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California Science Center Bookstore Sells Kids Book that Bashes Religion While Promoting Evolution

Yesterday I wrote about Richard Dawkins’s The Magic of Reality, a kids book with a sharply anti-religious bent that promotes belief in evolution. Another kids book on evolution that bashes religion is one I bought at the bookstore of the publicly operated, taxpayer-funded California Science Center. The book is titled Darwin: British Naturalist, and its main focus is explaining how Darwin’s ideas supposedly overturned religious explanations of life’s development.

On its first page, it explains that when Origin of Species was published in 1859, “It hit scientific and religious communities like a bombshell. Its scientific argument undermined the church’s creation account, challenged old ideas, and opened up a new field of scientific investigation.” The book continues:

How did all the many different species of plants and animals in this world come into being? The simple explanation that God had created everything did not satisfy him. It could not explain everything he had observed.

Now I have no problem with people writing about the historical controversy between Darwin’s theory and religion, but why is this partisan message in a kids book being sold at a taxpayer-funded publicly-operated science museum?

The book then goes on to concoct a story about how the church and religious ideologues supposedly persecuted Darwin:

Darwin was criticized by many scientists and denounced by the religious community who claimed his theory was blasphemous. … Articles and cartoons satirizing Darwin appeared regularly in newspapers and magazines. The most common images were of Darwin’s head on an ape’s body or Darwin crawling among worms or other simple creatures. Darwin did nothing about this deliberate misrepresentation of his theory. He only smiled sadly. He had no wish to waste time defending or explaining his ideas. Instead, he went on living his quiet peaceful life, taking daily walks through the woods and continuing his scientific research and writing. Nevertheless, in his heart he hoped that one day people would understand that his purpose had not been to overturn God and destroy their beliefs, but just to prove one thing — that life was always changing.

To emphasize the image of poor old passive Darwin, the scientist, being attacked by the evil church, the picture below accompanies the text, showing Darwin, a monkey, and some other apparent free-thinkers locked up in jail by a bunch of clergy:

Delineating the extent to which this story is fictional, biased, and inaccurate will have to be left for another day. Suffice to say, this is what they are selling to children at the California Science Center’s bookstore. How ironic that this story is being retailed at a venue that suppressed the free speech rights of Darwin’s critics.

Casey Luskin

Associate Director and Senior Fellow, Center for Science and Culture
Casey Luskin is a geologist and an attorney with graduate degrees in science and law, giving him expertise in both the scientific and legal dimensions of the debate over evolution. He earned his PhD in Geology from the University of Johannesburg, and BS and MS degrees in Earth Sciences from the University of California, San Diego, where he studied evolution extensively at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. His law degree is from the University of San Diego, where he focused his studies on First Amendment law, education law, and environmental law.



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