Blogs

Charles Darwin: controversial in Oklahoma

Guy Adams

IMG 0976 e1312780775728 225x300 Charles Darwin: controversial in OklahomaHow America works; second in an occasional series.

In 1859, Charles Darwin published On the Origin of Species. To most inhabitants of the enlightened world, the Theory of Evolution which he outlined in this fine work of scholarship now seems so straightforward and uncontroversial as to be up there with Sir Isaac Newton’s Theory of Gravity in the list of things every secondary school student with two brain cells to rub together should know and understand. Over the past 150 years, it has, after all, underpinned a great many of mankind’s most important scientific advances.

But in America, things are different. Or at least they are in the State of Oklahoma, where I spent the weekend.  Here, in the year 2011, Darwin, and his new-fangled ideas about natural selection are still considered highly taboo.

Just outside Oklahoma City is a wonderful tourist attraction called the Museum of Osteology. Started by a local bone enthusiast, it contains a collection of several hundred human and animal skeletons, artfully arranged. For five bucks, you can gawp at the interior scaffolding of everything from a rhinocerous, to a killer whale, to an unnamed Indonesian soldier who died thanks to a bullet through the head.

In one corner is a section dedicated to the evolution of the human skull. It contains replica craniums from homo sapiens and his predecessors stretching back several hundred thousand years. They are reconstructed from fossils, and arrayed over several shelves.

To my great surprise, the display also features a prominent and carefully-worded disclaimer. Pictured above, it reads as follows…

This exhibit focuses on the development of the human species. It is based on evidence from the fossil record, scientific data, and research. Although this exhibit is meant to present the scientific evidence of human evolution, it is not intended to offend any personal or religious beliefs. You are free to interpret, accept, or dismiss this exhibit as you see fit.

I have no problem with the tone of this note, which seems perfectly gracious. But the fact it is there at all? That would be funny, it it wasn’t also serious. Polls show that around 60 percent of Americans believe the Darwinism to be a hoax. This figure includes many conservative Christians of a Tea Party persuasion. And they vote, in vast numbers. That is why people like Michele Bachmann (who reckons God created Earth a few thousand years ago) are able to not only hold public office, but appear to be mounting a vaguely-credible campaign for the Presidency.

At risk of sounding pompous, there are many highly complex problems facing the world. Some involve macro-economics, others environmental science. Still more require an advanced understanding of geopolitics. They almost all need very clever and highly educated people to solve them. But here, in the most powerful nation on earth, a good portion of the electorate really does consider Charles Darwin to be a dangerous maverick. And at next November’s election, the scientific illiterates making their presence felt at a little museum in Oklahoma might get the President they deserve.

Tagged in: ,
  • Braziliano

    ..
    Dear Kong, I soo sorry to disappoint you expectation …
    ..
    Then again, maybe it’s your expectations that are at fault, not my ‘qualifications’.
    ..
    After 200 millons skeletons/fossils at the museums all over the planet……
    Not a single  link was ever found from one specie to another.
    Let alone from monkey to humans….. but then again,……. some humans…….
    ..
    Evolution to me is the greatest hoax ever build by a bunch of pseudo-scientific minds.
    ..
    Maybe the astronomer Carl Sagan will impress you.He acknowledged in his own book Cosmos: “The fossil evidence could be consistent with the idea of a Great Designer .”..I got this wild idea ……If black people were living (lets speculate as they do) not in Africa but in Europe, what will happens with this wild theory and his defenders??Well, the wild bunch will move the pieces of the puzzle once again and made the ‘evolving humanoid’ (that never existed) to made the exodus to whatever the best civilized human are at the time. ……

  • Brian Housden

    You clearly don’t understand what evolution is.

    Of course there aren’t any fossils of ‘links between species’. Each species is itself a link to one that came before and one that came after.

    Humans didn’t decend from monkeys. What you clearly dont get is that each species on earth is as evolved as any other. A slug is as evolved as a human.

    About 4 million years ago, there was probably some divergence among a single species that has since turned into various species of primates – apes (we are part of this grouping wether you like it or not), lemurs and monkeys.

    You clearly have no idea what science actually is but feel free to call evolution ‘pseudo-science’.

    It’s funny that you quote Carl Sagan, maybe you don’t know that he hated the religious mind-set? Or maybe you are just a troll.

    Ps. if you are not a troll, learn to construct coherent sentences if you want to be taken seriously by adults.

  • Braziliano

     Please, can you keep in mind that Darwin and his idea (if they belong to him) of evolution of the species are passe’
    ..
    Today scientists have been able to compare the genetic code of many different single celled organism. (Animals and plant too)
    ..
    See! they assumed that the end result should be a “match made in an evolutionary heavens” and it will give the “tree of life”(an invention) of Darwin the accolades and the credit it deserve .
    ..
    I have some bad news, boys, … your prayers did not worked well.  
    ..
    biology indicate that life appears to have had many origins, not one.
    The base of the universal tree of life of Darwin appears not to have been a single root.
    sorry! 
    ..
    But, if the branches do not cooperate, what about the trunk??
    Well :  You see, the reality is that the traditional version of the theory of common descent apparently does not apply to kingdoms as presently recognized.
    What is more, it most probably does not apply to many, if not all, phyla, and possibly also not to many classes within the phyla.
    Sorry !
    ..
    All present research continues to contradict Darwin’s theory of common descent.
    Well, that is too much and depressing!
    ..
    But there are more bad news : 2009, the New Scientist mag. : ” We have no evidence at all that the tree of life is a reality ” 
    Sorry!
    ..
    The bad point about bad new is that when they come, they come in POURING!
    ..
    You see! The tree of life is being politely (and quietly) buried, we all know that.
    It has being chopped down in a merciless way.
    By the evolutionary throng themselves.
    What’s less accepted is that our whole fundamental view of biology needs to change.
    Same mag. same article.
    ..
    Evolution is a gigantic hoax, an idea born in fantasy land.
    Many books on evolution skim over the staggering problem of explaining the emergence of life from nonliving matter. (an impossibility unless a miracle happens)
    If you do not want to believe me, believe Richard Dawkins as quote : “This book should be read almost as though it were science fiction” (the selfish gene)
    ..
    Why do they keep this “brilliant idea” in cryonics/zombie state? Money? more money?
    ..
    I do not know, but is not because they love “the truth”.

  • aboukir

    Sorry for the delay, been away. I think it was wiki on ‘creationism’ or, google search ‘who believes in creationism’


Property search
Browse by area

Latest from Independent journalists on Twitter