Creationists visit a real museum!

First, hat tip to Mr. Bok of Arthropoda for this little tidbit.

And what do they learn? Surprisingly little, it seems. The ignorance drips from every quote of this article, so let’s analyze it, in its entirety.

They plan to become doctors, researchers and professors, but these students from Liberty University, an evangelical school, also believe God created the Earth in a week, some 6,000 years ago.

Each year, a group of biology students at the Christian university based in Lynchburg, Virginia, travels to the Natural History Museum in Washington to learn about a theory they dismiss as incorrect — Darwin’s theory of evolution.

This bit is fascinating, they go every year, yet every year, they seem to fail to grasp it. I wonder why…

The young “creationists” examined a model of the Morganucodon rat, believed to be the first and common ancestor of mammals that appeared some 210 million years ago.

There was no “first” mammal; it also is probably like the common ancestor, but most likely not the actually common ancestor, although it may be similar. All “true” mammals (eutherians) share a common ancestor much more recently than Morganucodons, but I digress. There are no “firsts” of any group. It may be similar to a common ancestor, but if you’re going by when mammary glands (from which mammals get their name) first developed, you’ll likely have to go back to the therapsids.

Lauren Dunn, 19, a second-year biology student, was unimpressed.

Not surprising, cognitive dissonance usually does that.

“210 million years, that’s arbitrary. They put that time to make up for what they don’t know,” she said.

Really, so radiometric dating, temporal use of the specific stratum to which these organisms are found, and molecular genetic techniques do not constitute evidence? Fascinating, truly fascinating.

Nathan Hubbard, a 20-year-old from Michigan and a first-year biology major who plans to become a doctor, regarded the model with suspicion.

I think the only shocking part about this is that this individual plans to become a doctor; I suppose evolution of bacterial and viral strains don’t count as evolution….

“There is no scientific, biological genetic way that this, this rat, could become you,” he said, seemingly scandalized by the proposition.

Of course not, it’s dead! It also, more than likely, is similar to the ancestral organisms (read: of ancestral type) but not an ancestor. That organism of course did not “become” anything other than, perhaps, an ancestor and a fossil. Moreover, every single organism from our common ancestor to modern humans would have looked so similar to one another as to be considered “the same” as its parents and offspring. We are talking about being millions of generations separated from this organism. The changes from one generation to the next never deviated from the range of morphologies of the ancestral generation. In other words, the diversity within a population was always within the diversity of the previous generation. New traits may have arisen, but these new traits would not diverge far from the previous generation.

Liberty University is the most prominent evangelical university in the United States, with some 12,000 students who adhere to strict rules and regulations regarding moral conduct.

The term “evangelical university” seems like an oxymoron to me…

Its biology curriculum includes a course on “Young Earth Creationism”, which juxtaposes Charles Darwin’s “Origin of the Species” with the Book of Genesis.

I wonder if they read this, complete with both creation myths which are mutually exclusive; which one do they use?

“In order to be the best creationist, you have to be the best evolutionist you can be,” said Marcus Ross, who teaches paleontology and says of Adam and Eve: “I feel they were real people, they were the first people.”

In other words, you must understand the straw man to which you oppose. Similarly, there were no “first” people (see above), there were ancestral individuals which could be described as people, but there is no “first” human.

David DeWitt, a Liberty University biology professor, opens his classes with a prayer, asking God to help him teach his students.

That’s a neat idea, but I don’t think it’s working; pray less, study more.

“I pray that you help me to teach effectively and help the students to learn and defend their faith,” he says.

Wow, defending one’s faith is more important than understanding the world around them, that’s so cool.

Strongly-expressed faith is not unusual in the United States, a country where 80 percent of the population claim to believe in God and ascribe to established religions.

Yea, sad fact, but appeals to the majority don’t constitute evidence…

Polls taken in the last two years found that between 44 and 46 percent of Americans believe that the Earth was created in a week, somewhere between 6,000 and 10,000 years ago.

See above…

Creationism, an increasingly popular theory in the United States and elsewhere in the world, rejects Darwin’s theory that all living species evolved over the course of billions of years via the process of natural selection.

Increasing? Really? I think it’s more of a case of how the question is phrased, e.g. “the guidance paradox.” If you include the possibility of “divine guidance,” the number goes up to 60%, while the excluding divine guidance, the number is closer to 20%.

The school of thought has adherents among Jehovah’s Witnesses and some fundamentalist Muslims, but in the United States it has won most converts in the evangelical Christian community.

And these groups are growing faster than the evangelical Christians?

Former president George W. Bush, a born-again Christian, is among those who say evolutionary theory does not fully explain the Earth’s creation, though the ex-president also noted he is not a “literalist” when it comes to the Bible.


Creationist belief has implications for the way people understand a variety of fields, including biology, paleontology and astronomy, but also impacts questions about climate change and educational debates.

Yea, bacteria don’t evolve, so just use that same antibiotic for MRSA.

At the Smithsonian Institute, among crowds of weekend visitors, the Liberty University students visited the evolution exhibition,.

And didn’t learn anything…

But Darwin’s explanation for why giraffes have long necks — that they evolved over time so they could reach higher foliage — and displays of fossil evidence failed to sway them.

Am I surprised? Of course not, the level of rationalization reaches ridiculous heights among many evangelicals.

“Creationism and evolutionism have different ways of explaining the evidence. The creationist way recognizes the importance of Biblical records,” said Ross.

Cool, explain the recurrent laryngeal nerve, the structure of the circulatory system, and the vertebrate eye.

He teaches his students that dinosaurs were wiped from the face of the Earth some 4,000 to 5,000 years ago during the Biblical flood that Noah survived by building an ark.

As opposed to millions of years ago…

He says carbon-dating techniques that have been used to suggest the Earth is in fact billions of years old are simply not reliable.

Carbon dating? Really? Carbon dating isn’t used beyond 60,000 years or so. That’s cool, though, that it was somehow used to prove the Earth is billions of years old even though it’s extinction takes less than 80,000 years.

He doesn’t reject one prominent theory that dinosaurs were wiped out by a massive asteroid that collided into Earth, but suggests the collision coincided with the Biblical flood.

…and humans were alive then? That’s so cool, because not a single fossil human is found in the same stratum. I mean, find a single fossil anachronism. Find one fossil that is found before it could have evolved. Find Haldane’s “fossil rabbits in the Precambrian.”

Though Ross acknowledges that the United States is among the most welcoming environments in the world for creationists, he said it can be difficult to convince people to take him and his beliefs seriously.

Yep, there is a reason for that!

“The attitude is when you are a creationist you are ignorant of the facts,” he said.

Yea, pretty much. Just because you know all these fossils exist doesn’t mean you know the facts which the modern evolutionary synthesis explains.

Not only were the quotes epic failures of science, but this article doesn’t even respond to the blatant errors.


10 Responses to “Creationists visit a real museum!”

  1. March 26, 2010 at 12:13 am

    I agree with most of this but I don’t think that evangelical University is an oxymoron. Evangelical might often in this context be a synonym for “really shitty” but that doesn’t make it an oxymoron. And it doesn’t even always mean that. Baylor University would be the obvious counterexample. Not an amazingly great school, but not shitty. And clearly can be described as an evangelical university without being an oxymoron.

  2. 2 jaredcormier
    March 26, 2010 at 12:40 am

    Why would you describe Baylor as “evangelical?” I mean, yea, they’re Baptist-affiliated, but religion isn’t the central theme of the university (like Pensacola Christian College or Liberty University).

  3. March 26, 2010 at 12:43 am

    Maybe there’s an issue with how we’re defining evangelical. How are you defining the term? I can define it as associated with an evangelical denomination under which it applies to Baylor. I can also define it as a university whose goals are to at some level evangelicize which applies a little less to Baylor but still basically works.

  4. 4 jaredcormier
    March 26, 2010 at 1:14 am

    Well, “evangelical” doesn’t apply to a denomination, it’s a perspective of the specific leadership of the group. Evangelism gets its name from the Greek for “good messenger” due to its reliance upon biblical authority and biblical inerrancy. Evangelism comes in “flavors” ranging from the weak evangelicals (which are not part of any organized religious group placing emphasis on personal readings of the bible–this is more commonly called “Protestantism”) to the “strong evangelism” also known as “fundamentalism.” Not all “Baptist” churches are fundamentalist or evangelical. The origin of Baylor University seems to indicate it was rather contrary to the fundamentalist positions of literalism. Indeed, Baylor University seems to be actively taking steps to avoid evangelical/fundamentalist influences.

  5. March 26, 2010 at 2:22 pm

    Jared, I’m not sure I agree. Specific religious denominations have theologies that are explicitly evangelical. Baptists are an example of such. Your examination of what the university actually does in practice isn’t an unreasonable approach, but it isn’t a bad way of defining an evangelical university to mean a university associated with a doctrinally evangelical denomination. So the issue here really seems to be definitional.

  6. 6 jaredcormier
    March 26, 2010 at 2:53 pm

    I was under the impression that some denominations of Baptists were not evangelical, although many modern ones are due to the influence of megachurch evangelists. This has been termed the “evangelical takeover” of many Baptist denominations. To borrow your technique of counter examples, the Alliance of Baptists would be an obvious example of a non-evangelical Baptist convention.

  7. March 26, 2010 at 2:57 pm

    Ok. Valid. But Baylor is associated with the Southern Baptists who are an evangelical denomination and have been for a very long time.

  8. 8 jaredcormier
    March 26, 2010 at 3:52 pm

    Except the “Fundamentalist Takeover” of the Southern Baptist Convention didn’t take place until the 1960s; the 1845 “Southern Baptist Convention” was very unlike the modern one in structure.

  9. March 27, 2010 at 7:42 pm

    So how long does a religious denomination need to be in a certain category before we can classify it as such? Is 50 years enough? Would it be enough if it were 100 years? 200?

  10. 10 jaredcormier
    March 27, 2010 at 9:43 pm

    Well, the organization itself is “fundamentalist” at the time when the leaders are such. but to say that a separate institution affiliated with that particular organization is fundamentalist requires that organization to reaffirm their affiliation with said fundamentalist beliefs, not try to distance itself from them as Baylor tried to do.

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