In testimony to P.T. Barnum, Ken Ham's $27 million practical joke is set to open on May 28th to no doubt adoring fans and giggling critics. It is proclaimed to be "a wonderful alternative to the evolutionary natural history museums that are turning countless minds against the gospel of Christ and the authority of the Scripture." Funny, I've never seen anything in a natural museum that gave an opinion on Christ or biblical writings. Perhaps Mr. Ham has a finely honed intuition that we mere atheists lack, similar to the one that allows ID proponents to see design where no one else does.
A quick run through of the FAQ reveals much about the mindset of the people running this project, and the danger therein:
"Why is this museum needed?
Our increasingly anti-Christian country must return to a belief in the authority of the Bible and be presented with the life-changing gospel message. Evolutionary indoctrination has undermined the Christian foundations in America."
America anti-Christian? A country with a bible in every hotel room, where being president requires you to proclaim your faith, and where one cannot watch a boxing match without seeing a boxer thank the all-mighty creator of the universe for helping him beat the crap out of his fellow man, is anti-Christian?!?! Pray tell, how would Mr. Ham describe Iran?
His strategy for restoring belief in the authority of the Bible is to focus on the part of it that is most easily disproved? Wouldn't it be far more effective to admit certain parts of the Bible are allegorical, dismiss the idea that it is a science text, and focus on the religious message instead? There is a reason people with such a wide variety of philosophical, cultural, and theological presumptions accept the findings of evolution, and it has nothing to do with any mythical indocrination. The evidence is simply overwhelming. Ham has boarded a sinking ship.
"What is so different about this museum?
Almost all natural history museums proclaim an evolutionary, humanistic worldview. For example, they will typically place dinosaurs on an evolutionary timeline millions of years before man. AiG’s museum will proclaim the authority and accuracy of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, and will show that there is a Creator, and that this Creator is Jesus Christ (Colossians 1:15-20), who is our Savior."
Again, I've never seen anything about humanism in natural museums. It's not humanism, but a willingness to examine the geological record, or tree rings, or ice cores, or the stars, and the ability to count, that leads one inevitably to the conclusion that the earth is far older than 6,000 years, and that dinosaurs lived millions of years before humans.
I'm sure glad however, that Ham gave us a Bible quote justifying his claim that Christians believe Jesus is their savior. I keep forgetting that part. Doh! But what in the world does Jesus being our Savior have to do with the age of the dinosaurs? Jesus can't save us unless the Flintstones was real history? I missed that in my years of Catholic school.
Some other comments by Ham are revealing. He responded to criticism from scientists thusly:
"[T]hey're worried about one creation museum? I think they're really concerned that we're going to get information out that they don't want people to hear."
This is typical of heads-I-win-tails-you-lose creationist thinking. If a huge majority of scientists came out in support of Ham, he would no doubt be beating his remaining critics over the head with that fact, as creationists have done in the past any time any science appears to support them (of course ultimately it never does). But since a huge majority of scientists are critical of him, that means, per his convoluted logic, that he must really be onto something, and they are only trying to suppress it out of fear. Interpreting criticism as justification is a sure sign of a crank. Oh, but not accoring to Ham:
"We use the same science they do. What they're really saying is they disagree with our beliefs about history, about the Bible, but we use the same science and genetics they do."
Riiiiight Ken, that's why practically every scientist in every field relevant to the subject: biologists, geologists, paleantologists, etc., say what you are doing is crap, and doesn't even rise to the level of bad science. Typical of the criticism that comes from scientists is this from Eugenie Scott, executive director of National Center for Science Education, "The nature of the science process that's presented at the Answers in Genesis museum is very different from how science is really done by real scientists." Indeed it is. Science proceeds by forming hypotheses, subjecting them to falsifiable experimentation, subjecting those results to the scrutiny of one's peers, and revising or eliminating those hypotheses that don't hold up. Ken Ham and his ilk begin with what they CHOSE to believe as true (that's all faith realy is), and then cherry pick any data that appears to support that view, while ignoring everything that doesn't, and rationalizing that any new fact discovered is consistent with one's view. They are the adult equivalent of the snotty-nosed loser kid who claims he controls the world and answers all criticisms with "I knew you were going to say that."
That's not science, and it's lousy epistemology, which is why while science has made remarkable progress over the last century, often with ideas that appeared absurd at first glance (evo-devo, plate tectonics, DNA, quantum mechanics, and relativity for starters), creationists like Ken Ham can (and do) recycle their speeches and arguments from 20 years ago, and get raving applause from the true believers. Never mind that they never produce any new knowledge of any kind about the world.
This is not a museum in any meaningful sense of the term. It is a tragically comic monument to fictions born of the intellectual stagnation that is the inevitable result of a worldview like Ham's. Laugh at your own peril.