The New York Times gives us sneak peek at the big Creation Museum opening in Kentucky this weekend:
The entrance gates here are topped with metallic Stegosauruses. The grounds include a giant tyrannosaur standing amid the trees, and a stone-lined lobby sports varied sauropods. It could be like any other natural history museum, luring families with the promise of immense fossils and dinosaur adventures.
But step a little farther into the entrance hall, and you come upon a pastoral scene undreamt of by any natural history museum. Two prehistoric children play near a burbling waterfall, thoroughly at home in the natural world. Dinosaurs cavort nearby, their animatronic mechanisms turning them into alluring companions, their gaping mouths seeming not threatening, but almost welcoming, as an Apatosaurus munches on leaves a few yards away.
And so begins one of the most vapid and credulous newspaper articles you will ever see on this subject. Given the pathetic way in which the mainstream media usually covers this subject, that’s really saying something.
So what does the article’s author, Edward Rothstein, think of the museum?
It also serves as a vivid introduction to the sheer weirdness and daring of this museum created by the Answers in Genesis ministry that combines displays of extraordinary nautilus shell fossils and biblical tableaus, celebrations of natural wonders and allusions to human sin. Evolution gets its continual comeuppance, while biblical revelations are treated as gospel.
Outside the museum scientists may assert that the universe is billions of years old, that fossils are the remains of animals living hundreds of millions of years ago, and that life’s diversity is the result of evolution by natural selection. But inside the museum the Earth is barely 6,000 years old, dinosaurs were created on the sixth day, and Jesus is the savior who will one day repair the trauma of man’s fall.
It is a measure of the museum’s daring that dinosaurs and fossils — once considered major challenges to belief in the Bible’s creation story — are here so central, appearing not as tests of faith, as one religious authority once surmised, but as creatures no different from the giraffes and cats that still walk the earth. Fossils, the museum teaches, are no older than Noah’s flood; in fact dinosaurs were on the ark.
Those paragraphs could have been written by Ken Ham himself. It would be nice, however, if Rothstein could have pulled himself away from his rapt contemplation of the museum’s daring to note that scientists do a lot more than merely assert that the universe is billions of years old and all the rest. They actually have evidence for their assertions. Lots of evidence! And not one bit of that evidence depends on the testimony of an ancient holy book.
Or perhaps Rothstein, after writing something like this:
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.
might have taken note of the fact that such arguments as the creationists make have been answered over and over again. He could have noted that their invocations of scientific principle are a sham, pure and simple.
Of course, had he done that, he would not have been able to affect the tone of bemusement that seems required in articles of this sort. Like so many before him, Rothstein seems content to tell a warm and fuzzy story of charmingly anachronistic religious folks, building a pleasant little monument to their deeply help religious beliefs. The real story, that these are scientifically ignorant people enshrining their hostility to modernity and free thought, is considerably less pleasant.
On and on the article drones, discussing the scientific view on the one hand and the Creation Museusm’s view on the other, like these were just two sides of the same coin:
But for a visitor steeped in the scientific world view, the impact of the museum is a disorienting mix of faith and reason, the exotic and the familiar. Nature here is not “red in tooth and claw,” as Tennyson asserted. In fact at first it seems almost as genteel as Eden’s dinosaurs. We learn that chameleons, for example, change colors not because that serves as a survival mechanism, but “to ‘talk’ to other chameleons, to show off their mood, and to adjust to heat and light.”
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.