Today's the day that Answers In Genesis' museum of ignorance, their "looks like, acts like, smells like, and pretends to be, but decidedly is not a science museum," the Creation Museum opens.
I'm horrified about this on many levels. As a scientist, I'm horrified about it just like every other scientist who is writing about this. We've got a slickly presented museum that looks like a science museum presenting carefully crafted lies (there is no other word for it) designed to comfort people in their scientific ignorance, designed to deeply instill scientific ignorance in children of a certain faith. Given that that certain faith is also the most popular faith of my country (the USA), this is bad news for the future of this country. Promoting and increasing scientific ignorance is a bad thing.
But there's another aspect about this that bothers me. It bothers me, seriously, as a Christian.
First, there's the fact that these jokers loudly proclaim themselves as Christians, and not only that, but as somehow the "true" Christians. It seems that they've defined the purest Christians as the most ignorant ones, the ones who believe that thinking critically is a sin, the ones who believe that the Bible must be interpreted literally even where it makes no sense because, even though they claim that we are somehow "different" from the animals because we can cogitate, we're not really supposed to cogitate.
It's embarrassing. It's deeply embarrassing. It makes me hesitate to admit that I'm a Christian in many crowds, because the association is immediately going to be with the ignorant jokers who put together high-funded and very slick marketing crap like this Creation Museum. I have nothing to do with them, despise what they are doing, and am very angry that they are besmirching the name of my religious tradition. I mean, there's a lot of serious bad crap that's been done in the name of my religious tradition in the past. The Crusades, the Inquisition, all of that. There's also lots of scientific ignorance (e.g. the whole Galileo Affair) that has been done in the name of this religion in the past. But grow up already! There are plenty of Christians around today who have no problem with what we know to be true with modern science! There is no need to deny facts and truth to remain Christian! If there were, then Christianity would truly be obsolete. As it is, though, you can be a Christian and still fully accept science. Alas, the best funded Christians are able to put together crap like this creation museum, and it embarrasses and angers me.
It's also bad for Christians. If Christianity is to continue to have meaning as a faith, it can't base so much of what it claims to be "true" on things that are blatantly false. It can't go around misrepresenting and warping the "evidence" to try to "prove" things that are simply wrong in an attempt to deny that human knowledge is different today than it was thousands of years ago when humans wrote the Bible. Christianity can continue to have meaning as a faith, as evidenced by me and many, many others (e.g. those who have signed the Clergy Letter Project) who fully embrace modern science and yet still consider ourselves to be Christians. The people behind the Creation Museum are backwards, ignorant, misled, and often outright prevaricating drags on humanity, people who would hold back human knowledge and keep the world covered in a dark shroud of ignorance to promote their own personal and proven incorrect version of their religious faith. They would relegate Christianity to the dustbin of history by insisting that "true" Christians are those who believe wrong things, those who are ignorant. Too many young Christians who have at least a hope of having their minds opened and realizing that they can fully understand, learn about, and even contribute to the human intellectual endeavor without sacrificing their faith will have further walls built to preserve the ignorance they are being taught by their parents, further ammunition they can use to maintain their incorrect and backwards version of their faith against the onslaught of reality.
It makes me very sad for all those children who will think that dinosaurs are icons of an ignorant and stupid creationist museum rather than the coolest megafauna that have lived on Earth and a great way to think about "deep time" and the ways in which the surface of this planet has been very, very different over the eons of its existence. When I was a kid, I was way into dinosaurs. Nothing made me happier than going to a science museum and seeing a big 'ol dinosaur skeleton, or seeing a mockup of dinosaurs in speculated or estimated natural habitats. The kids who go to this museum, though, are going to be stuff that is known to be wrong, and will from a young age associated dinosaurs with religious ignorance. It's sad for those children, it's sad for this country, it's sad for science, and it's sad for both the future of and the reputation of my faith tradition.
I can't also be a little bit bitter hearing the rumors that the museum cost $27 million to build. Never mind that if given a tenth of that to invest, I could fund my research very, very handsomely for the rest of my life. $27 million would buy a lot of good science museums, planetariums, and educational programs for children that would teach real science, not lies and ignorance, dressed up in a slick package and explicitly designed to set back science education. It's a free country, and people are free to misspend their money on stupid things. But that's a lot of money spent on something actively damaging.
Christians, wake up. Decry this ignorance, for that is what it is. Take back the name of your faith, and call out these ignorant creationists for what they are. Don't let them claim that any sort of Biblical literalism is at all holy or pure or a evidence of strong faith in the face of a cultural assault. Paint it for what it is; willful ignorance, held to and promoted, an embarrassing excuse for a religious tradition, an embarrassing excuse for human activity.
Words are not able to express how strong my horror and anger at the opening of this museum is.