This week, the creationist Ken Ham and his organization, Answers in Genesis, are practicing the Big Lie. They have spent tens of millions of dollars to create a glossy simulacrum of a museum, a slick imitation of a scientific enterprise veneered over long disproved religious fables, and they are gathering crowds and world-wide attention to the grand opening of their edifice of deceit. You can now take a photographic tour of the exhibits and see for yourself—it’s not science at all, but merely a series of Bible stories dolled up in dioramas.
The blogosphere is also giving them some attention — almost none of it favorable. What I’ve done here is collect recent reactions from all over to the Creation Museum, and compile them down into a link and a short and (I hope) representative extract. Browse through this long, long list, and when you find some quote that tickles your interest, follow the link to find the complete article. The National Center for Science Education has also compiled reactions from journalists, educators, scientists, and scientific organizations for yet more reading on the subject.
First, credit where credit is due: I’m just the editor of this particular collection, but the idea came from John McKay, who thought there ought to be some kind of coordinated response condensed out of the chaos of the blogosphere, and prompted me to put out a call for links to commentary. John does not think much of Ham’s dino-follies.
Ken Ham’s version of Genesis appears to have been designed to appeal to second-graders. Not only are all of the neat stories in the beginning of Genesis literally true. In Adam and Eve’s day all of the animals were friends. None of the carnivores ate meat, so they never hurt or scared the lambs or deer. Cats never chased mice and dogs never chased cats. Not only that, but people and dinosaurs lived together and were friends. The dinosaurs let people put dino-saddles on them and ride them around like ponies.
That’s a fairly typical reaction: we can hardly believe that in 21st century America, this childish comic-book fantasy is being taken seriously by anyone.
The media commentary
I wish the country’s newspapers had responded that unambiguously and clearly, but the image above was modified. Journalists, you have a problem. Most of the articles written on this “museum” bend over backwards to treat questions like “Did Man walk among Dinosaurs?” as serious, requiring some kind of measured response from multiple points of view, and rarely even recognized the scientific position that the question should not only be answered with a strong negative, but that it is absurd. Let me ask any reporters out there: when you cover a story about a disaster, say the destruction of a town by a tornado, do you also feel obligated to get a few pithy quotes from a few people who want to argue that the disaster was a good thing, or that the residents deserved it?
One of the worst examples of this inane and unwarranted “fair and balanced” reporting comes from the Newspaper of Record, the hallowed New York Times. The Times published an appallingly credulous article, Adam and Eve in the Land of the Dinosaurs, that strained to give equal time to idiocy.
For the skeptic the wonder is at a strange universe shaped by elaborate arguments, strong convictions and intermittent invocations of scientific principle. For the believer, it seems, this museum provides a kind of relief: Finally the world is being shown as it really is, without the distortions of secularism and natural selection.
Quite a few of the articles sent in to me took the NY Times to task for printing such wishy-washy apologetics for creationism. Despite having some excellent science writers and some of the best science reporting in the news, whenever the paper tries to address the cultural conflict with science, they have consistently had some of the very worst articles on the subject.
So I got to thinking, hmmm…. Why did the Times send their culture reporter to cover this museum in such a friendly way, when they assigned science reporter John Noble Wilford to cover this year’s opening of the new Human Origins Hall at the American Museum of Natural History? I mean, they’re on the same subject, right? Shouldn’t they get the same reviewer?
No, for a visitor steeped in the scientific world view the impact of the museum is shocked disbelief at the sheer level of scientific incompetence on display coupled with considerable nervousness about the political power these folks wield.
Rothstein offers a few gentle criticisms of the museum in the article’s final paragraphs. But his article is mostly a fawning and ridiculous tribute to one of the rankest displays of pseudoscience you are ever likely to confront.
The media hasn’t always been an indecisive organ for nonsense. On the other coast, the LA Times has done a much better job of reporting on the Yabba-dabba science.
The museum, a 60,000-square-foot menace to 21st century scientific advancement, is the handiwork of Answers in Genesis, a leader in the “young Earth” movement. Young Earthers believe the world is about 6,000 years old, as opposed to the 4.5 billion years estimated by the world’s credible scientific community. This would be risible if anti-evolution forces were confined to a lunatic fringe, but they are not. Witness the recent revelation that three of the Republican candidates for president do not believe in evolution. Three men seeking to lead the last superpower on Earth reject the scientific consensus on cosmology, thermonuclear dynamics, geology and biology, believing instead that Bamm-Bamm and Dino played together.
The Washington Post also strongly disputes A Monument To Creation.
But in this latest demonization of Darwinian evolution, there is a sticking point: For the biblical account to be accurate and the world to be so young, several hundred years of research in geology, physics, biology, paleontology, and astronomy would need to be very, very wrong.
Really, journalists: you can objectively report the claims of both sides, but when one side is wrong and lying, it’s your job to also report that.
The scientific arguments against creationism
The blogosphere has actually done a better job than most media in addressing the scientific flaws in Ken Ham’s creationism, which if you think about it, is a rather nasty indictment of the reportage in itself: a bunch of disorganized amateurs have created more coherent criticisms of the bad science than the professionals, who are supposed to inform the public, have done. Rarely do the newspapers report any of the claims that Ken Ham makes about science, and even more rarely do they explain why they are wrong. Almost all of the blog entries on this museum refer to the fact that creationism contradicts well-established scientific principles, even the ones that have as their main intent mocking the “museum”—others put considerable effort into summarizing the science that Ken Ham either does not understand or cynically neglects.
If every living creature on earth got off a boat at the top of Mount Ararat a mere 4,500 years ago, how did sloths, who only move a few inches a day, make their way to the jungles of South America? How did penguins end up in Antarctica and polar bears in the Arctic? And what happened to Australia to make it populated with such strange creatures found nowhere else in the world?
In fact, Ken Ham was asked about this very question as he was being interviewed about his new Creationist Museum in April. His answer? Plate tectonics, really fast. He claimed that “the flood waters lubricated a process called runaway subduction in which the continents subsequently drifted apart at a sprint!” In other words, plate tectonics happening over a period of days or weeks rather than millions of years. The biblical justification for this is one tiny, obscure reference to the earth being divided. Genesis 10:25 says “To Eber were born two sons: the name of one was Peleg, for in his days the earth was divided…”. The name Peleg literally means division.
Anytime somebody tries to use the Second Law of Thermodynamics to refute evolution, you should realize you’re dealing with somebody who doesn’t understand science or who is a liar.
Modern archaeology is built around experiment, observation and ethnography. It’s not enough to say something looks designed, you should also refer to why and how you think an item was created.
Museum guides tell visitors that before Adam and Eve were expelled from paradise all of the dinosaurs were peaceful plant-eaters. In Genesis 1:30 God gives ‘green herb’ to every creature to eat and so there were no predators. When a curious museum visitor asks, why exactly T. rex had six-inch long serrated teeth, the guides go on to explain that T. rex used his big teeth to open coconuts. Apparently it was only after Adam and Eve sinned and were cast out of paradise that the dinosaurs started to eat flesh.
On the specific errors, Ham draws a false similarity in tooth structure between bears and tyrannosaurs. To Ham, the gross generality is sufficient: both bears and tyrannosaurs have “sharp teeth”, but different diets – the conclusion, therefore, is that this observation is consistent with the Genesis account that all creatures ate plants initially, but later diverged into different diets. Of course a very simple inspection (I have a bear jaw and skull in front of me now) shows quite clearly to anyone without pre-conceived ideas of what these animals should be eating that bear teeth are not like tyrannosaur teeth at all. Tyrannosaurs have multiple, generally cone-shaped teeth. The only remotely cone-shaped teeth on the bear are the canines: the remaining teeth are largely low, with rounded cusps. When you look at the teeth of to days carnivores (crocodiles, porpoises, sea lions, tigers, coyotes, foxes, etc.) their teeth are cone or triangular (a flattened cone) in design, much like the tyrannosaurs. Bear teeth on the other hand, show a mixture of cone-like and low, flattened teeth similar to those seen in raccoons, badgers, monkeys and, to a lesser extent, humans. All of these animals eat a variety of foods including meat, insects, fruit and other plant materials.
It says quite a lot about Ham and his followers that they find a 4.5-billion-year-old Earth wildly implausible next to the notion of a tyrannosaur calmly grazing in a meadow.
Creationists can’t handle this consistently. There are basically two responses. One set of creationists treat Archaeopteryx as a bird, with some minor differences like claws on the wings and teeth in the beak. The other approach focuses on the fact that Archaeopteryx is not directly ancestral to modern birds, and spins that into a denial of any association at all. Both arguments are symptomatic of a stolid cement headed stupidity.
The former approach manages to plumb slightly deeper depths of idiocy. Predictably, this is the approach chosen by Answers in Genesis, for their absurd museum.
When looking through AiG’s archives for stuff that I could shred apart for PZ’s blog carnival, I characteristically looked for the computer science and mathematics related drivel that is typical of all creationists. And lo and behold, I found it. The first piece deals with Richard Dawkins’ famous “weasel” word-experiment, and the second deals with genetic algorithms and why they allegedly fail to show that evolution works.
Creationists blindly ignore the evidence of the world around us in order to make it fit into a paradigm. They spend an inordinate amount of time and money on trying to prove hypothesis that do not stand up to scientific tests. They are in the process of raising $25 million dollars in order to open the museum debt free. $25 million dollars on a farce of a museum that claims that the dinosaurs lived in the time of humans.
That is the heart of the difference between a magical world and a scientific world. The nature of the scientific world does not change as our understanding changes, instead it is our understanding that changes as we learn more of how our world works. As we learn more we come to understand that our understanding was in error and needs correction.
Here’s a good question: “Are there any technological advances that have been made because of a belief in evolution?” Thanks for asking.
Introduce me to a creationist who respects the investment in learning evolution to understand the mysteries of biology and I’ll work alongside them any day.
Young Earth Creationists dont do laboratory research. ‘More work needs to be done?’ YECs dont do any work at all, especially with ERVs [endogenous retroviruses]. If you know of one, send him/her my way.
That’s not science, and it’s lousy epistemology, which is why while science has made remarkable progress over the last century, often with ideas that appeared absurd at first glance (evo-devo, plate tectonics, DNA, quantum mechanics, and relativity for starters), creationists like Ken Ham can (and do) recycle their speeches and arguments from 20 years ago, and get raving applause from the true believers. Never mind that they never produce any new knowledge of any kind about the world.
So you built a whole museum based on a LITERAL interpretation of the bible? I’ve only got one question. Do you believe EVERYTHING it says? Oh yeah? Really?
What about all of these questions?
You’re going to service it, you tell me, based solely on the one book you wrote all those years ago, which discusses nothing but the fuel pump. In doing this, you are willing to throw out volumes of text that I have written, explaining in exacting detail every part of the car from the differential to the hood ornament.
One good thing that is emerging from Ham’s folly is that outraged scientists are mobilizing to fight the foolishness: Calling all Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky scientists!
A peaceful protest is planned, as I wrote about recently. But we need more than that. Eugenie Scott, who is the head of the National Center for Science Education, has organized a Statement of Concern, and it needs signatures. They’re looking for scientists, and specifically physical scientists, to sign the statement.
Are you a postdoc or faculty-level astronomer, chemist, physicist, engineer, or geologist in Ohio, Indiana, or Kentucky? Do you care that science is being horribly abused by the likes of Ham? Then sign the Statement!
Not all the focus was on the bad biology and paleontology of Ken Ham. He’s also an incompetent fraud when it comes to interpreting the Bible—This is not about dinosaurs.
With Ken Ham’s creation museum opening May 28, in Petersburg, Kentucky, I thought it might be abnormally interesting to look at some of the claims concerning the Hebrew Bible and dinosaurs. In this post, I will limit myself to two Hebrew words that, according to some Young Earth Creationists, may refer to dinosaurs: ×ªÖ·× Ö¼Ö´×× (tannÃ®n) and ×ªÖ·× Ö¼Ö´×× (tannÃ®m). It is not my intention to be completely exhaustive, but rather to give you enough evidence to support my conclusion. While I will only touch lightly on Leviathan and not at all on Behemoth, I must say at the top of this post that one needs to have a very strong prior belief that the Hebrew Bible might mention dinosaurs to see them anywhere. And that includes Leviathan, Behemoth and any other of the words or phrases that have been suggested. There is absolutely no reason, based on internal evidence to associate dinosaurs with any word or entity mentioned the Bible. Nothing in the larger corpus of Near Eastern literature would lead one to such a conclusion either.
The ugly consequences of creationism
Another common reaction on the blogs is simple disgust at the anti-intellectualism of the creationist movement and at the shameful targeting of impressionable children. What Ham is doing is the opposite of education: he is misleading our kids and encouraging uninformed adults to promote an anti-science agenda.
This crackhouse will only help promote, spread, and indoctrinate people into young earth propaganda and do no science at all. Heck, the creationists working there will not even mentioned to their lay people that the only real, true foundation of The Gospel is our Lord Jesus Christ and our Lord Jesus Christ only. (John 1:1-15) despite what the creationists falsely claim. Instead, it will only teach you nothing worthwhile and help further the efforts of people, who willfully do everything they accuse evolution of, to horde millions of dollars of money for themselves and exercise power and control over millions of people.
Lapdogs for Jesus! That’s what these people want to be. That’s what this “museum” is about—domestication. They don’t want scientists telling us that evolution reveals our nobel, wild, free past, because this 10,000 year-old experiment in our self-domestication will not be complete until we’ve done in the entire planet, too.
The “big deal” comes from the fact that we Americans are notorious suckers for flash and dazzle, and mostly poorly educated in science, to boot. So you put up this museum, full of false arguments and bad science, arguing against good science, and you’ve got a recipe for further misleading plenty of Americans.
…misunderstanding the knowledge that science research provides is dangerous in itself, especially in an intellectual battle for hearts and minds.
This isn’t just about a few nutcases out on the fringe; this sort of anti-science nonsense has been informing the Bush administration right from the start. The fact that an assemblage of wackos such as AIG can raise the millions of dollars necessary to build this monument to willful ignorance should concern all Americans in possession of firing neurons.
I have nothing against his “museum”, other than him calling it a museum, and saying it uses “science”. To me, it’s just a amusement park devoted to a fairy tale, with no real science behind it, whatsoever.
While I don’t think this museum will convert any adults to creationism, it will indoctrinate children, which the museum is targeted at, into thinking that the earth was magically created from nothing just a few thousand years ago, and that all of Earth’s millions of species were preserved on a wooden ship during a global flood, against all common sense and scientific evidence. This will add to the misinformation that these students will need to unlearn when they reach college and need to learn real science.
It’s this sense of wonder that organizations like AiG and facilities like the Creation Museum threaten most. The idea that everything worth knowing can be sandwiched between the covers of a single book. The concept that there is some evidence that must not be examined, some ideas that must not be explored (remember how Adam and Eve got into all that trouble?). The belief that one’s own morals and prejudices are so perfect that one must pass them down intact to one’s children or risk the wrath of God.
This Memorial Day will be truly memorial for those who believe the universe is only 6,000 years old. The Creation Museum opens Monday in Petersburg, Ky. A creation of the creationists responsible for the Answers in Genesis “resource,” primarily Ken Ham, B.Sc., the designers of the new museum have managed to find $27 million to furnish their monument to Biblical literalism with the latest in multimedia and animatronic displays. Just think what those 27 million clams could have done for, oh … I dunno … the pagan public school system?
We have just recently begun the 21st century. At a time when science education is slowly gaining momentum after years of neglect, the opening of the Creation Museum is a giant step backward into pre-Darwinian, 19th century science. That most of its visitors will never once question the validity of the beliefs on which creationism is based is a leap back into the Dark Ages.
People tend to vote for what sounds right rather than what actually is right, and AiG is perfectly willing to lie to make sure it happens. That is why people like me oppose the Creation Museum. It’s not because we want to censor or take away the First Amendment Rights of Ken Ham and Answers in Genesis. They’re free to build whatever they want on their land and believe whatever suits their fancy. We simply want AiG to stop lying and call their building what it really is: a church.
The museum is an illustration of the movement’s marriage of primitive and intolerant beliefs with the modern tools of technology, mass communication, sophisticated fundraising and political organization. Totalitarian systems usually start as propagandistic movements that ostensibly teach people to “believe what they want.” This is a ruse. This primacy of personal opinion, regardless of facts, destabilizes and destroys the primacy of all facts. This process leads inevitably to the big lie. Facts are useful only if they bolster the message. The use of mass-marketing techniques to persuade and convince, rather than brainwash, has led tens of millions of followers to accept the toxic totalitarian line by tricking them into believing it’s their own. Ironically, at the outset the movement seemingly encourages people to think “independently” or “courageously.”
Unfortunately, Ham has forgotten that most people in this country get an earful of wacky religious beliefs every Sunday from the time they are born, whereas many children in this country are not taught the fundamentals of evolution even by the time they reach high school.
This museum is not a museum of science. It’s a museum of faith, carefully cloaked in scientific garb, to help prove the truth of the Christian bible. Why is this a concern for scientists, such as the ones that have signed petitions protesting the museum, or those who couldn’t be there but are quietly fuming?
Because this museum distorts science. It’s an educational attraction, carrying in this morning at least one schoolbus in through a long line of cars waiting at the iron gates. It shows first the scientific viewpoint places a scientific fact in front of the visitor, then “debunks” the years of research and testing that went into ascertaining that piece of knowledge with carefully chosen phrases that reinforce a specific religious viewpoint.
We don’t think of museums this way today (thank goodness), for the most part, but – in a way – the Creation Museum sounds like a kind of throwback, mixing science and fantasy, entertainment and ‘moral instruction’.
It might not be surprising to know that “Its designer, Patrick Marsh, used to work at Universal Studios in Los Angeles.”
The creationist museum will be a major disappointment to truth-seekers. Its foundation or biblical literalism will ensure that truth will be sacrificed for doctrinal convictions. It will also give true believers a false view that science confirms religious myths.
What is really on display here is what Max Weber called the “enchanted garden” — a magical place wherein God cares about human beings and codes nature with secrets and signs of his power and purpose. The scientific world view, by contrast, presents what Stephen Jay Gould once described as “the ‘cold bath’ theory that nature was not constructed as our eventual abode, didn’t know we were coming (we are, after all, interlopers of the latest geological microsecond), and doesn’t give a damn about us (speaking metaphorically).” However, Gould concludes, “I regard such a position as liberating, not depressing.”
Simplistic, mysoginist, inconsistent and bearing no resemblance to what actual scientific evidence shows. Just what we’ve come to expect from the ‘holy of holies’.
And I’m supposed to believe this…why?
So WWKHD? He watched the movie or heard a voice that said “If you build it they will come” and he will fleece them when they do.
The “science” museum is nothing more than an amusement park using technology to bend and break the truth. The people who will view it with interest, more than amusement, will be those who believe in a literal interpretation of the Bible. If belief in some unprovable and invisible being makes them feel better, that’s their business.
I think all Christians do a certain amount of sticking-fingers-in-their-ears-and-singing to drown out the facts which bluntly disprove their beliefs. I envision a Christian’s belief system (or any religious belief system) as an egg shell surrounding that person. The believer inside that shell can happily keep their beliefs as long as the shell remains intact around them. As things like scientific advances bombard a believer’s shell they will alter their beliefs to patch up the cracks in their shells. These acts of crack-patching rationalization take all kinds of crazy forms and usually include interpreting sections of the bible as figurative instead of literal and actively working to be in complete denial or ignorance of the threatening knowledge. Mr. Ham’s technique is heavy on the denial.
And it is sad that children and adults will be subject to this museum as some sort of science education; when the real discoveries of what the dinosaurs were and how they lived are enfolding through the real process of discovery. They will be denied the wonder of how the world really works, in favor of the Answers-in-Genesis fantasy.
This monument to cultural inertia is misnamed. Behold the Creation Mausoleum. In it are the discarded ideas, naivety, and fears of the youth of mankind. Reject these beliefs, but know them, for there are those who would see them resurrected. But make no mistake. It is a tomb. It is a folly.
Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of this large scale disinformation effort is the target audience. If you want to convince scientists of your claim, you do some research and try to get it published. But what about children? If you wanted to target children with this type of disinformation a high tech theme-park approach seems like it would leave a lasting impression on young minds.
One of the reasons the Cardiff Giant was such a successful hoax in the 1860s was that, as HistoryBuff.com notes, “many an evangelist at the time had been preaching that there were giants in the earth.” People were inclined to believe in the hoax because people they would otherwise trust planted a suggestion in their minds that it might be true, just as huckster George Hull could plant the fake giant and wait for the right moment to bring it out of the ground.
Now, according to Sunday’s Washington Post, a group of extreme anti-intellectuals from the evangelical movement are set to open a “Creation Museum,” in Petersburg, Kentucky (near Cincinnati), which cost $27 million to build, a “museum” that is every bit as much a hoax today as the Cardiff Giant was in its time.
Here’s something to consider: every time I’ve gone to a popular science museum, there are lines of school buses ferrying kids on field trips. Public schools in the Cincinnati area might want to think about how field trips to this particular museum could be the Genesis of a lawsuit.
The minute a public-school teacher takes his or her class on a field trip to the Christian House of Deception, we’ve got a lawsuit a-borning. Ever since the Supreme Court’s Edwards v. Aguillard decision in 1987, schools that are paid for with taxpayer cash have been forbidden to teach creationism as if it were science.
Mockery and humor
To my surprise, I expected much more open clowning at this joke of a “museum”—but there were only a few entries that tried. I suspect that when many millions of dollars are thrown away on a fool’s enterprise that has received international attention and that makes your whole country look like a nest of ignorant rubes and yokels, it’s increasingly hard to regard it as funny.
And of all the dumb thing said by religious people, the dumbest are the Young Earth Creationists. These are the people who believe the world is six thousand years old because the bible tells them so and everything in the bible is literally true because the bible says so.
This the way to the Ken Ham museyroom. Turn your brain off goan in.…I think the title is enough to give you a taste.
From what I’ve seen, theists like Ken Ham seem to think they can get away with anything and everything. Especially intellectual sloth. So, when are they going to actually make falsifiable predictions and test them?
A little way into the lecture, Ken Ham asks the children in the audience a variety of questions. Most of these questions deal with evolution, common descent and dinosaurs. He asks the children the question, “Does Your Grandfather Look Like This?” and then a slide is displayed behind him of a “humanized” looking ape. The children all laugh as do their parents, because of course, they don’t believe that their beloved grandfather looks like the rather strange and funny representation they are being shown.
As we atheists are well aware, the Creation Museum of Faux Science will be opening this weekend. Less well publicized, however, is the accompanying Creationist Art Gallery. Fortunately, I’ve been able to get an advance copy of the catalog, and I can assure you that the displays will demonstrate the same kind of careful attention to scientific and historical truth that the more well-known venue does. Below, I’ve reproduced ten pages from the catalog, just to give you an idea of the high quality of the exhibits.
Scientists haven’t had a chance to visit the “museum” yet, so all our descriptions are second-hand. That hasn’t stopped anyone from imagining what opening day will be like—Itinerary for the Creation Museum Opening:
3:00 – 4:00 PM “Why Are There Still Monkeys?” Dr. Herman Marshall*, an accounting professor at Mooreville Community College in Kansas who has a doctorate from Liberty University and was one of the leading voices in the fight to introduce intelligent design curriculum into public schools, will present compelling evidence against the theory of evolution and for a literal, Biblical creation by elaborating on his central theme.
The podcast is 29 minutes long. I think you’ll enjoy it. It starts off with an item about the Scopes trial and its modern equivalents. Then (starting about 4 minutes and 40 seconds from the beginning and running through the end), I talk about the Creation Museum. I take you on a virtual tour. Join me as I make fun of this pathetic monument to superstition!
Left ‘Toon Lane has been running a Cartoon Contest, collecting entries that make fun of the new “museum”. And here’s an example that leads in nicely to the next section.
What about the rest of the world?
This collection of articles is largely in response to an American phenomenon, by American observers, and it’s biased by my own American focus. We are being watched by the rest of the world, though, and some of it is bemused, and some of it is very concerned—not only is the most militarily powerful nation on the planet being misled by a brand of goofy and dangerous religiosity, but we’re exporting it beyond our borders. Here’s an excellent review of international creationist efforts, on the threat from creationism
to the rational teaching of biology.
Virtually all biologists now accept evolution as a reality that is no longer worth discussing. In the words of Medawar, as quoted by Carroll (2006), for a biologist, the alternative to thinking in evolutionary terms is not to think at all. This universal acceptance makes it easy for biologists to forget that the situation in the world at large is very different, not also among non-scientists but also to a surprising extent among scientists in non-biological fields. Even those who are aware of the creationist threat to the rational teaching of biology in the USA often fail to realize that in recent years the problem has spread far beyond the USA, driven in some countries not by Christian fundamentalism but by Islamic fundamentalism. The purpose of this article, therefore, is to make biologists conscious of the existence of a serious threat to their subject, even if they work in countries such as Chile where very little problem is apparent at present, and to emphasize that the moment to plan how to respond to creationism is now.
We’re also seeing the deluded minority of citizens in our neighbor to the North creating similar monuments to folly: Canada opens a competitor.
The country’s first permanent creation museum — set to open June 5 — will use fossil displays to support the Bible’s explanation of creation.
The Big Valley Creation Science Museum, about 200 kilometres northeast of Calgary, is billed as an alternative to the view presented by the Royal Tyrell Museum in Drumheller, Alta.
Our German colleagues are looking at this developing idiocy incredulously. If you can’t read this entry, I’ll translate the message for you: a scientific freakshow opens in the most developed country in the world.
Sollte Ken Hams Museum ebenso lachhaft werden sind die Vereinigten Staaten um eine bizarre Attraktion reicher. Auf der anderen Seite ist es aber auch traurig, wenn man bedenkt, dass diese Freakshow im wissenschaftlich am weitesten entwickelten Land der Erde ihre Pforten öffnet.
This “museum” is going to get a flood of visitors in the next few weeks; novelty will be a draw. We can hope, though, that it will soon fade away and close its doors as the word gets out that it is bad science. And perhaps it will meet the fate of other institutions of pseudoscience, as described in The Dragons of Eden.
Whether the Creation Museum will be a success or failure is anyone’s guess; I’m sure there are plenty of church groups that have already booked their trips over the last year or so. They’ll get their fair share of skeptical visitors as well, people who have intact and working BS detectors who want to see for themselves what all the fuss was about. While this museum is certainly the largest and most advanced, its message is not new, and I can’t help but wonder if it will end up like another controversial theme park. A mere 4 years ago, on May 23, 2003, Erich Anton Paul von DÃ¤niken, author of Chariots of the Gods?, opened Mystery Park in Interlaken, Switzerland. Based upon notions about “ancient astronauts” and alien intervention on earth so fanciful they bordered on the psychotic, the park was scoffed at by many and closed on November 19, 2006 due to financial problems (likely filed under “Money: Lack thereof”). (4) Will AiG’s museum succomb to the same fate?
The only positive response to the museum that I received from a credible source was from Greg Laden, who says Long Live the Creation Museum! He predicts that the museum will not last, but that it is going to be a useful historical relic.
But now, it is important. It is important to preserve this period of American history, or more exactly, the history of our (perhaps unique, or at least extreme) American propensity to believe the strangest things, to have the strangest practices. There are museums and institutes dedicated to alien abduction, to the study of bigfoot, to the yoyo and the hula-hoop, to white supremacy, to pin-ball, and to Cadillac convertibles. The creation museum will fit in nicely with this panoply of the irrelevant, the parade of oddities, this historical warehouse of the weird.
The best and most productive response in all the collection, though, was this simple suggestion from Farm school at home:
Whether or not Monday is a holiday where you are, go visit a natural history museum.
Laelaps has the same idea. Screw the Creation Museum, go to the AMNH!
While the new Creation Museum is continually touted to be within driving distance of 2/3 of America’s population (MapQuest tells me that it’d take me 10 hours and 25 minutes over a distance of 636.74 miles; If I’m going to drive that far, I’m going to go somewhere I actually will enjoy visiting), I suspect that there are plenty of people in the New York/New Jersey area who will not be making the trip to check it out this weekend. Instead, why not visit the new Mythical Creatures exhibition (curiously opening the same weekend as the Creation Museum) at the American Museum of Natural History in NYC? The promotional website for the exhibit is already up, and promises to help uncover the origins of many myths, from mermaids to dragons, with the help of artifacts from paleontology, archeology, and biology.
Now that is an excellent suggestion. If you are outraged as I am that Ken Ham’s Temple of Inanity is going to be drawing attention, the best thing you can do is look in your local community for a good science museum, go there, and learn something new and something true. Tell them Ken Ham sent you, and that you’re there because you want to support institutions that combat ignorance, rather than add to it.
One last sorrowful message
Does the opposition to creationism matter? Yes, it does. Answers in Genesis is a predatory organization: it thrives on ignorance, and it misinforms and misleads and lies specifically to inculcate the kind of gullibility and fear and desperation that will send more donations to its coffers.
It’s not just children who are scammed. Read my father knew no science for an example of what Ken Ham really feeds on.
He needed more care, himself, but there was no money left to pay for a homemaker, or even a cleaning woman. I went out weekly and did as much as I could; church people mended his clothes and brought food, neighbours checked on him. But there was always a shortfall.
When he died, at 92, and I picked up the reins of his finances, I found that month’s bill from AIG: $70. For DVDs. To give away, of course; Dad had no TV, no DVD player, no video player: he was almost blind.
That’s what the museum is all about: fleecing the poor, the weak, the ignorant, the confused.