I visited the Smithsonian recently in the nation’s capital. During a visit filled with wonder and delight, I spent at least an hour viewing the new display on human origins devoted to evolution. The galley is based entirely on science, not politics or revelation. I asked a guide if there were protests from religious types who prefer Creationist explanations. I expected that the guide would respond in the affirmative. Since many Christian fundamentalists believe the universe is only six thousand years old and that everything was created in a week (counting the day off God gave himself), I expected there must have been protests. The response was,dufan mati “Not yet.” I was encouraged.
Can you imagine what will happen to this and other such displays if the next national election two years hence results in the election of a Republican president and more senators and congresspersons from that party? I can. Why? Because I’m familiar with the nature of Christian museums. In places where religious zealots build museums that reflect their understanding of the history of life based on literal biblical interpretations, museums are not fact based. They are not even museums-they are amusement parks. They are comical and valuable for entertainment purposes, but they don’t do a lot to promote science education.
Take the situation with the 2014 opening of a “museum” in Kentucky to be called, “Ark Encounter.” This is a publicly funded project local leaders expect will be a big hit. Ark is projected to earn as much as $250 million annually for the local economy. “What,” you might wonder, will the “Ark” be about? Believe it or not, it will present Noah’s Ark as a true story-and to wow the kiddies, there will even be a 500-foot-long ark made of wood stocked with live animals. Sounds like a zoo. Dinosaurs are a possibility, but not confirmed as yet. Live giraffes, on the other hand, are on order.
Who sponsors this kind of thing? The sponsor is a Christian organization called “Answers in Genesis.” This is the company that owns and operates the anti-evolution fun house known as the “Creation Museum” in Boone County, KY.
The organization “Answers in Genesis” seeks to portray a biblical view of history. In addition to the claim that Earth was created in six days a mere 6,000 years ago, the leaders hold that humans and velociraptors co-existed peacefully and that the Tower of Babel story that accounts (as these Christians believe) for multiple languages in the world today is literally true. So, look for that tower of insanity if you make plans in two years for an ark encounter.
So much for the scientific holding that dinosaurs went extinct nearly 65 million years ago. Never mind that we would not even be here if they did not go extinct.
My friend and fellow columnist for an online publication called “The Political Junkie” discussed this form of science denial by religious extremists in his latest “Science Junkie” article. At one point in the essay entitled, “It’s Only A Theory”… and Other Creationist Delusions,” Bob wrote that evolution deniers display many qualities, but reasonableness is one niche they do not occupy. Bob argued that they avoid it as if it would lead to their extinction – which, of course, they know it would. Therefore, their survival strategy is to occupy and exploit many other contrived niches characterized by ignorance, irrationality, demagoguery, and deceptiveness (e.g., the deceptiveness of occasionally pretending to be reasonable). It is no accident that the vast majority of deniers are also right-wing Republicans (a redundancy these days). It is also no accident that evolution is not the only science they deny: having painted themselves into the proverbial corner with their ludicrous “Biblical inerrancy,” they are compelled to deny any and all scientific findings and methods that conflict with their primitive, superstitious, and gullible world view. Therefore, young-earth creationists deny proven scientific methods for determining the age of the universe, the earth, and all forms of matter. And the spin they are compelled to put on reality seems to meet many of the criteria that define mental illness, especially delusional ideation. For example, they say God created the universe with the “appearance of age”; or fossils were put there by God to test their faith. And I could go on, believe me. Noah’s Ark, anyone?