Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Martha Heil from the American Institute of Physics took a trip to the new young earth creationism museum in Kentucky and files this report.


  1. #1 Russell
    May 27, 2007

    Martha Heil writes:

    Down the road from the creationism displays, there is a roadside attraction that scientists aren’t worried about. The Living Word Outdoor Drama promises plays from biblical times, staged for religious education and information. It has live animals in its shows, invites concert performers to sing- and causes no ire in the scientific community. Why? Because it’s honest. It aims to renew or inspire your faith..

    Dead wrong. Faith, in and of itself, is the practice of intellectual dishonesty, accepting as fact a story that has no basis in fact. Faith doesn’t become dishonest just when it conflicts with various scientific findings. And it’s pretty silly to tell people that it’s perfectly alright to have a faith, and to believe what that faith teaches, until some of those beliefs conflict with science, in which case they are supposed to stop. Why should they then stop? If faith is legitimate, how does it become illegitimate because of such conflict? And having practiced to believe, how do we then expect the faithful to stop believing?

    This, I think, is where atheists like PZ and myself most disagree with the various folks who hope for a reconciliation between science and faith. And in a way, it is those of us who recognize none such is possible who give more credit to faith. Martha Heil seems to think that a believer who has acted on faith can just arbitrarily withdraw that faith to whatever bounds science now or in the future sets. That will never work. While faith is a bad trick people play on themselves, once adopted, the belief it sanctions is held more fervently than any scientist holds some newly discovered fact. Telling someone it’s fine to practice faith, but only where it doesn’t conflict with science, is like telling someone it’s fine to smoke, but only on the days they don’t work. Nicotine doesn’t respect the calendar, and faith doesn’t respect the bounds reason would set. Science continually sets new limits, and there are copious such conflicts, not just about the age of the earth and origin of the species, but also about how consciousness occurs, how human psychology works, how new humans can be made, etc. The conflicts are just beginning. And even faith we now view as liberal will have a tough time with future discoveries and technologies.

  2. #2 embarassed Kentucky lurker
    May 27, 2007


    Perhaps you could help Kentucky’s image by referring (and asking your fellow science bloggers to refer) to the AIG “museum” as being located between Cincinatti and Louisville or south of the Ohio River.

    Maybe some of us in Kentucky need to station observers to see if public school buses are visiting and then see if public funds are being used to pay for the trip.

  3. #3 Scott Belyea
    May 27, 2007

    Dead wrong. Faith, in and of itself, is the practice of intellectual dishonesty, … those of us who recognize none such is possible … faith is a bad trick people play on themselves, … faith doesn’t respect the bounds reason would set.

    My, my … I haven’t seen such a combination of intellectual arrogance and dogmatic insistence since late-night freshman discussions about the meaning of life. And I haven’t been so certain about anything since I was seventeen.

    To spare you disappointment, I do hope that you’re not expecting anyone to actually “debate” you on any of this. There’s no sense trying to debate with such ironclad and fanatic certainly. It would be about as futile as … well, yes, it would be about as futile as trying to debate Ken Ham on the age of the earth.

  4. #4 doctorgoo
    May 28, 2007

    Having scientists speaking out against this so-called “museum” is truly needed. But the people who will be spending the most money to go there aren’t gonna listen to scientists anyway.

    Have any prominent Christians or Christian groups spoke out against this museum yet? Once this place is open for a while and the novelty wears off, the best way to minimize its impact will be to have more moderate Christians criticizing it… so that the Christian groups traveling 100 miles to go there might think twice about it because people they consider more credible agree with the scientists that it’s a waste of money.

  5. #5 Sparkles
    May 28, 2007

    This museum is a prime example of demonstrating how far people will go to twist their perceptions of the world to fit their beliefs. When the museum supporters could have used the $27 million to build the museum to feed the hungry and heal the sick in the USA, I have to wonder just how Christian they are. This is a showcase for a fringe ministry. This museum doesn’t make their theory of the creation of the world real, but what is real the good this $27 million could have done with some real Christian direction.

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