Monday, March 26, 2007


Hooray For Captain Spaulding!

There is an interesting article about Answers in Genesis' Creation Museum, presently under construction near Cincinnati, Ohio. While I think it is a bit over the top to be quoting Hannah Arendt's The Origins of Totalitarianism in connection with Ken Ham, there is more than a tad of truth in this summary of creationism by Chris Hedges, even if we have to call Godwin's Law on him:

The danger of creationism is that, like the pseudo-science of Nazi eugenics, it allows facts to be accepted or discarded according to the dictates of a preordained ideology. Creationism removes the follower from the rational, reality-based world. Signs, miracles and wonders occur not only in the daily life of Christians but in history, science, medicine and logic. The belief system becomes the basis to understand the world. Random facts and data are collected and made to fit into this belief system or discarded. When facts are treated as if they were opinions, when there is no universal standard to determine truth, in law, in science, in scholarship, or in the reporting of the events of the day, the world becomes a place where people can believe what they want to believe, where there is no possibility of reaching any conclusion not predetermined by those who interpret the official, divinely inspired text. This is the goal of creationists.
The comparison of creationism with Nazi eugenics is remote, in the sense that many lesser evils, more in the same league as creationism, are available for that purpose. Not least of them is the campaign by the Righteous Right to stop stem-cell research or to limit use of the human papilloma virus vaccine. Hyperbole, without a sense of humor, is an ugly sight.

On the other hand, the report of a visit to Hamland has some vivid pictures of how belief can slip the bonds of sense. My favorite, and the one that drew my attention to this in the first place, is the following:

Before Adam and Eve were expelled from paradise, museum visitors are told, all of the dinosaurs were peaceable plant-eaters. The evidence is found in Genesis 1:30, where God gives "green herb" to every creature to eat. There were no predators. T-Rex had such big teeth, the museum explains, so it could open coconuts.
That's nearly as insane as the parody that came out of the usenet site explaining spiders' webs before The Fall as being used to catch falling grapes. Once the spider drained them with its vegetarian fangs, Adam and Eve had nice raisins to eat.

It just goes to show you, as Alan Morgan said, "Any sufficiently advanced parody is indistinguishable from a genuine kook."

And, yes, I know Captain Spaulding was from Animal Crackers ... it just seemed appropriate as a title somehow.
Update: I was always a little concerned about the underlying article, since I couldn't independently confirm that anyone at AiG really maintained that T-Rexs needed their formidable teeth to open coconuts. Thanks to a hint by a commenter at Pharyngula, I checked Ken Ham's blog, which apparently isn't searched by AiG's own engine and found an entry where Ham denies the story. He does say that "all animals, including the T-Rex dinosaurs ate plants originally." Of course, he doesn't say why a vegetarian T-Rex needed six inch carnivore's teeth or how it managed to eat … well … whatever. But, hey! When you are positing a 6,000 old Earth, those kind of things are barely perceptible problems.

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