Monday, November 23, 2009

'Creation vs. Evolution’ explained: Murang'a outreach

Lawrence Nzuve

The recent outreach program to the larger Murang'a district done by the Prehistory club was perhaps the most entertaining and informative of the outreach programs done to date. This being the last of the series this year, the size of the team from Nairobi was telling. The main Speaker was Dr. Alfreda Ibui, Senior Research Scientist, National Museums of Kenya, Earth Science Department, Paleontology Section and the other speaker was Ms. Angela Kabiru, Research Scientist, National Museums of Kenya, Earth Science Department, Archeology Section. Accompanying them were the facilitation team of Mrs. Grace Kyalo and Francis Ndiritu; senior officials of the Prehistory club who were in charge of the logistics and also Mr. Samuel Wamae representing the Kenya Museums Society. Attending schools were Murang’a High School, Kahuhia Girls High School, Kiambugi Secondary School and Weithaga Secondary School.

Attentive students from the larger Murang'a District follow the lecture keenly: evolution belief was demystified

After a brief introductory session, Mrs. Kyalo invited Dr. Ibui to the podium to start the first presentation which was divided into two subtopics i.e. ‘Creation vs. Evolution’ and ‘Evolution and the Human Fossil Evidence’. In the first subtopic she explained the similarities between the evolution theory of human origins and evolution with the biblical belief of creation by a supreme being who is God. She narrated the two concepts sighting facts from the scientific geological time scale and comparing this with the scriptures from the book of Genesis in the holy Bible. This session was meant to ease the superstition among the students that the study of evolution is all about denying God as the true creator and clear the doubt that there is no controversy between religion and evolution except in peoples’ minds.

In the second part of her lecture, Dr. Ibui categorically highlighted on the immense fossil collection we have in Kenya. She discussed important issues in human evolutionary history such as bipedalism including when the first evidence of walking uprightly on two legs was witnessed. She looked at the theory of adaptive radiation and how this concept assisted the human ancestors to spread all over Africa. The emergence of early Homo was also dealt with particularly on how these species were adapted to their environments, including their stone tool technologies of the Oldowan and Acheulean nature. Points on the Neanderthals, archaic Homo sapiens and the early modern humans were included in Dr. Ibui’s presentation especially on their morphology and adaptability to their environments. Lastly, Dr. Ibui explained a few points about the modern humans Homo sapiens sapiens.

The second speaker presented on a topic entitled ‘Digging up the Past’. She defined archaeology as the scientific study of material evidence to find out about the human cultures of the past or basically the scientific study of remains of past human life and activities. Ms. Angela gave an elaborate lecture on the techniques of obtaining archaeological materials and the tools technologies of the Early Stone Age, Middle Stone Age, Late Stone Age, Neolithic and the Iron Age. In her lecture, she mentioned that the H. habilis was associated largely with the Oldowan Technology of the Early Stone Age whereas the H. erectus used the Acheulean Technology. Stone tools and other artifacts were listed in her power point presentation and on the bench where every student had an opportunity to observe them at will after the lecture. There were also fossil casts of different species of early man, modern man and gorilla for comparison. All these were placed in order from the oldest to the latest to demonstrate to the students the order of human evolution clearly indicated by the enlargement of brain case from the oldest to the latest and the sophistication of tools from the earliest.

tools of our fore parents: students keenly look at archeological artifacts displayed for them at the immensely informative outreach program

Lastly Mr. Samuel stood to the podium and gave a short explanation of the mandate of the Kenya Museums Society, including the role played by the Museums towards maintaining prehistoric, cultural and natural resources before the speakers finally fielded questions from the students on diverse topics and then participants were issued with books, hand outs and brochures, before one student gave a vote of thanks.

We thank the Leakey Foundation for once again funding this important Outreach Program