The Smart Set visits the Creation "Museum"


Writing in The Smart Set -- a new independent on-line magazine supported by Drexel University and named for the literary magazine that flourished in the 1920s -- Jesse Smith relates his trip to Answers in Genesis's Creation Museum. Bookending his visit with trips to Big Bone Lick State Park (which commemorates the birthplace of American vertebrate paleontology) and the Cincinnati Museum of Natural History and Science, Smith found the AiG museum's message muddled: "I studied science in college, but I still leave a little confused. Not by whether or not I agree with the show's points, but by what those points actually were. A lot of scientific-sounding facts are thrown out, followed by general statements of how this, then, proves that evolution can't be true."

Smith also talked to protesters in front of the AiG museum from Rally for Reason; Rally for Reason's Carly Nichols explained that the rally's purpose was to oppose a threat posed by the museum to the integrity of science education, adding, "We don't have the power or the right to try to shut it down." Smith expressed concern about the degree to which the rally seemed to be dominated by atheism, asking a protester, "Don't they risk pitting the religious against the non-religious?" It is pertinent to note that there were also protests that focused exclusively on issues about the integrity of science education, including petitions organized by the Campaign to Defend the Constitution [Link broken], a press release from the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology, and a statement of concern organized by NCSE and signed by almost 1000 scientists in the three states surrounding the museum.

And The Smart Set also interviews Drexel paleontologist Kenneth J. Lacovara about the museum, science education, and the common creationist claim that evolution subverts morality. Lacovara describes the Creation Museum as a travesty, adding, "Scientifically it's the same as having an anti-gravity museum or a flat Earth museum. Evolution is the fundamental tenet of natural sciences, and in their case it's not just evolution but also the antiquity of the Earth. If you don't believe that the Earth is old and if you don't believe that organisms change through time then you essentially don't believe in the disciplines of geology, biology, medicine, or astronomy. I don't think it's hyperbole to say that they're taking a medieval view on some of the most important topics in science."

Also of interest in The Smart Set is a column about the Scopes trial by Anne Janette Johnson, the author of a recent high-school-level book entitled The Scopes "Monkey Trial" (Omnigraphics, 2006). After providing a serviceable review of the major issues, personalities, and events in the trial, Johnson concludes her column with the thought that "More than 80 years after his death, Bryan's name is still allied with a faction in the American populace, growing in numbers and political clout, who seek to advance his agenda." Alluding to a passage in Huckleberry Finn, she adds, "If the Book of Genesis said that the moon laid the stars like a frog lays its eggs, these modern standard-bearers for the Old Time Religion would search for scientific proof that 'of course it could be done.'"