Friday, August 19, 2016

Barbara King Responds to the Critics of Her NPR Post

Barbara King, in a follow-up post to her plea to teach evolution to promote science literacy on NPR, responds to critics that her suggestions promote only one view of many different viable options to teaching evolution, and, therefore, deprives students of different views of a complex subject.  She notes:
With more than 4,100 entries in the comment section plus hundreds more responses on Facebook and Twitter, and private email messages arriving at my inbox, too, I haven't attempted to categorize the responses in any formal way. More than a few were startling, like the warning that came to me via email that because I was supporting "programming children" in my views on evolution, God "will have to allow you to go to a particularly brutal place (yes there are levels of torment in hell), and you will consciously have eternal regret."

But there was also genuine concern that evolutionary scientists, including me, advocate forcing children to learn one way and one way only. In response after response, the idea was put forth that all views about how and when life appeared on Earth should be taught so kids can make up their own minds.
She also takes direct aim at the John Ellis article on PJ Media, which I also addressed.The responses she cites, however, indicate something very ominous: many, many people out there have no idea how science proceeds, or even what it is.  One response she quotes is this:
"Shouldn't we leave people to decide what they believe? Our nation is too large and too diverse to have a nice black and white, right vs wrong answer to group everyone into. It was a nation founded upon religious freedom. Freedom to believe, freedom not to believe. We're all losing sight of that and creationism vs evolution isn't the only place."
This is so backward, I don't even know where to start. As I noted in my post on this subject, science is not democratic. You can't vote for the kind of science you want. Teaching alchemy is not a viable alternative to modern chemistry. There is no justification for teaching the theory that there is a giant vacuum cleaner inside the earth that is responsible for things falling to the ground. There is no empirical justification for it. She reiterates this:
Freedom to believe anything one wants in the religious sphere is incredibly important. I'll have no part of scientists' religion-bashing. People who celebrate a 6,000-year-old Earth and the sweeping effects of a "great flood" on Earth and its inhabitants in church have as much right to do that as any of us have to espouse our particular brand of religiosity — or of agnosticism or atheism.

In my Ark Encounter post, my point is different: When it comes to science, we shouldn't let our children believe anything they want. Science isn't about belief.

Children need to be taught the facts from geology, biology, anthropology and other sciences, how those facts were determined, and how those facts will be refined with new knowledge over time. Ark Encounter, its sister attraction the Creation Museum, and their creationist supporters push religion as science; they claim that evolutionary "theory" means the science is wishy-washy on facts, which is a major misunderstanding of what theory means in science; they push false information as fact. None of that is OK.
This message is lost on people like John Ellis, who think that teaching evolution as modern science constitutes “scientism slurping” and “science worshipping.” What would people like Ellis have us do? There seems to be very little realization that the same methods that we apply to engineering, astronomy, geology, biology and medicine, we also apply to evolutionary science. For some reason, evolutionary science is separated as if it were some wholly different enterprise.  I rather suspect that Ellis wouldn't describe an aerospace engineer as “scientism slurping” in working out the construction of a rocket engine. Yet, he has no compunction at doing so for evolution.  How do you reach people like this?  Especially people like Ellis, who has no science background at all? 

I'm open to suggestions. 

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Matthew Walther Writes About What He Found at the Ark Encounter

Matthew Walther, writing for the Washington Free Beacon chronicles his visit to the Ark Encounter and asks some basic questions:
The question that Christian visitors to the museum will ask themselves is what the point of all this is. Looking at elaborate reconstructions of pre-Deluge ungodly living—robed priests on the steps of a ziggurat handing over babies to be sacrificed to a gilt snake idol, slave maidens striking titillating poses and feeding grapes to Sumerian emperors—and pondering the question of Noah’s occupation—they think he might have been a blacksmith—is fun, but is it spiritually edifying?

There is something striking, even sublime about the sight of the Ark itself, which is being billed as the “largest timber-frame structure in the world.” But was it worth spending $100 million, most of it in junk-grade municipal bonds via an arrangement that I cannot imagine many of our current federal judges think constitutional? What about the zip-line course across the surrounding valley that I decided to forego and the Noah’s Chili With Cheese and $2.50 soft drinks (no refills) at the adjacent restaurant and the planned Tower of Babel—not to be built to scale, one presumes—and pre-Flood city exhibits? Will this strengthen anyone’s faith or bring a single soul to Christ?

Or is it merely a monument to the nitpickers amongst us?
Or is it just another monument to the Disney-ization of fundamentalist evangelical Christianity?

Thursday, August 11, 2016

The Evolution of the Eye

Here is a nifty little video on the formation of the eye by evolutionary processes that was created by Essilor.  It is hand-drawn animation and is quite informative. Enjoy.

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

PJ Media Takes on NPR on Science and Completely Misses the Point

Science is not a democratic exercise.  There is either scientific support for a theory or there is not.  If there are competing views about how some kind of observable phenomena should be explained, one of those views is usually shown to be incorrect.  That is how science proceeds.  Consequently, the idea of “teaching the full range of views” on a subject should be viewed with some skepticism. It is certainly valid to do so in an historical context to get a picture of how scientific understanding of a given phenomenon has progressed, but not as far as teaching prevailing scientific understanding of it. Yet, that is exactly what is being suggested by PJ Media writer John Ellis.

Ellis is responding to an NPR post, which is supportive of evolutionary theory, and he is critical of the post writer, Barbara King, for her position that evolutionary theory should be taught uniformly throughout primary and secondary institutions.

First, the NPR post.  King writes:
Watching the NBC Nightly News broadcast on a Friday earlier this month, I gaped as the last segment aired.

Kevin Tibbles was reporting from the site of Kentucky's Ark Encounter, constructed by Christian fundamentalist, young-Earth creationist and Answers in Genesis president Ken Ham. At the time, Ark Encounter was set to open to the public the following week.

Tibbles described Ark Encounter as telling "the Old Testament story of Noah, the animals and, of course, the flood." He interviewed Ham and closed out the 2-minute piece by noting Ham's hope that people will come in droves "to study the story of Noah for generations to come."
Astounded that the Ark Encounter showed humans and dinosaurs coexisting, despite the fact that dinosaurs had been extinct for some 60 million years before our ancestors arrived on the scene, she wondered how to best respond to this misinformation. 
*Speak out and speak up to school boards. Parents can insist that biology teachers in public schools be well-qualified to teach evolution; currently, many are not. In a related vein, check in with the "Take Action" page of the NCSE.
*Let the media know when they do a poor job of covering evolution-related issues or, conversely, a good one. The week after the NBC Nightly News segment, CBS News aired a report from Ark Encounter. Correspondent Mark Strassmann talked to Ham — and to a visitor who confirmed her belief that dinosaurs and people "walked hand-in-hand" a few thousand years ago on Earth. But he went on also to interview Jim Helton from Tri-State Freethinkers and science communicator Bill Nye "The Science Guy" as well, who stood up for evolutionary science.
*Read science- and evolution-based books to, and with, your children. Even young kids may enjoy and learn from age-appropriate writing that gets across concepts of evolution. Last year, I wrote here about Grandmother Fish by Jonathan Tweet and illustrator Karen Lewis. Another example is Evolutionary Tales by Matt Cubberly and illustrator May Villani, a short book that invites children to think about adaptive features of animals like the sugar glider, tarsier and pileated woodpecker.
*Ask evolution-related questions of political candidates and their staff. Science is, of course, a big issue in presidential campaigns. It's clear that the Hillary Clinton campaign accepts anthropogenic climate change as a serious risk to the world that requires science-based policy initiatives, whereas the Donald Trump campaign does not. But on evolution, it's much harder to find evidence of questions asked and answered. (An attempt to reach Trump senior communications adviser Jason Miller this week did not produce a reply; even asking evolution-related questions may be valuable, though, because they let staffers know what voters care about.)
It should be pointed out that this column came out before Trump named Mike Pence as his running mate, a man who has not shown support for evolutionary theory in the past.

So....what did John Ellis of PJ Media have to say about Barbara King's suggestions?  Well, one can get a pretty clear idea from the title of the column, which is “NPR Writer Having a Meltdown Because YOUR Children Might Learn About Noah's Ark.”  Actually, King only mentions the Ark Encounter as a lead-in to promote the teaching of evolution.  As noted above, she correctly points out that there are 65 million years in between modern humans and dinosaurs, a geological point firmly established by many lines of evidence.  Beyond that, though, her point, and it is a very good one, is that the general public is woefully uneducated about basic evolutionary theory, a theory that underpins all of modern biology.  That is her target.

Ellis goes on:
Last week, NPR treated us to a condescending and science-worshipping article written by Barbara King, an anthropology professor whose latest book is titled How Animals Grieve. If King had stopped at the usual scientism slurping, that would have been bad enough. King, however, took the extra step and demanded an obeisance from parents and the complete sacrifice of their children to the god of contemporary science.

Taking aim at young earth creationism as manifest by Ken Ham and Answers in Genesis, Barbara King scolds reporters who give any positive attention to, in King's words, "anti-science creationist discourse." She goes on to explain how society has failed our children by allowing them to be exposed to anything but evolution. After a series of proposed remedies, King concludes her condescending rant by declaring that, "Our children must be taught about evolutionary science in order to be science-literate."
First off, this column kind of surprised me coming out of PJ Media. This is the kind of thing I would expect to read from the Discovery Institute, the intelligent design think tank out in Washington state.  Who is John Ellis?  If you click on his name, you are greeted with this:
Having spent the majority of his adult life as a theatre artist throughout the Southeast, John now lives in the DC area with his wife and two kids. Besides writing, he works on the staff at his church. Prior to writing for PJ Media, he was a columnist for No Depression and regular contributor to Bearded Gentleman Music.
In other words, he has no scientific training whatsoever.  He is a musician and writer (and not of science).  Here is what he writes next:
Since scientism is a faith-based religion, and a faith-based religion that has the entire trajectory of science history undermining it, scientism's adherents have to forcefully clear the worldview deck in order for their religion to flourish. In the marketplace of ideas, the weaker ideas are going to need some handicapping, so to speak.

The thing is, next to no one is attempting to keep children from learning about evolution. Creationists that have any sway over policy want children to learn options. There is a concerted effort, however, to frame worldview discussions in a manner that eliminates any worldview that doesn't bow down to the current, most-privileged group-think. In other words, Barbara King isn't really concerned that your children be science-literate; she wants to make sure that your children aren't exposed to ideas that threaten her larger worldview. She wants control.

Controlling the education of children is one of the front lines in the battle of worldviews. Barbara King realizes that for her religion of scientism to flourish, children's education has to be devoid of competing ideas.
There are numerous problems with this column. Ellis uses phrases like "the usual scientism slurping" as if such were a common thing in scientific discourse, yet does not define or explain in any satisfactory way what "scientism" is or why Dr. King's writing should be characterized as such.  Further, his use of the phrase "god of contemporary science," suggests that he holds the scientific enterprise in very low regard.  Given his background, one wonders what qualifications he has to write this column and who green lighted it in the first place.

He mentions "taking aim" at young earth creationism.  This is, perhaps, because young earth creationism is an easy target at which to take aim.  There is no defensible science that supports the young earth position.  We have known for almost a hundred years that the earth is not 6,000 years old and the evidence for the young earth position gets weaker every day.  Consequently, defense of young earth creationism, by people like Ken Ham and others, has begun to focus on how acceptance of an old earth and evolution amounts to "compromising the biblical message," that, as Christians, we should know better than to accept evolution, or how evolutionary thought leads to the gross evils of mankind (despite the fact that evil has been around considerably longer than evolutionary theory).  This is a blatant move to appeal to the emotions of supporters and to their religious perspectives.  After all, if the Bible clearly says that the earth was created in six literal days (and that is really big IF), then modern science MUST be wrong.

He speaks derisively of Dr. King's statements that we must teach evolutionary biology to kids to keep them science-literate and that the difference between creationists and evolutionists is that creationists don't worship science.  It is hard to combat an argument like this because it is so lazy.  How do "evolutionists" worship science?  He doesn't say.  Evolutionary biologists don't worship science, they practice it.  He says that the strength of creationists is that they are not "threatened by competing views."

Would he make the same argument that we should teach our kids alchemy, instead of modern chemistry?  What about teaching the various theories of gravitation prior to our modern understanding?  There are, after all, people that still subscribe to those.  What about geocentrism?  How about the Flat Earth Society?

Anyone that tried to seriously teach these would be laughed at, and rightly so.  Why, given that modern young earth creationism has no scientific support, should we treat it differently?  Why, if evolution has more support than most scientific theories, does teaching it constitute sacrificing school kids to "the god of contemporary science?"  If competing views have been shown to be false, why should we teach them?

He writes that scientism (once again, undefined) is faith-based and that it has the entire history of science undermining it, therefore, promoters of scientism need to "handicap" the weaker ideas.  News flash: that is what science does.  It weeds out the weaker ideas.  Back to my initial point: science is not democratic.  Ideas that have no empirical support get put in the dustbin of history.  Science does and must proceed this way or we have no way of understanding the world and universe in which we live.

He writes that no one is trying to keep people from learning evolution.  This simply isn't so.  One of the principle findings of the Dover trial in 2005 is that the defense witnesses lied repeatedly about why they wanted an alternative to evolution taught.  Most of the defense witnesses could not even identify what Intelligent Design was.  When pressed, it became clear that they wanted creationism taught. 

Recent reports from other places in the country indicate that, almost uniformly, attempts to "teach the controversy" or "teach the full range of ideas" are smokescreens for getting young earth creationism (and hence, anti-evolution) into the classroom (For example, see here, here, here, and here).  Most of these bill supporters would like nothing better than to have evolution stripped from the curriculum of public education.  That they have not been very successful so far is not for lack of trying.

This is a very poorly-written article.  While blasting what he calls "scientism," Ellis makes no effort to explain why we should teach creationism in its place.  Further, he makes no effort to explain why the teaching of evolution should not happen, simply that he thinks it consists of a "world view."  If teaching evolutionary theory constitutes teaching a "world view" then guess what?  Most of what we teach as science entails a "world view."

Heliocentrism is a "world view" and we teach that. When Galileo confirmed Copernicus' finding that the earth was not in the center of the universe, it sent shockwaves throughout the church, such that the work of Copernicus was banned. Much like the modern struggle against evolution, it literally changed their "world view" in such a way that they couldn't incorporate it into their understanding of scripture.  Does any educated person today doubt that the earth is not in the center of the universe?   

Gravitational theory changed our understanding of the universe and introduced us to black holes, quantum mechanics and string theory.  Plate tectonic theory changed our understanding of how our earth works, why earthquakes and volcanoes happen where and when they do and why most natural disasters happen.  Science News has a great little article on the Top 10 Revolutionary Scientific Theories, every one of which changed our "world view."  Ellis is just upset because King's world view differs from his.  The catch is that there is empirical support for her world view and there is none for his.  As such, his argument that her promotion of evolutionary theory constitutes "scientism" fails. 

Sunday, August 07, 2016

New Scientist: Public Schools Should Not Take Their Kids to the Ark Encounter

A post in the New Scientist has come out squarely against the idea that public schools should take kids on field trips to the Ark Encounter, despite a plea from Ken Ham to do so.  Josh Rosenau, of the NCSE writes:
Throughout the Ark, wordy signs, animatronic mannequins and strident videos all insist that it is no Sunday school tale, but a “historically authentic” boat that existed just as Ham and others on the young-earth creationist fringe imagine it.
Perhaps because of disappointing visitor numbers so far, it is offering reduced rates – $1 a student and free tickets for accompanying teachers – to tempt schoolchildren through its doors. Schools and parents should know that a visit wouldn’t educate or entertain, it would misinform and browbeat.

Publicly-funded schools certainly should not take their charges to the park. The US Constitution prohibits government bodies, including schools, from endorsing one particular religious belief over others. Ark Encounter is all about endorsing Ham’s particular reading of Genesis as the literal truth. The constitutions of nearby states, from which a trip might be feasible, echo that proscription.
While this may be true, that is not the best reason to stay away from the exhibit. I am always a little bit leery of anything the FFRF says, because, as an organization, it would think absolutely nothing of trampling religious freedoms in an effort to squash religion altogether. Having said that, it would be pretty hard to square a tax-payer funded public school trip to an attraction that is designed specifically to convert people to its particular brand of Christianity.  Especially when there is not a shred of scientific evidence that the flood on which the story is based actually happened.  As Christian geologist Carol Hill writes:
No geologic evidence whatsoever exists for a universal flood, flood geology, or the canopy theory. Modern geologists, hydrologists, paleontologists, and geophysicists know exactly how the different types of sedimentary rock form, how fossils form and what they represent, and how fast the continents are moving apart...
Kids can go see Ken Ham's monument to the Disney-ization of Christianity, but it will probably never happen as part of a sanctioned field trip.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Viruses have a strong role in Evolution

A story making the rounds reports on a study that suggests that viruses may have had a very strong influence on human evolution.  The Economic Times reports the following:
In a new study, researchers apply big-data analysis to reveal the full extent of viruses' impact on the evolution of humans and other mammals.

The findings suggest an astonishing 30 per cent of all protein adaptations since humans' divergence with chimpanzees have been driven by viruses.

"When you have a pandemic or an epidemic at some point in evolution, the population that is targeted by the virus either adapts, or goes extinct," said David Enard, a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University.

“We knew that, but what really surprised us is the strength and clarity of the pattern we found,” said Enard.
This is not so surprising. We already know that endogenous retroviruses have had a very large role to play in human evolution and that the pattern of their dispersal provides some of the best evidence of common ancestry.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

William Dembski Comes Face to Face With the Closed-Mindedness of Young Earth Creationism

Disgraced Christian Comedian Mike Warnke once upon a time referred to someone as being so narrow-minded that he “could look through a keyhole with both eyes.” That is, apparently, what William Dembski found when he attempted to engage the young earth creationism movement about some of their core claims. He has a fairly lengthy post on his own site, in which he reposts an updated interview that he did with The Best Schools.

I, and others (here, here and here), have been very critical of Dembski over the years because of his persistent misunderstanding of the basic workings of evolution.   Nonetheless, I share his consternation.  A bit back, he wrote a book titled The End of Christianity (which I am embarrassed to say I have yet to read) in which he addressed the notion of evil within a Christian context that allowed for an old earth creation. He writes:
What I was dealing with in The End of Christianity is a more narrow problem, namely, how to account for evil within a Christian framework given a reading of Genesis that allows the earth and universe to be billions, rather than merely thousands, of years old. I’m an old-earth creationist, so I accept that the earth and universe are billions of years old. Young-earth creationism, which is the more traditional view, holds that the earth is only thousands of years old.

The reason this divergence between young-earth and old-earth creationists is relevant to the problem of evil is that Christians have traditionally believed that both moral and natural evil are a consequence of the fall of humanity. But natural evil, such as animals killing and parasitizing each other, would predate the arrival of humans on the scene if the earth is old and animal life preceded them. So, how could their suffering be a consequence of human sin and the Fall? My solution is to argue that the Fall had retroactive effects in history (much as the salvation of Christ on the Cross acts not only forward in time to save people now, but also backward in time to save the Old Testament saints).
Make no mistake, Dembski still does not accept biological evolution, at least not to the level that is traditionally accepted within the scientific community.

The overall reaction he received surprised him, although in hind sight, some of it should have been predictable:
Ken Ham went ballistic on it, going around the country denouncing me as a heretic, and encouraging people to write to my theological employers to see to it that I get fired for the views I take in it.
That's the “both eyes” part.  Then he says something that I have thought for some time, and it is something that has been touched on by writers such as Mark Noll and Karl Giberson:
There’s a mentality I see prevalent in conservative Christian circles that one can never be quite conservative enough. This got me thinking about fundamentalism and the bane it is. It’s one thing to hold views passionately. It’s another to hold one particular view so dogmatically that all others may not even be discussed, or their logical consequences considered. This worries me about the future of evangelicalism.
I have seen this mentality rise within the young earth creation community. To an extent, it has always been there, in that there is, in published book after book (no scholarly articles), no possibility broached that the strict, literal reading of the Primeval History cannot be correct.  This is a serious problem within fundamentalist evangelicalism and is part and parcel of the entire problem that the movement has with any sort of reasoned academic debate.

It is also the same mentality that encourages the break with the historical church and the writings of the church fathers, to the point where many fundamentalist evangelicals are so busy trying to be evangelical that they don't know what "Christian" actually means.  One last quote from Dembski drives this point home:
Fundamentalism, as I’m using it, is not concerned with any doctrinal position, however conservative or traditional. What’s at stake is a harsh, wooden-headed attitude that not only involves knowing one is right, but refuses to listen to, learn from, or understand other Christians, to say nothing of outsiders to the faith. Fundamentalism in this sense is a brain-dead, soul-stifling attitude. I see it as a huge danger for evangelicals.
The young earth creation movement is the embodiment of this mindset.

I encourage you to read the whole interview.  He has some very damning things to say about how the fundamentalist evangelical world treated him after the book came out.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Lauren Saville: The Importance of Teaching Human Evolution

Lauren Saville has written a post for NCSE titled "The Importance of Teaching Evolution."  Inevitably, the post deals not just with human evolution, but with climate change as well because, just as rejection of human evolution goes hand in hand with climate change skepticism on the right, acceptance of the two go hand in hand on the left.  So, why should we teach human evolution?
From an early age we wonder where we come from; evolution explains that for us. From the amazing array of fossils that have been found in Africa, Asia, and Europe we can piece together our evolutionary lineage from Australopithecus to early Homo sapiens and explore the different species that branched off in between. By studying the fossil record we can understand when we began walking upright, by noting all the huge morphological changes that distinguish us from other great apes, such as our wide bowl-shaped pelvis, big toes in line with the rest of our feet and shorter arms. We can see when our brain size increased (when Homo erectus came about) and the subsequent huge change in our technology. As they say, the rest is history.

Tapping into our inherent curiosity about our history and origins is a great way to get students excited about science. Who does not want to know why we do the things we do and look the way we do? Learning about our own evolution helps students feel connected to science.
I would add that one of the reasons we should teach human evolution is because it places us in the wide pantheon of evolution on the earth, which began some 3.5 billion years ago. It gives us an idea of the vastness of time. Humans, in their (relatively) current form, have been around for almost 200 thousand years. Our genus has been around for over 2 million years. How long is that? If you started counting by ones out loud, it would take you twenty-two days of straight counting to get to two million.

To count to one billion would take you 31 years!!

Evolution has been going on for three and a half times that long. We are part and parcel of the grand design of life and should take joy in that.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Ken Ham, Evolutionary Creationism and Reality, Part II

As I mentioned a few days ago in a post on Ken Ham's attack on evolutionary creationists, the thrust of his argument is that Christians who accept the science of evolution “are mixing the religion of death with the religion of life — death came after sin, Jesus conquered it. Evolution requires death over millions of years, death is a 'friend' that produces life and death ends it all,"  Implicit in this approach is that physical death accompanied the fall of Adam, a real person, and that, in contrast to the world prior to Adam's sin, death now pervades the natural world.  Acceptance of evolution, therefore, requires acceptance of death before Adam's sin.  Yesterday, I suggested some theological alternatives to this perspective.  But there is also another response to Ham's attack.

It is irrelevant.

Ham argues that, as Christians, we cannot accept evolutionary creationism because we reject the purpose of Christ's death and resurrection as having atoned for the sins of one man: Adam. Even if this were true, what bearing does it have on the reality of evolution or the age of the earth?

One of the pervasive features of the arguments that are posited in favor of a creation that is 6,000 years old is that they simply do not stand up to scrutiny.  Entire books and web sites are devoted to pointing out the holes in young earth creationist arguments.  For example take just about any paper in TalkOrigins, NCSE, or BioLogos and you will find concrete evidence for evolution and an old earth creation and articles debunking of young earth arguments.  This is a very fruitful area of research.  Excellent books exist, written by geologists, palaeontologists and historians.  These include
  • Don Prothero's Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why it Matters
  • David Montgomery's The Rocks Don't Lie
  • Kenneth Miller's Only a Theory: Evolution and the Battle for America's Soul and Finding Darwin's God
  • Carol Hill, Gregg Davidson and Wayne Ranney: Grand Canyon: Monument to An Ancient Earth
  • Davis Young and Ralph Stearley: The Bible, Rocks and Time
  • Davis Young: The Biblical Flood: A Case Study of the Church's Response to Extrabibilical Evidence
  • Andrew J. Petto and Laurie Godfrey: Scientists Confront Creationism: Intelligent Design and Beyond
Many of these books are written by Christians who have analyzed the evidence and have concluded that there is undeniable evidence of an ancient earth and that evolutionary theory does, in fact, accurately describe present and past biological diversity.   This is, by no means, an exhaustive list and a search of Amazon will bring up literally hundreds of such books.

In other words, Ken Ham can rail against the acceptance of evolution by Christians but it takes on the air of someone railing against something like atomic energy.  There is no shortage of people out there who protest against the use of atomic energy and decry the evils that it brings upon the world.  This has no bearing on the existence of atomic energy.  It simply is.  The massive amounts of evidence that support evolution reflect the fact that it simply is.  It has as much evidence to support it as there is to support an ancient earth.  And as with an ancient earth, there is no escaping the concept of death.

 Consequently, Ham's attempts to attach moral and spiritual significance to both evolution and “millions of years” are misguided.  The vast majority of theologians understand this and the relevant science has, at least incipiently, been in place for over seventy years.  They also understand the pitfalls of interpreting the scriptures literally, as I pointed out in the post a few days ago.  It is only the supporters of the  relatively recent young earth creation perspective who fail to understand this. 

Monday, July 18, 2016

Ken Ham to Give Public School Students a Huge Discount for Ark Encounter

When I saw the eye-popping ticket price for Ken Ham's Ark Encounter, it pretty much cemented my initial decision to not attend, even as a curiosity trip.  Adults 13 and over: $40, children 5-12: $28.  This came in concert with an announcement that the entrance fee for the Creation Museum, itself, would rise from $24.95 to $29.95 to “cover costs.”  As has been pointed out, one only needs to raise ticket prices to cover costs if attendance is flagging or inflationary costs of materials rises dramatically.  Since there have been o significant changes to the CPI in recent memory, it is largely possible that the former is happening.

But now, it seems, that Ham has made an offer of $1 admission to all public school children.  Brad Reed of Raw Story writes:
Hopefully, any school that actually takes advantage of this offer will go there to have students point and laugh at exhibits of Noah’s family rounding up dinosaurs onto an ark.

That said, there is sadly a chance that schools will see the Ark Encounter as a legitimate “educational” exercise, which is why groups like the FFRF are sounding the alarm to parents who don’t want their kids coming home from school believing the Earth was created 6,000 years ago and that Jesus used to heal lepers while riding around on a triceratops.
I will be curious to see if this moves the needle in terms of attendance, which may not be as good as was indicated by Ham.