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Reactions to creation "museum"


With the young-earth creationist ministry Answers in Genesis scheduled to open its lavish creation museum in northern Kentucky over the Memorial Day weekend, there is a great deal of concern among the scientific and educational communities in the adjacent states about its impact on the public understanding of evolution. NCSE executive director Eugenie C. Scott told ABC's Good Morning America (May 25, 2007) that her fear is that students will "show up in classrooms and say, 'Gee, Mrs. Brown, I went to this spiffy museum last summer and they say that everything you're teaching me is a lie.'"

Early reports from the museum suggest that its exhibits are just as scientifically misleading as expected. Edward Rothstein of The New York Times (May 24, 2007) offered a bemused review of the museum, which impressed him with its "sheer weirdness and daring." In a report in the eSkeptic newsletter (May 23, 2007), Stephen T. Asma, the author of a book on the history of natural history museums, said that skeptics will find the museum quirky and amusing, but added, "When I think, however, of the young children who are unprepared to critically assess the museum, my sense of humor fades."

Over 800 scientists in the three states surrounding the museum -- Kentucky, Indiana, and Ohio -- have signed a statement sponsored by NCSE reading, "We, the undersigned scientists at universities and colleges in Kentucky, Ohio, and Indiana, are concerned about scientifically inaccurate materials at the Answers in Genesis museum. Students who accept this material as scientifically valid are unlikely to succeed in science courses at the college level. These students will need remedial instruction in the nature of science, as well as in the specific areas of science misrepresented by Answers in Genesis."

Additionally, the Campaign to Defend the Constitution [Link broken] (or DefCon) is sponsoring two petitions denouncing the creationist pseudoscience on display at the museum: one for educators, signed by over 3500 teachers, and one for the general public, signed by over 15,000 signatories. "The main problem," Lawrence Krauss, a professor of physics and astronomy at Case Western Reserve University and a member of DefCon's advisory board, told the Lexington Herald-Leader (May 25, 2007), "is that this is a museum of misinformation." In his opinion column in the Louisville Courier-Journal (May 22, 2007), Krauss was similarly outspoken, describing [Link broken] the museum as "an educational travesty."

And a protest called Rally for Reason is scheduled to take place outside the museum on Memorial Day, with a press event to be held on the preceding Sunday. Rally for Reason's organizer Edwin Kagin told the Cincinnati Enquirer (May 25, 2007), "We want to let the world know that most rational people do not share the primitive world view of creationists that the Earth is only a few thousand years old, and that humans and dinosaurs existed at the same time." "Various groups, representing both religious and secular orientations, will join together to protest this destructive world view" at the rally, he added.

The editorialist for the Los Angeles Times (May 24, 2007) cut to the heart of the matter, lamenting, "Young Earthers believe the world is about 6,000 years old, as opposed to the 4.5 billion years estimated by the world's credible scientific community. This would be risible if anti-evolution forces were confined to a lunatic fringe, but they are not," citing the political influence of creationism. The editorial concluded, "With the opening of the Creation Museum, young people will be getting another side of the story. Too bad it starts with 'Yabba-dabba-doo!'"