Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted)

Monastic Park?

Look, Ma! Dinosaurs and people must have lived at the same time because The Flintstones says so!

Like most natural history museums, this one has exhibits showing dinosaurs roaming the Earth. Except here, the giant reptiles (sic) share the forest with Adam and Eve.

This reporter has it all wrong! This is not a “natural history museum”, because if it was, it would clearly be scientific in its objectives. No, this instead is an extension of religious faith — a church! — which has nothing whatsoever to do with science, scientific experimentation or rational thought!

Ken Ham, an Australian native who started the Christian publishing company, Answers in Genesis, in the late 1970s, said the goal of his privately funded museum is to change minds and rebut the scientific point of view.

How are they going to do that, considering there is no scientific evidence whatsoever that supports creationism, nor anything to indicate that humans and dinosaurs (well, except avian dinosaurs) lived at the same time — unless you believe The Flintstones!! — whereas there are literally thousands of scientific papers published every year that refine the scientific facts supporting evolution that describe how all living things came into being.

Further, they are spending $25 million in private funds to construct this Disneyland for Christians so they can promote their special fantasy to the public and add to the growing “facts are meaningless” doublespeak campaign in this country, while thousands of working Americans are hungry, homeless and without health care. And they complain about kids reading Harry Potter books!

(Oh, by the way, speaking of Harry Potter, it’s JK Rowling’s birthday today: so happy birthday!)



  1. #1 idlemind
    July 31, 2006

    Hey, better they spend their millions on this than on DC lobbyists or on expanding the fundie media empire.

  2. #2 GrrlScientist
    July 31, 2006

    they are polluting innocent people’s minds with lies, lies, and yet more lies, which is WORSE than lobbying congress because these people’s kids will grow up with a truly warped sense of science and reality, and as adults, they will expect to head their own familes, corporations and countries!

    besides, how do you think the Disney empire got its start into the media empire it now is?

    no, this just another (seemingly innocuous to the unobservant) way to inculcate another generation with the fundamentals of wingnuttery. for that reason, i cannot understand for one moment why people are not bothered when they are confronted with yet more religious fundamentalism, regardless of the religion!

  3. #3 Dendroica
    July 31, 2006

    I shrug my shoulders at stuff like this because there is really not much we can do to stop it. The best thing is to hope that it goes bankrupt relatively soon.

  4. #4 Peter
    July 31, 2006

    Perhaps we need to start calling these fundamentalists by a more evocative name: The Christina Taliban.

  5. #5 Colin
    July 31, 2006

    Does this then make Fruity Pebbles part of your complete creationist breakfast?

    p.s. you left a [em] or [i] tag open somewhere

  6. #6 idlemind
    July 31, 2006

    I grew up with some of “these people’s kids.” They get fed creationist pap from a very early age. I don’t think “museums” like this make much difference, in and of themselves. I’m more upset with the AP article, which is typical “report the controversy” faux-journalism. I’m more worried about efforts to force teaching ID and other creationist “theories” in schools, efforts that are taking place at all levels, including the US Congress.

    People have the right to teach their kids nonsense, and I though I think the results are sometimes utterly tragic, I like even less taking away their right to do so. They can homeschool and build museums and monuments to support their superstitious notions just as long as I don’t have to homeschool my kid just to keep him away from such tripe.

  7. #7 Rob Knop
    July 31, 2006

    Further, they are spending $25 million in private funds to construct this Disneyland for Christians so they can promote their special fantasy to the public and add to the growing “facts are meaningless” doublespeak campaign in this country, while thousands of working Americans are hungry, homeless and without health care.

    Careful. When you make that argument, it also begs the question as to why we spend as much as we do in this country on basic research while people are hungry, etc. I get that every so often as an astronomer!

    I wouldn’t argue against this museum on the basis that the money could have been used to feed the homeless. Museums are good things in general. I would argue against this museum because it’s stupid and wrong and promulgating ignorance….


  8. #8 David Marjanović
    August 2, 2006

    “[…] rebut the scientific point of view.”

    Right on. As an Arab philosopher observed about 1000 years ago (give or take a century or two), if you argue against reason using reason, you are contradicting yourself; if you argue against reason without using reason, you are unreasonable.

    The money question? Why are you interested in mere megabucks??? How many BILLIONS AND BILLIONS are spent on the war in Iraq every week?

    The money is all there. The question is about political will.

  9. #9 David Marjanović
    August 2, 2006

    Oh, and it’s not “JK Rowling”. The K is entirely fictitious — she has one first name, only her publisher wanted her to have a middle initial. A weird world, those English-speaking countries…

  10. #10 stephen
    August 4, 2006

    Hasn’t anyone ever heard of the fact that God created the earth in 6 days… now days is how its referenced in the Bible. If God has always been who’s to say what time frame these 6 days refers to. It may have infact taken millions, perhaps billions of years… the science is there, but so is God. You can make all the scientific studies you want, but you cannot prove there is no God. Ask a true believer, oh wait I am one.

  11. #11 blackskimmer
    August 6, 2006

    you know what’s odd? over the years i’ve come to feel that the American Museum of Natural History has a weird political agenda to it too! I’m not sure if i remember now what my impressions where. but i do know that the museum seems more and more overrun with ‘message’ than with brute beautifull surprising facts of natural history.

    what i mean is that my recollection of many old exhibits was that of cabinet after cabinet of collections. this let you wander around aimlessly at your own discretion have a mindblowing direct expereince with these creatures or minerals… and discover patterns for yourself and put together your own ideas from the raw material. Most of these halls are now gone. i really miss the hall of birds and that whole wall by the whale of 100s of ways to say fish! The newer exhibits have more explanation than raw natural history and… and those damm computer screens!

    for instance when i’m up in the dinosaur floor i often think i’m in the church of cladistics, because those ideas and phrases (shared common ancenstor etc..) keep getting repeated OVER AND OVER again, to some annoyance on my part, kind of like a preacher’s ‘praise the lord’.

    the hall of human biology (now closed?) with the human and chimp holding hands in skeletal form and the preaching about DNA being the defining feature of what it means to be alive… and it’s display of a typical skeletal white family sitting at the tv…

    not sure now what was bothering me about it. i guess the insistance on GENEOLOGY as the defining feature of life. kinda smacked of a bunch of proper brittish old farts trying to prove their heraldry went all the way back to the chosen people or something.

    then you have all that Theodore Roosevelt stuff. and the stolen Indian items…

    i know that these are just subjective impressions, but for me, the power of the AMNH (i grew up practically living in it) was it’s visceral impressions. these later inspired me to learn science from books and school and go out and explore the natural world.

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