Sunday, August 9, 2009

Creation Museum

I finally went to the creation museum in Kentucky.
The Secular Students Association got a group rate for the tour reducing the admission cost from about $22 to $10. I donated the difference to the SSA and purchased my ticket through them.
There were a little over 300 people who came for the tour. The museum was quite crowded and I would estimate that a little over a half the attendees were with the group for the morning. The museum is doing a very good business in general, even without secular students and their supporters.

I have a few pictures to share and a few impressions. I don't want to give a guided tour, but rather leave you with my sense of the museum.
I had a tendency to view the museum through the lens of intelligent design .vs. evolution. There is a lot of such thinking represented at the museum, but the real mission of the museum is the larger argument for the bible and young earth interpretations. The very excellent dioramas, animatronics, and exhibits are aimed at bolstering the faithful in their viewpoint of the infallibility of the bible and the biblical message as interpreted in modern fundamentalist thought today. As such, there is as much there on the garden of Eden and the flood as in showing evidence for why the earth is as young as they claim. Their two messages throughout the museum are "Prepare to Believe" and the 7 Cs (These start with Creation, Corruption, etc).
I took in the special effects show that was quite fun and included blasts of air, rumbling seats, water mist, flashing lights etc. and had an excellent three screen projection display. The theme was quite illuminating about a girl who was trying to decide if all this evolution stuff she was learning could be true rather than her religious training. She was troubled about having to defend religious views in our secular society. The point of the show was to give the audience viewers the confidence to express such creationist views in the general public arena of school and elsewhere. They made fun of the science teachers and made them out to be fools. In other words the show was quite defensive and tried to give the museum goers the confidence to express an inferior position in public.

I also came away with an admiration of what efforts science teachers must have to make to prepare themselves for such children. The museum had a number of key arguments to use against an old earth interpretation and against natural selection. For example, how do you respond to a student who asks you to explain why there is carbon 14 in diamonds, or why there is anomalous helium in zircons, or why some Mt St. Helens rocks give anomalous radioactive dating? I don't know the answers to these right now, but I would definitely have to be on top of such specific minutiae in order to answer comments from students from fundamentalist families.

Lastly, I listened to a talk from Dr. Jason Lisle who has a PhD in Astrophysics from the University of Colorado on "The Ultimate Proof of Creation" . Dr. Lisle was very intelligent and rational and tried to impress us with how he would convince us with a rational argument that the bible and Christianity are right. He spent quite a bit of time discussing the various ways to approach persuasion with a nice summary and stressed his wanting to win us over with a strictly rational argument. He eventually got down to his main points about the uniformity of the universe, the continuity of the universe, and that the universe is logical. He asked the big questions about these, ie, why is the universe uniform, do we have any reason to believe the universe will act the same tomorrow as today or as it has in the past, and why should the universe exhibit a logical consistency (he didn't get to say much about this for lack of time)? His "convincing" argument was that secular science has no answer to these questions, but the bible gives answers to all these, so religion is the right answer. I leave it to the reader to see if you agree with this.

On to a couple of pictures:

A garden of Eden picture with penguins.

The Garden of Eden with dinosaurs. BTW, all dinosaurs before the fall ate plants including such species as tyrannosaurs and velociraptors.

The Villain of the piece.

The temptation of Adam by Eve. Interestingly, the fruit of the tree of knowledge looks like small berries.

This is from the flood. These signs were interspersed with the museum displays all through the exhibits.

If you want to see lots of pictures, I recommend the flickr entries from John Scalzi at:

I will make the obvious point that this beautiful state of the art $27,000,000 museum is really nice as a religious artifact, and has some beautiful illustrations of natural history, but is a terrible representation of science.



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