Om nom nom rabbit stew

In case that last post got you down, go take a peek at Hemant’s post for an embarrassing (and delicious) baby photo of me. I actually asked my mom to go find a baby photo of me dressed as food. She was a tad bit confused.

I swear I was probably only 2 years old in that photo – I was a ginormous child. To put that in perspective, I was 5’9″ at age 10 (have only grown an inch since) and in my kindergarten class photo I was taller than the teacher. She was pretty short, but…yeah.

So, bunny outfit redux this Halloween? =P

With school comes much non-theisty drama

Hey everyone. I just wanted to give all of you a heads up that I’m probably not going to have many updates for the next week. School’s starting on the 24th, which means I’ll be a going a bit crazy trying to get stuff done. Have to visit the family, finish up a lot of work, get books and supplies together, see friends I haven’t seen all summer, and organize Society of Non-Theists events. And speaking of non-theist stuff, we already have some drama going on. Instead of explaining, I’ll just show you the email I sent to the appropriate people here at Purdue:

Residential Life Managers,

On Tuesday, August 11 the Residence Hall Association held a religious diversity panel during Resident Assistant training. I am emailing you on behalf of the Society of Non-Theists because I received a complaint from an RA, who for their protection will remain anonymous. They said that while you included an atheist on the panel (which we thank you for), the discussion was upsetting for many reasons:

  1. Said atheist did not appear to know the basics about non-theism (wasn’t able to define atheism and agnosticism, had a hard time answering other questions)
  2. Said atheist had never been involved in the very active non-theist community here via either the Society of Non-Theists, the Skeptics Society, of the Lafayette Freethinkers
  3. Said atheist was a student going up against religious leaders and professors, resulting in an unfair power differential in the discussion
  4. Said atheist was jibed and teased because of his lack of belief by the other panel participants

Obviously, not being an RA, I was not personally at this event and cannot confirm how accurate these statements are. However, especially since I have previously received complaints about an unfavorable environment towards non-theists in the Resident Halls, they concern me. Non-theists are one of the most disliked and stereotyped groups in the United States, so promoting tolerance and understanding is one of our organization’s biggest goals. To have an unknowledgeable atheist student representing the largest “religious” minority in the US up against highly knowledgeable adults frankly makes us look bad and is detrimental to our progress. It is also incredibly inappropriate for the other panelists to tease each other or debate whose beliefs are more valid in a panel about diversity and acceptance.

We are incredibly happy to finally be included in the discussion about religion diversity, but we want to make sure these events themselves do not discriminate. I do not claim that the atheist was “set up” or that this was some sort of conscious act of discrimination, but that is was rather due to a lack of knowledge about the atheist community at Purdue and at large. For future events, we ask you to please make sure there is no power differential (for example, have everyone be students) and to contact our student organization for a representative who is knowledgeable about non-theism.

Thank you for your time,
Jennifer McCreight
President, Society of Non-Theists at Purdue University

Hopefully we get some sort of positive response. I’ll keep you guys updated.

Secular Student Alliance Conference!

Yes, I just can’t stop posting! Or as PZ said, “I think the blogathon has permanently warped her brain.

After our trip to the Creation Museum, we drove north to Columbus, OH for the Secular Student Alliance conference. Passed two signs that each had five of the Ten Commandments (I think Mark was waiting for a third sign to appear), and stopped in a rural gas station totally forgetting I had atheist buttons and stickers all over me. Whoopsie. I already mentioned how when we were checking into the dorms we watched part of an episode of Wife Swap featuring an atheist and evangelical family with PZ, which was good fun. Oh, and the fact that PZ’s dorm room was directly across from ours. Weeeeeee.There were a lot of great talks at the conference, covering activism, basic club running, volunteering, cooperation with other groups, and just some silliness. I met a lot of great people who I knew of but I had never personally met – Jesse Galef, who works for the Secular Coaltion for America and sometimes posts at Friendly Atheist; Debbie Goddard from the Center for Inquiry, who helped bring Eddie Tabash to Purdue last year; Lyz Liddel, the SSA’s Senior Campus Organizer, who has helped our club so much and delt with thousands of my emails; Ashley Paramore, who video blogs as healthyaddict; Jon Sussman, who I talked to for various SSA things and who made a big list of topics for me for my blogathon…and I’m probably forgetting people, so I apologize. I also met a lot of cool people from Indiana, and I really want to try to organize some state wide freethinker event.

The talks were excellent, but I don’t want to talk about them too much since they’ll be online soonish, and then I’ll link you to my favorite ones. And I’m totally burnt out from all those other posts, heh.

Some highlights:

– Meeting people who read my blog! It was very cool and weird having people saying “Oh, you’re the Blag Hag!” (which, in retrospect, was an unfortunate name choice). If I looked freaked out I promise I wasn’t – I’m just sort of socially awkward and not used to this whole random-people-knowing-me thing yet. Hi everyone!!
– Someone asked me for my first autograph! A student had PZ, Hemant, Ashley and me sign two Creation Museum tickets, and they’re going to try and auction them on eBay so they can start a club at their university! Unfortunately, I’m pretty sure my signature just devalued them…
Jon Weyer, a Christian minister who gave a wonderful talk about cooperating with religious groups, had a little contest where the first six people who could name what PZ and Ken Ham were riding in my comic would get a free book! Seeing all the people who ran up there was very cool. I then shunned one of my close friends because he got it wrong. Boo.

– They used my I Squid Cephalopods design for some of the signs!
Photo by evodevo_mike
– My group of Purdue people and Hemant went to Buffalo Wild Wings for some much needed relaxation…and after spending the day in the Creation Museum, I had a MUCH needed giant glass of beer. Mmmm Blue Moon. Oh, and being outnumbered by math geeks at the table was interesting…
– PZ actually remembered my name, which I did a little internal fangirl flail about.
– PZ also said he reads all of his comments on his blog, which I find absolutely amazing. Oh, and just so you know, I do too – I get so excited when I get emailed about a new comment.
– Playing freethought trivia games. Sadly I could recite the Chinese zodiac, yet couldn’t name more than four of the last ten US Vice Presidents. Ultimate failure. I could practically feel my history teacher father’s scorn from miles away.
– Watching people play “throw the atom bombs in the volcano to blow up the Thetans” while wearing Xenu crowns:– Saturday night had incredible fun socializing and PZ actually attended, and I’m pretty sure I can’t say much more than that (but Jesse already said it involved Captain Morgan, so draw your own conclusions). Multiple male students commented on my boobs, so I’m pretty sure they weren’t listening to Hemant’s atheist dating advice.
– A group of us decided that a required session for next year’s conference should be a “sexy lingerie party.” Still trying to convince people about that one.
– Collecting way too much atheist flair (plus a FSM one which you can’t see in this photo):– Listening to George Carlin for three hours on the drive home.

And I may not have gotten to ride the Triceratops at the Creation Museum…but I got something even better (click for larger):Photo by Gus Brunsman
The whole conference making Cthulhu faces! Though no, we didn’t all transform into Cuttlefish. I guess PZ wasn’t trying hard enough.

As long as I can travel there, definitely looking forward to going to the conference again next year! It was super fun and got me totally motivated for this upcoming school year. Now, time for me to go plan club events!

Creation Museum Part 9

I found Hemant again, who was just outside the room, and we decided that we wanted to try to go see the “Ultimate Proof of Creation” presentation that was supposed to start in about fifteen minutes. Because of that I didn’t really pay much attention to the last bit of the exhibit, since we were trying to hurry. A guard with a dog popped around the corner (trying to sniff out the brown people, we said). My friends (who had abandoned me at the antibiotics display) pulled me aside to point out one last bit of hilarity, which I got on video. Mark is Jewish (well, and an atheist, you know how that works) and had a bone to pick about some of the museum’s Hebrew:

Apparently it’s a little more complicated than that, and Mark has a more in depth explanation at the end of his post about the Creation Museum. There are also people at Pharyngula saying all of the other languages are messed up, too. Good quality control, Ken Ham!

You pop out into the gift store (how strategic) but I didn’t look around much because we wanted to get in line – a giant freaking line. Hemant and I knew we probably weren’t going to get in, but we felt obligated as bloggers to try, especially since PZ was even farther behind us. We snaked around the museum and saw some random nice exhibits about different gem stones and rocks and fossils, and I just enjoyed them without reading the signs telling me they were only thousands of years old. Then the entrance to the theater was in sight, but they closed the doors with only about 25 people in front of us…so no Ultimate Proof of Creation for us. I’m sure I would have converted if only I had seen it.

Having failed, my group of friends went to eat in Noah’s Cafe. I brought a bagged lunch because I couldn’t bare to spend a penny more on the place. The napkin holders here had this delightful advertisement for some sort of toy/game/thing:Apologetics for kids. Barf. I almost lost my lunch.

After lunch I wanted to go check out the petting zoo with some people in the group. On the way out, we happened to walk by right when the only incident of the trip happened. PZ has the full story at his blog – the part I saw was Derek getting a stern talking to by a Creation Museum staff member. I agree that Derek was being peaceful and really just trying to defend himself from this guy accusing him of doing bad things. There was another guy who was shooting film for a documentary the entire trip, and he tried to film their discussion. When they asked him to stop and he didn’t, they asked him to leave and he peacefully did. That’s all. I was going to stick around, but then I saw Pastor Tom again (still lurking around the entrance!) so we decided to leave and go to the petting zoo.

The petting zoo was alright. It made me sad because I knew the whole point they had one was yet another reason to attract kids. What little kids don’t like a petting zoo? Hell, I was flailing gleefully about going there. It was pretty typical except for two animals. One, they had a camel:And two, they had a Zorse:Wtf is a Zorse, you ask? Apparently it’s a cross between a Zebra and a Horse – and yes, this isn’t just another lie from the Creation Museum, they have a Wikipedia article that confirms their existence. Why the hell did they have a Zorse, you ask? Well, it’s supposed to be proof of their “Kinds” idea I talked about earlier. They claimed that Horses and Zebras aren’t really different species because they can breed, which is utter bull crap for multiple reasons. Now what defines a species is a complicated topic in biology, but they violate even the most basic of definitions, so let’s just go with that right now.

A common definition [for a species] is that of a group of organisms capable of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring, and separated from other such groups with which interbreeding does not (normally) happen.”

I instantly guessed that Zorses were sterile, but the keeper was busy talking to someone else, so I didn’t ask. But yep, they are. When two species mate and produce a sterile hybrid, that’s means that they’re two different species. Also, Zorses do not occur naturally in the wild, which is a major part of the definition. They only occur when humans forcibly breed a Horse and a Zebra – this is an example of interbreeding not normally happening. Often times the barrier between reproduction isn’t so much incompatible sperm and eggs, but incompatible behavior. Honestly, the whole species concept thing is so much more complicated than that, but it’s annoying how the Creation Museum just lies about it (again).

At this point Mark called me to tell me to come join him and Hemant again (they were busy in the gift shop instead of the petting zoo). When we got back they were following a crowd of atheists including PZ, and not wanting to miss any potential excitement, I followed. It was during this time where three older atheists in the group informed me that they had been watching the parking lot, and that security guards were going around photographing the license plates of all the cars with liberal bumper stickers. That almost certainly included mine since I have a Darwin Fish, an Obama sticker, and a Republicans for Voldemort sticker (though they may not have understood that last one). I didn’t see it myself, but I don’t see why they’d lie about it. Not quite sure if anything will come out of that, who knows.

We went outside the gates, and that’s where PZ underwent a debaptism by Edwin Kagin (legal director for American Atheists) and was then made a Kentucky Colonel! Good thing I tagged along!After that, a lot of people started to go home. I could have gone back and poked around the gift shop and probably found tons more to laugh and cry about, but by that point I had had enough. In the parking lot I formally introduced myself to PZ (“the crazy person who drew that cartoon”) and got a photo before heading home:
All of the Creation Museum staff and guards were very nice (even with the tasers and glocks and dogs…). I was oddly surprised that they never really talked about Jesus, but I guess they were focused on Creation, not really modern Christianity. Honestly, typing this up and thinking about everything with a clear mind was more horrible than walking through the museum. When I was there I treated it like Disneyland – all fantasy, nothing true, just something to giggle about. But now that I can take a step back and think about it, it depresses and horrifies me. These people are blatantly anti-science and anti-reason, and their sole purpose is to brainwash children (well, and to make money). The Creation Museum was literally mind numbingly stupid: it took nearly two hours of philosophical and scientific discussion in the car ride to Columbus until I could form grammatically correct sentences again.

Hopefully my recount of the trip was detailed enough that you guys won’t feel the need to go there and suffer through it. However, I am glad I went. People were criticizing our decision, but I think hearing about this craziness is just what people need. This isn’t just some private belief system. These people are out to convert, to warp the minds of children, to slander scientists and spread lies about the world, to instill archaic morals into the minds of many. These religious extremists may be a minority, but they are a vocal minority. We need to step up, be activist atheists, and keep working hard to make sure this rubbish doesn’t get spread around anymore.

And that was an incredibly depressing ending. Here, have a photo of us before we went in, back before we had died a little inside:

(Thanks to Vanessa and Josh for extra photos)

Part1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9

Creation Museum Part 8

*takes a deep breath*

I’ve been dreading to write about this part of the Creation Museum trip because I know it will put me into a frothing rage all over again. But being a biologist, this is the part I should talk about the most. I’ll try to keep Caps lock and exclamation points to a minimum.

When I saw this sign, I went straight into the room:The whole theme of this part of the museum is that they accept natural selection and microevolution, but not macroevolution. Which makes no sense whatsoever, since microevolution over time leads to macroevolution. Actually, I hate those stupid terms anyway. Evolution is evolution, whether it’s a change in a trait or a change of a species – it’s just the change of genetic material from one generation to another. Since their stance makes absolutely no sense, they deal with it by repeating over and over again that things “are not evolution” even when they just perfectly described evolution happening.

They also never really talk about species, either. Instead there are just “Kinds.”
Their basic idea is that Noah took a certain “Kind” on the Ark, and then that differentiated after the flood. Horrifyingly enough, they have a made up word for creationists who waste their time studying “Kinds”: Baraminologists. Just because you can stick “ologist” at the end of a word doesn’t make it scientific. Here’s an example of “Kinds”:Noah took a small proto-horse, and that eventually evolved – sorry, gradually changed through time (wtf?) into modern horses, zebras, mules, etc. All the proto-animals Noah took were smaller than their modern day counter parts because that’s how they could fit on the boat (wtf?!). Their main argument is that all living equines aren’t really different species, because that would imply evolution. I don’t know why they even bother with all the microevolution stuff, because it just complicates their argument. Why not say Noah took two horses and two mules and two zebras on and they didn’t evolve at all? Why start redefining species and messing with all this “Kind” stuff?

The other thing they beat over your head is that God put so much genetic diversity into the animals Noah took onto the Ark, that once the flood was over, they were able to differentiate. Any geneticist can tell you this is pretty much impossible. Noah forced every single living creature into an extreme bottleneck of two individuals that would eliminate virtually all genetic variation present. Think of it this way: at a single gene locus, if both individuals were heterozygous, the maximum number of alleles you could have in the population would initially be 4. That is not a lot of diversity, and certainly not enough diversity to produce different “species” or whatever the hell they call them. And most likely, not every animal would be heterozygous, or they’d both share alleles that were common in the population. Have the people at the Creation Museum never heard of the Founder effect? It would take insane rates of mutation to make up for this, but they don’t claim that happened – they just say God filled the creatures with variation, which shows that they have absolutely no understanding of genetics.

Oh, but they did provide an answer to one of my favorite questions about the flood! How did the animals redisperse across the world once the flood was over and the Ark landed? It’s simple!
Yes, they really do claim that uprooted trees floated in all the oceans, and animals walked across these trees to get to the other side.

Let that sink in for a moment.

I really don’t understand how these people can NOT see how ridiculous this sounds. Have they ever tried to walk across floating logs before? How would a fucking mastodon walk on logs across an ocean? How many days would that take to get across, where the animals wouldn’t have food or would have to sleep on makeshift rafts without drowning. Keep in mind there are only TWO of each animal at this point. Better hope both of them make it! That must have been what happened to the unicorns.

On that note, how the hell did any of the plants survive? I’m pretty sure the vast majority of plants couldn’t survive being under salt water for months, dealing with whole continents moving and mountains being formed, all the soil be moved around so they’re ripped out, or having miles of soil being deposited on top of their seeds (if they even have them). Hell, most plants die if you water them too much! Even if only a couple plants died, it would cause huge complications since ecosystems are so interconnected. Or what about plants that needs specific animals or pollinators to survive? How do they know if that animal is going to end up in the same place since the animals now have to move all over the world? What if a plant that likes growing in a valley ends up on top of a mountain? IT DOESN’T MAKE ANY SENSE AT ALL!

*heavy breathing*

Ok, back to the Creation Museum raping genetics:
The whole point of this case was to say that all mutations are negative (mice with mutations are blind, sick, blah blah blah). They claimed no mutations are ever neutral or positive or produce anything new, which is an outright lie that has been debunked over and over again. It’s one thing to fabricate stories, but it’s another to try and use science and utterly fail. It just drives me mad that this stops being about religious beliefs and starts being about demonizing science. No where in the Bible does it say “all mutations are negative.” They can’t go around asserting that this is their opinion (not that opinions are sacred, but you know what I mean). They are just making shit up to discredit scientists and to promote their own cause. Another example:
I probably stood in front of this case for 15 minutes. First, I had no idea what it was trying to say. Second, the museum was making me feel so confused and stupid that I actually had a hard time reading full sentences to understand it. Third, once I understood what it was saying, I was so flabbergasted that I just stared at it with my jaw hanging open. The whole diorama isn’t there, so let me summarize for you:

1. Wild type bacteria + antibiotic = dead bacteria

Hmmm, that seems okay.

2. Mutant bacteria + antibiotic = living bacteria

Alright, still with you there.

3. Wild type and mutant bacteria WITHOUT antibiotic = living wild type, but dead mutant bacteria

…Wait, what?

The whole premise is that since there are ONLY negative mutations (aka, something destroying a receptor that an antibiotic targets), that without antibiotics present, mutant bacteria are less fit. This again is a downright lie. Proof? How about all the people who are infected with mutant, antibiotic resistant bacteria BEFORE they take any antibiotics? Those resistant bacteria seem to be doing just fine! There, in two seconds I debunked their entire display.

I still couldn’t stop staring at it though, because it angered me so much. Hemant finally appeared and gave me a hug, and after talking to him a bit I still stayed and stared at the stupid thing. Then PZ came through the entrance with Ashley (healthyaddict) who was videotaping this exchange, so I hope it goes up (with more accurate quotes):

PZ: *sees me staring forlornly at the thing* Hmm, so what’s this?
Me: *explains what I just said above*
PZ: …What.
Me: Yep.
PZ: That doesn’t make any sense.
Me: Have you seen the rest of this room?
PZ: …No.
Me: Have fun.

At that point I had to pry myself away or I was going to start crying.

(Thanks to Vanessa and Josh and robsterFDCD3 for extra photos)

Part1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9

Creation Museum Part 7

Next was the Ark room. To be completely honest, I don’t have a ton to say about it. The story of Noah’s Ark was probably the first Biblical story I learned, so the ludicrous things presenting here weren’t so shocking since I had heard them all already. I mean, we all know due to size and construction method the Ark would have sank in a couple of days, if it made it that long at all. Part of the room was made to look like part of the Ark, and guys were sitting around talking about how crazy Noah is in super stereotypical Jewish accents:I also have to point out that this is where I found the single black mannequin in the entire museum, and he’s ostracized and drinking out of a flask:
An astute museum goer pointed out that some of the mannequins seemed to be borrowed from a Discount Fake Celebrity store. For example, here we have Kiera Knightley weaving away:With her friend Angelina Jolie:I also found this sign particularly funny, and tweeted it with the comment of “That’s what she said”:To which Hemant (who was apparently further back in the museum) replied “No, that’s what she said” with this photo.

Hemant wins.

And in case you didn’t notice, by this part of the museum I was going a little insane.

The next room was full of disturbing miniatures of what happened when the flood began. There were a bunch of tiny humans trying to make animal sacrifices, or running in fear, or clinging to rocks, or being swept away by waves. Like I said, very family friendly. There was a funny one where they explained that Noah’s family fed themselves by growing a small garden deep within the boat. In the dark. Again with the photosynthesis fail – I’m pretty sure they didn’t have heat lamps back then and that a couple of candles aren’t going to be enough. Oh, and let’s not forget the diorama of dinosaurs getting on the Ark too:This room also had what I think (may have missed others) was the only interactive exhibit in the museum. It was just some computer screens with a simple jigsaw puzzle you could put together, and a couple of real life puzzles. That’s it. This is one part where you can tell this really is more of a theme park than a museum (well, other than all the mind numbingly stupid inaccuracies and lies, of course). You’re not supposed to interact or ask questions, you’re supposed to just accept what you’re being told. God did it, the end. Yet another reason to be terrified that small children are learning this – not only are their minds being filled with rot, but they’re not encouraged to question anything at all.

And since we haven’t had anything extraordinarily stupid yet, here you go:
Yes, you read that right. They believe that the earth had a different set of continents before the flood, that the flood was so disruptive that everything moved around and that Pangaea formed under water, and by the time the flood ended Pangaea had already broken up and formed our modern continents.

WHAT?!?! Why do they even bother saying this?! They outright deny so many other facts, why even bother claiming that Pangaea existed at all? How is the theory of plate tectonics (which they bastardized by saying the flood moved everything) necessary to somewhat include, but we can just say evolution never happened at all?!?! This is where all of my coherent mental thoughts were replaced by repeated screaming. I was just trying to keep it mental and not actually start yelling at the exhibits.

Then I saw signs talking about evolution, and I knew it was about to get much, much worse.

(Thanks to Vanessa and Josh for extra photos)

Part1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9

Creation Museum Part 6

Now that Adam and Eve ate the fruit, the world’s about to go to crap. We rounded the corner and found this pleasant scene:A very kids-friendly museum! Of course, it’s alright to scare little kids if it teaches them to follow the Bible – think hell houses. This was also in a dark scary room, but the flash from my camera kind of ruins that feeling. Anyway, this is supposed to illustrate their shame of being naked, and how they need to make animal sacrifices to God to make him happy.Please join me in facepalming: “But because humans are not related to animals.” So, let’s get cracking on the human sacrifices then with that logic! And as a side note, does God love nudists because they have no shame? …Moving on.
We meet Adam and Eve again, but now things are different. They have their sons, Caine and Abel, they have to produce their own food, Adam has put on a few pounds (sin = beer belly?), and Eve is barefoot and pregnant like she belongs (somehow I missed a photo of that, oh well). This seems tame enough, but things start getting really crazy here with a new theme: Before Adam’s Sin, and After (you really should click for a larger image and read these things, they’re terrible).
Plants aren’t alive? The hell? I guess we need to kick Botany out of Biology! What do those silly scientists know about what’s alive, anyway? I guess animals not dying for the short period of time they were in the Garden of Eden isn’t too preposterous. Well, immortality is silly, but it’s not like the entire ecosystem would be out of whack or overpopulated because of a lack of deaths. But this is the sign that killed me:

They’re saying a T-Rex was a vegetarian until sin. I don’t think I need to explain why this makes no fucking sense. Why the hell did some dinosaurs have big freaking pointy teeth? So they could munch up lettuce better? I don’t think so. Either God did a shitty job at designing creatures and arbitrarily gave some useless teeth, or he already knew the fall was going to happen so he had some animals ready to fill the carnivore niche. In which case, did Adam and Eve really have free will if God already knew what was going to happen because it was part of his plan? Did God really just want an excuse to make bacon? EDIT: Apparently I missed a vital part of the exhibit: Velociraptors prior to the fall had MOLARS that through “natural selection” (not evolution, since that doesn’t exist) turned into canine teeth. What the HELL. NO.
Om nom nom. Meat is murder. Tasty, tasty murder.

Of course, I’m probably thinking about this too much. I’m sure there’s a simple explanation to all this. Oh…maybe that the Creation Museum is full of shit and denying everything science or even common sense has ever told us! That’s right, I forgot.
Yeah, I’m not even going to touch this one. It’s just here to show you how outstandingly stupid this room was.

Of course, once you think it can never get worse, it does. I stood in front of this sign for a good long time, probably with a look of confusion and rage on my face (click for larger):
God logic for why Biblical incest is okay but modern incest isn’t hurts my brain:
1. “All humans are related. So whenever someone gets married, they marry their relative.” You know, this is true with evolution too! But I think all reasonable people can see a difference between marrying your sister or cousin and marrying someone thousands of years removed from you.
2. Abraham was a cool guy and married his half sister, so that makes it okay! Well okay for then, then God changed his mind and now you can’t marry close relatives. So, are they actually saying that some of God’s laws were applicable for ancient times but not for modern times? I guess there’s hope for gay and women’s rights! Right?
3. We have inbreeding depression today because Adam’s sin caused mutations. Ugh, I hate when they bring in genetics to explain their crazy ideas.
4. Adam was genetically perfect, so inbreeding back then didn’t matter because there we less mutations. Man, at the mutation rate necessary to go from “genetically perfect” (whatever that means) to our current level of diversity in just 6,000 years, I’m surprised we don’t all have superpowers or extra limbs sprouting out of our foreheads.
5. Irrelevant comment about sex outside of marriage.
6. Lie about marriage being defined by God. You have no right to criticize the Bible if you don’t believe it. Wait…what? Well isn’t that convenient. Only the people who don’t have anything to criticize are the ones that can criticize it!

We all felt like soon we’d have no brain cells left, so we moved on.

The next room has a absolutely terrifying animatronic Methuselah. He was creepier then the little girl we first met, and I nearly jumped out of my skin when his eyes moved and looked right at me. I didn’t take a photo because I was afraid my camera would disintegrate from the pure evil emanating from this thing. They had a sign next to Methuselah with all the ages of various famous people from the Bible, and I think they were trying to show that people lived shorter and shorter lives since sin was introduced. I’m not quite sure how sin “builds up” over generations (I think they meant mutations), but I’m not sure about most of the stuff in this museum.

(Thanks to Vanessa and Josh for extra photos)

Part1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9

Creation Museum Part 5

Never fear, Creation Museum goer. After going through terrifying Atheistland, you enter a serene black tunnel dotted with Christmas lights – er, stars, I mean stars. You pop into a mini theater where they’re showing a video about how God created the universe in 6 days. I have to admit, this is where the museum starts being educational – in the sense that I learned about a literal interpretation of the Bible. I was not raised Christian, nor have I read the Bible other that some select passages (which I feel guilty about, I mean to do it soon). I couldn’t tell you what order God created things, or exactly what happened to Adam and Eve and their children, so this was pretty informative from a Bible as Literature point of view (if you ignore all the dinosaurs). Past that, absolutely hilarious. My favorite part of the movie was Adam and Eve watching brontosauruses as the sun sets:You pop out into a room showing various videos playing on loop. The first one I watched gave the same old “DNA is information, information can’t randomly come about, therefore there is a God” argument. It then took a random word (don’t remember what it was) and started rearranging it Text Twist style, this somehow being the best argument against evolution. Uh, what? Then a clip about irreducible complexity in the eye came on, and I got upset. I went on a mini rant to a friend about how stupid that argument is, and how octopuses have better eyes than vertebrates anyway…but then I had to stop watching or I probably would have started yelling at the screen. Then I found this brain breaking sign:

This is where my brain officially broke during the trip, and I really felt like a part of me had died from the mind boggling ignorance. Let me take a big breath and swig of beer before I touch this one.

Okay, much better.

Let me break this down for you, in case it’s not jumping out from that image. First came plants. Then came the sun. Then came DNA. See anything a little odd about that order? When I first tweeted my distress, I said “But…but…photosynthesis!” I’ll admit that’s not the best response. Theoretically plants can live a day without sunlight (since we are talking about 24 hour days here), and it may just be silly rather than impossible for God to make plants first. But the sun doesn’t just produce sunlight – it produces warmth. There’s no way plants could survive in the freezing cold of space for 24 hours – most of them have a hard enough time when the first frost comes. Of course, this is God we’re talking about – I’m sure a creationist would wave their hands and say God protected the plants from dying with his magical powers, and that’s that.

And then there’s the little bit about DNA. How the hell did plants exist before the building blocks of life? Are you telling me that every plant cell’s nucleus was empty, that not a single protein was made in 24 hours, that plants sat in suspended animation for 24 hours before God zapped DNA (and supposedly RNA) into every plant cell on Earth? Really? Does it make any sense for an all knowing God to create things in such an illogical, silly order? Or does it sound like the creation story is a myth made up by people who know nothing about biology or evolution, and now they’re desperately trying to apply it to the story?

Brain broken, I decided to go take solace in Eden:Wait, what the freaking hell? What are penguins doing in the Middle East?! You think with all the dinosaurs, I would be desensitizes by now…but no. Dinosaurs existing with humans is pure fantasy, penguins in the middle east put me in an Ecologist Rage. But then I got a photo with a cute dinos and all was well:Om nom nom prehistoric pineapple.Not so sure if I was allowed to touch that. Whoops.

I think I’d like to take the time here to actually compliment the Creation Museum on one thing: it was extremely well made. Nothing looked cheap, all of the fake dinosaurs and humans were excellently made, and all of the signs had very nice designs. Of course, all of this makes me even more sad, because people are easily swayed by snazzy, professional looking things.

Moving on, we reach the bow chicka wow wow part of the garden. Well, I guess technically not yet, since there’s no sin yet. I have to admit, Adam was kind of attractive, and some of these dioramas with Adam and Eve were oddly suggestive. I mean, what a romantic location:…with a velociraptor in the background. Can you spot it?Oh my! Naughty Adam and Eve! Keep those hands above the water, Children of God with Strategically Placed Hair! Oh, and in case it’s been too long since the museum made a political/cultural statement, here you go:Oh, well that’s good to know! Since we have a separation of church and state here, and they claim the only basis for heterosexual marriage is religion, then no problem approving gay marriage, right? Or more realistically, since the idea that Adam and Eve even existed, let alone that Eve was made from Adam’s rib, is complete malarkey, and that’s they’re only argument against gay marriage, then equal rights here we come! …I have a feeling my argument isn’t going to go over well with them.

And just because I really like this photo:
Note the serpent lurking overhead and the fact that the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge actually looks more like grapes. Guess the Creation Museum didn’t want to get involved with the cultural meme of the fruit being an apple. Right about then PZ randomly appeared behind us, so we slowed down a bit to be a part of the hilarity. Then it happened. They ate the fruit, and the museum went from being a peaceful garden of Eden to scary as hell again.

(Thanks to Vanessa and Josh for extra photos)

Part1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9

Creation Museum Part 4

This is when we got to the scary part of the museum. Well, intentionally scary – the whole place is accidentally horrifying. But this section was supposed to represent how horrible the world becomes when we don’t listen to the Bible. I mean, we all know how atheists are the reason that the moral fiber of society is being destroyed. Duuuuhhh. Just looks what happens when you start questioning things:Yep. Satan questions things. You better all stop that thinking right away. (EDIT: Forgot to point out the Adam dying when eating the fruit part. See that? I wondered, but Adam didn’t die when he ate the fruit, he lived hundreds of years. Later another sign clarified that it was his soul that died, since apparently that’s what really matters. And I thought they didn’t interpret the Bible metaphorically.) Oh, but don’t think you liberal Christians are getting away scot free:Those philosophers and scientists of the Enlightenment! Look at all the trouble they caused by interpreting the Bible metaphorically! Oh and they gave a shout out to my ancestors, the Greeks. This line makes me laugh: “But the common people were converted, the old ways rejected…” That’s something to be proud of? That the poor, impressionable, uneducated people were forceably converted to Christianity? If anything, that shows how vile Christianity can be when people try to force it on each other. And we all know Zeus was way cooler than God anyway.Oh, and total win for Voltaire being called “the infidel philosopher.” Yeah, this is really unbiased writing here. But seriously, if I ever get famous enough to be put in a religious museum because people hate me, I want to be referred to as “the infidel blogger.” I guess Pastor Tom blocking me from his blog and calling me a “maniacly insane blogger” is close enough.

But again, I don’t want to make it seem like they were just pointing fingers at the scientists and philosophers. They really didn’t seem to like anyone who didn’t subscribe to their very literal brand of Christianity. Liberal Christians really miffed them, and man was there a lot of anti-Catholic stuff. They basically said the Pope has no idea what he’s talking about when it comes to God. Oh, and of course, you can’t forget Dan Brown. Writing a fiction novel is just as bad as being an atheist or a Catholic, apparently:
What a diss. Sorry Dan, can’t stay on top of those best seller lists forever, I guess.

They also touched on the Scopes trial, which had an epic amount of fact fail. They claimed that William Jennings Bryan took the case because he wanted to stand up against evolution, since it caused the evil eugenics that Nazi Germany used. Ignore the fact that a “museum” just invoked Godwin’s law: the Scopes trial took place in 1925, fourteen years before World War II began. What the hell? EDIT: Apparently Hitler started voicing his approval of eugenics right around when the Scopes trial took place, so I stand corrected.

This pretty much sums up how I feel at this point of the trip:
So what actually happens when you have philosophers, scientists, religious people, and writers all joining together to critique religion?
Woooooooooooooo!!! Oh, wait, I’m supposed to be upset about that. Er, boo hoo?

I think this whole section was reminiscent of a hell house. It doesn’t look so scary in photos because the flash lights everything up – it was actually quite dark and gloomy in this section. The first wall you see is covered in magazine covers talking about homosexuals gaining rights, evolution, and advances in stem cell research – horrible, horrible things of course. It’s main goal is to show how not following the Bible leads to moral decay and chaos. I know that’s hard to figure out, since their imagery is so subtle:
Oh, and for the commenter who wanted a photo of the Million of Years wrecking ball, here’s the best I could do:
This whole section was quite hilarious because I actually agreed with some of it. Scientific evidence (for example, the idea that we’ve been around for more than 6000 years) is slowly destroying religious beliefs. The modern world is abandoning the Bible. They had a little section where you could peak into the windows of random houses (wow, vouyers too) to see what horrible things were going on. One guy was playing videogames in a dorm room! A girl was talking to a friend about boys on the phone! A guy was falling asleep during church! How horrible! Next people will be ripping the tags off mattresses and kissing before marriage and – no, it’s too painful to even think of what nasty things people will do after that.

I hate to be a downer, but let me be serious for a moment. This isn’t just something we can giggle at, though that was fun. Remember that the majority of the people who come through this museum are impressionable children. They’re going through an exhibit that shows doubting the Bible leads to crazy sex (well…that may be true), destruction, and hopelessness. I didn’t take photos of some of the worse things they were showing, like death or suffering or Nazis (yes, again with the Nazis). But how willing are children going to be to even start thinking about the Bible if they’ve been told these awful things? Are they ever going to want to interract with people who don’t think like them?

I do have to thank the Creation Museum for putting a light at the end of the tunnel though. Figuratively speaking – the room was still dark. But these two signs definitely made me feel better:
I think the Creation Museum finally got something right!

(Thanks to Vanessa and Josh for extra photos)

Part1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9

Creation Museum Part 3

It was time to finally enter the exhibit. I had already been tweeting away, but my friend Josh said he couldn’t get any service on his iPhone. Turns out I was one of the few people who actually had cell phone reception during the main part of the exhibit (I know both Hemant and PZ were having trouble with their iPhones too, and all of Mark‘s tweets tragically came in days later). This shocked me, since I have US Cellular. I wouldn’t be surprised if you’ve never heard of it – it’s a service provider located in Chicago, and if you get out of the suburbs, you have shitty service. I’m usually roaming and down to a bar or two. Inside the Creation Museum? Full bars. While no one else had service. That’s when I knew I had entered Bizarro World. Up was down, black was white, evolution was a lie, and US Cellular wasn’t crappy.

The entrance was remade to look like Antelope Canyon and was pretty cool looking. Actually, now that I think of it, many parts of the museum involved you walking through somewhat narrow corridors with seemingly no escape, since you had to walk through the entire linear exhibit before you could get out. A claustrophobic person would not enjoy themselves there. Anyway, once you make it through, you’re greeted with this sign:This sums up a major theme of the museum: Scientists and creationists are using the same data, but since they have different starting points, they come to different conclusions. Which honestly, is true. Scientists have the starting point of logic, reason, and background knowledge based off of many previous experiments. When they see data, they use those things to come to an appropriate conclusion. Creationists, on the other hand, have the starting point of the Bible, which is also their conclusion. When they see data, they try to figure out how to explain the data so it fits their already established conclusion. Oh, and let’s not forget that the creationist is a wise old white man, but the evil scientist is a young Asian man. Woo, let’s use xenophobia to further our argument. Anyway, so yes, this sign is true:But why? Because Creationists are delusional and full of crap. Just because Creationists can come a different conclusion doesn’t mean that conclusion is valid – especially when their starting point is a ridiculous book full of impossibilities and contradictions. I know I’m preaching to the choir, but this was a very annoying trend in the exhibit: taking scientific facts and twisting them in order to fit their preconceived ideas. And just for an example on how stupid some of these questions got:
Are you shitting me? You use the creation of artificial sapphires to support your claim that sapphire formation goes much quicker than we think? Again, they need to come up with crazy ways to distort facts (sapphires take a long long time to form) so they fit into their worldview (world has only been around for 6000 years). I don’t need to tell you this, but laboratory sapphires undergo much more extreme conditions that would be found on earth, so they can form faster. Of course, the Creation Museum would probably just tell you these extreme conditions were causes by the flood or fire that rained down on Sodom and Gomorrah or Xenu hurtling atom bombs into volcanoes – er, whoops, wrong fiction story.

And yes, there was much face-palming that day. Especially when I found out that God is a Caps Lock troll (who possibly inspired Popeye the Sailor):
This room started a related trend: Hating on human reason. We’d see these sorts of signs throughout the rest of the museum:
Human Reason on one side, God’s Word on the other. This drove me crazy for many reasons. One, it obviously implied that human reason is bad. The whole purpose of this museum is to promote God and the Bible as the literal truth and to expose the “lies” of science. Putting up Human Reason against what they see as the truth clearly paints it as wrong, the bad guy, evil. It pains me to see reason, one of the greatest virtues I think a human can have, be treated as a sin. It doesn’t surprise me, though – there have been plenty of Christians throughout history who have been against intellectual curiosity. I guess we should be thankful – they could have just as easily put “Satan’s Word” with scientific thoughts under it, which would probably make people hate us scientists even more.

The second reason this drove me nuts was just because the scientific truth was actually there! From the Reason vs God signs I read, they did a very good job at simply explaining scientific processes. To think of all the people who are actually standing there and reading the truth and not recognizing it drives me mad. It’s like watching someone play Marco Polo or Hot and Cold and just barely missing their target. They’re agonizingly close to the truth, but then they miss it. Sigh.

And yet another theme of the museum was that Science is Hard, God is Easy:

Again, I think I’ll agree with that! For most people, science is harder to understand than just waving your hands and saying “God did it.” Zeus hurtling thunderbolts was easier than understanding lightning. I say most people, though, because I find it nearly impossible to comprehend how insane God logic makes sense to people, since I was never raised religious. But I loved how they graphically represented this. See, science is winding and confusing and always changing, but God’s word is constant and perfect and immutable. Therefore, God’s word is correct.

Wait, what? If anything, the fact that science changes is what makes it so beautiful. It admits when it’s wrong and strives for a better truth. Yes, this makes it more complicated, and yes, means that some minor things we accept today may be false (key word: minor. We’re not going to discover the Earth goes around Jupiter or that evolution is false). But it is light years ahead of how much of God’s Word is true. All you have to do is crack open a Bible to see all that’s wrong within it. Just to make your blood boil even more, here’s a detailed view:I’m really not quite sure what the heck is going on in the evolution sign. Galaxies and solar systems are still developing (I don’t think I’d say evolving, but let’s not play the semantics game with fundies), they didn’t just stop once Earth was formed. I’m not too sure why the formation of coal is so important. Actually, it was at this point that I just stopped trying to figure out how any of this supposedly made sense. Facepalming rates increased greatly.

The “Science is Hard” and “God is Easy” didn’t end there, though. They also applied it to their version of human evolution. Well, not evolution, since they don’t believe in that. “Kind” variation generation or whatever the hell they were trying to suggest that was basically the same as evolution:
See, apes are confusing! They have lots of complicated branches and extinction events. But humans are perfect. They’re special. They’re just a straight line, going on unchanged throughout time. Unfortunately, I think this is a view I’ve heard from more liberal Christians that accept evolution: that other animals evolved, but man didn’t. Not entirely sure how that works: did man just poof into existence one day, after the animals had been chilling and evolving for all those years? My…brain…explode blaahhh!Yes, and we hope to keep it that way. This fairy tale nonsense deserves no place in schools. Just look how sad it made Vanessa!

(Thanks to Vanessa and Josh for extra photos)

Part1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9