Thursday, June 09, 2005

Oklahoma Beats Kansas to the Punch

According to this story on CNN, the Tulsa Zoo will add a display featuring Christian creationism. This isn't even intelligent design pseudo-science. Public money will be going to create this religious display. Opponents included both zoo employees and religious leaders.

Supporters argued that the zoo already had two religious "displays" and therefore opposing the creationism display would have been religious discrimination. I use the term "displays" loosely. The two sited were a statue of Ganesha outside the elephant exhibit and a globe inscribed with the American Indian quote, "The earth is our mother. The sky is our father."

The statue of Ganesha is one of many elephant statues showing representations of elephants in various cultures around the world. Those statues include one of the elephant as a symbol of the Republican Party. Does that mean the zoo is obligated to create an exhibit that shows the Democratic Party's view that global warming is real and needs to be addressed? Of course not, because the GOP statue, like the Ganesha statue, are not the point of the exhibit. The point of the exhibit is the elephant. You know, the animal. No religious intent whatsoever.

The second display, containing the quote, is just as straightforward. The quote is an innocuous, poetic inscription. It is simply a quote. There is nothing else there to imply that this is truth. To argue that it is displayed with the intent of indoctrinating patrons with this belief is ludicrous. My suspicion from reading the article is that this globe is more of a space filler than anything. If anything, it is intended to express the cross-cultural belief that we, as humans, have a connection to the world around us. That is not espousing a religious belief.

The creationism display, however, will do just that. The fact that it will be an actual display, including the illustration that God created the world in 6 days and rested on the 7th, indicates that this is going well beyond a simple representation. According to the article, "The new display will include a disclaimer that says it represents one view." The fact that it says it represents "one view" instead of "one religion's view" demonstrates the intent to indoctrinate. By labelling it "one view," the creationists are implying that the view has the same scientific validity (this is in a zoo, after all), as any other view of the creation of the world.

The way that the creationists are hiding behind the "discrimination" accusation is inexcusable. A zoo is no place for overtly religious displays. The article points out that the city's attorneys recommend including other cultures' views of creation. This is a pathetic attempt to avoid the issue. This is a zoo. Not a museum of natural history. Remember, "zoo" is the root that means "animal." Not "earth." Not "ocean." Not "land." "ANIMAL." If you want a display about the creation of the earth, do so in a museum.

My last point, again, comes from the city's attorneys' recommendation. That is to include other cultures' views of creation. If we want to be egalitarians and not discriminate, let's make sure we include the atheist evolutionists. Have a display that states that there is no supernatural force and that all forms of life evolved from lower forms. Somehow, I don't believe the supporters of the creationism display would support that.


At 12:35 PM, Blogger the fiddlin' fool said...

...although an exhibit in an anthropological museum documenting creationism from an objective standpoint would be an example of an appropriate exhibit.


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