By now, you have probably heard of the creationist museum in Kentucky. If you haven’t: it’s basically a massive building (70,000 square feet, costing $27M) full of lies and made up stories, justifying a belief in young earth creationism. The views espoused by its president, Ken Ham, revolve around a literal belief in the Bible. (Although they are surprisingly silent on all the pro-rape-murder-incest-polygamy verses right next to all the creation stuff in the Bible…)
A group of scientists toured the creation museum for fun, as part of a scientific conference. Unfortunately, their trip ended up being less about LOLs and more about the tragedy of willful ignorance and fear-based thinking.
One UC Berkeley prof summed it up:
“It’s sort of a monument to scientific illiteracy, isn’t it?”
Sounds right to me. Like anti-vaxxers’ arguments, young earth creationists’ arguments depend on a massive lack of understanding of science as a discipline. (And, like anti-vaxxers, these wacky creationists are as impervious to logic or any kind of reasonable discussion.)
Dr Lisa Park (professor of paleontology, and a Presbyterian elder) had a much more serious response to the museum’s exhibits. One exhibit in particular blamed war, famines, and other horrible atrocities on belief in evolution. It was so horrific that she cried. She explained:
“I think it’s very bad science and even worse theology — and the theology is far more offensive to me. I think there’s a lot of focus on fear, and I don’t think that’s a very Christian message… I find it a malicious manipulation of the public.”
Most of Ham’s rhetoric revolves around a fear of so-called “moral relativism,” which is apparently what you get when you don’t believe in his brand of creationism. Basically, Ham (and his creationist museum) is blaming scientists for all the horrible stuff that happens in the world. What a gem.
Arnie Miller, the convention’s chair and a paleontologist, summed up his colleagues’ feelings like this:
“There was a feeling of unhappiness about the extent to which mainstream scientists and evolutionists are demonized — that if you don’t accept the Answers in Genesis vision of the history of Earth and life, you’re contributing to the ills of society and of the church.”
This fear has no place in a discussion of what did or didn’t happen at the beginning of the universe. It’s one thing to make a building full of lies to deceive children and feeble-minded adults. But a building full of lies and fear… It’s enough to make a paleontologist cry.