Meanwhile, the Cincinnati newspaper The Enquirer brings us this delightful story about what a smashing success the Creation Museum has been:
Inside, visitors will walk through the Garden of Eden, see dinosaur bones, and watch the solar system unfold as “evidence of God’s creativity.”
All of it supporting the idea that God created Earth in six days, that the planet is just 6,000 years old and those dinosaurs traveled on Noah’s Ark to survive the Great Flood that created the Grand Canyon.
In the six months since the museum opened, more than 265,000 people have toured the facility built by Answers in Genesis, a nonprofit evangelical ministry. Answers had predicted it might draw 250,000 the first year.
The museum will double its parking lot by next summer.
Revealingly, the museum has been a considerable boon to the economy of Northern Kentucky:
No matter who is coming, they are spending money in Northern Kentucky, filling up their gas tanks, eating at restaurants and staying in hotels. That has led to an estimated $10 million influx into the local economy, according to the Northern Kentucky Convention and Visitors Bureau.
It really says something about the sickness of the culture through much of the Midwest that a monument to pseudoscience and credulity could be a major boon to the local economy. Ask yourself if a similarly equipped natural history museum placed in the same location could draw anything like the crowds of the Creation Museum. Religious fundamentalism thrives in small, isolated towns where there is little else beyond going to church to do.
There is one place where I agree with the viewpoint of the museum:
“Genesis is written as what’s called a narrative history,” said Looy, who is also co-founder of the ministry. “It’s not like the poetry you would find in the book of Psalms, there are some parts of the Bible you don’t take literally because it’s poetic, but the book of Genesis is not a poem, it’s not an allegory, and the writer of Genesis wrote straightforward history.”
This, I agree with. People who cavalierly dismiss Genesis as an allegory, or a fable meant to teach certain vague spiritual truths simply are not being honest to the text. The idea that the days in Genesis one were intended as twenty-four days is by far the most reasonable interpretation of what is written.
Of course, for most of the lengthy article, the only critic who is mentioned is a spokesperson for the American Atheists. He offers some worthy thoughts, but his sole qualification for doing so, as described by the article, is his atheism. Heaven forbid the article’s writer should make it clear that the museum is an abomination to scientists, whether religious or not, or for that matter anyone who cares about things like facts or logic.
Right near the end, physicist Lawrence Krauss is given a few lines in which to vent:
Krauss, who has toured the museum, doesn’t think that it will change anyone’s mind.
“It’s really meant to validate the beliefs of those people,” he said, “and make them feel comfortable in the lie that somehow science supports this.”
Krauss said the museum may confuse people, especially children who are too young to have learned science. He said anything that prevents people from learning about science is dangerous because the world will need science to solve problems including global warming, energy needs and even national security.
“It’s full of lies, the world isn’t 6,000 years old whether you want it to be or not,” he said. “And you shouldn’t have to lie about the world to believe in God.” (Emphasis Added)
Well said, but I’m afraid I can’t agree with that bold-face part.
The issue is not that someone knowledgeable about science will go in understanding the evidence for evolution and come out a fire-breathing creationist. Rather, it is the people who have never really thought carefully about the subject, who go out of curiosity or because a friend roped them in, we have to worry about. Such people rarely consider the possibility that such slick and expensive propaganda could possibly be wall-to-wall nonsense. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire, right?
Furthermore, the success of the creation museum leads to favorable press coverage, such as this article or the Times article discussed in the previous post. That leads to young-Earthism being a ubiquitous and accepted part of the social discourse. If the polls are to be believed, fully half the country is already in thrall to this garbage. Add in a lot of neutral to favorable press coverage and you bet people are going to start being persuaded. If not of full-blown YEC, at least of the idea that this is something that needs to be presented in science classes.
I’m afraid this sort of thing really makes me very pessimistic. It has been wisely said that against stupidity the Gods themselves toil in vain. People on the pro-evolution side of this issue often fret about the best way of approaching people with the truth about science. There is much hand-wringing about whether Richard Dawkins, say, helps or hurts the cause, or how we can make evolution palatable to religious people.
Folks, it’s time for the bucket of cold water. The success of the creation museum and other similar efforts are not the result of snideness from Dawkins or Hitchens. It is not the result of poor framing by scientists, and it is not the result of a failure to understand science on the part of Americans.
People might be confused about the specifics of evolution, but they understand the really important part. The part where humans evolve from ape-like ancestors, and more primitive sorts of life before that, by natural selection, in defiance not only of the creation story in Genesis, but also of any sense of a how a loving God creating the world with humans in mind would behave. People don’t like that. End of story.
The fact is that if the courts ever step out of the way we will have some sort of creationism taught in virtually every school-district in the country. Frame your way out of that. We’re one Supreme Court justice (and the right case, of course) away from having it found constitutional to teach this dreck in public schools. If, as seems a distinct possibility, we have President Giulliani in January of 2009, I’m afraid I see little hope for keeping the forces of darkness and ignorance from finally getting what they want.