Creation Museum Opening

Creation Museum Opening
A Cause of Concern for Some Evolutionists

Message from Eugenie C. Scott, Ph.D:

We need to notify scientists in the states of Kentucky, Ohio, and Indiana about the opening of the AIG creationist museum, and solicit their help in some publicity we would like to generate. The project is described below.

On May 28, the young-earth creationist ministry, Answers in Genesis, will open its new 60,000 ft sq creationism museum in Petersburg, KY with great fanfare.

Already there have been numerous stories in both the US and the international press. This museum is viewed with dismay by teachers and scientists because it will present as scientifically valid religious views such as special creation, a 10,000 year old Earth, Noah’s Flood, and the like. The AIG museum is a multi-million dollar structure with first-rate exhibits, skillfully-crafted animatronic figures (of humans and dinosaurs coexisting), and a state-of-the-art planetarium. Students who are taken to this museum are very likely to consider it authoritative, to the detriment of science literacy.

We anticipate abundant media coverage at the time of the grand opening. It would be beneficial to science if media coverage included the fact that the so-called science presented in this museum is invalid. One way to do this is to publicize at the time of the grand opening a statement from university scientists making this point. Such a statement would not tread on the religious liberty of AIG to express its religious views, but would make it clear that the museum’s scientific claims have no credibility. It is also useful to have a statement that would resonate with parents of school-age children, so we focused on a point that could be made most authoritatively by university scientists. Here is the statement:

We, the undersigned scientists at universities and colleges in Kentucky, Ohio, and Indiana, are concerned about scientifically inaccurate material on display at the Answers in Genesis museum. Students who accept such material as scientifically valid are unlikely to succeed in science courses at the college level. These students will need remedial instruction in the nature of science, as well as in the specific areas of science misrepresented by Answers in Genesis.

This statement will be made available to the press at the time of the opening.

Please send this request to your members in Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky, asking them to visit http://sciohost.org/states to add their names to the petition. The more signatures we have, the more powerful our statement, of course. Please let me know if you can send information on this statement to your members in those three states.

Thank you for your support of evolution education.

Eugenie C. Scott and the staff of NCSE

Eugenie C. Scott, Ph.D.
Executive Director National Center for Science Education, Inc.
420 40th Street, Ste. 2 Oakland, CA 94609-2509
510-601-7203 x 301
fax: 510-601-7204 800-290-6006
scott@ncseweb.org
http://www.ncseweb.org


Dr. Richard J. Neves replies to Dr. Scott:

While I can appreciate the strong feelings evoked in many ‘scientists’ when the theory of evolution is challenged, I must question the motives and misinformation contained in this recent non-malacological post to our listserve. The community of professional and amateur biologists on UNIO represents a variety of backgrounds, belief systems, and levels of conviction and opinion about evolution and the origin of life. One important aspect of FMCS is its democratic mode of operation, where freedom of speech, belief, and expression are encouraged. This missive, solely to attack creationism and its subsequent Statement for support by ‘scientists’, imposes upon objectivity and fairness to alternative views in our group. Many in our Society are not believers in orthodox evolution but perhaps prefer young- or old-earth creationism, theistic evolution, or some other explanation between neo-Darwinism and literal biblical interpretation.

The debate of evolution vs. creationism vs. intelligent design is a healthy one, in my opinion, with each side encouraged to make their best case, and then to allow people to decide for themselves which belief system is supported by the greatest weight of evidence. The email by Dr. Eugene Scott, Chief Percussionist for the National Center of Science Education, explicitly attempts to make this debate an issue of science vs. creationism. It is not. The straw man argument posed is fallacious; science is not on trial here, but rather scrutiny of the theory of evolution and its arch-rival creationism. When random design is the null hypothesis, evolution looks attractive, but such an hypothesis masks a multitude of sins. The aura of invincibility for textbook evolution is losing lux. Dr. Scott’s droning argument is undoubtedly sparked by recent polls which show that roughly half of the U.S. population favors explanations of life and life forms not in keeping with the neo-Darwinian paradigm. Perhaps that public consensus is because

1) evolutionists have not made a convincing case for the evolutionary process, or

2) the fundamental assumption behind materialistic evolution is that there cannot be an active role for God in either the origin or development of life, nor in the origin of man with an infused soul, or

3) both of these are true, or

4) of numerous other explanations. Textbook evolution excludes God from the cosmic equation, and that explicit assumption is what disenfranchises multitudes with any religious orientation.

The prepared Statement for scientists to sign (as though real scientists need to be told how to express their opinions on this issue) is amusing. First, there is no mention of evolution (neither here nor in the entire email), as though only attack and not defense is necessary for real ‘scientists’. Second, the claim is that “students are unlikely to succeed in science courses at the college level” and “these students will need remedial instruction” if they believe in creation. I have had brail boats full of students who have successfully completed science degrees and who have questioned the certainty of evolution. This presumption is patently absurd, again attempting to put all of science as the rival of creationism. There are many scientists of all persuasions and scientific disciplines who do not believe in orthodox evolution; does that disqualify them as scientists because they doubt one aspect of biological science? Quite frankly, this prepared Statement is more an embarrassment than a rally cry to the objectivity and truthfulness espoused by science. This seems to be an effort to win by intimidation and is a clear manipulation of the truth.

Since science is considered the pinnacle of truth, many mathematicians using the purest of the sciences (mathematics) have consistently demonstrated that the probability of life arising from inanimate matter is so incredibly small that it approaches wishful thinking. For example, physicist Dr. Lee Spetner in his book “Not by Chance” provides a lucid and compelling assessment of probability for both the origin of life and evolutionary process through random events using information theory. Perhaps Dr. Scott forgot that Louis Pasteur disproved the theory of spontaneous generation back in the 1860’s. To my knowledge, no one has disproved this “scientific” conclusion. My point is that once people are presented with and educated on all alternatives, it is for them to decide on which belief system to accept as their personal choice.

In summary, the distasteful nature of this email stems principally from the attempt to hide the theory of evolution behind the edifice of science, the old bait and switch routine. Everyone, scientist or not, evolutionist or not, atheist or not, recognizes the role and importance of science and its fruits to modern living. Science is not under attack. At issue is really whether the theory of evolution has a sufficient basis of scientific evidence and facts to convince the public that belief in creationism is inferior to the belief in evolution. At a higher level of debate is whether evolution can be considered a true discipline within biological science or whether it is more accurately described as a philosophy, based on assumptions of mechanistic development and application reliant more on faith than proven fact. For those with such an interest in faith vs reason, I strongly recommend anything written by Alvin Plantinga, a world-class American philosopher and warrior in this cognitive war of epistemology and science.

Dr. Richard J. Neves
Virginia Cooperative Research Unit Dept. of Fisheries & Wildlife Sciences
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Blacksburg, VA 24061