Recently, my favorite atheist (P.Z. Myers) went to the Answers in Genesis Creation Museum with about 300 fellow atheists. It was an event organized by the Secular Student Alliance. He wanted to go there to make fun of the exhibits and provide fodder for his blog.
The Creation Museum, of course, was happy to have them. They helped the SSA arrange the whole thing and had a tent outside for them, etc. In fact, the SSA’s organizer for the event, Lyz Lydell, said:
Now, I was absolutely blown away by how accommodating and friendly the Creation Museum staff were. They knew we were coming; they knew exactly who we were. And there had been a little bit of tension about the purpose of our visit before we went. But after we got there, the staff were just phenomenally polite and kind and helpful, and the security guards were very polite and helpful to us. We were expecting more tension, so to have everything so polite and so smooth was absolutely great.1
Imagine my surprise, then, when I read P.Z. Myer’s accounts of the visit.
The first thing that surprised me was Myer’s claim that
At the Creation “Museum”, one of the jobs of the guards is to suppress criticism. They hover about in rather conspicuous uniforms, armed with tasers, and some use police dogs to check out the visitors. They don’t want dissent expressed in their building, and they admit it themselves.2
Of course, that is a lie, and Myers know it. In fact, the link he uses to supposedly support the contention that the Creation Museum doesn’t like dissent is a report from a museum staffer about how careful they were to quiet the members of the SSA group ONLY when they were disturbing others. This, of course, is what you would expect of any good museum staff, and if the students of the SSA had manners, there would not have been a need to quiet anyone. No other museum would allow someone to go around bothering other visitors and making their experience less enjoyable. Thus, it is not surprising that staff at the Creation Museum would do the same thing.
In fact, Myers claims that the guards at the Creation Museum are nothing like the guards at the Smithsonian. I have been to both museums, and I agree – the guards at the Creation Museum are much more polite and more interested in helping people get answers to their questions than are the guards at the Smithsonian.
The next thing that surprised me is that Myers studiously avoids the science discussed at the Creation Museum. It seems to me that if the whole idea of young-earth creationism is as ludicrous as Myers claims, it would be rather easy for him to simply say, “Here’s what they say. Now…here’s the science that says it’s wrong.” Instead, he is reduced to name-calling and lying about what he saw.
For example, one of the more thought-provoking exhibits in the museum is found early on. There is a model of a dinosaur dig, and on the wall a video with two paleontologists who are working on a fossil dig. You learn that one of them is a young-earth creationist paleontologist, and one is an evolutionist. The key to the video is that both scientists look at the same data, but they each draw radically different conclusions from the data. The evolutionist in the video says something to the effect of, “Even though I disagree with my friend about his conclusions, I agree with him about the actual data.” The evolutionist, in the end, is a real scientist. He is open-minded and is willing to consider alternate ideas when those ideas are based on the data. He is also willing to work with those who disagree with him. Contrast that to what Myers said:
It is a profoundly dishonest display. No, they are not using the same evidence: the creationist is ignoring all but the most superficial appearances. The scientist says a few details about this particular dinosaur, but what Ken Ham hides is that every statement would have a large body of evidence in its support. This isn’t two guys stating their mere beliefs in a field…it’s one guy, the creationist, closing his eyes to the evidence and spouting Biblical gibberish, and one scientist stating the conclusions of substantial investigations. 3
Now please note that the evolutionist in the video doesn’t agree with Myers. He is the one who is actually doing the dig and talking with the creationist. He has also worked with the creationist. Who do you think is a better judge? Nevertheless, Myers cannot stand the fact that there are other opinions based on the data out there, so he has to throw his fellow evolutionist under the bus in order to protect his cozy little worldview. I can’t think of a more unscientific attitude, but it is rampant in Myers’ reports about the Creation Museum visit.
Of course, Myers can also lie pretty well. He does so further down in the same post, where he basically says that the Creation Museum promotes the Hamite Theory of Racial Origins, in which it is said that black people descended from the cursed son of Ham, Canaan. Of course, the Creation Museum does no such thing.
In fact, the founder of the Creation Museum wrote the book One Blood, which specifically says that there are no races of man. It uses powerful genetic arguments to show that there is simply no significant differences between the “races.” In fact, there are more genetic differences within a “race” than there are between the averages of the “races.” As a result, it is silly to even discuss the idea of race. We are all just one blood. How in the world can they promote a theory of racial origins? They don’t believe there are races to begin with!
For Myers to claim that the Creation Museum promotes something diametrically opposed to what it actually promotes indicates two things to me:
1. Myers simply cannot argue with the science at the Creation Museum. Thus, he is reduced to trying to paint the museum as racist in order to try to discredit it. In fact, Myers discredits himself with such dishonest tactics.
2. Myers can’t do even the simplest research to see what the Creation Museum actually promotes when it comes to race. All he would have needed to do was to get on their website and put “race” in the search engine. He couldn’t be bothered to do even that, however, probably because he was afraid of seeing even more science that would make him uncomfortable.
It is sad to see my favorite atheist so flummoxed by a museum. I don’t remember Ken Ham being reduced to lying about the Smithsonian because he disagreed with their take on human origins. But…I guess P.Z. Myers is no Ken Ham.