The New York Times had an article on Monday describing the visit by a group of paleontologists to the Creationism Museum in northern Kentucky. I read the article thinking it would amuse me, but unfortunately it has left me feeling…well, queasy.
For some, the Bible can be studied as literature, and I’m sure much could be learned from it about the style and language of a time long passed. For others, it is history, and to these people I ask that they consider it as they would any secondary source document. Its provenance, authors and editors should be acknowledged and considered. It has a historical context, tells one part of the global story and contemporary documents should be relied upon to get a fuller picture of the time. In a sense, all history evolves, and the evolution of the Bible makes for a particularly fascinating story.
I feel very strongly that science literacy is being under-emphasized in our society. No matter what our opinions on the philosophical questions surrounding the existence of life we should all be able to agree that critical thinking and an inquisitive nature are vital skills to be fostered and honed.
Ultimately, the article made me feel uneasy because it asks me to recognize that there are people out there who look at the majesty of the universe but don’t feel the drive from their very core to explore it. People for whom science is uncomfortable either because it asks questions about what we do not know or because it dares to ask questions about those things we thought we did. These people have found an explanation for the unknown that I suppose brings them comfort or peace of mind, but in doing so I can’t help but suspect that they have traded away an important part of themselves.
In a sense I can accept an adult making that choice, accepting that trade-off. Uncertainty and exploration can be frightening and exhilarating in equal measure. But no child is born that doesn’t feel the drive to explore and hopefully when these people become parents they allow their kids the opportunity to reach their own conclusions.
Wishful thinking I’m sure…