Aside of Ham

Aside of Ham

Aside of Ham

Bad Astronomy
The entire universe in blog form
May 17 2007 8:32 PM

Aside of Ham

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Phil Plait Phil Plait

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  

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Note: I originally misspelled Ken Ham's name. That has been fixed. He is, however, still an antiscience evildoer.

Y'all know how I feel about creationists. Yea, verily. So you can imagine how I feel about Ken Ham, a noted shill for antiscience, who has built the Museum of Creation in Boone County, Kentucky. And you can really imagine how I feel when I tell you it cost $26 million! We have science education centers in this country looking for spare change under the sofa cushion, and those liars have money getting shipped to them by the wheelbarrow full!

Several groups have planned a peaceful protest of the museum, including the "Rally for Reason", a protest for "...Atheists, Freethinkers, Humanists and other non-believers -- as well as religious, civic and educational organizations that support good science". I have said many times that it's the religious people who should be protesting creationism the most -- it's the fundamentalists who are stealing their religion away from them in the public eye. The protest is Monday, May 28th, starting at 9:00 a.m. according to the article linked above (there is more info there, so go read it).

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Needless to say, the creationist group Answers in Genesis, which is sponsoring the museum, aren't happy with the protests. See if you can spot all the logical fallacies and untruths on that page. I'll give you one for free:

When Dr. Scott and the NCSE claim that students who believe in a creation view will need remedial instruction in science, they are completely off base. A scientist's perspective on origins has nothing to do with whether or not they can perform empirical research. Many great scientists of the past believed in a Creator. Increasing numbers of scientists today also affirm belief in the creation account in Genesis. These stand as a powerful testimony against their misguided claim of the need for remediation.

As an additional example, consider the MRI (magnetic resonance imaging system) which was invented by Raymond Damadian who is a strong creationist. Does this machine work differently because its inventor believed in a Creator? Of course not.

There are two problems with this reasoning. So, the inventor was a creationist. OK then, what did he base that invention on? Magnetism, and quantum mechanics. These are both scientific fields, and both of which, in every way possible, point to the Universe being older than 10,000 years. The decay rates of uranium, magnetic fields in stars (and pulsars), the magnetic field frozen in to the rocks of the Earth near the mid-Atlantic ridge, and on and on. So the inventor was able to use some fields of science to create a wonderful device (which has been used on me more than once, I'll add), but was able to completely ignore all the other ramifications. Amazing.

The other part of this statement that's wrong is using this as an example that brainwashing kids into creationism doesn't stop them from great scientific advances. I will guarantee you that the man who invented the MRI was a very, very smart fellow (deluded, but smart). What proportion of the population can do stuff like that? A very tiny fraction. Using him as an example of the fine creationist science education is like the Lottery Commission holding up the 250 million-to-1 winner and saying "This could be you!" Sure, it could be. But it won't be.

If we really just let them teach what they want, the vast majority of the kids cultivated into creationism would not be able to parse the science well enough to figure out they're being lied to. We're having enough trouble educating kids in science as it is.

Interestingly, the AiG page several times mentions that the National Center for Science Education -- a group that fights religious fundamentalism in the form of creationism and ID from taking over our schools -- is planning on protesting, but I saw nothing on the NCSE site. I'll have to find out what they're doing. I can't make it, but any critical thinkers in the Boone County, Kentucky area would be most welcome.