Pharyngula

The Creation Museum

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This week, the creationist Ken Ham and his organization, Answers in Genesis, are practicing the Big Lie. They have spent tens of millions of dollars to create a glossy simulacrum of a museum, a slick imitation of a scientific enterprise veneered over long disproved religious fables, and they are gathering crowds and world-wide attention to the grand opening of their edifice of deceit. You can now take a photographic tour of the exhibits and see for yourself—it’s not science at all, but merely a series of Bible stories dolled up in dioramas.

The blogosphere is also giving them some attention — almost none of it favorable. What I’ve done here is collect recent reactions from all over to the Creation Museum, and compile them down into a link and a short and (I hope) representative extract. Browse through this long, long list, and when you find some quote that tickles your interest, follow the link to find the complete article. The National Center for Science Education has also compiled reactions from journalists, educators, scientists, and scientific organizations for yet more reading on the subject.


First, credit where credit is due: I’m just the editor of this particular collection, but the idea came from John McKay, who thought there ought to be some kind of coordinated response condensed out of the chaos of the blogosphere, and prompted me to put out a call for links to commentary. John does not think much of Ham’s dino-follies.

Ken Ham’s version of Genesis appears to have been designed to appeal to second-graders. Not only are all of the neat stories in the beginning of Genesis literally true. In Adam and Eve’s day all of the animals were friends. None of the carnivores ate meat, so they never hurt or scared the lambs or deer. Cats never chased mice and dogs never chased cats. Not only that, but people and dinosaurs lived together and were friends. The dinosaurs let people put dino-saddles on them and ride them around like ponies.

That’s a fairly typical reaction: we can hardly believe that in 21st century America, this childish comic-book fantasy is being taken seriously by anyone.


The media commentary

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I wish the country’s newspapers had responded that unambiguously and clearly, but the image above was modified. Journalists, you have a problem. Most of the articles written on this “museum” bend over backwards to treat questions like “Did Man walk among Dinosaurs?” as serious, requiring some kind of measured response from multiple points of view, and rarely even recognized the scientific position that the question should not only be answered with a strong negative, but that it is absurd. Let me ask any reporters out there: when you cover a story about a disaster, say the destruction of a town by a tornado, do you also feel obligated to get a few pithy quotes from a few people who want to argue that the disaster was a good thing, or that the residents deserved it?

One of the worst examples of this inane and unwarranted “fair and balanced” reporting comes from the Newspaper of Record, the hallowed New York Times. The Times published an appallingly credulous article, Adam and Eve in the Land of the Dinosaurs, that strained to give equal time to idiocy.

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.

Quite a few of the articles sent in to me took the NY Times to task for printing such wishy-washy apologetics for creationism. Despite having some excellent science writers and some of the best science reporting in the news, whenever the paper tries to address the cultural conflict with science, they have consistently had some of the very worst articles on the subject.

Answers in the New York Times

So I got to thinking, hmmm…. Why did the Times send their culture reporter to cover this museum in such a friendly way, when they assigned science reporter John Noble Wilford to cover this year’s opening of the new Human Origins Hall at the American Museum of Natural History? I mean, they’re on the same subject, right? Shouldn’t they get the same reviewer?

The Times on the Creation Museum

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.

The media hasn’t always been an indecisive organ for nonsense. On the other coast, the LA Times has done a much better job of reporting on the Yabba-dabba science.

The museum, a 60,000-square-foot menace to 21st century scientific advancement, is the handiwork of Answers in Genesis, a leader in the “young Earth” movement. Young Earthers believe the world is about 6,000 years old, as opposed to the 4.5 billion years estimated by the world’s credible scientific community. This would be risible if anti-evolution forces were confined to a lunatic fringe, but they are not. Witness the recent revelation that three of the Republican candidates for president do not believe in evolution. Three men seeking to lead the last superpower on Earth reject the scientific consensus on cosmology, thermonuclear dynamics, geology and biology, believing instead that Bamm-Bamm and Dino played together.

The Washington Post also strongly disputes A Monument To Creation.

But in this latest demonization of Darwinian evolution, there is a sticking point: For the biblical account to be accurate and the world to be so young, several hundred years of research in geology, physics, biology, paleontology, and astronomy would need to be very, very wrong.

Really, journalists: you can objectively report the claims of both sides, but when one side is wrong and lying, it’s your job to also report that.


The scientific arguments against creationism

The blogosphere has actually done a better job than most media in addressing the scientific flaws in Ken Ham’s creationism, which if you think about it, is a rather nasty indictment of the reportage in itself: a bunch of disorganized amateurs have created more coherent criticisms of the bad science than the professionals, who are supposed to inform the public, have done. Rarely do the newspapers report any of the claims that Ken Ham makes about science, and even more rarely do they explain why they are wrong. Almost all of the blog entries on this museum refer to the fact that creationism contradicts well-established scientific principles, even the ones that have as their main intent mocking the “museum”—others put considerable effort into summarizing the science that Ken Ham either does not understand or cynically neglects.

The Earth divided

If every living creature on earth got off a boat at the top of Mount Ararat a mere 4,500 years ago, how did sloths, who only move a few inches a day, make their way to the jungles of South America? How did penguins end up in Antarctica and polar bears in the Arctic? And what happened to Australia to make it populated with such strange creatures found nowhere else in the world?

In fact, Ken Ham was asked about this very question as he was being interviewed about his new Creationist Museum in April. His answer? Plate tectonics, really fast. He claimed that “the flood waters lubricated a process called runaway subduction in which the continents subsequently drifted apart at a sprint!” In other words, plate tectonics happening over a period of days or weeks rather than millions of years. The biblical justification for this is one tiny, obscure reference to the earth being divided. Genesis 10:25 says “To Eber were born two sons: the name of one was Peleg, for in his days the earth was divided…”. The name Peleg literally means division.

Creationist Rule of Thumb with the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics

Anytime somebody tries to use the Second Law of Thermodynamics to refute evolution, you should realize you’re dealing with somebody who doesn’t understand science or who is a liar.

Spotting Design

Modern archaeology is built around experiment, observation and ethnography. It’s not enough to say something looks designed, you should also refer to why and how you think an item was created.

T. rex ate coconuts

Museum guides tell visitors that before Adam and Eve were expelled from paradise all of the dinosaurs were peaceful plant-eaters. In Genesis 1:30 God gives ‘green herb’ to every creature to eat and so there were no predators. When a curious museum visitor asks, why exactly T. rex had six-inch long serrated teeth, the guides go on to explain that T. rex used his big teeth to open coconuts. Apparently it was only after Adam and Eve sinned and were cast out of paradise that the dinosaurs started to eat flesh.

Ham’s Creation Museum – What Kids Won’t Hear About Teeth

On the specific errors, Ham draws a false similarity in tooth structure between bears and tyrannosaurs. To Ham, the gross generality is sufficient: both bears and tyrannosaurs have “sharp teeth”, but different diets – the conclusion, therefore, is that this observation is consistent with the Genesis account that all creatures ate plants initially, but later diverged into different diets. Of course a very simple inspection (I have a bear jaw and skull in front of me now) shows quite clearly to anyone without pre-conceived ideas of what these animals should be eating that bear teeth are not like tyrannosaur teeth at all. Tyrannosaurs have multiple, generally cone-shaped teeth. The only remotely cone-shaped teeth on the bear are the canines: the remaining teeth are largely low, with rounded cusps. When you look at the teeth of to days carnivores (crocodiles, porpoises, sea lions, tigers, coyotes, foxes, etc.) their teeth are cone or triangular (a flattened cone) in design, much like the tyrannosaurs. Bear teeth on the other hand, show a mixture of cone-like and low, flattened teeth similar to those seen in raccoons, badgers, monkeys and, to a lesser extent, humans. All of these animals eat a variety of foods including meat, insects, fruit and other plant materials.

Ham Boned

It says quite a lot about Ham and his followers that they find a 4.5-billion-year-old Earth wildly implausible next to the notion of a tyrannosaur calmly grazing in a meadow.

Jurassic Pigeon at the Creation Museum!

Creationists can’t handle this consistently. There are basically two responses. One set of creationists treat Archaeopteryx as a bird, with some minor differences like claws on the wings and teeth in the beak. The other approach focuses on the fact that Archaeopteryx is not directly ancestral to modern birds, and spins that into a denial of any association at all. Both arguments are symptomatic of a stolid cement headed stupidity.

The former approach manages to plumb slightly deeper depths of idiocy. Predictably, this is the approach chosen by Answers in Genesis, for their absurd museum.

Probability and Genetic Algorithms: AiG Gets it all Wrong

When looking through AiG’s archives for stuff that I could shred apart for PZ’s blog carnival, I characteristically looked for the computer science and mathematics related drivel that is typical of all creationists. And lo and behold, I found it. The first piece deals with Richard Dawkins’ famous “weasel” word-experiment, and the second deals with genetic algorithms and why they allegedly fail to show that evolution works.

The 7 Es of Evidence

Creationists blindly ignore the evidence of the world around us in order to make it fit into a paradigm. They spend an inordinate amount of time and money on trying to prove hypothesis that do not stand up to scientific tests. They are in the process of raising $25 million dollars in order to open the museum debt free. $25 million dollars on a farce of a museum that claims that the dinosaurs lived in the time of humans.

Dragon Earth: A Scientific World

That is the heart of the difference between a magical world and a scientific world. The nature of the scientific world does not change as our understanding changes, instead it is our understanding that changes as we learn more of how our world works. As we learn more we come to understand that our understanding was in error and needs correction.

Here’s a good question: “Are there any technological advances that have been made because of a belief in evolution?” Thanks for asking.

Introduce me to a creationist who respects the investment in learning evolution to understand the mysteries of biology and I’ll work alongside them any day.

What are the YECs saying?

Young Earth Creationists dont do laboratory research. ‘More work needs to be done?’ YECs dont do any work at all, especially with ERVs [endogenous retroviruses]. If you know of one, send him/her my way.

Ken Ham’s Comedy Museum

That’s not science, and it’s lousy epistemology, which is why while science has made remarkable progress over the last century, often with ideas that appeared absurd at first glance (evo-devo, plate tectonics, DNA, quantum mechanics, and relativity for starters), creationists like Ken Ham can (and do) recycle their speeches and arguments from 20 years ago, and get raving applause from the true believers. Never mind that they never produce any new knowledge of any kind about the world.

He built a whole creation museum, but says “young earth” isn’t the point? WTF?

So you built a whole museum based on a LITERAL interpretation of the bible? I’ve only got one question. Do you believe EVERYTHING it says? Oh yeah? Really?

What about all of these questions?

A car analogy for the science vs church “debate”

You’re going to service it, you tell me, based solely on the one book you wrote all those years ago, which discusses nothing but the fuel pump. In doing this, you are willing to throw out volumes of text that I have written, explaining in exacting detail every part of the car from the differential to the hood ornament.

One good thing that is emerging from Ham’s folly is that outraged scientists are mobilizing to fight the foolishness: Calling all Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky scientists!

A peaceful protest is planned, as I wrote about recently. But we need more than that. Eugenie Scott, who is the head of the National Center for Science Education, has organized a Statement of Concern, and it needs signatures. They?re looking for scientists, and specifically physical scientists, to sign the statement.

Are you a postdoc or faculty-level astronomer, chemist, physicist, engineer, or geologist in Ohio, Indiana, or Kentucky? Do you care that science is being horribly abused by the likes of Ham? Then sign the Statement!

Not all the focus was on the bad biology and paleontology of Ken Ham. He’s also an incompetent fraud when it comes to interpreting the Bible—This is not about dinosaurs.

With Ken Ham’s creation museum opening May 28, in Petersburg, Kentucky, I thought it might be abnormally interesting to look at some of the claims concerning the Hebrew Bible and dinosaurs. In this post, I will limit myself to two Hebrew words that, according to some Young Earth Creationists, may refer to dinosaurs: תַנִּין (tannîn) and תַנִּים (tannîm). It is not my intention to be completely exhaustive, but rather to give you enough evidence to support my conclusion. While I will only touch lightly on Leviathan and not at all on Behemoth, I must say at the top of this post that one needs to have a very strong prior belief that the Hebrew Bible might mention dinosaurs to see them anywhere. And that includes Leviathan, Behemoth and any other of the words or phrases that have been suggested. There is absolutely no reason, based on internal evidence to associate dinosaurs with any word or entity mentioned the Bible. Nothing in the larger corpus of Near Eastern literature would lead one to such a conclusion either.


The ugly consequences of creationism

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Another common reaction on the blogs is simple disgust at the anti-intellectualism of the creationist movement and at the shameful targeting of impressionable children. What Ham is doing is the opposite of education: he is misleading our kids and encouraging uninformed adults to promote an anti-science agenda.

Inside Ham’s Crackhouse (see also Part 1 and Part 2)

This crackhouse will only help promote, spread, and indoctrinate people into young earth propaganda and do no science at all. Heck, the creationists working there will not even mentioned to their lay people that the only real, true foundation of The Gospel is our Lord Jesus Christ and our Lord Jesus Christ only. (John 1:1-15) despite what the creationists falsely claim. Instead, it will only teach you nothing worthwhile and help further the efforts of people, who willfully do everything they accuse evolution of, to horde millions of dollars of money for themselves and exercise power and control over millions of people.

Ken Ham’s Petting Zoo Opens to Shut Minds

Lapdogs for Jesus! That’s what these people want to be. That’s what this “museum” is about—domestication. They don’t want scientists telling us that evolution reveals our nobel, wild, free past, because this 10,000 year-old experiment in our self-domestication will not be complete until we’ve done in the entire planet, too.

Ham Roast

The “big deal” comes from the fact that we Americans are notorious suckers for flash and dazzle, and mostly poorly educated in science, to boot. So you put up this museum, full of false arguments and bad science, arguing against good science, and you’ve got a recipe for further misleading plenty of Americans.

Opening of unnatural history museum

…misunderstanding the knowledge that science research provides is dangerous in itself, especially in an intellectual battle for hearts and minds.

AIG Museum of “Yabba-Dabba Science” Opens in Kentucky

This isn’t just about a few nutcases out on the fringe; this sort of anti-science nonsense has been informing the Bush administration right from the start. The fact that an assemblage of wackos such as AIG can raise the millions of dollars necessary to build this monument to willful ignorance should concern all Americans in possession of firing neurons.

Argument for a Fairy Tale

I have nothing against his “museum”, other than him calling it a museum, and saying it uses “science”. To me, it’s just a amusement park devoted to a fairy tale, with no real science behind it, whatsoever.

Monument to Delusion

While I don’t think this museum will convert any adults to creationism, it will indoctrinate children, which the museum is targeted at, into thinking that the earth was magically created from nothing just a few thousand years ago, and that all of Earth’s millions of species were preserved on a wooden ship during a global flood, against all common sense and scientific evidence. This will add to the misinformation that these students will need to unlearn when they reach college and need to learn real science.

Walking with dinosaurs, and eating salad with them too

It’s this sense of wonder that organizations like AiG and facilities like the Creation Museum threaten most. The idea that everything worth knowing can be sandwiched between the covers of a single book. The concept that there is some evidence that must not be examined, some ideas that must not be explored (remember how Adam and Eve got into all that trouble?). The belief that one’s own morals and prejudices are so perfect that one must pass them down intact to one’s children or risk the wrath of God.

Creationists gone wild

This Memorial Day will be truly memorial for those who believe the universe is only 6,000 years old. The Creation Museum opens Monday in Petersburg, Ky. A creation of the creationists responsible for the Answers in Genesis “resource,” primarily Ken Ham, B.Sc., the designers of the new museum have managed to find $27 million to furnish their monument to Biblical literalism with the latest in multimedia and animatronic displays. Just think what those 27 million clams could have done for, oh … I dunno … the pagan public school system?

It’s time to rally against the Creation Museum

We have just recently begun the 21st century. At a time when science education is slowly gaining momentum after years of neglect, the opening of the Creation Museum is a giant step backward into pre-Darwinian, 19th century science. That most of its visitors will never once question the validity of the beliefs on which creationism is based is a leap back into the Dark Ages.

Opposing the Creation Museum is Good Science, Not Intolerance

People tend to vote for what sounds right rather than what actually is right, and AiG is perfectly willing to lie to make sure it happens. That is why people like me oppose the Creation Museum. It’s not because we want to censor or take away the First Amendment Rights of Ken Ham and Answers in Genesis. They’re free to build whatever they want on their land and believe whatever suits their fancy. We simply want AiG to stop lying and call their building what it really is: a church.

A World Where Lies Are True

The museum is an illustration of the movement’s marriage of primitive and intolerant beliefs with the modern tools of technology, mass communication, sophisticated fundraising and political organization. Totalitarian systems usually start as propagandistic movements that ostensibly teach people to “believe what they want.” This is a ruse. This primacy of personal opinion, regardless of facts, destabilizes and destroys the primacy of all facts. This process leads inevitably to the big lie. Facts are useful only if they bolster the message. The use of mass-marketing techniques to persuade and convince, rather than brainwash, has led tens of millions of followers to accept the toxic totalitarian line by tricking them into believing it’s their own. Ironically, at the outset the movement seemingly encourages people to think “independently” or “courageously.”

Thou shalt not lie

Unfortunately, Ham has forgotten that most people in this country get an earful of wacky religious beliefs every Sunday from the time they are born, whereas many children in this country are not taught the fundamentals of evolution even by the time they reach high school.

Welcome to the Creation Museum

This museum is not a museum of science. It’s a museum of faith, carefully cloaked in scientific garb, to help prove the truth of the Christian bible. Why is this a concern for scientists, such as the ones that have signed petitions protesting the museum, or those who couldn’t be there but are quietly fuming?

Because this museum distorts science. It’s an educational attraction, carrying in this morning at least one schoolbus in through a long line of cars waiting at the iron gates. It shows first the scientific viewpoint places a scientific fact in front of the visitor, then “debunks” the years of research and testing that went into ascertaining that piece of knowledge with carefully chosen phrases that reinforce a specific religious viewpoint.

One Born Every Minute

We don’t think of museums this way today (thank goodness), for the most part, but – in a way – the Creation Museum sounds like a kind of throwback, mixing science and fantasy, entertainment and ‘moral instruction’.
It might not be surprising to know that “Its designer, Patrick Marsh, used to work at Universal Studios in Los Angeles.”

Museum of absurdity set to open

The creationist museum will be a major disappointment to truth-seekers. Its foundation or biblical literalism will ensure that truth will be sacrificed for doctrinal convictions. It will also give true believers a false view that science confirms religious myths.

Solomon’s House: The Deeper Agenda of the New Creation Museum in Kentucky

What is really on display here is what Max Weber called the “enchanted garden” — a magical place wherein God cares about human beings and codes nature with secrets and signs of his power and purpose. The scientific world view, by contrast, presents what Stephen Jay Gould once described as “the ‘cold bath’ theory that nature was not constructed as our eventual abode, didn’t know we were coming (we are, after all, interlopers of the latest geological microsecond), and doesn’t give a damn about us (speaking metaphorically).” However, Gould concludes, “I regard such a position as liberating, not depressing.”

Genesis 1 and 2 – a ‘low rent side show’

Simplistic, mysoginist, inconsistent and bearing no resemblance to what actual scientific evidence shows. Just what we’ve come to expect from the ‘holy of holies’.

And I’m supposed to believe this…why?

So WWKHD? He watched the movie or heard a voice that said “If you build it they will come” and he will fleece them when they do.

Creation Museum

The “science” museum is nothing more than an amusement park using technology to bend and break the truth. The people who will view it with interest, more than amusement, will be those who believe in a literal interpretation of the Bible. If belief in some unprovable and invisible being makes them feel better, that’s their business.

From Jello to Jesus

I think all Christians do a certain amount of sticking-fingers-in-their-ears-and-singing to drown out the facts which bluntly disprove their beliefs. I envision a Christian’s belief system (or any religious belief system) as an egg shell surrounding that person. The believer inside that shell can happily keep their beliefs as long as the shell remains intact around them. As things like scientific advances bombard a believer’s shell they will alter their beliefs to patch up the cracks in their shells. These acts of crack-patching rationalization take all kinds of crazy forms and usually include interpreting sections of the bible as figurative instead of literal and actively working to be in complete denial or ignorance of the threatening knowledge. Mr. Ham’s technique is heavy on the denial.

Beyond Barney

And it is sad that children and adults will be subject to this museum as some sort of science education; when the real discoveries of what the dinosaurs were and how they lived are enfolding through the real process of discovery. They will be denied the wonder of how the world really works, in favor of the Answers-in-Genesis fantasy.

Creation Mausoleum

This monument to cultural inertia is misnamed. Behold the Creation Mausoleum. In it are the discarded ideas, naivety, and fears of the youth of mankind. Reject these beliefs, but know them, for there are those who would see them resurrected. But make no mistake. It is a tomb. It is a folly.

Aude Sapere

Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of this large scale disinformation effort is the target audience. If you want to convince scientists of your claim, you do some research and try to get it published. But what about children? If you wanted to target children with this type of disinformation a high tech theme-park approach seems like it would leave a lasting impression on young minds.

There’s a Huckster Born Every Minute

One of the reasons the Cardiff Giant was such a successful hoax in the 1860s was that, as HistoryBuff.com notes, “many an evangelist at the time had been preaching that there were giants in the earth.” People were inclined to believe in the hoax because people they would otherwise trust planted a suggestion in their minds that it might be true, just as huckster George Hull could plant the fake giant and wait for the right moment to bring it out of the ground.

Now, according to Sunday’s Washington Post, a group of extreme anti-intellectuals from the evangelical movement are set to open a “Creation Museum,” in Petersburg, Kentucky (near Cincinnati), which cost $27 million to build, a “museum” that is every bit as much a hoax today as the Cardiff Giant was in its time.

Here’s something to consider: every time I’ve gone to a popular science museum, there are lines of school buses ferrying kids on field trips. Public schools in the Cincinnati area might want to think about how field trips to this particular museum could be the Genesis of a lawsuit.

The minute a public-school teacher takes his or her class on a field trip to the Christian House of Deception, we’ve got a lawsuit a-borning. Ever since the Supreme Court’s Edwards v. Aguillard decision in 1987, schools that are paid for with taxpayer cash have been forbidden to teach creationism as if it were science.


Mockery and humor

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To my surprise, I expected much more open clowning at this joke of a “museum”—but there were only a few entries that tried. I suspect that when many millions of dollars are thrown away on a fool’s enterprise that has received international attention and that makes your whole country look like a nest of ignorant rubes and yokels, it’s increasingly hard to regard it as funny.

A Post Wherin I Mock Creationists

And of all the dumb thing said by religious people, the dumbest are the Young Earth Creationists. These are the people who believe the world is six thousand years old because the bible tells them so and everything in the bible is literally true because the bible says so.

This the way to the Ken Ham museyroom. Turn your brain off goan in.…I think the title is enough to give you a taste.

Doing My Part to Irritate Ken Ham

From what I’ve seen, theists like Ken Ham seem to think they can get away with anything and everything. Especially intellectual sloth. So, when are they going to actually make falsifiable predictions and test them?

I Heard It Through The Ape Vine

A little way into the lecture, Ken Ham asks the children in the audience a variety of questions. Most of these questions deal with evolution, common descent and dinosaurs. He asks the children the question, “Does Your Grandfather Look Like This?” and then a slide is displayed behind him of a “humanized” looking ape. The children all laugh as do their parents, because of course, they don’t believe that their beloved grandfather looks like the rather strange and funny representation they are being shown.

The Creationist Art Gallery

As we atheists are well aware, the Creation Museum of Faux Science will be opening this weekend. Less well publicized, however, is the accompanying Creationist Art Gallery. Fortunately, I’ve been able to get an advance copy of the catalog, and I can assure you that the displays will demonstrate the same kind of careful attention to scientific and historical truth that the more well-known venue does. Below, I’ve reproduced ten pages from the catalog, just to give you an idea of the high quality of the exhibits.

Scientists haven’t had a chance to visit the “museum” yet, so all our descriptions are second-hand. That hasn’t stopped anyone from imagining what opening day will be like—Itinerary for the Creation Museum Opening:

3:00 – 4:00 PM “Why Are There Still Monkeys?” Dr. Herman Marshall*, an accounting professor at Mooreville Community College in Kansas who has a doctorate from Liberty University and was one of the leading voices in the fight to introduce intelligent design curriculum into public schools, will present compelling evidence against the theory of evolution and for a literal, Biblical creation by elaborating on his central theme.

Creation Museum Opens This Weekend

The podcast is 29 minutes long. I think you’ll enjoy it. It starts off with an item about the Scopes trial and its modern equivalents. Then (starting about 4 minutes and 40 seconds from the beginning and running through the end), I talk about the Creation Museum. I take you on a virtual tour. Join me as I make fun of this pathetic monument to superstition!

Left ‘Toon Lane has been running a Cartoon Contest, collecting entries that make fun of the new “museum”. And here’s an example that leads in nicely to the next section.

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What about the rest of the world?

This collection of articles is largely in response to an American phenomenon, by American observers, and it’s biased by my own American focus. We are being watched by the rest of the world, though, and some of it is bemused, and some of it is very concerned—not only is the most militarily powerful nation on the planet being misled by a brand of goofy and dangerous religiosity, but we’re exporting it beyond our borders. Here’s an excellent review of international creationist efforts, on the threat from creationism
to the rational teaching of biology
.

Virtually all biologists now accept evolution as a reality that is no longer worth discussing. In the words of Medawar, as quoted by Carroll (2006), for a biologist, the alternative to thinking in evolutionary terms is not to think at all. This universal acceptance makes it easy for biologists to forget that the situation in the world at large is very different, not also among non-scientists but also to a surprising extent among scientists in non-biological fields. Even those who are aware of the creationist threat to the rational teaching of biology in the USA often fail to realize that in recent years the problem has spread far beyond the USA, driven in some countries not by Christian fundamentalism but by Islamic fundamentalism. The purpose of this article, therefore, is to make biologists conscious of the existence of a serious threat to their subject, even if they work in countries such as Chile where very little problem is apparent at present, and to emphasize that the moment to plan how to respond to creationism is now.

We’re also seeing the deluded minority of citizens in our neighbor to the North creating similar monuments to folly: Canada opens a competitor.

The country’s first permanent creation museum — set to open June 5 — will use fossil displays to support the Bible’s explanation of creation.
The Big Valley Creation Science Museum, about 200 kilometres northeast of Calgary, is billed as an alternative to the view presented by the Royal Tyrell Museum in Drumheller, Alta.

Our German colleagues are looking at this developing idiocy incredulously. If you can’t read this entry, I’ll translate the message for you: a scientific freakshow opens in the most developed country in the world.

Sollte Ken Hams Museum ebenso lachhaft werden sind die Vereinigten Staaten um eine bizarre Attraktion reicher. Auf der anderen Seite ist es aber auch traurig, wenn man bedenkt, dass diese Freakshow im wissenschaftlich am weitesten entwickelten Land der Erde ihre Pforten öffnet.


What next?

This “museum” is going to get a flood of visitors in the next few weeks; novelty will be a draw. We can hope, though, that it will soon fade away and close its doors as the word gets out that it is bad science. And perhaps it will meet the fate of other institutions of pseudoscience, as described in The Dragons of Eden.

Whether the Creation Museum will be a success or failure is anyone’s guess; I’m sure there are plenty of church groups that have already booked their trips over the last year or so. They’ll get their fair share of skeptical visitors as well, people who have intact and working BS detectors who want to see for themselves what all the fuss was about. While this museum is certainly the largest and most advanced, its message is not new, and I can’t help but wonder if it will end up like another controversial theme park. A mere 4 years ago, on May 23, 2003, Erich Anton Paul von Däniken, author of Chariots of the Gods?, opened Mystery Park in Interlaken, Switzerland. Based upon notions about “ancient astronauts” and alien intervention on earth so fanciful they bordered on the psychotic, the park was scoffed at by many and closed on November 19, 2006 due to financial problems (likely filed under “Money: Lack thereof”). (4) Will AiG’s museum succomb to the same fate?

The only positive response to the museum that I received from a credible source was from Greg Laden, who says Long Live the Creation Museum! He predicts that the museum will not last, but that it is going to be a useful historical relic.

But now, it is important. It is important to preserve this period of American history, or more exactly, the history of our (perhaps unique, or at least extreme) American propensity to believe the strangest things, to have the strangest practices. There are museums and institutes dedicated to alien abduction, to the study of bigfoot, to the yoyo and the hula-hoop, to white supremacy, to pin-ball, and to Cadillac convertibles. The creation museum will fit in nicely with this panoply of the irrelevant, the parade of oddities, this historical warehouse of the weird.

The best and most productive response in all the collection, though, was this simple suggestion from Farm school at home:

Whether or not Monday is a holiday where you are, go visit a natural history museum.

Laelaps has the same idea. Screw the Creation Museum, go to the AMNH!

While the new Creation Museum is continually touted to be within driving distance of 2/3 of America’s population (MapQuest tells me that it’d take me 10 hours and 25 minutes over a distance of 636.74 miles; If I’m going to drive that far, I’m going to go somewhere I actually will enjoy visiting), I suspect that there are plenty of people in the New York/New Jersey area who will not be making the trip to check it out this weekend. Instead, why not visit the new Mythical Creatures exhibition (curiously opening the same weekend as the Creation Museum) at the American Museum of Natural History in NYC? The promotional website for the exhibit is already up, and promises to help uncover the origins of many myths, from mermaids to dragons, with the help of artifacts from paleontology, archeology, and biology.

Now that is an excellent suggestion. If you are outraged as I am that Ken Ham’s Temple of Inanity is going to be drawing attention, the best thing you can do is look in your local community for a good science museum, go there, and learn something new and something true. Tell them Ken Ham sent you, and that you’re there because you want to support institutions that combat ignorance, rather than add to it.


One last sorrowful message

Does the opposition to creationism matter? Yes, it does. Answers in Genesis is a predatory organization: it thrives on ignorance, and it misinforms and misleads and lies specifically to inculcate the kind of gullibility and fear and desperation that will send more donations to its coffers.

It’s not just children who are scammed. Read my father knew no science for an example of what Ken Ham really feeds on.

He needed more care, himself, but there was no money left to pay for a homemaker, or even a cleaning woman. I went out weekly and did as much as I could; church people mended his clothes and brought food, neighbours checked on him. But there was always a shortfall.

When he died, at 92, and I picked up the reins of his finances, I found that month’s bill from AIG: $70. For DVDs. To give away, of course; Dad had no TV, no DVD player, no video player: he was almost blind.

That’s what the museum is all about: fleecing the poor, the weak, the ignorant, the confused.

Comments

  1. #1 David Marjanovi?
    May 30, 2007

    salt in the oceans, also consistent with the biblical timeline.

    That’s not how it works. The oceans don’t get ever saltier. Do you know where rock salt comes from? From shallow sea basins that got cut off and evaporated, leaving always the same (and predictable) sequence of gypsum, salt, potassium salts etc. etc. behind.

    On average throughout the history of the world, the oceans were twice as salty as today. There are ways to show that from the frequencies of certain isotopes in rocks, AFAIK.

  2. Ken Ham is quite the character. His book, “The Lie: Evolution” speaks volumes of his ignorance, or blatant willingness to lie.

    I’ve written a review of his book here, in case you’re interested.

  3. #3 Systems Engineer
    August 23, 2008

    Why on earth are you wasting your time posting on a science blog…

    This is a science blog?? I thought it was an ad hominem attack blog based upon the long discredited hypothesis of evolution that was rightly dismissed out-of-hand by more enlightened souls with the discovery of DNA over half a century ago.

    Maybe if you evolutionists will just (once again) extend your age of the universe hypothesis from billions to quadrillions of years, you’ll have a better “chance” of explaining how just one gene got coded correctly in the primordial pool.

    Oh wait, that would take about 10^147 years with all atoms in the universe made into activated nucleotides and working together to form the right gene sequence. Then there are all the other items needed beforehand, such as ribosomes, amino acids, RNA polymerase, ATP, various enzymes, etc., for protein synthesis.

    Bummer…quadrillions of years won’t cut it, either. Don’t spend too much time worrying about it, though, the rest of us don’t want you to fall too far behind in science. Better leave the study of evolution where it belongs – in courses on ancient mythology.

  4. #4 Nick Gotts
    August 23, 2008

    the long discredited hypothesis of evolution that was rightly dismissed out-of-hand by more enlightened souls with the discovery of DNA over half a century ago. – Systems Engineer

    Liar. All those concerned in the discovery of DNA were and remained convinced of the fact of evolution, and of the importance of natural selection as the main process driving it. Of course a handful of idiots such as yourself doubtless tried to pretend the discovery somehow threw doubt on evolution, but their dishonesty and stupidity was as evident then as yours is now. In fact, of course, DNA’s discoverers only knew what sort of substance they should be looking for because they knew it must have the properties that could support what was already known about the mechanisms of heredity.

  5. #5 Systems Engineer
    August 23, 2008

    Just as I thought…

    This is an ad hominem attack blog – no facts, just attacks.

    In this case, I am attacked for what I did not say. Go back and reread that sentence you quoted until you understand that I did not refer to the discoverers of DNA as enlightened souls. Too much evolution on your brain has clouded your ability to parse a sentence correctly.

  6. #6 Nick Gotts
    August 23, 2008

    Systems Engineer,
    No, it’s you who cannot understand what you read. As I said:

    “Of course a handful of idiots such as yourself doubtless tried to pretend the discovery somehow threw doubt on evolution, but their dishonesty and stupidity was as evident then as yours is now.”

    You lied when you called these lying fools “enlightened souls”. And calling a liar a liar isn’t an “ad hominem attack” – look it up, fool and liar.

  7. #7 Systems Engineer
    August 23, 2008

    Nice try, but switching focus from your immediate reply in the topic sentence in order to justify another ad hominem attack only shows your own dishonesty.

    Still waiting for an explanation on how that first gene got correctly coded out of the 10^524 possible sequences. Maybe evolutionists should skip the quadrillions and go for a google years! Oh wait, that’s only 10^100. Well, I’m sure you evolutionists will figure out some way to make the impossible possible.

  8. #8 Nick Gotts
    August 23, 2008

    On the contrary, I realised exactly the dishonest trick you had up your sleeve in your first comment, and responded accordingly, fool and liar. There was extensive discussion here not long ago, with many references elsewhere, to the topic of abiogenesis. I’m not your servant, fool and liar, you could readily find out the current state of the science in this area if you wanted. You don’t, of course, because you are a fool and liar.

  9. #9 Systems Engineer
    August 23, 2008

    Trying to convince an evolutionist that he is not the progeny of amorous slime is tough – not impossible – just tough. Most contemporary scientists who reject the myth of Darwinian evolution and its variants do so simply because it is statistically impossible for life to spring from non-life.

    I’ll move on, but thanks for conceding my points. Name-calling is the last refuge of a lost argument.

  10. #10 Douglas McClean
    August 26, 2008

    Systems Engineer, you are giving systems engineering a bad name. (I’m not sure whether you mean control systems or network systems, but either way….).

    Please take a minute to realize that your “impossibility” argument, mutatis mutandis, can be used to prove the impossibility of pretty much anything. Winning the lottery is fantastically improbable, but someone winning the lottery is not.

    Finding a single exact sequence by random search is fantastically impossible, but we know for a fact that many, many, many, sequences code for identical proteins. We also know that many, many, many proteins have both similar sequences and similar shapes. We also know that, as the saying goes, there are “many ways to skin a cat,” and so the search for a protein that serves some function need not be limited to one particular shape.

    Confusing a priori and a posteriori probabilities in this way is surprising, especially coming from someone with a background in engineering. I would have also expected someone with a background in systems engineering to have a passing familiarity with approximation algorithms and search techniques in combinatorial spaces.

  11. #11 Systems Engineer
    August 26, 2008

    Douglas,

    Thanks for sparing me the name calling. Control Systems, primarily.

    The probability of winning any lottery on earth is a sure bet compared to the probability of creating life from non-life. I only discussed the “chance” of coming up with a single gene sequence necessary for life. Numerous other factors must also be in place (I mentioned several) and we run up against irreducible complexity, as well. Then there is the question of how to get the machinery running.

    One of the smallest life forms is a bacteriophage that infects E. coli. It has 5,386 nucleotides encoding 10 genes. The probability of this mechanism forming from an evolutionary mud puddle is, well, “not gonna happen”.

    Good luck finding the search algorithm that can navigate the virtually infinite number of combinations to come up with just the right components at the right location at the same time under the necessary conditions for them to assemble and then animate.

  12. #12 kel
    August 26, 2008

    Systems Engineer, if you actually understood what abiogenesis is, you wouldn’t be making the arguments you do. NO-ONE thinks that complex life just spontaenously happened, of course that’s impossible. Rather, it was a series of small, incremental steps as dictated by chemistry.

    Look at it this way:
    Trying to generate the number
    345784397324583249564389570342853247543589430257234
    randomally is impossible.
    Rather if each step was an incremental, and cumulative effect then it would get there much quicker. To generate the first number there is a 1 in 10 chance. Likewise to generate the second there is also a one in 10 chance. By having a cumulative system, it’s not reliant on an act of God. Instead we can focus on just how each stage came to be.

    The argument that a fully formed cell came out of nothing is akin to saying a house can appear out of having the raw materials lying around. When building a house, it’s a cumulative process and each brick is laid down one by one. So like that, no-one ever expects life to be as it is now without a gradual process except those who think Goddidit.

    And in the end, that’s the irony of those who reject abiogenesis. It’s they who believe that life just suddenly sprang up, not the scientists. They can recognise that life was a gradual and cumulative process, limited by the contraints of chemistry and no-one ever in their right minds would say that abiogenesis is going to bring a complex organism out of simply the raw materials.

  13. #13 Systems Engineer
    August 26, 2008

    Nice try, but I never said anything about a cell springing out of nothing. Your entire response was based upon a strawman argument. I began with the statistical impossibility of even a single useful gene arising by random chance.

    No combination of incremental steps is going to reach the complexity of a simple gene required for “life”, let alone all of the other components necessary simultaneously for it to be useful. Your random number is about 10^100 power too small. Until someone can show me the mathematics that make the statistically impossible possible, the myth of evolution remains a fairy tale for adults.

  14. #14 kel
    August 26, 2008

    I began with the statistical impossibility of even a single useful gene arising by random chance.

    Which is what I was replying to, it’s not random chance, it’s a cumulative process of chemical reaction.

    Until someone can show me the mathematics that make the statistically impossible possible, the myth of evolution remains a fairy tale for adults.

    Again, this shows you have no clue. Abiogenesis deals with the origin of life, evolution deals with the diversity of life. Even without an adequate explanation for an event that occured 3.8 billion years ago, it doesn’t change the fact that there is diversification and speciation based on mutations inherent in populations. You talk about strawman, you make one right there by making evolution reliant on abiogenesis.

    Here are the simple facts.
    * The earth is around 4.5 billion years old
    * Life on this earth started in the first billion years
    * At about 550 million years ago, single-celled organisms became multicellular.
    * The fossil record shows a progressive lineage.
    * Invertebrates appear before vertebrates, fish before amphibians, amphibians before reptiles, reptiles before dinosaurs, dinosaurs before birds, reptiles before mammals, primate ancestors before humans

    Abiogenesis deals with that initial event 3.8 billion years ago, not having a complete explanation for an event that is untestable does not change any other fact about evolutionary theory. In terms of evolution, speciation has been observed, transitional fossils have been found, there have been observations of countless advantageous mutations, increases in information in DNA, etc. Evolution has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Not knowing whether lipids formed a protective layer before or after RNA became double helix does not negate ANY evidence for evolution.

  15. #15 Systems Engineer
    August 27, 2008

    Save your clues – you need them more than I do. Whether the subject is abiogenesis or the evolutionary process, the statistical argument remains the same. Actually, no, it grows exponentially worse for evolution with increasing genetic complexity and variety.

    Speciation is not evidence of evolution – it is merely the reorganization of existing genetic information and does not result from mutation. There are no transitional fossils, there are no advantageous mutations and no increases in DNA information within any organism. Facts are facts – it’s your interpretation of them in light of evolutionary philosophy that sends you down the bunny trail.

    Evolution – untestable, unobservable, unrepeatable, full of non-science, nonsense, statistical impossibilities, quackery, contradictions, retractions and deliberate hoaxes, but you say that it has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Sure.

    The superstition of evolution:

    Inanimate Matter + Time = Millions of Complex Organisms

  16. #16 kel
    August 27, 2008

    Oh wow, so ignorant of it all. This is why people laugh at creationists, it’s people with no scientific expertise mouthing off about a concept they don’t understand.

    Speciation is at the very heart of evolution, that’s what evolution is. From the point of speciation, any divergence from there is arbitrary.

    There are dozens and dozens of transitional fossils, given the most important one was found just two years after Darwin first published The Origin Of Species, I’m surprised you haven’t heard of it. Archaeopteryx. It contains both reptilian and bird-like features. Likewise, one just discovered in the last decade: Tiktaalik has both fish and amphibian features. Just a simple google search should so up just how much we’ve gotten from the fossil record.

    In terms of mutations, increases of information have been observed. There’s over 3000 pages on PubMed if you could actually be bothered searching.

    Evolution is both testable and falsifiable. If we find a mammal in the precambrian rock, then that shows problems with the evidence. We have less chromosomes than the other primates, if we don’t find a fused chromosome in our genome, it disproves common ancestry. It’s funny how creationists keep saying evolution is unfalsifiable, if you knew anything about the subject then you would see the reason we know it’s true is that it makes predictions and the predictions match.

    Inanimate Matter + Time = Millions of Complex Organisms

    No, that’s completely wrong. Why don’t you say that atoms + time = planets? Again, you are just making a straw man.

    All you’ve done here is show your ignorance of evolution. You don’t even know what you are arguing against. It would be like me calling god a three-footed bunyip that eats the children of jews to satisfies it’s bloodlust then knock that down. The least you can do is actually read up on the science you are arguing against. “no transitional fossils”, “unfalsifiable”, you have no clue!

  17. #17 Systems Engineer
    August 28, 2008

    Is that the best retort you can come up with?

    First of all, you have no idea what I believe about origins except that I find evolutionary theory ridiculous.

    “There are dozens and dozens of transitional fossils…” Thanks for refuting evolution for me. There ought to be “trillions and trillions” of transitional fossils. In fact, we should hardly be able to walk without crunching “dozens and dozens” of them with every step.

    Archaeopteryx – I was probably reading about it before you were born. Unconvincing as a transitional fossil when the feathers, feet, bone structure, and, yes, even the teeth, are examined. It cannot be proven that it is anything other than an extinct form of bird, like several others with similar features.

    Tiktaalik – Another unconvincing supposed transitional form. It’s just a fish with some unattached bones in its muscles for who knows what purpose. Where are the millions of transitions before and after it?

    This is silly. I’m supposed to believe in evolution because of two sorta, kinda, maybe transitional forms.

    I agree, “atoms + time = planets” is a good way to sum up the impossibility of (planetary) evolution since there is no indication that planets can form from atoms or molecules randomly colliding. In fact, such collisions tend to separate rather than attract, and any particles that do accrete will tend to cancel any imparted spin. There is no accounting for the existence of the planets in our system via evolutionary thinking, let alone their rotational speeds or directions. Then there’s the particular problem of accounting for the growth of gas giants considering the rapid dissipation of gases in a vacuum and the lack of sufficient orbiting He and H, even around a young star.

    Thanks for the equation and your other assistance in exposing the science-fiction fantasy of evolution. Keep up the good work!

  18. #18 kel
    August 29, 2008

    Best retort? Hell no. I prefer not to waste my energy on someone who doesn’t even understand the basics of a theory than waste my time giving a technical description that is sure to go to waste. You can’t even tell the difference between the origin and divergence of life, how are you meant to understand anything technical?

    In terms of archaeopteryx, can you show me a bird that has teeth and a reptilian jaw, likewise it vertebrate in it’s tail? Those are the features that make it transitional, this is exactly what scientists define as a transitional form. Whether or not it had direct ancestors is irrelevant to the fact that it’s a transitional form. Looking at the fossil record, it’s impossible to tell whether a species had direct lineage. It’s that it had both dinosaurian and avian features is why we call it transitional. The same goes for Tiktaalik. It has both fish and tetrapod features, hence why we call it transitional.

    But enough on evolution. Show me evidence for what you believe. Make sure it covers EVERY fact we have empirically, including speciation, including increases in genetic information, that includes common ancestry for chimps and humans (I refer you to human chromosome #2), make sure it includes why we have a common ancestor 140,000 years ago on mtDNA, make sure it includes neanderthals, make sure it includes a 4.5 billion year old planet and a progressive fossil record.

    That’s the thing about creationists, they spend so much time trying to pick holes in evolution instead of coming up with an alternate theory that is both explanatory of the empirical evidence and predictive of empirical evidence to come. So stop with the pot shots and provide some positive evidence.

    P.S. if you can’t understand that the planet formed by gravity and think that atoms + time = planets, then I question your ability to even comprehend even the most simplistic scientific theory. But still, enough dilly-dallying, provide evidence for what you believe. Because even without evolution as a theory to explain what we have, you still have to deal with the observed facts of the world that says we are 4.5 billion years old, that life started around 3.8 billion years ago, that it became more complex around 550 million years ago and species gradually formed starting with invertebrates, moving onto vertebrates, gradually moving onto land (first the arthropods, then the tetrapods), the rise and fall of dinosaurs, and finally the gradual emergence of birds and mammals which only 200,000 years ago brought on the species known as homo sapien.

    Because those are scientific fact. Evolution is a theory that explains the biological facts, it’s both falsifiable and predictive. Right now we support evolution because it’s the only theory that adequately explains the complexity and diversity of life. If you have something better, please don’t keep it to yourself. Otherwise all you are doing is trying to throw science back into the dark ages. The world works by expanding on our knowledge base, not trying to knock it down without providing positive evidence for what you believe.

    So come on Systems Engineer. Show POSITIVE EVIDENCE for your beliefs. It’s not enough to just try and knock down evolution, we get nowhere. So POSITIVE EVIDENCE that explains our origins supported by empirical fact which isn’t contradicted by other empirical fact…

  19. #19 Steve_C
    August 29, 2008

    Hehe. Abiogenesis is impossible, but god is a fact? Stop right there. You’re done. You’re a pompous (and apparently religious) tool.

    Can’t tell if he’s Hovindian or Hammed. Wonder what flavor evangelical he is.

  20. #20 Kel
    August 29, 2008

    I wonder if it’s a poe, given that the topic was resurrected from the oblivion. Also that what he’s said is just so laughibly bad.

    If he’s for real though, it’s quite scary. Love the “no transitionals”, so we show one and then it’s an exercise in shifting the goal posts. Every transitional species we find, there’s now two gaps. Find one to fill each of those gaps and theres now four gaps to fill. No transitionals = archaeopteryx and tiktaalik shouldn’t exist. Neither should homo erectus.

    The more and more I think about it, it’s just someone coming to stir up shit. And I got suckered in. Damn you Poe’s Law!

  21. #21 Phil
    November 5, 2008

    Creationists first need to get their translations sorted out before they pontificate on biblical matters. Tranlations all involve interpretation. Interpretation is made difficult when the known usages of terms are rare. Genesis 1 has these problems. Charles Wieand produced a paper on these issues and I have lost the reference. Sorry.

    “Now it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these topics; and we should take all means too prevent such and embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn.” Augustine on the literal meaning of Genesis, Book 1 Chapter 19.

    These issues are not new. Forgive me if this quote is well known.

  22. #22 Kevin
    February 18, 2009

    So why are the mountains jagged? If they were formed over millions of years wouldn’t they be smooth? If I throw a rock through a window it makes it jagged, I’d say the mountains were made very very quickly.

  23. #23 Ichthyic
    February 18, 2009

    *praise the resurrection*

    I’d say your thinking is very, very jaggy.

    conclusion:

    You must have thought very, very quickly.

    or you’re very, very stupid.

  24. #24 Kel
    February 18, 2009

    So why are the mountains jagged? If they were formed over millions of years wouldn’t they be smooth? If I throw a rock through a window it makes it jagged, I’d say the mountains were made very very quickly.

    Just how do you think mountains are formed?

  25. #25 clinteas
    February 18, 2009

    That has to be the stupidest thing I have heard for a very long time.

  26. #26 Ken Kelly
    February 28, 2009

    I have been around for a very long time and am progagly near the end of my life. I have learned many things over the years and one of the most important things is what religion is.

    Religions and I do mean all of them are creations of man so that a few can have control over the masses. Religion had its place and in some ways still does in the lives of us humans. Man is a social animal. yes that is what we are. Being a social animal we have to have a set of rules to live by and that is what religion provided for us when it was begining to form societies. Most likely all the religions began as a way of benefiting all the people of that comunity where it began. Over time however all religions have become the tools for power hungry greedy people. Where the poorest people live is where the religious leaders live in opulence.
    Many think it was terrible when China took over Tibet but few have bothered to find out how it was there before China helped the people there. The Dali Lama with the few that maintained his way of life were living in extreem opulance while the rest of the people lived in poverty. This is what the vatican is even today. A very wealthy place for the few while most of the believers of the catholic church are quite poor living in very unhealthy conditions.
    If you read the bible and believe what it says then it is very difficult for you to look at anything logicaly and with an open mind. Religion deprives people of the ability to think for themselves.

    The only place God lives no mtter what name you use for him is in the minds of people that need something to give their lives meaning. These people are not willing to believe in themselves or those arund them.

    Intelegent Design is just another attempt of a few to gain power and wealth at the expence of the ignorant.

    The Christian Bible as most people know it today has been written and re written over nd over and each time it is different thn the one before. The old writings that religious teachings are based on all were written after the fct not before so therefore it was esy to predict what already happened. Predicting the future is very easy if you leave enough choices so that enough of them come to be to convince people. Fortune tellers have a very good success rate becuyse they have learned how to ask the questions to get answers that people think they donot give. Carefully chosen questions can render a vast amount of information without the person answering knowing they actually gave the answers.
    Science and religion do not work together. They are seperate and have to be kept separate for progress to be made.

  27. #27 Mark
    December 28, 2009

    So why are the mountains jagged? If they were formed over millions of years wouldn’t they be smooth? If I throw a rock through a window it makes it jagged, I’d say the mountains were made very very quickly.

    Is a very good question and you evolutionists are so uneducated that you are not able to answer the comment. That is why all you can do is make fun and call names like “stupid”

    If you evolutionists are so scientific then why do you not give a real scientific as to why it is wrong. All Kevin did was ask a question and he got exactly what was to be expected an immature response.

    You evolutionists are just simply angry at God and that is why you spend so much of your wasted time trying to convince yourselves and others that he does not exists and if he does exist then he is to far away and out dated to have any relevance in our modern day.

    Here is a fact. I know I am going to get alot of hate from this statement. All the ape men that were taught in the public school text books have now been proven wrong. Either bad science or a hoax. The Nebraska man was the first pig (Pigs Tooth) to make a monkey out of an evolutionist. The Piltdown Man was a hoax or lie.

    Neanderthal Man was fully developed with a bone disease. He was not on his way up he was on his way down. And that is just to name a few.

    http://sciencevsevolution.com/graphical/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=9&Itemid=105

    1. Where did the space for the universe come from?
    2. Where did matter come from?
    3. Where did the laws of the universe come from (gravity, inertia, etc.)?
    4. How did matter get so perfectly organized?
    5. Where did the energy come from to do all the organizing?
    6. When, where, why, and how did life come from dead matter?
    7. When, where, why, and how did life learn to reproduce itself?
    8. With what did the first cell capable of sexual reproduction reproduce?

    1) If evolution is true then why are we not stronger than the apes and monkeys from whom we supposedly evolved? According to evolution we are supposed to be getting stronger and bigger with time.

    2) Ultimately evolution is a result of random processes. If evolution is true then what you are thinking right now is just an accident. How could you trust what you are thinking right now?

    3) If we all came from a common ancestor then why don’t we see intermediate links between species? For example–dats or cogs between cats and dogs.

    4) If I had to evolve certain faculties to survive then how would I survive at all?

    5) You don’t get functional complexity through disorder by chance.

    6) If you were to take a piece of paper with a picture and or writing on it and made a photo copy of it and then made a copy of the copy and then made a copy of the copy of the copy and just keep doing that pretty soon the information on the paper would be so disorganized and random that you would no longer be able to recognize what was on the piece of paper. This proves that through time information does not become more complex. This proves that information becomes more random. Where is the evolution?

    Now I will just see if I can get a mature response or just a bunch of put downs because you have no real valid answers. I will let you have the last word.

  28. #28 Gyeong Hwa Pak, the Pikachu of Anthropology
    December 28, 2009

    So why are the mountains jagged? If they were formed over millions of years wouldn’t they be smooth? If I throw a rock through a window it makes it jagged, I’d say the mountains were made very very quickly.

    Bad analogy. You can’t throw a fucking rock at a mountain and make it jagged. We have current example that natural process can erode mountians. Stop lying to yourself.

    You evolutionists are just simply angry at God and that is why you spend so much of your wasted time trying to convince yourselves and others that he does not exists and if he does exist then he is to far away and out dated to have any relevance in our modern day

    No one is wasting any time. It’s clear that Yahweh doesn’t exist. If anyone is wasting time, its the likes of you who don’t even understand the scientific process.

    4) If I had to evolve certain faculties to survive then how would I survive at all?

    With your previous faculties. NS is a response to a new change that you need to adapt to.

    2) Ultimately evolution is a result of random processes. If evolution is true then what you are thinking right now is just an accident. How could you trust what you are thinking right now?

    WTF. How is that even fucking relevant. The thought process is a result of evolution in order for

    5) You don’t get functional complexity through disorder by chance

    Yes you can. Molecules do it all the time.

    Now I will just see if I can get a mature response or just a bunch of put downs because you have no real valid answers. I will let you have the last word.

    You smug little asshole. These arguements have been put down hundreds of time and yet you just spit them out again and again. That’s why you need to be put down.

  29. #29 WowbaggerOM
    December 28, 2009

    Mark, a more important question is this one: even if I couldn’t answer any of your questions, by what rationale do you get to take my ‘I don’t know’ and have it mean, by default, that your specific god (as opposed to any of the others) exists?

    If those questions couldn’t be answered you’d have a great argument – for deism. Any specific theism, on the other hand…not so much.

  30. #30 Kel, OM
    December 28, 2009

    Here is a fact. I know I am going to get alot of hate from this statement. All the ape men that were taught in the public school text books have now been proven wrong. Either bad science or a hoax. The Nebraska man was the first pig (Pigs Tooth) to make a monkey out of an evolutionist. The Piltdown Man was a hoax or lie.

    Some “apemen” for you to look up:

    Ardipithecus Ramidus
    Australopithecus Africanus
    Australopithecus Afarensis
    Australopithecus Anamensis
    Homo Ergaster
    Homo Habilis
    Homo Erectus
    Homo Heidelbergensis
    Homo Neanderthalensis

    As for being taught in public schools, you were taught about “Nebraska man” that was never accepted scientifically, but you weren’t taught about Lucy?

  31. #31 Sven DiMilo
    December 28, 2009

    Hi Mark. Here’s the mature response you were hoping for:
    You don’t have the slightest idea what you’re talking about. OK? Every sentence you have posted reveals an obvious lack of knowledge. As far as I can tell, you don’t even know enough to understand the questions you are asking. That means that you almost certainly lack sufficient knowledge to understand the answers to those among your questions that have answers.
    You have made a fool of yourself by posting a comment like that. Sorry, but that’s the truth.

  32. #32 SC OM
    December 28, 2009

    All the ape men that were taught in the public school text books have now been proven wrong.

    You mean their animal-tracking hypotheses have been disconfirmed? But they’ve been so useful! I demand that you show me the peer-reviewed literature!

  33. #33 Kel, OM
    December 28, 2009

    1. Where did the space for the universe come from?

    The big bang was the creation of space.

    2. Where did matter come from?

    e=mc

    3. Where did the laws of the universe come from (gravity, inertia, etc.)?

    Victor Stenger can answer this one

    4. How did matter get so perfectly organized?

    Organised matter holds together while non-organised matter does not. Quite simply that we’ll see structures made from self-organisation because structures that don’t self-organise ain’t structures ;)

    5. Where did the energy come from to do all the organizing? The total energy of the universe is ~0, the energy is offset by gravity.

    6. When, where, why, and how did life come from dead matter?

    When? About 3.5 billion years ago. Where? Probably on earth, in the ocean, in white smoker vents. Why? That’s the wrong question, there doesn’t need to be a why. How? the exact steps are not yet known.

    7. When, where, why, and how did life learn to reproduce itself?

    Life needs to replicate in order to be life, so see above.

    8. With what did the first cell capable of sexual reproduction reproduce?

    That question makes no sense.

    1) If evolution is true then why are we not stronger than the apes and monkeys from whom we supposedly evolved? According to evolution we are supposed to be getting stronger and bigger with time.

    No, evolution doesn’t postulate that we’ll be bigger and stronger. It’s whatever helps survive. Look at flightless birds on islands. Flight has a high cost associated with it.

    2) Ultimately evolution is a result of random processes. If evolution is true then what you are thinking right now is just an accident. How could you trust what you are thinking right now?

    No, evolution is not a random process. Creationists always seem to mischaracterise evolution as random, when natural selection is the opposite of randomness. It was no accident that we are as we are here now, it just wasn’t designed by an intelligent mind.

    3) If we all came from a common ancestor then why don’t we see intermediate links between species? For example–dats or cogs between cats and dogs.

    Because cats don’t come from dogs or vice versa, they share a common ancestor! The ancestor that went onto cats is also the ancestor of hyenas. The ancestor that went onto dogs is also the ancestor of bears.

    The question is, when you clearly don’t understand evolution why are you arguing against it? Shouldn’t you be buried in Evolution: What The Fossils Say And Why It Matters by Don Prothero, or The Greatest Show On Earth by Richard Dawkins, or Your Inner Fish by Neil Shubin, or Why Evolution Is True by Jerry Coyne?

    4) If I had to evolve certain faculties to survive then how would I survive at all?

    This questtion makes no sense.

    5) You don’t get functional complexity through disorder by chance.

    Again, evolution is not chance! Creationist ignorance showing itself again and again. Randomness + selection = complex information. Selection is the key component, not randomness.

    6) If you were to take a piece of paper with a picture and or writing on it and made a photo copy of it and then made a copy of the copy and then made a copy of the copy of the copy and just keep doing that pretty soon the information on the paper would be so disorganized and random that you would no longer be able to recognize what was on the piece of paper. This proves that through time information does not become more complex. This proves that information becomes more random. Where is the evolution?

    You’re looking at it all wrong. You’re looking at a perfect copy and watching it degrade. Evolution dosen’t have perfect forms, release your platonic vision of forms and see it as a continuum. Life changes over time.

    Quite simply here’s how it is. There is a potentially exponentially increasing population and there is a limited set of resources. So not all that a born will pass on offspring. So those that have an advantage (or are not disadvantaged) will reproduce. So the process selects the best at surviving. Over time, these advantageous traits accumulate.

    Is it really that hard to understand?

  34. #34 Kel, OM
    December 28, 2009

    Sorry about the blockquote fail, the information is there. Hope you actually read what I said and don’t throw out more creationist talking points that have been thoroughly debunked time and time again. Surely reading through the wikipedia article on evolution would be a good start, or checking any of the many places on the net that give a good overview for how evolution works.

    If you want to debunk evolution, you have to understand evolution as scientists understand it. Otherwise it’s like me saying God doesn’t exist because it’s silly for God to be simultaneously invisible and purple. Think that’s absurd? That’s exactly what your creationist caricature of evolution sounds like. You need to address how evolution works, otherwise you’re inadvertently making a straw man fallacy.

  35. #35 KOPD42
    December 28, 2009

    No, evolution is not a random process. Creationists always seem to mischaracterise evolution as random, when natural selection is the opposite of randomness. It was no accident that we are as we are here now, it just wasn’t designed by an intelligent mind.

    It seems to be an annoyingly common misconception that anything that isn’t the result of an intelligence is therefore random (and vice-versa). This is so obviously incorrect. Even they must know that the direction a dropped hammer goes is not random, nor is it determined by some form of “intelligent falling.”

  36. #36 reyfox
    December 28, 2009

    Where did God come from? Show your work.

  37. #37 Kel, OM
    December 28, 2009

    It constitutes nothing more than promiscuous teleology, to use the word accident is a loaded word. No matter what, they are implying intent. Thus the false dichotomy becomes between intent and a mistake. How can a process with no intentionality make a mistake?

    Yet this is the pervasive nature of theism. They mould God into a very particular role, then upon removal of God they expect a God-shaped answer to fit there. It couldn’t be their problem is they are trying to push a square peg in a round hole to begin with, so by expecting a square-shaped answer… no, it has to be that if you remove God you need to find a God-equivalent.

  38. #38 Owlmirror
    December 28, 2009

    So why are the mountains jagged? If they were formed over millions of years wouldn’t they be smooth? If I throw a rock through a window it makes it jagged, I’d say the mountains were made very very quickly.

    Is a very good question

    It’s a moronic question, and it’s already been answered:

    http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CD/CD501.html

      Old mountain ranges are eroded flat. But there are also forces creating new mountains. For example, the Himalayas are still rising.

      Present rates of erosion are particularly high due to more mountain building and higher mountains than usual in earth’s history. (Erosion slows as mountains lose elevation.)

    Sheesh.

    All Kevin did was ask a question and he got exactly what was to be expected an immature response.

    He, like you, is immature, and he asked an immature question, and gave no sign that he actually expected or cared about the answer — just like you will no doubt ignore the answers you receive here.

    Go ahead, prove me wrong.

    You evolutionists are just simply angry at God

    And you know this because you’re a mind reader?

    and that is why you spend so much of your wasted time trying to convince yourselves and others that he does not exists and if he does exist then he is to far away and out dated to have any relevance in our modern day.

    Ha! If God does exist and is nearby and is relevant — why does he need morons like you and Kevin to defend him?

    I know I am going to get alot of hate from this statement.

    You’re not going to get hate, you’re going to get ridicule.

    If ridicule is hate, then you’ve been spewing violent hatred from your very first hate-filled word, you hating hate-filled hater.

    All the ape men that were taught in the public school text books have now been proven wrong.

    And that’s a simple, outright lie.

    The Nebraska man was the first pig (Pigs Tooth) to make a monkey out of an evolutionist. The Piltdown Man was a hoax or lie.

    Nebraska Man was rejected and discovered by scientists — evolutionary biologists who knew anatomy. Piltdown Man was also discovered and rejected by scientists.

    Meanwhile, there have been many additional transitional human and hominid fossils that have been discovered, and the fact that you think that three of them are “all” just shows how creationists are nothing more than pathetic ignorant morons.

    Neanderthal Man was fully developed with a bone disease.

    Another moronic lie.

    http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CC/CC051_1.html

      1. The signs of rickets differ from Neanderthal fossils in several respects, including the following:
        1. People with rickets are undernourished and calcium-poor; their bones are weak. Neanderthal bones are fifty percent thicker than the average human’s.
        2. Evidence of rickets is easily detectable, especially on the ends of the long bones of the body. This evidence is not found in Neanderthals.
        3. Rickets causes a sideways curvature of the femur. Neanderthal femurs bend backward.

    1. Where did the space for the universe come from?
    2. Where did matter come from?
    3. Where did the laws of the universe come from (gravity, inertia, etc.)?

    These are questions about cosmology. Cosmologists are exploring these questions. What do they have to do with evolution?

    How did matter get so perfectly organized?

    This is a nonsense question. Clarify and specify. What matter? Which organization? What does “perfectly” even mean?

    Ultimately all matter is the way it is from the interaction of physical forces with matter. Everything is the way it is because it got that way over time.

    5. Where did the energy come from to do all the organizing?

    This is another nonsense question. Where does all energy come from? Ultimately from the Big Bang and the interaction of physical forces with matter.

    6. When, where, why, and how did life come from dead matter?

    7. When, where, why, and how did life learn to reproduce itself?

    Right now, life comes from dead matter via metabolism and reproduction. The origin of life itself –including the origin of reproduction — is being explored by biochemists.

    8. With what did the first cell capable of sexual reproduction reproduce?

    This is a nonsense question that demonstrates deep ignorance of biology. Single celled bacteria conjugate and exchange bits of DNA, even though they reproduce asexually.

    If evolution is true then why are we not stronger than the apes and monkeys from whom we supposedly evolved? According to evolution we are supposed to be getting stronger and bigger with time.

    Since the second sentence is simply false, the question is a nonsense question.

    2) Ultimately evolution is a result of random processes. If evolution is true then what you are thinking right now is just an accident. How could you trust what you are thinking right now?

    Evolutionary epistemology.

    If we all came from a common ancestor then why don’t we see intermediate links between species? For example–dats or cogs between cats and dogs.

    The original carnivore ancestors of cats and dogs became extinct. And we do indeed see intermediates:

    http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/comdesc/

    4) If I had to evolve certain faculties to survive then how would I survive at all?

    Obviously because the “faculties” were not 100% required when they first evolved, but provided some benefit.

    You don’t get functional complexity through disorder by chance.

    You do if you have chance and selection.

    [Photocopying] This proves that through time information does not become more complex.

    This is a moronic mischaracterization of evolution.

    Now I will just see if I can get a mature response or just a bunch of put downs because you have no real valid answers.

    You got mature responses that are real valid answers and you got put-downs. Bonus!

    I will let you have the last word.

    Because you don’t actually care about the answers, do you?

  39. #39 Kel, OM
    December 28, 2009

    You evolutionists are just simply angry at God

    Why do creationists bring this up as an argument? It’s a complete non sequitur. The truth of evolution is external to the feelings anyone has about any deity. Take gravity, would it matter that people believed in gravity just because they bore a grudge against Baal?

    Secondly, one can believe in evolution and believe in God. For example, Robert Bakker and Francis Collins are both evolutionists and fundamentalist Christians.

    And I really don’t get why they think that being atheist implies being angry at god. How can one be angry at something they don’t believe exists? It’s like being angry at Lord Voldemort. An atheist is not one who is angry at God, it’s one who doesn’t believe in God. Big difference. Using a non-sequitur to dismiss evolution is really bad logic.

    Ultimately evolution is a result of random processes. If evolution is true then what you are thinking right now is just an accident. How could you trust what you are thinking right now?

    I always wonder about the inverse of this. Given that almost all educated men and women who study the natural world for a living support evolution (Well over 99% of biologists, many of whom are theists), given that there are many different religions in the world and different beliefs – how can a creationist trust their own intuition any more than the next person? If so many people are necessarily wrong, then it can’t follow that one has a strong basis for accepting that they can trust their own reasoning.

    Evolution on the other hand gives reason for why there is good and bad reasoning. Our input structures and brain processes have been shaped by natural selection to understand the world around us. And we aren’t the only animal to do it either, it’s just that we have a much larger capacity than any other animal.

    And as for thinking skills? Ever heard the proverb “give a man a fish, he’ll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, he’ll eat a lifetime”. Critical thinking skills are acquired, not innate. You’re not a master of mathematics at birth, you have the basics but you have to learn to get better. You can trust your thinking skills by training in how to think, and look for flaws in your own reasoning. If you don’t know how to think, then you don’t have much reason to trust your thinking beyond the basics.

  40. #40 Malcolm
    December 28, 2009

    Owlmirror @279,

    Because you don’t actually care about the answers, do you?

    Of course he won’t.
    The talking points he posted were well received in Sunday school, so they must form a devastating demolition of evolution. Why would he need to hang around while a bunch of “leftist elites” rip them to shreds without any effort whatsoever.

  41. #41 Kel, OM
    January 1, 2010

    Mark, are you going to come back and throw around more long debunked and irrelevant creationist talking points? Here’s hoping you’re actually taking the time and effort to understand evolution as scientists understand it.

  42. #42 joh
    March 30, 2010

    Prof. Abigail Hafer (Curry College, Milton MA) has a three-part video on You Tube on the subject of ‘Unintelligent Design’ which effectively challenges the claims of ‘Intelligent Design’. I think her arguments would be a slam-dunk to convince (or at least slow down) most ID-ers.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p_u4yEUvPJ0

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XarS2sMGv2w&feature=related

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Tp7qr5Fh90&feature=related

    I believe she has an important message for this debate. Her lecture has all the elements to make it engaging: humor, clarity, telling examples
    and metaphors. The problem with the videos cited above is that they are really sub-par; they consist just in focusing a video camera (on a tripod) on her while she’s llecturing and just turning it on and off. The sound recording is sub-par, too.

    The question: how can her presentation (re-delivered) with better audio,better editing, inclusion of engaging, explanatory, images (stills and videos), etc. be produced? I know there must be some talented video artists out there who could take on such a project (and, perhaps, make their reputation).

    I believe that her message is important and all that is needed for it to go ‘viral’ (in the current internet, You Tube jargon) is to be produced in an engaging way and in that way to have a significant impact on the non-scientific vs. scientific account of evolution.

    Contact ohala@berkeley.edu with ideas or suggestions.