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Evolution's Holy Relics

Paleontologists love "Lucy," but some don't want to share.

With the new Creation Museum, which teaches a young earth, drawing tens of thousands of visitors, scientists who hold to Darwinism may have a public-relations answer. According to an article in today's Chicago Tribune, the 3.2-million-year-old bones of "Lucy," a small, apelike creature believed to be an evolutionary presursor to human beings, will go on a six-year museum tour, beginning this week. The exhibit, called "The Hidden Treasures of Ethiopia," opens on Friday at the Houston Museum of Natural Science.

But some paleontologists aren't too happy about the bones being transported out of Ethiopia, where they were discovered. They worry that the bones might be damaged and that they will be unavalable for further study while on tour. But not all think that way:

Donald Johanson, the paleoanthropologist who found Lucy in 1974, said her exhibition should have important payoffs in teaching children and adults about science.

"Seeing the original Lucy will surely heighten public awareness of human-origins studies particularly at a time when the validity of evolution has come under fire in our schools," said Johanson, now the director of the Institute of Human Origins at Arizona State University, where he continues to do research but also has become a popular educator on human evolution through books and lectures.

"A broader exposure of Lucy to the public does have great educational value," he said.

It should be interesting to see what the interest in Lucy is, given that according to opinion polls roughly half of the American public has expressed serious reservations about the theory of evolution, which nonetheless has enjoyed almost unquestioned hegemony in academia and the mainstream media. Perhaps one explanation for the throngs at the Creation Museum is that there are so few politically correct alternatives for people who question the evolutionary metanarrative, which usually excludes God.

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