Sunday, November 25, 2007

A strange, vulnerable place

Today’s New York Times Magazine has an interesting article about a new breed of scientists who firmly believe that the earth is eight thousand years (or so) old. They believe this because they have read the bible and added up the lives of the biblical characters. It’s not as easy as it sounds since some of those ancients lived as long as 900 years. You see? Honest scientists may disagree. The planet could be 7990 years old. It could be 8010. More research is needed. All reasonable people agree.

According to the Times, this new breed of scientists are a heroic bunch. Like cowboys, “laconic but certain” and “deeply committed.” these intellectual outlaws, outlaws in a good outlaw kinda way of course, are “taking on the central tenets of the field” by “resisting mainstream science.“ Beyond that, they are hung like Harvard: “a gathering of elites, with an impressive wall of diplomas... master’s or Ph.D.’s in the sciences from respectable universities.”

You know the type. Total dumbasses.

And like total dumbasses in all walks of life, they have a total dumbass answer to every question. Unlike your average dumbass, however, these folk are scientists, so they have higher standards. They must use fancy words such as ”hypothesis.“

“Among available hypotheses, creation by God is the most reasonable hypothesis,” writes Kurt Wise, who got his Ph.D. in paleontology from Harvard.

Wise shows off his Harvard-trained mind elsewhere. “The evidence from Scripture is by far the best evidence for creation. No better evidence can be imagined than that provided from Him who is not only the only eyewitness observer, but who also is the embodiment of all truth.”

Unlike evolution, Creation isn't a theory, he says. “The fact that God created the universe is not a theory—it's true.”

“Even if it’s wrong, it’s a starting point,” he tells the Times.

Me, I’m thinking maybe Harvard isn’t the best place to send the kids to college and I’m not so sure they should be reading the New York Times. Oh well. Ivy Tech and the Daily News for them. We ain’t no stinkin elitists, but that’s a different story.

What really caught my attention in the Times article was the reference to Kentucky's Creation Museum. Longtime readers may recall that I took the kids there on a family outing last year, but the less said about that little adventure the better.

The Times was impressed with the museum, if not my visit to it:

With its wide-open spaces and interactive exhibits, the place feels like a slick museum of natural history, updated for the Hollywood age.... Lifelike models of Adam and Eve (who looks like the Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bündchen) frolic in a lush garden among the animals, including several dinosaurs.

The museum expected about 250,000 visitors in the first year. Instead, despite its $20 entry fee, it has had that many in six months, according to Michael Matthews, the museum’s content manager. Almost every day, minivans and buses from Christian schools fill the parking lot, sometimes after 10-hour road trips. The museum’s target group is the 45 percent of Americans who, for 25 years, have consistently agreed with the statement in a Gallup poll that “God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so.”

The museum sends the message that belief in a young earth is the only way to salvation. The failure to understand Genesis is literally “undermining the entire word of God,” Ken Ham, the founder of Answers in Genesis, says in a video. The collapse of Christianity believed to result from that failure is drawn out in a series of exhibits: school shootings, gay marriage, drugs, porn and pregnant teens.

Funny how they always come back to that. If people only believed more fervently in verifiable stupid religious nonsense, then they would give up all forms of intoxicants and most pleasures and the world would be a happy place. Humans and dinosaurs on Noah’s ark? That’s your ship to salvation Bub. Forget about beer and sex. Forty-five percent of Americans agree. And the number is growing.

But we're talking about scientists not priests. It’s okay to ask the difficult questions. How did (600 year old) Noah round up the entire animal kingdom wand stuff it in a big wooden boat? How is radioisotope dating flawed? How was the Grand Canyon formed? And if all those animals died in one cataclysmic event, why do their fossils appear in such distinct order?

Difficult questions but the intrepid Creation Scientists are on the case. Of course the answer is always God and it all happened in the last 8000 years, but there's still a lot of work to be done on the details.
We don’t subscribe to this idea of the ‘God of gaps,’ meaning if you can’t explain something, then blame God,” Whitmore told me before describing a method that hardly seemed more scientific. “Instead, we think: ‘Here’s what the Bible says. Now let’s go to the rocks and see if we find the evidence for it.

But don’t get the wrong impression. These noble idiots suffer for their beliefs. They suffer the torture of the martyrs (if not the damned). And it’s not just their failure to get laid when they were teens or their exclusion from the cool crowd:
But as he told a friend, he couldn’t reconcile the geologic ages with what he read in his Bible. So he set about figuring this out: every night, for months, he cut out every verse of the Bible he’d have to reject to believe in evolution. “I dreaded the impending end,” he writes in a collection of essays called “In Six Days: Why 50 Scientists Choose to Believe in Creation.” “All that I loved to do was involved with some aspect of science.”

When he was done, he tried to pick up what was left. But he found it impossible to do that without the Bible being “rent in two,” he writes. “Either the Scripture was true and evolution was wrong or evolution was true and I must toss out the Bible.” In the end, he kept his Bible and achieved his unattainable dream. But it left him in a strange, vulnerable place. “If all the evidence in the universe turned against creationism, I would be the first to admit it, but I would still be a creationist because that is what the Word of God seems to indicate.

The circle always closes. They’ll believe what they believe because the Bible says so. And if it doesn’t, well, that’s just your interpretation.

And if the Bible is no more accurate than the Illiad as a historical document? Don’t even go there.