and must never be accepted by self-respecting persons as final.

Reserve your right to think, for even to think wrongly is better than not to think at all.

To teach superstitions as truth is a most terrible thing.

Were you interested in general christian wickedness, or specific to destroying fossils?

I'm aware of a considerable amount of general Christian wickedness, but the comment that I was curious about was the one that seemed to be saying fundamentalists have destroyed evidence of evolution (presumably fossils, as that's what Ed's post concerned). Have Christian fundamentalists done that?

Yes, Hypatia was assassinated on orders of Bishop Cyril. But all the evidence points to a purely political dispute between Cyril and Orestes, the Byzantine governor. Christianity seems to have played little role in the whole affair.

Carl Sagan was a sometimes brilliant scientist, and Cosmos an entertaining TV series. Sagan apparently didn't think History required the same sort of scientific rigor as physics, however; I'd be leary of citing Cosmos in support of an historical incident.

Oh joy, our Christian conservatives are basically at the intellectual level of a 3rd world country. Wonderful, we now have the economic growth of a 3rd world country, most of our army is in a 3rd world country, and our intellect has slipped to that of a 3rd world country. Pretty soon we're going to have to move to Mexico or some other progressive, advancing nation.

By dogmeatIB (not verified) on 12 Aug 2006 #permalink

Carl Sagan was a sometimes brilliant scientist, and Cosmos an entertaining TV series. Sagan apparently didn't think History required the same sort of scientific rigor as physics, however; I'd be leary of citing Cosmos in support of an historical incident.

I would concurr. However advanced the culture was it was by no means above great atrocities itself. It is easy to look at Alexandria and decry the loss of the worlds greatest library of the time. But one must also keep in mind that the Alexandrians were not randomly victimised by Christian dogma. In fact, I would argue that Christian dogma has rarely caused destruction. It has been used as a political tool to instigate destruction and atrocities but rarely is it the ultimate reason behind those acts.

I loved Carl Sagan. He is one of my very first heros and still at the top of the list. But he is very dogmatic in his atheism - growing moreso towards the end of his life. There are a number of things I agree with him about in his last book "A Candle in the Dark." But the underlying thesis was his absolute belief that humanity cannot possibley progress unless we get past our drive to believe in the supernatural - or anything that is not scientificly proven. On that I disagree.

In fact, I would argue that Christian dogma has rarely caused destruction. It has been used as a political tool to instigate destruction and atrocities but rarely is it the ultimate reason behind those acts.

That simply isn't the case. We could go into the history of many events such as witch burning and see it as the direct cause. I would also state that the religion causes a million paper cuts each day that otherwise wouldn't be there. One need not cause a war to bring real pain to many.

But he is very dogmatic in his atheism - growing moreso towards the end of his life.

This is funny. Dogma and atheism. Atheism has no dogma. It simply can't. Don't say such silly things.

But the underlying thesis was his absolute belief that humanity cannot possibley progress unless we get past our drive to believe in the supernatural - or anything that is not scientificly proven. On that I disagree.

Then prove him wrong. Stop hand waving and simply prove any one of 1000's supernatural entities exists.Given the state of the world today and the fractures between various religious bodies I would say he was more right than wrong.

Use against heretics the spiritual sword of excommunication, and if this does not prove effective, use the material sword.

[Pope Innocent III (1161-1216)

Seems pretty much a direct link to me. But he's Catholic and they are barely Christian.:-)

In fact, I would argue that Christian dogma has rarely caused destruction. It has been used as a political tool to instigate destruction and atrocities but rarely is it the ultimate reason behind those acts.

Are you joking? In addition to the witch hunts (and the inquistition), you have the first 400 years of conquest and colonialism in the New World.

By dogmeatIB (not verified) on 12 Aug 2006 #permalink

I'd be leary of citing Cosmos in support of an historical incident

Obviously I don't believe that one single citation is enough for anyone to believe anything. Simply put, when the library was brought up, I immediately thought of Cosmos because of his eliquent/passionate telling of what happened. Whatever direct or indirect involvement that the bishop had in Hypatia's death, most (if not all) of the resources I've read have stated that the actual killers were christians. A quick google search will show that. I don't mean to connect christians with all of the evil in the world, only that I too have heard that Hypatia died at the hands of them.

DogmeatIB attributes 400 years of conquest and colonialism in the New World to Christian dogma. And it doesn't inspire comment for a while.

Don't get a lot of Leftists around here, do you? (Or is Marxist thought really as dead as the Cons say it is?)

Porlock, I'm not sure I understand the point of your comment. You've made some effort to apply a label to a claim, but you've done nothing to actually engage that claim. And I would argue that even the effort you put into that was wasted, since one hardly needs to be a leftist or a Marxist to recognize that religion has motivated or justified a great deal of suffering in the world (or that it has also, of course, motivated a good deal of kindness and decency).

Actually, I was going to give it a pass, seeing as there have been plenty of sins committed by Christians against non-Christians. For that reason, saying the Christian colonialism argument is misleading is not all that important.

Still, as the issue has been raised, anyone who really thinks the Americas were conquered in the name of Jesus isn't looking very hard at the reality. The Conquistadors at al were motivated by greed, first for gold and silver, later for the agricultural bounty of the new world.

Yes, there was slavery, mistreatment and intentional genocide. There were also forced conversions. But the only people who raised thier voices against mistreatment were missionaries, mostly Jesuits.

Religion is a convenient organizing tool, particularly to form "us" vs "them" factions. But it is seldom the root cause of the conflict. Even in the GWOT, the vast majority of muslims do not have a religious animosity toward the West (they have more or less valid cultural concerns, of course).

Worth noting that Bishop Adoyo was also involved in the government's 1994 "Inquiry into Devil Worship", which concluded (funnily enough!) that President Daniel Arap Moi's political opponents were Satanists. It's helped to create a climate of paranoia in the country that recently saw colonial-era religious symbols in churches being destroyed. I've put a bit about this background on my blog.

Religion is the biggest organizing tool today, so that's why we're giving it the most attention. Religion is also an organizing philosophy that demands it's right, has always been right, has never changed, and will kill anyone who dares to think otherwise.

But it is seldom the root cause of the conflict.

I don't know if I can say I agree with this. It seems to me minus the tribalism that religion imparts people would be more likely to have the us/them mentality.

Other events may help trigger this tribal response but I suspect religion is the main factor in many escalations.

There is no reason trying to downplay it's importance simply because it is so apparent in so many conflicts both armed and unarmed.

I don't think religion causes tribalism. Tribalism would exist even if religion did not. Tribalism was a necessity for survival and hence is almost certainly a strong part of human nature. Religion is just one form of tribalism; take it away, and we'll still form into tribes based on a dozen other factors.

Ed,

I could agree with that statement.