Ken Ham’s Museum of Creation

I’ve been wanting to say something about Ken Ham’s new Creation Museum. It was going to be something witty, and stinging, and insightful.

But it turns out that almost everyone with a blog has beaten me to the punch, and Pharyngula has gone to all the effort of collating their comments. As usual, the blogosphere has Ken’s number, and the ‘real’ journalists have mostly been left looking like buffoons in their efforts to remain ‘fair and balanced’. Pharyngula makes a very good point about the media’s responsibility in these cases:

Really, journalists: you can objectively report the claims of both sides, but when one side is wrong and lying, it’s your job to also report that.

And here’s my other favorite quote from the collection:

It says quite a lot about Ham and his followers that they find a 4.5-billion-year-old Earth wildly implausible next to the notion of a tyrannosaur calmly grazing in a meadow.

Go! Read and be merry.


39 Responses to “Ken Ham’s Museum of Creation”

  1. Con-Tester Says:

    That is not a good page for someone with bipolar disorder to read. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

    Some years ago I was banned from Fred Williams’s discussion forum (itself a veritable monument to man’s capacity for promoting ignorance and twaddle) after a discussion of T. Rex’s teeth with one of the forum’s mods. See, I didn’t realise at the time that he was perfectly serious when he suggested that T. Rex’s teeth had their particular shape and configuration so that T. Rex could eat – I kid you not – “soft fruit” (bananas were thought to be ideal) that didn’t require any mastication, and for scraping bark off trees. In reply I suggested that anyone who looks at T. Rex’s jaws and believes that must be bananas, having had the bark stripped from their brain so that it resembled “soft fruit”, i.e. an ideal snack-between-snacks for T. Rex. But it was probably my claim about the sabre-tooth tiger having lived on a diet of olives and cherries because those canines were ideal stoning tools, that got me bumped.

    As it happens, the banana on its own is also a weapon in some creationists’ arsenal of lies, but that’s an even more embarrasingly asinine bit of baloney.

  2. Con-Tester Says:

    I meant to add: The sabre-tooth tiger’s canines were actually used for digging up roots, so I suppose they were justified in banning me…

  3. I know exactly what Con-Tester means. “Yabba-dabba science” made me laugh until I cried.

  4. residentRsole Says:

    Con-Tester: Don’t you mean “sabre-toothed cat”, particularly the smilodon ? I loved how it was brought to life by the same people who produced “Walking with dinosaurs”. Perhaps you should have suggested that those long canines were for making kebabs – of olives and cherries.

  5. The T-Rex and the Saber tooth Tiger were pussies. The real terrors were the Woolly Mammoths. Those prehensile trunks are ideal for sucking the marrow out of crush bones.

    Oh what a terror early man had to face.

  6. residentRSole,
    Yup, I do mean smilodon. The Wiki entry reflects that “tiger” and “cat” are equally acceptable. However, I do recognise that “tiger” sounds much more, er…, feral and predatory than “cat” does, and we simply cannot allow such a suggestion to taint the character of a frugivorous feline now, can we? Because, next thing before you even know it, there’ll be lots of talk about such things as “cicada killer wasps” inhabiting the Garden of Eden. It should be obvious that these wasps started out on a diet of sikanas, and only switched to cicadas (their hearing was not much better than their spelling ability, see) once Adam and Eve had royally screwed things up for everyone else forever after. Oddly enough, the latter event also involved some fruit.

  7. Con-Tester: aaah yes, the banana, the atheists’ worst nightmare. How i do fondly remember the sad attempt to claim that the banana was made by god to be eaten by man. How staunchly did they ignore the fact that the wild banana is inedible, and that the noble fruit that we know and love is a product of genetic engineering. Also, what was god thinking when he made the pineapple?

    kyknoord: I wonder if Ken Ham thought the Flintstones was a documentary?

    residentRsole: nonsense, the smilodon’s teeth were designed for adam and eve to tie vines to, thereby fashioning reins so that they could ride around on the backs of these playful creatures.

    What I want to know is why some dinosaurs were so well armoured if they had no natural predators? What else would be the point of all that heavy plating and those unwieldy spikes and spines? Man, God must be a real shit.

  8. Con-Tester Says:

    Also, what was god thinking when he made the pineapple?

    Roto-Rooter? Or maybe something to challenge the panda’s thumb he was planning, which in turn may have inspired the idea of forbidden fruit.

    What else would be the point of all that heavy plating and those unwieldy spikes and spines?

    Earthmoving equipment. For agriculture, of course.

  9. residentRsole Says:

    Con-Tester: The Wiki entry reflects that “tiger” and “cat” are equally acceptable That’s interesting. When I was at school and university we were told firmly that the phrase “sabre tooth tiger” was nonsense and that the correct name was “sabre toothed cat”. I guess that they have given up trying to point this out. Okay, sabre tooth tiger it is.
    moonflake:Crocodiles are also heavily armoured and they were around during the time of the dinosaurs. I wonder how many other reptiles that lived in that period were also armoured. It is said that evolution has not changed the croc much (although humans have changed them into handbags and suitcases. Occasionally, anacondas change them into lunch ). It still has its inprenetrable skin, long after the death of our cuddly banana-eating T-Rex. But that still doesn’t answer your question.
    Screw the pine-apple, what about the coco-de-mer ?

  10. Con-Tester Says:

    A few further intriguing pre-“The Fall” dietary questions occur to me:
    (*) What did the venus flytrap and other present-day carnivorous plants eat?
    (*) What about ticks, fleas, mosquitoes, etc. (though not strictly killers, they are predators of a sort, needing blood)?
    (*) How did worms and such avoid getting accidently killed by being inside a fruit some larger animal chose to feed on?

    The mind fairly boggles at the possibilities here.

  11. can you imagine T-Rex trying to peel a banana and then get it into his mouth, using his tiny ineffectual arms?

  12. residentRsole Says:

    Drat ! I did not type the </b> tag correctly. Moonflake, can you correct my typo, please ?

  13. residentRsole Says:

    I just took the photo-tour of the Creation Museum. How typical. They’re quite happy to show gruesome diaromas but no nudity. Also, Adam and Eve are attractive caucasians.

    moonflake: Adam and Eve hand-fed the T-Rex bananas.

    Con-Tester: Good points. The creationists might argue that God created these horrible creatures as punishment after The Fall. If so, then humans, and not animals, have found ways to thwart His Will.

  14. Con-Tester Says:

    Mmm, it strikes me that “creation—”, as in “creationism“, “creation science“, etc., easily morphs into “cretin—” after removing the “a” and “o”. This suggests that the alpha and omega (“a” & “o”) of “cretin” is “creation“.

    And doesn’t “ham” also refer to a really bad actor?

  15. residentRsole Says:

    Con-Tester: Caution: Slipper slope ahead. You’re in danger of being the next Michael Drosnin. Which can’t be so bad. You will make bundles of cash and even have your own television show with adoring suckers oops ! fans. 😀

  16. Con-Tester Says:

    residentRSole: you may have a point there, though I didn’t mean to imply anything prophetic with the observation. Still, it may indavertently be prophetic.

    The Wiki entry for Michael Drosnin says this:

    … the [bible] code contains predictions of disasters and an apocalypse to occur between 1998 and 2006. Drosnin wrote a second book in 2002 named The Bible Code II:The Countdown, and has a third book in the series planned for 2007, named Bible Code III: The Quest.

    Obviously, I would like to avoid such egg on my face as to plan a book for release after global annihilation.

  17. residentRsole Says:

    Con-Tester: though I didn’t mean to imply anything prophetic with the observation. Don’t worry – I am well aware that you were not implying any woo-woo. I was just teasing. 🙂

  18. Really, I think Bill Hicks’s schpiel on fossils and trickster gods is quite a good summation. Go listen to it.

  19. residentRsole Says:

    Andy M: It reminds me of that part of The HitchHiker’s Guide to the Galaxy where Slartibartfast discussed how they designed and constructed Earth – for the mice. He told them that they were just about to bury the fake fossils.
    Later on in the series, a planet put a third of their population (whom were deemed useless) to crash land on Earth. Mix the two and you’ve got what we have today. ( Hitchhiker’s series is true, by the way).

  20. Con-Tester Says:

    residentRsole: Yup, I realised you were joking and my reply was somewhat tongue-in-cheek. Unfortunately written text carries tone none too well. This is why it’s often such fun ridiculing creationists. They’re likely to construe satire of their position as signifying agreement.

    Speaking of which, one of the pre-“The Fall” exhibits in Ham’s ham-up shows a birthday-suited Adam (“Add-ham”?) in a jungle, his arm draped over a fluffy little lamb perched beside him, while he gestures to a large feline and a buck, both of whom are facing him. This we are told is Adam naming the animals. We note three incongruencies in the scene. Firstly, all the animals wear fur, whereas Adam is as naked (with a beard, though) as the day he squelched off god’s muddy assembly line. It is reasonable to wonder why animals came with fur (suggesting that Eden may have been on the whole a bit nippy — although Adam’s tan is decidedly subtropical despite all that covering foliage) but people didn’t need much body hair except to the extent that men’s cheeks and chins may have been prone to occasional attacks of frostbite. Secondly, Adam sports a very fine pair of nipples, presumably for the purpose of thermometry rather than for suckling any young. The exhibit is entirely unclear in regard to Adam’s reproductive organs, but if he had any we can again ask “what for?” because Eve only came onto the scene a bit later. Ditto his navel, which if present would be a relic of a birth that never actually happened. Thirdly, if there wasn’t any death in Eden prior to “The Fall” there wouldn’t be any need for any procreation either, so where on Earth would a baby sheep (lamb) come from, would it grow up and just what purpose would it serve? On a marginally less goofy level, Adam’s coiffure is also suitably stylish as is the difference in his head and his beard hair length.

    What is deeply ironical is that creationists often accuse evolutionists of telling “just so” stories. And on the strength of things like the above, these people expect that one takes their $h1+ seriously.

    Now please excuse me while I go blow chunks. Too much candyfloss, you see.

  21. residentRsole Says:

    Con-Tester: There was a guy in my honours year when I was at UCT, who, despite having a degree in pure mathematics, he still believed faithfully in the bible and in creationism. There was an computer graphics simulation of evolution where virtual creatures, built only from blocks (but with an advanced rigid body physics engine ) evolved to swim, roll, crawl, etc. The way that they moved was erie. Our jaws dropped as we watched the videos. I was already convinced that evolution was fact but to see a simulation like that – wow ! If I find the SIGGRAPH paper and video I will post the links here.

    Unfortunately, it was not enough to convince my religious mathematical friend. His argument was: “It was written to do that”. Well, duh ! And what inspired it ? Real-world biology. Another bright mathematical student in my class was also not convinced by it. Actually, he said that creation was aided by evolution. But the point that people like Dawkins try to get across is that no intervention is ever necessary.

    As my background is computer science, my introduction to evolution came from genetic algorithms, neural networks and artificial life. Plus the fact that some people really do have simian features. 🙂

  22. Con-Tester Says:

    residentRsole: One of my experiences is remarkably similar. As someone with a computer science background you will no doubt be aware of cellular automata, in particular John Conway’s “Game of Life”. On a 2-D matrix of square cells, a cell can be either vacant or occupied. A set of four relatively simple rules determines how the state of a particular cell changes (becomes vacant, occupied or unchanged), depending on the current state of all its neighbouring cells, at each time step. Now I don’t claim that this is a good or even a valid model of evolution in any meaningful sense, but what it does show is that from the interaction between a few simple rules and the environment they act on (1) order can arise (often quite quickly) from complete chaos, (2) a vast number of different stable states are possible and (3) systematic movement and replication can occur spontaneously from certain random starting states. Each of these three occurrences absolutely requires god to make it happen in nature, according to a certain type of brain.

    The disturbing thing though is that an honours computer science graduate of my acquaintance is a fundie creationist who seems incapable of grasping that “Game of Life” simulations are always generic and don’t involve any guiding hand. Much like the mathematics graduate you describe, this bloke always thinks there’s some essential trickery involved that predisposes the simulations to come out the way they do, such as tweaking or selective application of the rules or selecting a “convenient” starting state. What’s worse is that he won’t write his own implementation (a simple thing to do, really) to test his suspicions on the ground that he doesn’t need to because he already knows it’s wrong. And it’s pointless trying to argue against this attitude so ridicule or silence are the only viable responses.

  23. I think what it comes down to is that no matter how good your science knowledge is, until you understand human nature you will always find a way to convince yourself that the science is somehow wrong. For me, it wasn’t the understanding of physics or biology or mathematics that made me finally understand that man made god and not the other way around. It was an understanding of history and psychology that did it. Once I got those, there was simply no way to deny the fact that we’d made the whole damn thing up.

  24. Con-Tester Says:

    moonflake: You’re right about making the whole damn thing up, of course. As for me, it was the observation that the way we find the world actually to be is incompatible with the way it should be, given a personal god whose nature is assumed to be supremely good, powerful and knowing. This goes deeper than just “The Problem of Evil”, although that is a large part of it too. The world is simply too “un-ideal” and haphazard, i.e. it has many features that are very much at odds with such a god, for example the cycle of life itself, the existence of moral dilemmas, being born completely ignorant and defenceless, the need for verbal communication, the ever-present potential for harm and so on. Added to this were some grave concerns about just how god decided who got, variously, eternal bliss or eternal torment.

    On this basis I rejected first the idea of a personal god as fanciful. After further reflection on the grave logical difficulties that encumber the ontological questions of any god’s existence, I rejected the whole idea of god altogether in favour of weak atheism. The knowledge that the world seems completely explicable in naturalistic terms was very much a secondary motivator in this conversion.

  25. residentRsole Says:

    Con-Tester: Yup, I know Conway’s Life quite well. I have implemented myself and had hours of fun with it. Especially the R-pentomino. Another one that I like is Polyworld.

    By the way, the maths grad also went on to become a computer science honours grad. I wonder if it is the same person.

    And regarding God, no one said better than a character in “Bad Boy Bubby”:

    You see, no one’s going to help you Bubby, because there isn’t anybody out there to do it. No one. We’re all just complicated arrangements of atoms and subatomic particles – we don’t live. But our atoms do move about in such a way as to give us identity and consciousness. We don’t die; our atoms just rearrange themselves.

    There is no God. There can be no God; it’s ridiculous to think in terms of a superior being. An inferior being, maybe, because we, we who don’t even exist, we arrange our lives with more order and harmony than God ever arranged the earth. We measure; we plot; we create wonderful new things. We are the architects of our own existence.

    What a lunatic concept to bow down before a God who slaughters millions of innocent children, slowly and agonizingly starves them to death, beats them, tortures them, rejects them. What folly to even think that we should not insult such a God, damn him, think him out of existence. It is our duty to think God out of existence. It is our duty to insult him. Fuck you, God! Strike me down if you dare, you tyrant, you non-existent fraud! It is the duty of all human beings to think God out of existence. Then we have a future. Because then – and only then – do we take full responsibility for who we are. And that’s what you must do, Bubby: think God out of existence; take responsibility for who you are.

    Also, the cruelty of nature also made it easier to dismiss the idea of god. There are some horrifying things that happen in the animal kingdom. Especially that one wasp in the Caribbean that injects spiders with venom along with its eggs. The venom causes the spider to “go mad” and spin strange webs before the wasp larvae burst out eating it alive.

  26. Con-Tester Says:

    residentRsole: Thanks for bringing “Bad Boy Bubby” to my attention. I agree that it says the whole thing quite well. I especially like “It is the duty of all human beings to think God out of existence. Then we have a future. Because then – and only then – do we take full responsibility for who we are”.

    The computer science creationist I know studied at Wits.

    I think you are referring to the ichneumon wasp. Darwin himself had some choice words to say about a god who allowed that: “I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent and omnipotent God would have designedly created the Ichneumonidae with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of caterpillars, or that a cat should play with mice.”

  27. residentRsole Says:

    Con-Tester: It’s not the ichneumon wasp but a new species discovered in Costa Rica. Here are two links to that horrifying wasp, the first is a popular article and the second is from an academic journal:

  28. i think all of the arguments against god from nature are very compelling, but I’ve also seen people weasel around every one of those arguments in their head, creating some bizarre version of reality in which it is somehow okay that god is a shit.

    I think the issue is that these people are not even aware that they are doing it – they have no understanding of the human capacity for self deception, so they are incapable of recognizing it in themselves. I think it is only when you can recognize yourself as fallable, along with the rest of your species, that you can be open to the message that the universe is screaming at you every day.

    It’s a an issue of self-consciousness – in order to rationalize to the extent that these people do, you have to be woefully unconscious of the tricks we play on ourselves. For some people, this realisation comes before they ever have the evidence or the education to back up their suspicions, so when they learn a little about the world, they slap their foreheads and go ‘of course! I knew it!’ For others like me, the science comes first, but the pieces don’t fall into place until you understand how people believe. For the rest, it never comes, and they spend their entire lives rationalizing the real world to fit into their fake one.

    It’s entirely possible, IMHO, that a fundamental disconnect with the human condition is what grants the religious their incredible capacity for being absolutely horrible human beings.

  29. residentRsole Says:

    moonflake: I have, on occasion, fallen victim to self-deception. Although I was aware of the phenomenon, I underestimated it. So, a few years ago, I “conditioned” myself to question the things that I hold dearest at all times. It has happened that I thought that something was The Answer®. But then I forced my self to probe it, prod it and eventually it turned out to be nonsense. When I am unable to do it myself, I simply tell someone my “belief” and they then point out the flaws that I am unable to see. I feel like a fool when that happens but if something is incorrect then it is just incorrect. Too bad.

    I had a friend that I went to high school and university with. Graduated second in the science faculty and number one in physics – yet he was religious. If I mentioned a crazy idea in physics then he angrily dismissed me. Which was fine because the ideas are crazy and I suspected that they were anyway. His understanding of physics superceded mine (I keep forgetting Newton’s Third Law). But if I made up religious nonsense (both of us were Catholics and attended church together as teenagers – he was the devout one though) and fed it to him, then he took it in without hesitation or question. Well, if two well-known cosmologists at UCT can be religious then I shouldn’t be surprised.

  30. residentRsole Says:

    I have another anecdote I would like to share: I had this friend at unversity who was blessed with many desirable characteristics. He was tall, good-looking, came from a wonderful wealthy family, was successful in every area of life, etc. He was also on the Dean’s merit list for most of his courses. The fucker had everything. Guess what ? He had a personal relationship with Jesus and attributed his success in life and love to Our Lord and Saviour and Our Almighty Father (the usual jesus freak crap). To add insult to injury, he was one of those rare people who have infuriatingly good luck ie. there were many coincidences that happened which worked in his favour. So, I had little success in convincing him otherwise.

    Also reminds of those interviews with survivors of horrific crimes who are hideously maimed. Some give praise to the Lord for giving them a second chance (WTF?) while others curse the Big Beard in the Sky.

  31. Ah yes, that mentality that allows the religious to praise god for sparing their loved one from tragedy, without asking themselves why he did not simply prevent the tragedy in the first place, or spare any of the people who were not so fortunate.

    And it probably wouldn’t make me as mad if it weren’t the same mentality that fails to give credit to the rescue workers whose tireless searching found that loved one amongst the rubble, or the team of doctors and nurses who pulled them back from the brink of death with medical knowledge gained through centuries of scientific endeavour, and cared for them with great compassion and kindness. No, it’s always God’s doing. The human beings involved rarely get the credit.

  32. Con-Tester Says:

    Apart from an apparently inexhaustible capacity for self-deception, fundies also exhibit some of the very strangest debating techniques you ever did see. Through such means as distortion, misrepresentation, goalpost-shifting, changing tack mid-stride, sidelining, semantic shifts, and several other rhetorical devices, they often manage to sneakily dodge past many a decently waterproof argument presented to them, and in this they earnestly think that they are convincing.

    Those of us who are unaccustomed to or unwary of these subtle shams can often be puzzled to the extent that we wonder whether sanity has left us or our opponent. I am frequently astonished at the lengths to which fundies will subvert reason, evidence and logic to defend the indefensible, but I suppose that such an “ability” is ultimately just another symptom (rather than a cause) of a predisposition for self-deception.

    Still, it can provide hours of entertainment (both comedy and horror), and that is probably why the Fundies say the darndest things! website enjoys considerable popularity.

  33. Con-Tester Says:

    Well roast me on a pitchfork! “Highly dangerous, unscientific and irresponsible”, indeed!

    The most sickening part is that these are “Doctors” and “Professors” living in the 21st century. Has the world gone irrevocably insane?

  34. residentRsole Says:

    The most sickening part is that these are “Doctors” and “Professors” living in the 21st century. Has the world gone irrevocably insane?

    The world has always been insane. In this period of time, it is just a little less insane – and then, only in some parts of our planet. 😦

    People keep talking about the human race reaching “Singularity”. The way things are going now, I have strong doubts about this. Call me paranoid or melodramatic but I believe that our civilisation is in danger of slipping back into the Dark Ages within our lifetimes.

  35. Con-Tester Says:

    …but I believe that our civilisation is in danger of slipping back into the Dark Ages within our lifetimes.

    Given the declining numeracy and scientific literacy rates, together with an apparently increasing popular disdain for rationality and the cancerous creep of unreason, I am inclined to agree.

    My point regarding “Doctors” and “Professors” was more one about the titles, which, within the context in question, are usually reserved for and bestowed on those amongst us who have made at least some meaningful contribution to human knowledge. The usual definition of “knowledge” is given as “a justified true belief”. The question then naturally arises as to what meaningful contribution any of these people have made in terms of knowledge defined thus.

    Anyway, my suggestion for them to establish whether or not Satan exists is simply for them to go to hell and look…

  36. residentRsole Says:

    Con-Tester: Don’t worry I got your point. Jefferson said something along the lines that a “Professor of Theology” is a useless thing and has no place in the US.
    I would like to propose another reason for the decline of our civilisation: Academically brilliant matriculants who would potentially make outstanding scientists and engineers are going off to do business science degrees instead. I noticed this while I was at university.

    Moonflake: When I first met you in early 2003, you were eager to go on to PhD after your MSc in Astronomy (or was it astrophysics ?). I think that you even published a paper in a respected peer-reviewed journal. What happened ? Why did you leave science and go into IT ?

  37. i’m a gregarious person by nature – sitting on my own in an observatory in the middle of the karoo turned out not to be my idea of a fun time. Astronomers, on the whole, are a solitary lot. I guess it’s the nature of the work. Also, i’m more of a dabbler than a focuser… i really did enjoy the bits where we got to study everything from relativistic quantum mechanics to plasma dynamics to cataclysmic variables. It was fun. Focusing on one subject for an indefinite period of time, sufficient to obtain my PhD… blegh.

    I’m a helluva lot happier where i work now. But I’ll never regret the learning that got me here.

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