Sunday, November 2, 2008

Culture Wars in Kenya

Transcript of today's show:

The National Museum of Kenya is home to the bones of the famous Homo erectus man, discovered by anthropologist Richard Leaky. But the bones may soon become banned from public display, if the Pentecostal church gets its way. The church is leading an intense campaign to remove the exhibit, which they believe discredits creation theory. Leakey and other scientists are outraged and promise a bold fight to keep the exhibit intact. source: Bill Redeker/ABC

Listen to the 1-minute broadcast of this story [mp3]

Sound Off: Science & Faith. Our point/counterpoint regulars Shelley (the voice of science) and Peter (the voice of faith), comment on the story.

The Voice of Science: Shelley Greene, Ph.D., comments:
I am unceasingly amazed how fundamentalist thinking can so directly interfere with science. As an American travelling to international scientific gatherings, I am constantly embarassed by the "American Problem" of Christian fundamentalism and it encroachment on scientific education. Here now in Africa, we see this same Problem, in the very backyard where the story began. The cord of terror this story raises is the epidemic-level spread of religious fundamentalism in the world, and its interest in dominating the cultural, social, and political landscape along the way.

The people of Africa, in my experience of them, are proud of the fact that their land is the birthplace of the human race. Many African people believe in their homo sapien ancestry and feel deeply connected to it. The Penecostal Church and its intractable rejection of the homo sapien bones, is confusing these people, just as Creation theory and intelligent design advocates seek to confuse the young people in America. More disturbing still is the danger that this culture war become fodder for yet another civil war in the ravaged Africa. Why must religion, again and again, sarifice the innocent in order to convince and conquer the non-believing and independent-minded?

The Voice of Faith: Peter Williamson, M.Div., comments:
If there ever was a more legitimate reason to listen to other points of view, certainly this controversy in Kenya is a most lucid example. Just as some scientists do not want to "allow" a single book with an alternate version of the creation of the Grand Canyon in it's bookstore, now First World countries are trying to tell Africans what to believe. Many Christians are offended that their beliefs are not acknowledged -- whether in national park bookstores or history museums. If the great majority of Kenyans are offended by the Leakey bones, then they need to be listened to. The Kenyan Christian conversion happened on their own soil. We did not make them slaves in their own country by telling them they must adopt the "White Man's Religion." Their position comes from their own faith and the strength of their belief. Please, let's just try and respect that and mind our own business!