Calif. Science Center Removes Evolution Disclaimer After Atheists Complain

A science and wildlife center in San Mateo, Calif., has reportedly removed a disclaimer regarding evolution from one of its exhibit signs after receiving backlash from the online atheist community.

The CuriOdyssey center at Coyote Point recently clarified to atheist blogger Hemant Mehta that it had removed a disclaimer regarding evolution from one of its exhibit signs. Mehta contacted the museum out of concern after seeing a picture of the science museum's sign on Twitter, posted by Adam Rogers, an editor and writer at The Wire.

The science museum sign was advertising an exhibit titled "Animal Connections," where children would have the opportunity to get "up close and personal" with that day's theme animal, "reptiles." The sign also read at the bottom: "This program may discuss the topic of evolution."

Rogers' tweet of the sign prompted multiple atheist bloggers, including Mehta of the "Friendly Atheist" blog and Jerry Coyne, a professor of biology at the University of Chicago, to contact the California-based museum and question why the sign needed to include a disclaimer about evolution.

"Since when does a science museum need to warn people that a science presentation will include science?" questioned Mehta.

Coyne, who also wrote the book Why Evolution Is True, posted a letter he sent to the science center on his blog. The letter, in part, argues that it is harmful to have a disclaimer for evolution on a science exhibit's poster.

"I don't see why an organization like yours, which is so admirable in its dedication to educating children about science, needs to warn them off one of the most amazing discoveries of modern science. Of course some parents (or their children) might have religiously-based objections to evolution, but I also think there's no need for science education centers to cater to such sentiments."

"Evolution happens to be true, and people need to learn about it. Making it seem 'scary' in this way only adds to the bad feelings people have about such a marvelous view of life, and deprives children of a proper grounding in biology," Coyne maintained.

The CuriOdyssey center reportedly returned contact to Mehta this week, informing the atheist blogger that they had in fact posted the disclaimer about evolution as a courtesy to religious visitors, but have now decided to remove the disclaimer from their posters.

"In short, yes, there were religious visitors to the museum who were surprised to hear evolution mentioned in some of the presentations. Because evolution didn't 'align with their personal beliefs,' the museum thought it would be helpful to offer the warning. But after hearing feedback from science advocates, they decided the disclaimer didn't align with their mission and they will no longer be including it on any promotional materials," Mehta wrote.

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