Just in case you haven’t heard, dinosaurs were not all giant, scaly, greenish beasts. In fact, an astounding number of them had multicolored plumage like birds and share multiple specialized anatomical features with them, clearly showing that birds are descendants of these immensely popular extinct creatures. But to Ken Ham, the Australian preacher with a six figure salary drawn from his followers’ donations and millions of dollars tied up in an empire of mis-education which promotes his belief that the Flintstones wasn’t an animated Honeymooner’s rip-off but a serious documentary, these new discoveries are an affront to the Almighty. You see, since the dinosaurs were created on the fifth day about 6,000 years ago they were huge, reptilian creatures as the Bible says, so for scientists to say that it’s not actually what happened must be another atheist plot to test the faithful, or worse yet, doubt their decision to see his temple of ignorance.
So, as detailed by Brian Switek, fresh off his attempt to publicly debate with Bill Nye The Science Guy, Ham is campaigning to restore the image of the giant hulking dinosaur brute to keep the steady flow of tourists coming to Kentucky. To me, the most depressing part of this issue is that his religion marketing instinct is probably right. Bring in the kids with dinosaurs and set them up so you can hit them right between the eyes with fundamentalist propaganda and wishful thinking that eliminates all doubt and curiosity. And whenever someone points out that this is what he’s doing, he can cry about religious persecution. Why oh why won’t those evil meanies in lab coats respect his beliefs no matter how misguided, self-serving, or backward, he’ll cry with a stream of crocodile tears and pleas for donations. Switek seems to agree that this is Ham’s strategy here as well, summing up his objections in this quote…
We have an undeserved deference to faith in this country. Someone need only [to] start a sentence with “I believe…” and whatever miasma spills out of their mouths becomes beyond reproach. But our essential and cherished freedom to express our religious beliefs doesn’t mean that those same ideas should be free from criticism and even ridicule. We have let our brains slide out our skulls and through the door if we don’t question someone who claims that carnivorous dinosaurs like Allosaurus lived in the Garden of Eden and honed their teeth and talons on coconuts before the Fall of Adam brought sin, and hence death by carnivory, into the world.
Sadly his statement about beliefs is all too true. We’ve all met someone who uses the seemingly simple and innocuous phrase "well, as a person of faith" to really mean "because I’m better than you" and a license to lecture you about life, and we’re all told to respect others’ beliefs. But if we don’t draw a line and stand our ground against beliefs obviously proven false, and dismantle the faithful’s transparent attempt to ignore, dismiss, and marginalize even the most concrete of facts that proves their ideas wrong, as we saw when the windbags who run Conservapedia had the bad sense to pick a fight with a scientist who lead one of the most superb studies on evolution published in recent memory, we end up with problems like Science and Technology Committees in Congress filled with ignorant blowhards who proudly show off their aversion to facts to media outlets when discussing important policy debates and school boards which use political ideology and religion to justify throwing science books out of science class. Religious fundamentalists see this as a plus, but in reality, the country and its education and workforce suffer for it.