When the North American Paleontology Convention was held in Cincinnati last week, a group international scientists visited the nearby Creation Museum and the New York Times covered their visit. In the article published yesterday, the scientists convey astonishment, amusement, and mild to moderate revulsion at the misportrayal of scientific knowledge. There’s also a gem of a quote by Dr. Arnold I. Miller, the University of Cincinnati geologist who organized the convention and suggested the trip to the museum:
Too often, academics tend to ignore what’s going on around them… I feel at least it would be valuable for my colleagues to become aware not only of how creationists are portraying their own message, but how they’re portraying the paleontological message and the evolutionary message.
In the culture war over science and religion, words are weapons. Dr. Miller’s words here—intentionally or not—are sharp and strategic. The assumption that the creationist message is separate from paleontological or evolutionary messages is subtle but eviscerating. The brand of creationism advocated by the museum—which is run by Answers in Genesis, the same people who attempt to fight science with the pseudoscientific publication Answers Research Journal—uses the language and imagery of science to assemble a biblical explanation. (As the Times article puts it, “same facts, different conclusions.”) Consequently, parsing the paleontological and evolutionary components of the museum from the creationist mission undermines the strategy of the $27 million Creation Museum.