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The Creation Museum – Disneyland Revisited

I unapologetically acknowledge that I am trained as a scientist. My father was an engineer. My grandfather was an engineer. Logic was revered on the alter in the home of my youth. It has long intrigued me that a substantial percentage of Americans reject the concept of Darwinian evolution. At the risk of offending those who fall into that category, what the hell kind of Kool-Aid are you drinking? I can’t see how anyone with a touch of education and a hint of cerebral activity can believe otherwise. I can think of few things in the scientific world that are so incredibly self evident.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered that the Museum of Creation and Earth History is just a few miles from where I live in San Diego. Finally I’d have a chance to see and hear the arguments in opposition to Darwinian evolution. It would be a relief if I could see the other side and gain some appreciation and respect for it. It proved to be false optimism on my part.

I arrived at the “museum” and wasted no time embarking upon my quest for knowledge. I slowly marched from beginning to end, from “Day One” to “Day Six” and didn’t rest until I got to “Day Seven”. I read every single placard, studied each and every exhibit and watched and listened to every audio-visual presentation in the building. They had all been prepared by the “creation scientists” from the “Institute of Creation Research” (ICR). I made every reasonable effort to go into this thing with a wide open mind; it would have been foolish to drive so far in the rain only to leave eyes, ears and mind behind.

Was I impressed? Absolutely. What did I find? I found an incredible collection of some of the most nonsensical arguments, conclusions, presumptions and claims imaginable. The “scientists” concocted elaborate scenarios in their attempts to “prove” creation science belonged in the same room as the study of Darwinian evolution. I found an amazing collection of circular arguments that wouldn’t begin to stand up in the presence of legitimate science or in the light of deductive reasoning. I found claims about legitimate science that were simply false; I couldn’t tell if the nonsensical claims were rooted in ignorance or malicious deceit. There were so many “red herrings” in the building, I’m surprised it didn’t smell like a fish market.

The “scientists” went to great lengths to take some specific example where proponents of Darwinian evolution were not in complete agreement as to how to interpret the available data and used it as “proof” the entire concept was invalid. Not only did it invalidate the entire science of evolution, it somehow “proved” that biblical creationism was valid as if it were the only other possibility. This would be like taking a stack of test papers submitted by a third grade class and using the incorrect answers as proof that arithmetic didn’t exist. When their “science” hit a logical roadblock, it was either ignored or the rules of the game were temporarily suspended. One plaque said the laws of nature were dramatically different right after the creation; their preposterous claims wouldn’t have made sense otherwise. Later, when arguing against legitimate science, the creationists would scoff at the concept that we would ever be governed by anything other than Newtonian physics. Consistency was apparently not of great importance to the ICR.

The great flood of Genesis seemed to rest at the center of the museum’s theme. I couldn’t understand how the existence of Noah’s Ark and his water borne petting zoo proved the earth was only 6,000 years old, but creation scientists must be able to make the connection. Some of the proofs proffered for Noah and the ark were truly laughable, but as I walked from exhibit to exhibit, the metaphor of a flood seemed apropos.

Initially, I couldn’t begin to understand how an intelligent, prescient human being could buy into the cartoon world presented in the museum. But the further I descended into the darkness and the flood of nonsensical arguments, I began to understand it a little better. I tried to imagine how someone with a very limited grasp of legitimate science would process the seemingly unending sequence of ridiculous claims. The pamphlets, the exhibits and placards almost took on a hypnotic character. One ridiculous claim led to another then another and yet another. After fifty or a hundred or two hundred such claims, it started to feel like a preponderance of the evidence was aligned against evolution. I could see how someone with a dearth of education could fall victim to the fallacious arguments when presented in rapid fire succession.

No, surely anyone can stand back, shake the foolishness from his mind and purge the nonsense. But then I let my mind take me to a concert. Most everyone has been to that concert. They’re playing a type of music with which you’re not intimately familiar. Often, it happens at a quasi-classical concert punctuated with poignant pauses and moments of silence. The performer pauses and someone concludes the piece has ended and begins to applaud. The performer continues on and the person applauding realizes he has shown his ignorance and crawls under his seat to escape the condescending eyes of his fellow concert goers. The lesson learned it to never applaud unless you’re either damn certain the piece is over or until a certain percentage of the audience has begun to applaud. You learn to avoid embarrassment by going with the crowd.

The same phenomena apply to those who choose “creation science” over Darwinian evolution. I’m convinced that many of these people when confronted with a simple claim like those made in the museum and given a clear, unfettered mind, would stand back and say, “That’s a cute, but ridiculous argument.” But then that person looks over toward friends and family for support and sees no one is applauding. The herd slowly walks toward the cliff and no one is willing to talk about the absurdity. “It must be valid,” thinks the individual, “because everyone around me appears to be buying into it.” When a certain critical mass is reached, the collective ignorance of the crowd reinforces the ignorance of the individual who then joins the crowd.

It dawned on me that this is largely how idiot science sustains itself. It began to scare the hell out of me. Think of the implications as to how to control large groups of people. George Orwell talked about it in “1984”. We see it every day as the powerful influence the masses, the lobbies control the electorate and media controls the minds of an anesthetized American public. They use tools like television, radio, sports, and churches. And no one applauds because they’re not sure when the music starts or when it ends. The power of the “tribe” is monumental. And for many, like a great flood and inundation, it’s simply too much to handle. That’s the way it’s been since time began 6,000 years ago.

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