One of my brothers attends a large Christian church whose doctrine lines up solidly on the right. Although the congregation is apparently more diverse than most fundamentalist churches, the ministry preaches the six-day creation of Genesis.
During my nephew’s graduation party, my brother introduced me to one of the ministers of the church. He told me that they were having a guest from the newly-opened Creation Museum in Kentucky and wanted to know if I would be interested in publicly debating the guest on the topic of evolution versus creation.
I told him I had no interest in such a debate and briefly explained why. I did engage in such a debate once, and learned my lesson. Oh, I came out ok, but nobody ever really wins those debates anyway.
Creationist debaters come armed with slick audio-visual presentations designed to wow the audience and slam evolution with innuendos and half-truths. The pro-evolution debater then has about two minutes to teach the audience the science of evolution. I’m a science teacher and it takes me the good part of a month to cover the subject, and then it’s a rather superficial treatment. There is no way a debater can present the evidence for evolution in the span of a two-minute debate with a minute of rebuttal.
On top of that, the creationist debaters always have their vast following of fundamentalists crowding the auditorium. Evolutionists have no organized followers. There is no church of evolution. Scientists are busy in their labs. They all already know that evolution is true and proven by evidence, so they have no need to debate. Besides, a person of science debating a creationist lends credibility where none exists.
After the minister left, I told my brother he seemed like a nice guy and asked if he was the head minister. My brother told me no, that he was the education minister.
My immediate reaction was, “Now that’s scary.” And then I proceeded to tell him how I had already written a piece for the Indianapolis Star stating my opinion about the museum.
He said that just because I didn’t believe in it didn’t mean I had to go around bashing it publicly and that my belief didn’t make it wrong to have such a place.
But it is wrong. I understand freedom of religion and I support it. People are free to believe whatever mythology they like. But the Creation Museum is a detriment to society, not just a place where people can profess one belief or another. It actively teaches children that the earth was created in six days only a few thousand years ago and that all species of life were individually created within that span of time by God.
Not only that, it teaches it using what appears to be some sort of scientific methodology. It’s a museum that shows fossils and dinosaur exhibits like a real science museum does. It uses scientific terminology. It tries to make itself legitimate by masquerading as a legitimate science when, in fact, it is simply a religious belief that not even all Christians subscribe to.
In that respect, it is dangerous. It is far worse than simply being wrong, it is being deceitful. I don’t have any problem with the museum per se. And if they posted a clear disclaimer stating that the views therein were religious dogma and not in any way intended to reflect a scientific viewpoint, I wouldn’t be complaining.
But the curators want the public to believe their presentations and displays have scientific merit. And in that respect, they’re liars. As such, the mainstream Christian community ought to crusade vehemently against such deceitful organizations.
In recent polls, nearly half of all Americans said they believe the creation myth of the bible. Yet only small minorities of Christians are fundamentalists. The mainstream denominations, such as the Lutherans, Episcopalians, Methodists, Disciples of Christ, United Church of Christ, Catholics, and Jews have no problem accepting evolutionary science. But a significant percentage of their congregations don’t believe the science because they have been listening to the steady drumbeat of the fundamentalist brainwashers who have the money and resources to promote their pseudoscience.
It’s very unfortunate that the only ones teaching our kids true science are the science teachers, and not even all of them. Many have become discouraged or jaded and have simply given up the battle.
I’m not there yet. Hopefully I can soldier on, because it’s a war worth winning for the sake of our youth. They need to be taught how to think for themselves instead of following the mindless drivel of the right-wing zealots. They need to know that there is a real, rational method for discovering the truth. That method is science.