Last week I took a vacation with my family in New Mexico, a state I had never visited before. We were all impressed with its incredible beauty and fascinating history.
One of the sites we visited was White Sands National Monument. This amazing desert park contains enormous dunes of sand as white as snow. It’s like visiting a vast, oceanless beach.
At the visitors’ center, we watched an interpretive video about the site. I was pleased to see that evolution was discussed upfront. The ancient nature of the place was made clear, and one scientist talked about how White Sands is a perfect example of natural selection in action. In a relatively short period of time, life forms there adapted to fit their surroundings. Lizards, for example, became white. Dark ones stood out against the white sand and gotten eaten. Lighter lizards survived and passed this trait on to their descendants.
Americans United opposes creationism in public school science classes because it is based on a fundamentalist interpretation of the Bible. But we’re not blind to the fact that it fosters bad science as well.
A new documentary with the provocative title “No Dinosaurs in Heaven” explores these issues. The film, which premiers this weekend in Tallahassee, Fla,, was put together by Greta Schiller, an Emmy Award-winning filmmaker. Promotional materials note that the documentary “explores the real threat of creationists getting teaching credentials in order to infiltrate science education.”
The film features Eugenie Scott of the National Center for Science Education. Dr. Scott is a longtime ally of Americans United who has worked doggedly to oppose efforts to insert creationism into public school science courses. The film features Scott as she “leads a raft trip down the Grand Canyon, where the creationist and evolutionary explanations of this natural wonder are juxtaposed."
Schiller states upfront that her view is “to expose the insidious dangers of so-called ‘creationist science' which threatens the Constitutional principle of separation of church and state and undermines scientific literacy. ‘No Dinosaurs in Heaven’ intelligently argues that public education must steadfastly resist the encroachment of religion in the form of creationism, and that science literacy is essential to a healthy democracy.”
I couldn't agree more. Polls continue to show great confusion over this issue. Better educational materials are desperately needed, and that’s why Americans United chapters are lending a hand in screening this film.
Learn more about it here. You can also see a list of screenings or learn how to sponsor one yourself.
P.S. The Washington Post’s “On Faith” blog this week asked if faith and evolution can be reconciled. Americans United Executive Director Barry W. Lynn, himself a Christian minister, says yes. Read his answer here.