Is the Gray Lady about to convert to fundamentalism?
I don't think so, but I was disappointed to see Kentucky's notorious Creation Museum listed among the attractions in The New York Times' Arts & Leisure Weekend Promotion heralded in a special pullout section of my newspaper last Sunday
During the Jan. 8-11 event, The Times sponsors public debates and discussions of contemporary issues and touts two-for-one admission discounts at museums, movies and shows in New York and around the country.
It sounds like a great thing for the arts and sciences, so I was surprised to see the Creation Museum, a bastion of fundamentalist pseudo-science, enrolled as one of only two participating museums in Kentucky. (The other was the Muhammad Ali Center.)
This inclusion is troubling because the Religious Right is always angling to present dogma as science in public school science classrooms. It sends a very misguided message when the Creation Museum is listed in a Times-sponsored event alongside prestigious scientific institutions such as the American Museum of Natural History, Harvard's Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology and the Lawrence Hall of Science at UC Berkley.
I know The Times knows better. Its editorials and news stories have consistently purveyed accurate information and opinion about the creationists' nefarious agenda.
In the EducationLife section in Sunday's paper, for example, Charles McGrath reviews four books that expose creationism – and "intelligent design," its latest iteration – as religion, not science. He lists Kenneth R. Miller's Only A Theory: Evolution and the Battle for America's Soul, Jerry A. Coyne's Why Evolution Is True, Lauri Lebo's The Devil in Dover: An Insider's Story of Dogma v. Darwin in Small-Town America and Peter J. Bowler's Monkey Trials and Gorilla Sermons: Evolution and Christianity From Darwin to Intelligent Design.
I'm particularly glad to see the information about Ken Miller's book. Miller, a biology professor at Brown University (and active Christian), served as an extraordinary witness in the 2005 Dover, Pa., challenge to intelligent design in public schools brought by Americans United for Separation of Church and State and the ACLU.
Times reviewer McGrath likes Miller's new work.
"In a few concise chapters," says the writer, "Mr. Miller pretty much dismantles all the claims, such as they are, for the intelligent design movement."
Adds McGrath, "Mr. Miller also adds an impassioned argument for why the rest of us shouldn't just turn our heads and let a few benighted school systems teach whatever they want. Good students will eventually see the light, one argument goes, and as for the others – well, they probably weren't going to be biologists anyway. But Mr. Miller believes that our very scientific soul is at stake and that the argument for intelligent design is just the first step in an attempt to redefine science itself and make it consonant not with scientific truth but with whatever you want to believe."
We couldn't have said it better. That's why it's alarming to see The Times touting the Creation Museum.
Americans United and our allies in the religious, scientific and educational communities have enough trouble keeping fundamentalism out of public school biology classes as it is. We don't need The Times lending help to the theocrats.
I love The New York Times. It's a truly great newspaper. Please tell me the Creation Museum promotion was someone's mistake of biblical proportions.