PHILADELPHIA---Since we're starting our ballpark swing in Philadelphia, I wanted to drop in before the game on friends I hadn't seen since 1999, the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. They looked much the same except for tighter security, but the building next to Independence Hall, the American Philosophical Society Museum, had changed: Instead of exhibits related to its founder, Ben Franklin, it was completely devoted to Darwinism.
"Dialogues with Darwin" opened in April 2009 and will run through October of this year. The exhibits, though, did not feature dialogue. One exhibit listed three 19th century challengers to Darwin---Edward Cope, August Weismann, and Hugo de Vries---but we were told that his wisdom had dispatched them all. No one would know from the exhibition that a vibrant opposition made up of Intelligent Design and Creation advocates exists and has the support of most Americans, although few within the scientific establishment.
The exhibition, in short, was hagiography, a life of a saint, with sentences like "Despite the death of three of his children and a painful chronic illness, Darwin persevered in his work." (Actually, as one recent biographer pointed out, it wasn't despite the suffering but because of it that Darwin persisted: He ran aground spiritually because of "theodicy," the question of how the existence of a good God is consistent with the extent of misery in the world.)
The only "dialogue" came in the form of sticky notes that visitors could post. Some were of the "Science is evolution!" genre. Others were kind comments by international visitors. ("American History is very interesting," one Japanese visitor wrote: "I had fun.") But some would not bow the knee to the establishment Baals: One person wrote, "In the beginning God made Heaven and Earth and all that is in it." And another wrote, "I know that God causes micro-evolution, but macro-evolution is too wild for me to believe."
Wild or not, the Church of Darwin is powerful, and has a great spot in Independence National Historical Park, administered by the National Park Service. Whatever happened to the separation of church and state?