Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Devolution In The Heartland

im006048.devolution.large What's the matter with Kansas? Who cares anymore?
"The Kansas Board of Education has voted six-to-four to include greater criticism of evolution in its school science standards, but will submit the standards to an outside review before taking a final vote.
The language favored by the board comes from advocates of intelligent design, who say life and the universe are too complex to have evolved by accident."
It's plain these people are more interested in teaching Sunday School than science, so why don't they just close down the schools and start sending students to their neighborhood church basements for 5 days a week of hymn-singing and Bible study?

Everytime you think things couldn't get more backward, whoomp! there it is. At this rate I expect "Creation Myths of the Levant" to soon become a requirement for any future high school or GED diplomas handed out within the borders of the United States.

We're a humorless, ignorant bunch. And if the unfolding educational debacle above fails to prove my point, lets return to the those glorious days of yesteryear (that is, 2 months ago):

Dan Hicks And His Tepid Licks

Can someone, anyone, explain to the good people of the heartland what difference exists between art, anthropology, and religious worship? Let us follow the terrible, irresistable force of these philosophically immovable objects:

The Gauntlet Is Flapped--
June 7, 2005: Over at Freepland, from the think tank known as Crackingham:
"A couple of displays at the Tulsa Zoo have angered some critics. And another that's been suggested is controversial too... Over by the elephants at the Tulsa Zoo, there is a statue of an elephant called "Ganesha". For Hindu's (sic), Ganesha is a revered deity, one of the most important in the religion. But the curator of the exhibit at the Tulsa Zoo says it's not religious, in this setting. Brett Fidler: "We exhibit it out of the religious context, strictly as a museum piece."
For Dan Hicks..., that's unbelievable...
Hicks wants his religion included or the Hindu icon removed. He's suggested a biblical account of creation that zoo staff has so far, rejected. The Tulsa Zoo says the belief that God created the animals has no scientific merit and that's why it's not mentioned at the zoo. Brett Fidler: “we display things that have been proven through the scientific method and intelligent design has not been proven, to the point that it belongs at an institution like the Tulsa Zoo.”
The critics also think one of the zoo's most visible symbols, the big globe by the entrance, evokes religion through the saying "the earth is our mother, the sky is our father". Zoo staff says it's there to add a Native American flair, but Hicks believe it's another example of openness to anything but the Christian view. The Tulsa Parks Board, which oversees the zoo, takes up the controversy at a meeting Tuesday. It will vote on whether or not to allow a display on the biblical view of creation."
Well, God bless Brett Fidler! Let us continue our adventure.

Art & Science Are Gelded--
June 14, 2005: From the horse’s ass--er--mouth, Charisma Now, fighting the good fight toward (as Jon Stewart put it) that glorious day when Christians will be free to worship openly:
"In "a big victory" for creationists, the Tulsa Zoo has acquiesced to add a display featuring the biblical account of creation following complaints about other displays with religious significance in the Oklahoma facility, including a Hindu elephant statue.
...said Dan Hicks, the Tulsa resident who approached the zoo with the idea. "It's a matter of fairness. To not include the creationist view would be discrimination."
Ken Ham, president of Answers in Genesis (AiG), which claims to be the world's largest creation organization, praised Hicks, vice president of the Southern Plains Creation Society.
"We need more people like Dan Hicks who are willing to boldly lead the battle (yes, and even to endure some ridicule) to tell people the truth concerning the creation of the universe..."
Yes, even to endure some ridicule. Is there no limit to the martyrdom of some for the sake of their faith? Is there no limit to the cluelessness of mindless acolytes? Evidence would indicate not. We push on.

The Intelligently Created Worm Begins To Turn--
June 24, 2005: Can’t tell difference between an art display and a religious display? Over at The Pluralism Project they’ve been keeping track:
On June 8, 2005 The Associated Press reported, "...those who favored the creationist exhibit, including Mayor Bill LaFortune, argued that the zoo already displayed religious items, including the statue of the Hindu god, Ganesh, outside the elephant exhibit and a marble globe inscribed with an American Indian saying: 'The earth is our mother. The sky is our father.'"
On June 24, 2005 the Associated Press reported, "A recently formed group has started circulating a petition asking [Tulsa's] Park and Recreation Board to reverse its June 7 decision authorizing a biblical creation story exhibit at the Tulsa zoo... [Supporters of the petition] said the park board, by ordering creation story exhibits at the zoo, put public officials in the position of making decisions about theology... Mayor Bill LaFortune and his chief of staff, Clay Bird, came in for most of the group's criticism. 'If the mayor hadn't been behind this, we don't think it would have happened,' [Brian Cross, an Oklahoma State University graduate student and supporter of the petition] said. LaFortune said he had no intention of changing his mind."
Assuming, that is, he had a mind to change. And the light at the end of the tunnel grows brighter.

July 7, 2005: The Washington Post weighed in with a report on the sudden sanity which gripped the Tulsa city board and resulted in the rejection of a "creation display" being pushed by the Genesists:
"Board members voted 3-1 against installing an exhibit on the origin of life from the Bible. The vote, made at a special meeting of the board, reversed a June 7 decision to add a Genesis story to the zoo.
As one of only nine "living museums" in the country, the Tulsa Zoo should develop displays that explain the cultural significance of animals, (Board member Dale) McNamara said. She said an elephant-like stone statue near the elephant exhibit fit within that mission."
Who was the single holdout vote? Mayor LaFortune, of course. His further utterances were forgettable, but the brain trust behind this whole bright idea was making "never-say-die" noises:
"In the meantime, the zoo continues to have a representation of a Hindu god, a globe sculpture that promotes pantheism and a Maasai display that contains the equivalent of posting Scripture, Hicks said. Presenting this material represented an affront to the majority Christian population of Tulsa, he said.
"There must be something very special about the Genesis account for opponents to fight so hard to suppress those words," Hicks said."
In the old days we had a slightly different interpretation of the euphemism "special".

Oh, Backwater, Keep On Rolling--
July 10, 2005: The NYTimes op-ed puts the recent unpleasantness to bed:
"Christian creationists won too much of a victory for their own good in Tulsa, where the local zoo was ordered to balance its evolution science exhibit with a display extolling the Genesis account of God's creating the universe from nothing in six days. A determined creationist somehow talked three of the four zoo directors, including Mayor Bill LaFortune, into the addition by arguing that a statue of the elephant-headed god Ganesh at the elephant house amounted to an anti-Christian bias toward Hinduism.
After the inevitable backlash from bewildered taxpayers warning that Tulsa would be dismissed as a science backwater, the directors "clarified" their vote to say they intended no monopoly for the Adam and Eve tale but rather wanted "six or seven" creation myths afforded equal time."
That damned Ganesh! Why does he always have to stick his trunk into it?

I can lay odds the this won't be the last rough beast of its kind to raise its misshapen snout into the public arena.

UPDATE: And as the latest heralds from Kansas proclaim, it wasn't.

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