It’s the obligatory annual newspaper article on creationists confronted with evidence. In this case, young ignoramuses from Liberty University are filed through the Smithsonian Institution to practice closing their minds, while a newspaper reporter echoes their rationalizations. I hate these exercises in bad journalism: there is absolutely no critical thinking going on here, either among the creationists or the reporter writing it up. An example:
“I love it here,” said Ross, who has a doctorate in geosciences from the University of Rhode Island. “There’s something romantic about seeing the real thing.”
Modern creationists don’t deny the existence of dinosaurs but believe that God made them, and all animals, on the same sixth day that he created man. In fact, Ross’s only real beef in the fossil hall is with the 30-foot lighted column that is a timeline marking 630 million years of geology. As a young-Earth creationist, he asserts that the vast majority of the rocks and fossils were formed during Noah’s flood about 4,000 years ago. Most paleontologists date the T-Rex to 65 million years ago.
You know, it is possible to be a Christian and still have a rational respect for the evidence. Take, for example, the Reverend Adam Sedgwick, an opponent of evolution in the 19th century, but also someone who worked out details of the geological column and determined that the idea that there was a single, defining world-wide flood was untenable. Or Charles Lyell, who struggled with the idea of evolution because it conflicted with his religious beliefs, but who was a major force in bringing about the understanding of geology as a product of continually acting forces. Or the Reverend William Buckland, who believed in a global flood, but regarded it as insufficient to account for the wealth of geological complexity — he would not have looked at the timeline and tried to compress it into the product of a single biblical event.
These were people working almost 200 years ago. The question of flood geology has long been settled — it’s wrong. And the evidence has only gotten stronger since for an old earth and a complex history. Marcus Ross is a man standing among a collection of some of the best and strongest and most thoroughly vetted and cross-checked evidence that directly contradicts what he claims, and he is spluttering out ignorant uncomprehending gibberish. He has a doctorate in the geosciences, we are always told, but he learned nothing. That ought to be the story here, about the peculiar psychology of these purblind creationists, but the journalist just let’s it slide by.
How bad is the ‘education’ these poor students receive at Liberty University? This anecdote tells the tale.
Near the end of the “Evolution Trail,” the class showed no signs of being swayed by the polished, enthusiastic presentation of Darwin’s theory. They were surprised, though, by the bronze statue of man’s earliest mammalian ancestor.
“A rat?” exclaimed Amanda Runions, a 21-year-old biochemistry major, when she saw the model of a morganucodon, a rodent-like ancient mammal that curators have dubbed Grandma Morgie. “All this hype for a rat? You’re expecting, like, at least an ape.”
Morganucodon is a genus of early mammals that lived over 200 million years ago. 200 million years ago. We’re talking about the Upper Triassic, in the early part of the Mesozoic. She is expecting apes? She thinks the only animals worth getting excited about must be primates? She is surprised by the fact that paleontology reveals a succession of forms, with the only mammals in the early Mesozoic being small rat-like forms? Oh, dear, don’t introduce her to the Paleozoic, she’ll be shocked at the mere fish that represent our ancestors of the time.
The real story here, the one that the staff writer for the Washington Post ignored, is that Liberty University is victimizing young people like that woman and making them believe that they are biochemistry majors when they’re actually being intellectually abused by an anti-scientific propaganda mill. There was a time when investigative journalism was actually practiced, and this would be an opportunity to expose a disgraceful pseudo-academic fraud.