The Bible Versus NY’s Museum of Natural History

Photo by Sangga Rima Roman Selia on Unsp

If you look at a 12-inch ruler and lay one strand of hair onto it, the width of the hair symbolizes how long humans have been on earth. The beginning of the ruler is the Big Bang.

While in New York’s Museum of Natural History the other day, I couldn’t help but notice how the people around me, myself included, very much resembled the wide array of long ago extinct species on the walls. It made me think, would America have less problems today if conservatives accepted science? If Fox watchers were actually able to accept the truths of evolution?

Strolling through millions, even billions, of years of history, I had a strange sense that the museum was like a home movie of sorts: oh, hey there great (add 5000 more “greats” in front of the word) grandma, you’re a single-celled organism.

My four-year-old and I stood there and looked at a couple of chimpanzees. I told him how seven million years ago, the monkeys that resembled his favorite stuffed animal went one way and we the other — and now here we are: humans.

How would this museum do in the Bible belt, I wondered? How would Tennessee or Texas deal with a museum that so openly challenges the “truths” of the Bible?

Would the museum’s expositions be protested? Would the locals try to vandalize the exhibits? Or would all of the scientific facts splashed across the walls of arguably one of the best museums in the world be presented to make visitors feel they were on the set of a Disney movie? And, not actually in a museum?

Theories Are Really Facts

There was a whole exhibit that showed how the earth was changing due to climate change. Very convincing data and detailed imagery explained how our lives were being effected. This very suggestion, unfortunately, that the deteriorating climate has been caused by humans, is a very controversial one as we all know.

Climate change, however, just like evolution, should not be a controversial topic, though. In order to both understand the principles of how passing time led to the manifestation of us and how our behaviors have created a dangerous climatic situation, a person needs to be intellectually curious. In order to understand these vast sequences-of-events, requires an acceptance that science is real. This is especially important when someone is an active believer in God.

Unlike evolution, which is “proven” thanks to countless scientific observations, the effects of our warming world are all around us. We are living with those climatic extremes at this very moment.

It will soon be November in New York and yet it’s consistently in the 70-degree range. This is not normal, right? Nevertheless, for reasons that are obvious to most of us, Big Oil and other companies, along with right wing media, regularly push the narrative that manmade climate change is not proven. It’s just a “theory” they say; and, here they are right — it is a “theory.”

When disregarded by conservatives as being “only theories,” however, we should all have a hardy chuckle. Scientific theories are not the same as what we, the non-scientists refer to; take for example when someone says, “I have a theory about that.” Most likely, the person has a hunch but nothing that has been studied tirelessly over years and even centuries using sophisticated scientific experiments.

Some people think that in science, you have a theory, and once it’s proven, it becomes a law. That’s not how it works. In science, we collect facts, or observations, we use laws to describe them, and a theory to explain them. You don’t promote a theory to law by proving it (Just a Theory).

Evolution is a theory based on facts, observations and even laws. A “theory” explains the “how” something transpires. For example, how did we get breathable air? Scientists have a theory that 3.1 billion years ago a single cell organism known as the aerobe began to very actively process oxygen in the oceans in a way that no organism before it had been able to. This particular use of oxygen eventually led to multicellular organisms, animals and then to us. This “evolutionary theory” has been substantiated by countless observations.

If one is willing to set aside the rhetoric, rather let’s call it dogma of the Bible, then a lot of the lunacy we see today would probably be non-existent. Spending our whole lives believing the grand “stories” from the Bible — one man and one woman, naked in a garden ate an apple and then the shit hit the fan — obviously prepares a mind for the make-believe-world of right wing media, QAnon and Trump’s endless lies and fantasies.

By challenging the veracity of those Biblical stories, I am not saying that a divine energy doesn’t exist — so this article is not a declaration of my atheism or agnosticism. It merely challenges the one-sided story that all of life happened over the course of seven days. The believers of this mean this literally and that is why we are supposed to rest on Sundays.

This article is actually mediation of sorts: Okay, you can have your seven days, but each one was a billion and a half years and the last day still is ongoing.

Evolution Has Pushed Some Brains to the Limit

Believing right-wing lies and conspiracies is, in my opinion, a clear sign that the given person will be skipped over by evolution. By skipped, I mean that this person’s contribution to our gene pool is declining and will eventually be left out. Humans, like every other species that has ever existed, are on an unseen path and everything we now do guides us further down the path; or, diverts us to an evolutionary dead end.

Trumpists, QAnon people, Fox News watchers, adherents of Al-Qaeda, and I would even add the fire-and-brimstone religious folks, are decreasing their role in humanity’s DNA. Is this good? Absolutely, it’s good — it’s great!

The only problem is that evolution moves mind-bogglingly slowly. So slow, that our frail minds cannot perceive this lack of action. It took billons of years for the first little single-celled organism who “belched” oxygen into the oceans — our little ancestor didn’t need oxygen — before the “Great Oxidation Event” occurred which suddenly filled our planet with breathable air. Imagine a billion or so years of trillions of those little organisms belching oxygen into the water before it escaped into the atmosphere.

And so, thanks to evolution’s sluggishness, we here will be stuck with the right wing nuts for a long, long time before evolution eventually weeds them out of the system. The scary thing, really, is that because there are still so many of them, their numbers endanger all of us. They are preventing us from dealing with problems so pressing that the entirety of humanity is now in danger.

What happens to us “next” no one knows. Most likely, we will end our chance at evolutionary immortality and something else, more advanced, perhaps evolved from what used to be us, will adapt and go forward — perhaps, that “something” will be artificial intelligence, who knows?

It is sad to think that the answers we need to make our lives better are all before us; but half of “us” ignore them because they prefer to wallow in the obvious inadequacies of the human brain. Those shortcomings, however, are not inherent to us — I get it, you might get it and many others get it; but there are countless others who refuse to “get it” because it’s easier just to accept simplified lies that make us, humans, seem like the greatest thing that ever happened to time. It’s more profitable to posit that all complexities in life can be summed up by the phrase: it’s God’s will.

If we go that route, the one where God’s will decides everything, then we need to also consider that it was God’s will to give us life. By not using the information that the Lord has given us to preserve this life, we are being heretical in a sense — we are challenging the “will” of God because we think we know better. Nowhere in the Bible does it say we are obligated to brainlessly follow or to never question. All of the right wing nonsense today is a modern-day development that shows that some of us can go no further down the evolutionary path.

Imagine if all of these Fox watchers, conservatives and Trumpists could go to museums like the Museum of Natural History in New York and actually open their eyes; imagine if they actually went to learn, to understand the place of humans in the really big picture of time and didn’t limit themselves to a few thousand years.

I like to imagine that many of them, maybe even most, would be ready to combat climate change; would understand the need to vaccinate and mask for the sake of the human species; they’d be ready to accept that just because we are the most advanced species, it does not mean we are the only one deserving of life.

Imagine how much further humans could do only if those “people” had better, and scientifically accurate, museums to spend afternoons in?

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History tells us all we need to know about what's wrong with our society today. History also tells how to fix what's wrong. All we need to do is know our history and so much could be resolved. Sadly, we forget our history and get stuck in loops and we repeat the past.

Englishtown, NJ

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