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At the Smithsonian, the Nation’s Museum, It’s All Darwin, All the Time

All photos in this article are by David Coppedge.

Darwin everywhere, all the time — that was the impression we got on a visit to America’s showcase of science, the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. Recall that the Smithsonian is nothing less than the nation’s museum. It belongs to us all. Yet nowhere is there any hint of reputable biologists who hold different views. Intelligent design, anything related — all ignored. Problems with evolution, even when acknowledged, are swept under the rug by fine-print captions offering simplistic excuses. 

Thousands of visitors coming in from the National Mall have no idea they will be indoctrinated to a multi-million-dollar propaganda display. Here are some photos.

The first thing people see is a massive elephant in the great rotunda. 

Along the base, visitors are shown how humans evolved along with elephants.

A right turn takes the visitor to Fossil Hall, where kids are naturally eager to see dinosaurs.

Darwin in Deep Time

But before seeing a single fossil, visitors must be introduced to Darwinian evolution in deep time. It is not a presentation about common ancestry by intelligent design; only the Darwinian view is presented.

We know that it is Darwinian because the only statue in Fossil Hall is one of Charles Darwin. No other biologist is on display: not John Ray, not Georges Cuvier, Louis Agassiz, not Richard Owen, not Louis Pasteur, or any other great biologist or paleontologist who believed in a creator. It’s all Darwin, and only Darwin, everywhere in the museum. Smithsonian Magazine confirms this purpose:

The quote is a unifying theme of the hall and centers around the idea that life on Earth is forever changing, was changing in the past and will change again. That’s also why a bronze statue of Charles Darwin sits at the center of the exhibition. With his notebook in hand, the sculpture of Darwin is seated on a bench, as if he’s just exhausted himself touring the show. Sit down beside him and take a look at the open page of his journal. There you’ll find recreated his first-ever sketch that he made of his “tree of life.” With ancient creatures branching off to modern-day animals, this was the catalytic moment when Darwin realized with all certainty that all plants and animals are related.

Mr. Darwin is staring up at a huge quote from the Origin of Species towering over visitors to Fossil Hall:

A Darwinian Lens 

The dinosaurs are nicely displayed, but like everything in the Fossil Hall, they are interpreted through a Darwinian lens: what did they evolve from, and what did they evolve into. It’s a deep Darwin saturation experience.

Another thing the museum promotes is our own connectedness to animals by Darwinian evolution. All the well-engineered features of our bodies are the result of chance over millions of years as we emerged from slime. “Your body is the result of more than 3.7 billion years of evolution,” this display proclaims — not “most scientists think” so, but it “is” so.

The interactive panel answers the questions, including,

  • When did my lungs first evolve?
  • When did the ability to walk on land first evolve?
  • When did the head and senses first evolve?
  • When did I get opposable thumbs to grasp small objects?
  • When did my body become symmetrical?

There’s only one acceptable answer: evolution.

Evolutionary Agitprop for All

Children are fed the propaganda, too. They will be drawn to this cute picture of a girl on monkey rings as their parents read to them about Our Primate Heritage. “Humans are great apes. Our closest living relatives are bonobos and chimpanzees, with whom we share many traits.” This statement is not followed up by any indication that human beings are exceptional. The message is clear: we are merely apes.

The museum is an evolution theater more than a presentation of empirical, testable science. This kind of propaganda is typical in most museums of natural history around the world today. Powerful audiovisual displays, presenting only one side of serious philosophical and scientific issues, it’s what we are up against.

Next time we will look at how the museum deals with the Cambrian Explosion. This should be interesting, since the Smithsonian is the repository of 65,000 specimens of complex animals that Charles Doolittle Walcott discovered in the Burgess Shale. Those fossils were later recognized as serious challenges to Darwin’s theory of slow, gradual evolution. Will the Smithsonian deal with them honestly?