when in doubt, pull a bait and switch?
For his article in Vanity Fair, British writer and critic A. A. Gill took a trip to Ken Ham’s grand temple to Biblical literalism and fundamentalist indoctrination; the Creation Museum. And needless to say, he’s not impressed by either the heavy handed preaching, the appeals to emotion in the exhibits, or the exhibits themselves. This, according to him, is taking whatever inspiration the high flying metaphors of the Bible could offer to the faithful and inspire amateur scientists to study the world around them in search of existential answers, and reducing them down to simplistic, bombastic proselytizing for the sake of proselytizing. Despite passionately insisting that they’re just better at interpreting the same volumes of scientific evidence studied in colleges and research labs across the world, everything the Creation Museum is about can be summarized in just one question.
After PZ Myers and a group of atheists and agnostics took a look at the museum for themselves, I tried to give an answer to this false dichotomy and that answer boiled down to only one thing. Creationists don’t just have dissenting opinions on the evidence for evolution and modern cosmology. They have a worldview they want to defend and whenever we challenge their ideas, the comfort they take in their assurance that they have almost everything in this universe figured out thanks to a manual from its creator is suddenly shaken. They hate that. They hate that very much.
For them science is only good when it can be either twisted to justify their views and opinions, or when it doesn’t concern anything they passionately guard from scientific inspection. Because the vulnerability they feel when their beliefs are questioned is so deep but they know that the word science has to be somewhere in the mix for anyone to take them seriously, they stage science fairs minus the actual science by mandating that participants discard any scientific concept contradicting the Bible in their entries. And it was this attempt to seem scientific without compromising their beliefs on which the Vanity Fair piece quickly focused when describing their museum itself.
One very interesting thing to Gill seems to be the fact that instead of incorporating religious elements into the museum’s appearance to those about to enter it, Ham chose a secular motif of a scientific institution, trying to somehow dress up his blatantly transparent intentions in a veneer of scientific credibility. This is Ham’s good, old trick of repeatedly using the word science and pretending he actually cares about it.
You can see this in a few of his publications which employ an astrophysicist who jumps from sound science to gibberish in just two sentences, and someone who claims to be a former space program engineer who converted into full blown fundamentalism after being swayed by “the evidence he saw in his long line of work” but doesn’t seem to have a grasp of even middle school level astronomy.
And what happens when you point out all their errors? Why they simply jam their fingers further and further down their ear canals and start screaming louder to tune out those nasty naturalists and skeptics. For example, take the creationist science teacher who decided to justify that the Bible is perfectly compatible with modern science on this blog, arguing that because they’re so compatible, he should have the right to turn his science class into Christian Theology 101. After reading a counter-argument for the examples he provided can you guess what his reply was?
It is obvious your ignorance of science is superceded by your ignorance of the Bible. I’ve gleamed from your comments that I need to be more fervent in my efforts to make positive [that] all students understand the evidence supporting the existence of God and His creation.
Even though he hadn’t made a single scientific assertion and actually got several things wrong about tectonic plate movements and the classification of cetaceans, I’m the ignorant one and it’s his duty to make sure that his view of the world is treated as gospel. There wasn’t even a single counter-argument or attempt to create a real exchange. Just an outraged insult and a promise to shout his arrogant ignorance louder to his students. And so it seems that the evidence for God is so powerful that students can’t be allowed to be taught only facts or be left alone to make up their own minds because they’ll choose wrong.
Unless of course “make up their own minds” is used as a euphemism that they’ll be indoctrinated into creationism and fed distortions of what evolutionary and cosmological theories entail by someone who lacks the requisite knowledge in those areas. This is the goal of our creationist teacher and Ken Ham. Their questions about evidence and pleas for open- minded inquiry are just cheap bait and switch. And believe it or not, so would be our insistence that religious tenets and science are always compatible and we never have to choose between one or the other…