The War of the Museums
Some evolutionists have become very alarmed at the opening of the new Creation Museum in Kentucky (05/26/2007). They are so alarmed, in fact, that they are using pro-Darwin museums to counter-attack. Scientific American published a lengthy article on the war of the museums.
Elisabeth Landau quickly used terms to label creationism as pseudoscience: “Science Museums Adapt in Struggle against Creationist Revisionism,” the subtitle reads right off the bat. Additional slams in the article include, “a bogus idea” and “completely unfounded challenges to the theory of evolution.” Intelligent Design was quickly lumped into the same pot of boiling oil. By contrast, evolution is labeled as, “the only plausible thesis we have for explaining what we see in nature today.”
Given this mindset, the strategy is clear: take no prisoners, and counterattack. Evolutionists are mounting a museum and media campaign to counter the likes of the Creation Museum. They realize that the attractiveness of the Creation Museum needs to be outdone. The goal is to make evolution approachable and exciting with upbeat displays. Here are some examples mentioned in the article:
- Fly karaoke: Visitors attempt to mimic the courtship displays of Hawaiian fruit flies. This is part of “Explore Evolution,” a permanent exhibit at six museums throughout the midwest and southwest. The goal is to help visitors to explore evolutionary concepts in new ways. “Explore Evolution,” designed by Judy Diamond, is “one of many recent efforts by science museums to counter such resistance to evolution.” She came up with a “new plan to lure visitors: interactive activities about evolution and lessons on how scientists ply their trade.”
- Where’s P��bo: Another exhibit at “Explore Evolution” was described: “A giant wall of nucleotides compares the DNA of humans with that of their closer relatives, chimpanzees. And, in a Where’s Waldo-type game, visitors are challenged to find small figures representing famous evolutionary scientist Svante P��bo, director of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, to illustrate the 1 percent difference between human and chimp genomes.” (See 06/29/2007, “The Chimp-Human 1% Difference: A Useful Lie”).
- Act up: Another new traveling exhibit named “Life Changes,” funded by a $2.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation, will open in 2009 (Darwin’s 200th birthday). This exhibit is “mainly directed at children and will feature actors, who will tell stories about different birds to convey evolutionary principles.” Internet discussion groups and online courses are included.
- Heal thyself: “Surviving: the Body of Evidence” is another exhibit aimed at explaining evolutionary medicine. Opening at the University of Pennsylvania next April, it will attempt to show that evolution is important to understanding our bodies and benefiting health. Lactose intolerance and obesity, for instance, are claimed to be evolutionary artifacts of the change from a hunter-gatherer existence to an agricultural economy.
Remarkably, this exhibit will avoid evolutionary trees. It will only classify human ancestors into broad categories as early, middle and late. Why? The designer explained, “In evolution you can’t necessarily draw these ancestor-descendent relationship lines, because people are always in the process of discovering new things.”
- The Man: The “Darwin” Exhibit is currently at the Field Museum of Chicago after its run at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. For earlier entries on this exhibit, see 11/11/2005, 11/21/2005, and 12/16/2005, bullet 5.
- Meet the ancestors: The American Museum’s 13-year-old Hall of Human Origins has been reopened with updated exhibits and interactive displays. The SciAm article shows a picture of the dramatic entrance to the exhibit with skeletons of a chimpanzee, human and Neanderthal against backdrops of cells and DNA. This is part of a slide show on evolutionary exhibits included with the article.
- Get the story right: Upset at misrepresentations (or avoidance) of evolution at some secular museums, Colin Purrington (Swarthmore U) has a new website with ideas for helping your local museum present evolution properly and effectively. His photo page has 94 examples of evolutionary displays, some he considers good, some bad.
The first photo (one of his favorites) shows a child peeking through a hole at the top of an evolutionary tree. “Every zoo should have one of these,” he said, “though the caption at the bottom should be fixed to be less accommodating to evolution doubters.” He said he has been trying to convince a few zoos to erect bronze replicas of the evolutionary tree, “but generally people just roll their eyes at me.” Bronze was suggested so that “local fundamentalists wouldn’t be able to burn them.” This is a reference to a janitor who took umbrage at a Dover District school’s risque depiction of naked humans emerging from primitive ancestors. Apparently he burned the mural one night. Purrington considers this a cause celebre to portray Darwin doubters as anti-science, but it was not stated whether the janitor was opposed to evolution or might have considered the gratuitous nudity inappropriate (or distracting) for students.
- Dino Shuffle: A traveling exhibit based on the BBC Series “Walking with Dinosaurs” began making the rounds in Tacoma, Washington, reported PhysOrg. The stage show features 15 animated, life-size dinosaur models. “The show is so big it can only play to two-thirds of the seating at typical American arenas,” the article says. “The Tacoma Dome, for example, will seat 8,000 for each of the eight performances.” Tickets cost nearly $80 for adults. The show is slated for 100 American cities over the next few years. “The story … travels 200 million years from Triassic to the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods,” clearly a different take from that of the Creation Museum.
In short, it appears that the evolutionists have plenty of ammo to return fire against the Creation Museum. Virtually every other state and county museum in the country presents the evolutionary story as fact. The SciAm article ended with Purrington promoting a more in-your-face attitude by evolutionists toward doubters. He urged museums to take down disclaimers or warnings that visitors might be offended. The National Zoo in Washington, for instance, had a Stop sign erected before its display on chimpanzee-human relationships, stating that it “contains some things you may agree with, some you may disagree with, and others that may even trouble you.” Bosh, thinks Purrington: “You don’t get any of that foolishness in Europe” (cf. 06/22/2007).
“Darwin” exhibit curator Niles Eldredge (see 03/03/2007) summed up the attitude of the article toward public creationist displays: “hey people, we’re not going to take this lying down and we’re going to fight back.”
See also the 09/22/2005 story about how some museums are training their guides to deal with creationists.
One cartoon from Answers in Genesis says a thousand words. Unfortunately, it is not posted on their website, so we’ll attempt to describe it. The little Creation Museum is in the center, surrounded by terrified and angry buildings expressing fear and outrage that such a thing should exist. The buildings are personified depictions of dozens of huge, multi-million dollar, government-funded museums of dogmatic Darwinism.
Let’s do a brief survey of the evidence marshaled in support of the evolutionary displays, shall we? After all, these expensive and elaborate exhibits are doing their dead-level best to present evolution attractively to the public. One would think they would put their best scientific foot forward – here, if anywhere.
- Fruit flies: the 800 “different flies” that have evolved from a common ancestor: this is microevolution, which even Ken Ham believes. Irrelevant.
- Meeting real scientists: the appeal to authority and bandwagon fallacies. Why do they exclude Kepler, Boyle, Maxwell, von Braun, Damadian and other creationists?
- Humans and chimps: Explore Evolution repeats the myth that human and chimpanzee DNA differs by a mere 1%. That evolutionists would promote a bald lie (see 06/29/2007) is reprehensible. (Compare with this week’s claim in Science Daily that up to 10% of the modern human genome has changed in a few tens of thousands of years.)
- Kiwi: “Life Changes” uses the flightless bird from New Zealand as evidence for evolution. Creationists acknowledge kiwis as either created for their niche, or having lost flight – devolution, not evolution. Irrelevant. The other examples of “bird evolution” are not described in detail; maybe they meant finch beaks (08/24/2005).
- Evolutionary medicine: lactose intolerance and obesity easily fit into creationist models of human history and owe nothing to Darwinian evolution. They, too, represent downward steps, not increase in genetic information that evolution requires. Uncontroversial and irrelevant.
- Darwin: just a man with some weird ideas. Lot’s of people have weird ideas about how the world came to be. Another irrelevant appeal to authority, not evidence. Any Darwin-hyping is an appeal to the emotions, not to logic and reason and the weighing of evidence.
- Neanderthal: despite some DNA differences and skeletal morphology, most anthropologists believe Neanderthals fit within Homo sapiens and could have interbred with modern humans (see, for instance, 05/19/2005). For recent reports on the re-admission of Neanderthals (once considered human ancestors) into the modern human group, see 09/23/2005, 01/24/2006, bullets 2-3, 03/08/2007, bullet 8, and search on “Neandertal” or “Neanderthal” in the search bar.
Yet here is what the article claimed about all this. Note the lack of evidence:
Through DNA evidence, for example, scientists now know that Neandertals are a distinct kind of hominid with their own identity. Visitors can view a vial of actual 40,000-year-old Neandertal DNA alongside vials of human and chimp DNA and learn about how, say, Homo sapiens migrated out of eastern Africa 70,000 years ago. Fossils alone have not been able to tell this story, because of gaps in the fossil record, Tattersall says.
(Remember what we said about the phrase “now we know” in evolutionary parlance? (see 07/02/2007 commentary). They have relegated our Neanderthal brothers, who had bigger brain capacity, to an outcast group, like some kind of historical racism. The paragraph above is all bluffing about things they cannot know and do not have evidence to support. Of course, evolutionists would never stoop to lying to the public about human evolution, would they? (11/19/2004, 02/25/2005).
So that’s it. That is all the actual appeals to scientific evidence mentioned in the article. Impressed? The rest is all hot air and blathering about how ignorant and dangerous the creationists are, with their one museum against dozens parading Darwin’s dangerous idea unquestioningly.
One last thing you should notice about this article. As usual, the Darwin Party wants no debate or discussion – even about the difficulties or problems evolutionists argue about among themselves. This is so typical. (Exercise: think of other segments of society that behave this way.) Some of us were taught as teens that science is an open-minded inquiry into the phenomena of the natural world, where no ideas are sacred, and every idea must be supported with evidence and subject to falsification. But whenever anyone dares to question something that might besmirch the holy robes of Pope Charlie, the wrath of the inquisition knows no bounds. The Darwinists force their ideas on children at zoos and museums with an in-your-face haughtiness, yet become aghast when a creation museum dares present a different view (with loads of evidence).
Creationists, by contrast, have long taken the initiative to discuss these issues in the open marketplace of ideas. Early creationist attempts tried to promote balanced treatment. When that lost, maybe an appeal to accuracy about Darwin’s theory (no more lies in textbooks about Haeckel’s hoaxed embryos, etc.) but the verdict of judges (not scientists), acting singlehandedly (Overton, Jones, Cooper), was No! Darwin only! Dogmatism only! D.O.D.O.! We won’t even allow you to read a disclaimer or put one in a textbook encouraging students to be open-minded! Then, when a meek well-liked teacher says “Fine; we’ll talk about it not in a science class, but in an elective philosophy class,” her small-town school was threatened with a bankrupting lawsuit (01/25/2006). This is the kind of paranoia Darwinists routinely exhibit against free speech.
In their 30 years of evolution debates on college campuses, Morris and Gish went to leading campuses in America and abroad, winning debate after debate. It got to the point where it was hard to find an evolutionist willing to take part. Eugenie Scott even advised her fellow evolutionists not to debate them. Why? Despite her spin that Morris and Gish were expert debaters (they were not, never having been trained or taught in debating), the fact was that crowds usually sided with the creationists. Votes showed they thought the creationists made the better case based on the evidence. Evolutionist debaters often made fools of themselves, appealing to religious arguments instead of scientific arguments. Often they came completely unprepared to defend the very theory they were glibly teaching their students year after year. The audience could see right through them. Richard Dawkins refuses to debate creationists about scientific evidence any more (though he has recently debated some theologians), but he doesn’t hesitate to spew his one-sided venom against anyone who believes in a Creator. There have been some intelligent-design debates in recent years, but again, these were almost all initiated by the anti-evolution side.
For decades, Dr. Walter Brown has had a standing offer to hold a refereed written debate with an evolutionist on scientific evidence (no religious arguments allowed). He has never had a taker. Dr. Joseph Mastropaolo offers a $10,000 prize to any evolutionist who can win a debate before a superior court judge on evidence that is “scientific, that is, objective, valid, reliable and calibrated.” 141 leading evolutionists and 35 institutions have all been challenged to this debate but have declined. Over and over again, the Darwinists have dodged the opportunity to prove their view scientifically before a neutral audience. Instead, they want to crush all dissent yet be free to present their lopsided, one-sided views dogmatically without any questions or challenges (02/24/2006) Here, we see them trying to dress it up with techno-pop like “fly karaoke.” For crying out loud (or laughing hysterically), it’s pathetic (02/10/2006).
The creationists have one wildcard going for them in this battle: common sense. Decades – nay, centuries – of materialist propaganda has not convinced the majority of the public that humans have bacteria ancestors. Biblical creationists would add that this is a spiritual battle for the soul of man, motivated by Satan, the father of lies, but the gates of hell cannot prevail against God’s truth written in man’s conscience. Given the behavior of the evolutionists demonstrated above, you are welcome to form your own conclusion.