Being Free of the Bondage of Evangelicalism at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City

Earlier this week I was in New York City and I spent Monday at the American Museum of Natural History. While I looked at one of the best dinosaur collections in the United States I reflected on how I was free from the dogma of fundamentalism which could have prevented enjoying science and more.  

“Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former.”

Albert Einstein 

And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds—livestock and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.” And it was so. 25 And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the livestock according to their kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.

Genesis 1:24-26 ESV

Barosaurus

When you walk into the main entrance of the American Museum of Natural History in New York City you are presented with an amazing sight. Before you is one of the biggest dinosaurs that has been found. Its called the Barosaurus and is known for its extremely long neck. When you look at the display the dinosaur is on its back legs and the skeleton is impressive. Recently when I was in New York City I spent a good chunk of the day at the Natural History Museum. When I purchased my ticket the first thing I did was head up to see the dinosaurs on the fourth floor. I love dinosaurs and have done so as a kid. When the Smithsonian of Natural American History re-designed and unveiled its fossil hall I visited that shortly after it re-opened. You can read about that in, “The New Fossil Hall in the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History.” For the next couple of hours I took in the dinosaur displays. I saw the Tyrannosaurus rex, the Allosaurus, the Triceratops, and countless many more. The collection was impressive and amazing to look at. For several hours I was in awe and re-living my child hood. 

 

Tyrannosaurus rex 

Duck billed dinosaur 

 

Appreciating Science and Being Free of the Dogma of Fundamentalism 

When I was at the museum enjoying myself I also took pleasure in being able to have the opportunity to enjoy these dinosaurs. While there another thought crossed my mind. The fact that I was able to enjoy the museum and do so outside of evangelicalism and be free to talk and share about it. For most of my time in evangelicalism I avoided the Ken Ham like movements. When I lived in Wisconsin I avoided Sunday school altogether for fear of encountering fundamentalism on this issue of science. Reflecting back could this have been cognitive dissonance on my part? The way much of evangelicalism rejects science is a profound disservice and in all honesty reveals how backwards the spiritual movement can be. When the anchor of your faith is a man made ark that is badly out of proportion in Grant County, Kentucky then your faith is in a sorry state. Plus when your faith system includes keeping kids from learning about dinosaurs, or making up ridiculous stories to say they were on the ark; well what can one say to top that? Its with a clean soul and a singing conscious that I can say that I don’t believe that hogwash and reject alternative based facts. Evolution is one of those topics that I accept as fact. No mental gymnastics for me. But when I stood in front of some of these dinosaur skeletons I became grateful for being able to enjoy the moment and be free from parts of evangelicalism which I would liken to intellectual slavery. Wen your theology systems teaches you to avoid and distrust science, or to learn the “real facts” and more then you have made a decision to imprison yourself, how sad can that be? If you are reading this I hope you can go to a museum somewhere and take in the magic of dinosaurs and enjoy the moment with your son or daughter, family or friends or even by yourself.

 

4 thoughts on “Being Free of the Bondage of Evangelicalism at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City

  1. The sad thing is, I believe that Christians are exhorted in the Bible to think critically about things, to consider and evaluate things, to “test the spirits” and to “come let us reason together.” Yes, we don’t want to rest our faith on the conventional “wisdom of man” which is often shifting in nature , but we are to think critically and use our God-given faculties to search out truth and knowledge. To illustrate, some of the most significant science of the past, e.g. the renaissance, was done by individuals of faith who were seeking to understand God’s world. Science (and informed knowledge in general) does not have to be antithetical to faith.

    And yet there is a strong streak within religious fundamentalism that is destructively anti-intellectual, anti-scientific, anti-reason, anti-expertise. I believe this is closely related to the current rise of populism in politics and worldview formation that automatically dismisses all expertise and evidence and reasoning as “elitist.” The reasoned advice of knowledgeable experts who have spent decades studying particular subject matters gets dismissed out-of-hand on the say-so of blathering cable television talk-show hosts and power-hungry politicians who are speaking only those words that “itching ears want to hear.” The mindset of the day is, “I’ve got a good story going, don’t confuse me with the facts.” And before I’m predictably attacked for my comments here, I will observe that both the political right and the political left have their own strong populist streaks, and so to be clear, I’m defining the problem more broadly than just one particular political bent.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The anti-intellectualism and hostility to science is toxic in evangelicalism. Part of me wonders if the reason why some evangelicals prefer home schooling or private schooling is so they can indoctrinate and brainwash their kids. That way you can avoid learning about science in a public school system.

      Like

      • True for some, though not all. There are a wide variety of reasons, including anti-science. Some want to teach history from a Christian nationalist exceptionalism viewpoint. Some fear the schools will teach moral relativism under the guise of tolerance. Some want to shield kids from uncontrolled social interaction with kids of other religions (or no religion) and other cultural values and viewpoints. Some do it because of wanting to control every bit of information and every interaction their kids are exposed to. Some want the kids to get more individualized attention. Some simply think they will do a better job and the kids will learn better. I do believe that many (certainly not all) make the decision based on a lot of fearful presuppositions of what typically goes on in public education without real firsthand knowledge or experience of it. It is a mixed bag, many different people with many different motivations.

        Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.