LOS ANGELES – Following criticism from an evolutionary biologist, the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County has removed a quote from one of its displays that alluded to God as being the Creator.
According to reports, the Natural History Museum (NHM) displayed the quote earlier this month, which was visible in its Nature Lab exhibit. The quote was attributed to an anonymous donor but—to the consternation of evolutionists—included a reference to “God’s creatures.”
“The Nature Lab is a gift to Los Angeles,” the donor’s quote stated, “to celebrate all of God’s creatures and enable NHM to broaden our understanding of the natural world through the process of scientific discovery.”
However, outspoken evolutionist Jerry Coyne condemned the museum sign in a recent blog post, suggesting that the reference to God was “religious garbage” and “a possible violation of the First Amendment.”
“[W]hy on earth did they have to mar [the exhibit] with this paean to a fictional being?” Coyne asked.
Coyne proceeded to write an open letter on his blog to the director and president of the NHM, demanding the removal of the donor’s quote. In the letter, Coyne claimed that the reference to “God’s creatures” is, “by scientific lights, palpably wrong.”
“The very existence of the sign,” Coyne stated in the letter, “in fact, undercuts the mission of Nature Lab: to teach people how science is done. I needn’t remind you that science is done by ignoring God, and has never given the slightest bit of evidence for the intercession of God in the origin, evolution, and diversification of life.”
According to local affiliate KPCC, the NHM removed the displayed quote due to the controversy. In a statement on Monday, the museum expressed regret for displaying the donor’s quote, which had “the potential to cause confusion.”
The NHM also released a statement that reaffirmed the museum’s commitment to evolution.
“Evolution is a central concept in modern science,” it wrote. “Evolutionary theories are supported by evidence from such diverse fields as genetics, paleontology, chemistry, and physics. … Evolutionary biology allows us to explain the amazing diversity of life on Earth today and how diversity has changed over time.”
Although Coyne praised the removal of the quote as “a victory for secularism,” others were disappointed that the anonymous donor’s personal words were eradicated due to disapproval. In a blog post, the Discovery Institute said that the development raises concerns over ardent evolutionists censoring opposing viewpoints.
“[T]hese genuine losses for and threats to academic freedom intimidate scientists who privately entertain Darwin doubts,” the Institute argued. “[Evolutionists] enforce a code of silence when it comes to acknowledging weaknesses in evolutionary theory when it’s possible the public is listening.”
“Instead of answering us properly,” the post continues, “guys like Coyne take out their fury on sympathetic researchers, on community college instructors, on books, now on museum signs! Anything to avoid entering into a real argument.”
Others expressed similar concerns.
“The irony of course,” one commenter suggested, “is that despite the overwhelming majority of people in the U.S. identifying as Christian, the ones who have control over our educational and media institutions are secular progressives. They control the narrative.”
“But more important here,” he continued, “is the realization that tolerance is an absolute myth, as the non-Christian groups who asked for tolerance show none of it when they are in power. Secularist behavior in particular sends a message that Christians are not welcome in their Godless society.”
Photo: Jerry Coyne