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Creationists laughing all the way to the bank

September 29, 2007|By ALLAN POWELL

It costs adults $19.95 and children $9.95 for admission to the surreal world of creationism. On May 28, in Petersburg, Ky., a newly built museum costing $27 million opened its doors to reinforce the ideological wishes of a sizeable aggregate of anti-evolution enthusiasts. One of the founders is quoted as saying "We're going to blow people out of the water with how many people we'll get."

This may not be idle chatter when one considers that about half the American population and three candidates for residency in the White House agree with the nonsense put forward by the promoters of this pulp fiction.

It is absolutely essential to keep in mind that what this "museum" (seat of the muses?) presents is not legitimate science.

Creditable scientists do not think that the earth is a mere 6,000 years old. These young-earth proponents are only off the mark by about 4.5 billion years. Moreover, scientists do not accept the sketches of humans and dinosaurs cavorting around during the same time frame. To their credit, creationists are only millions of years astray on that issue. Creationists fare no better on their pet theme - the fixity of species. Organisms subject to mutations simply do not maintain constant forms.

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A recent publication, "Voices for Evolution," lists 30 scientific organizations, 15 religious organizations and 23 educational organizations that support the accepted opinions of the scientific community. All are fully qualified to report on what science now agrees is valid science.

Parenthetically, there is a newspaper clipping pasted inside the front cover which lists 38 Nobel Laureates who regard evolution as the "indispensable foundation of biology."

Other remarkable tributes to evolution are appearing with regularity. One recently published book suggests that Darwin's concept of natural selection is equal in conceptual power to biology as relativity is to physics.

Another recent release in the field of cosmology classifies evolution as a "very well-verified scientific theory" with the same level of certitude as thermodynamics, quantum mechanics and relativity. All of the foregoing information makes it clear that creationist promoters are out of touch with current science.

It appears that much of the general public is not sufficiently aware of the levels of certainty recognized when dealing with scientific research. The quest for reliable knowledge begins with a hunch, commonly called a hypothesis. This is grounded on limited, initial observations and collection of data bearing on the subject. At some point in time, with the accumulation of more evidence, a theory is advanced to account for what has happened.

If the theory continues to have a predictive value, it is retained. If not, it is modified or discarded to correspond with observation, experimentation and verification.

Only when there is an invariant pattern of cause and effect that permits the observer to predict natural occurrences with confidence is there a reference to law. The equation E=MC2 was presented to the world in 1905 by Albert Einstein. Since then it has repeatedly proven to be a reliable statement representing events in nature.

This leads to a very critical consideration with respect to exploration in science. The results are to be judged by those who are qualified to pass judgment. Evolution will never be unseated by fundamentalists from Liberty University, Pat Robertson or Benny Hinn. They are not qualified observers. Indeed, they do not even try to acquire the tools to be objective, qualified observers.

It is likely that this new museum will be a financial success. This is but a testimony to crowd behavior which thrives on the irrational and the immediate. Respect for science, on the other hand, requires thought, discipline, sustained energy to labor for limited returns and the acceptance of ambiguity.

These qualities are foreign to a fundamentalist mentality. In the end, this myopic, irrational, herd approach to reality will be left behind because it cannot compete with science. This money-making "museum" is a monument to wish-fulfillment, not to modern science or rational religion.

Allan Powell is a Hagerstown resident who writes for The Herald-Mail.

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