Cutting through the bullshit.

Sunday, 27 May 2007

Meet the Flintstones

Further to the Gallup poll I reported the other day, Jane Lampman, of the Christian Science Monitor, writes on Alternet that Northern Kentucky will see the opening of a new museum of natural history in just two days’ time. The Creation Museum, which sports the slogan ‘Prepare to believe’, is a project of Answers in Genesis, whose website proclaims that it is ‘Upholding the Authority of the Bible from the Very First Verse’.

"Dinosaurs are one of the icons of evolution, but we believe they lived at the same time as people," says Ken Ham, founder of Answers in Genesis (AiG), the fundamentalist Christian ministry that built the facility. "The Bible talks about dragons. We believe dragon legends had a basis in truth."

The $27 million museum set on 50 acres opens on Memorial Day, and AiG hopes for 250,000 visitors a year. Mr. Ham, a former science teacher in Australia, is direct about the museum's purpose: to restore the Bible to its "rightful authority" in society.

I took the virtual tour of the museum, where I learned,

The Bible is true. No doubt about it! …everyone who rejects His history-including six-day creation and Noah's Flood-is ‘willfully’ ignorant…The imprint of the Creator is all around us. And the Bible’s clear—heaven and earth in six 24-hour days, earth before sun, birds before lizards…Adam and apes share the same birthday. The first man walked with dinosaurs and named them all!...T. rex—the real king of the beasts. That’s the terror that Adam’s sin unleashed! You’ll run into this monster lurking near Adam and Eve…Witness the confusion of languages at the Tower of Babel and the subsequent dispersion of peoples. Unravel the mystery of the origin of the so-called ‘races.’ Discover how the science of anthropology actually confirms the Bible’s history!

Lampman reports

Some 700 scientists at educational institutions in Kentucky, Ohio, and Indiana have signed a statement deploring the "scientifically inaccurate" exhibits and warning that students who accept them are "unlikely to succeed in science courses."

Eugenie Scott, director of the National Center for Science Education, says, "…the public is going to be exposed to erroneous science presented with great flash and dash ... in an authoritative way. This is going to be detrimental to science literacy…”

…the American Association for the Advancement of Science…discusses those who see science and religion as compatible but dealing with different spheres, and others working out a theology that takes evolution into account.

The museum scorns such an approach. One exhibit shows a pastor preaching it's OK not to believe in a literal Genesis. Then it depicts "the consequences" in one family: A young boy looks at porn on the Internet while his sister calls Planned Parenthood.

And to make sure that visitors never have to expose themselves to real science,

All job applicants need to supply a written statement of their [Salvation] testimony, a statement of what they believe regarding creation and a statement that they have read and can support the AiG statement of faith.

The Statement summary (‘For a slightly more detailed copy of the Statement of Faith, please make your request in writing.’) is so mind blowing that I’m tempted to quote it in full, but here’s a few extracts:

The 66 books of the Bible are the written Word of God. The Bible is divinely inspired and inerrant throughout. Its assertions are factually true in all the original autographs. It is the supreme authority in everything it teaches.

The final guide to the interpretation of Scripture is Scripture itself.

The account of origins presented in Genesis is a simple but factual presentation of actual events and therefore provides a reliable framework for scientific research into the question of the origin and history of life, mankind, the Earth and the universe.

The various original life forms (kinds), including mankind, were made by direct creative acts of God…

Those who do not believe in Christ are subject to everlasting conscious punishment, but believers enjoy eternal life with God.

The only legitimate marriage is the joining of one man and one woman. God has commanded that no intimate sexual activity be engaged in outside of marriage.

…The days in Genesis do not correspond to geologic ages, but are six [6] consecutive twenty-four [24] hour days of Creation.

…No apparent, perceived or claimed evidence in any field, including history and chronology, can be valid if it contradicts the Scriptural record.

I can’t honestly say that requiring candidates to make such embarrassing admissions strictly complies with what commonly passes for equal employment opportunity. Indeed, it looks very much like AiG and the Creation Museum are explicitly discriminating on the basis of religious and I daresay political beliefs. I suppose that’s ok in Kentucky, where apparently employers can discriminate as long as it’s not on the basis of disability or HIV? Indeed, that may be why AiG decided to site their ‘museum’ there, rather than in nearby Ohio (only 7 miles from Cincinatti airport), where Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act makes it ‘an unlawful employment practice for an employer - (1) to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual…because of such individual's race, color, religion, sex, or national origin’ [my emphasis]. But even there, there’s a loophole big enough for a man riding a Tyrannosaurus rex to gallop through:

unless an employer demonstrates that he is unable to reasonably accommodate to an employee's or prospective employee's religious observance or practice without undue hardship on the conduct of the employer's business.

Answers in Genesis markets a wide range of books, magazines, and electronic media for children, parents, teachers, and everyone refuting every aspect of evolution. Among their offerings is Archbishop James Ussher’s infamous 1654 Annals of the World, in which he calculated the date of creation to be nightfall preceding 23 October 4004 BC. Also, Dismantling the Big Bang, the two volume Design and Origins in Astronomy, The Mythology of Modern Dating Methods, Genetic Entropy & the Mystery of the Genome, Ice Cores and the Age of the Earth, two volumes of Radioisotopes and the Age of the Earth, and many more.

These developments wrack me with ambivalence. I’d like to think that as Americans become more and more ignorant through the widespread introduction of ‘intelligent design’ into school curricula and so forth, they will soon become so dumb that they will no longer have the capacity to control a global empire. But in reality, a cousin of mine currently attending high school there confirmed in a recent correspondence that the educational system there is already so pathetic that it mightn’t make much difference. And there’s always the fear that really profound and self righteous ignorance of the kind espoused by Answers in Genesis and Dubya could just destroy the planet before we have a chance to overthrow the capitalist system once and for all and save it. We’d better get organised fast because I’m pretty sure prayer won’t avert such a catastrophe.

1 comment:

  1. From the Onion

    '...For a half-dozen million years, life advanced from prokaryotes to primitive fish to mammal-like reptiles via natural selection, and we're supposed to believe that that just continued happening? I don't think so. Isn't it much more likely that a formless, invisible deity intervened, temporarily stopped the course of evolution, and shaped each and every trilobite over a period of six days? Of course it is, at least to any objective observer.

    'So, if you follow my reasoning to its logical end, the only sound conclusion is that, at some point, God paused evolution and stepped in, made a few modifications, and boom! Pterosaurs. There is simply no way evolution alone could be responsible for the giant leap between archosaurs and other, different archosaurs with better developed hip joints and slightly differently shaped teeth...'