Museums are giving training sessions to staff and volunteers to answer visiting creationists more respectfully and with better arguments. Some passages:
Its like the US is being split up… soon you’ll have a bit more than half that believe and are reinforced in their beliefs about creationism:
I think the museums are doing a great job of trying to be respectful and informative without confrontation... I'd hate to be in that position myself. Still it does seem like the very science behind it is being attacked. Creationists touring museums with their own creed being presented as the correct one.
Is the US become a two tier country ? Where a bit over half live in their fantasy creationism world and the other hang on to their "boring" evolutionary ideas ? What does this mean for future american science and scientists ? What are the next scientific hallmarks to be assaulted ? I find this quite sad ... especially in a country with a record number of science nobel prizes !
I work in a general history museum. We don’t have many fossils on display, but I have run into issues with Creationists when we enter the Native American exhibit, and I explain that some of the tools are between ten and fourteen thousand years old.
We didn’t recieve any training regarding how to deal with this. Most of us use the “smile and nod” method. I don’t even argue against them, which actually seems to frustrate them more than if I did.
Our museum is privately funded, as are many. No one could force us to present the Christian view of things, and I know the administration would fight any attempt tooth and nail.
Some museums may cave to pressure by donors, or God forbid, government pressure, but I have utterly no fears that my museum will do so. I imagine there are quite a few out there like us.
As for what it means for science in the future, fear not. Yes, I often feel great pity when home-school groups come in for tours, because I know these kids have no hope of becoming great scientists. However, there have always been “flat-Earthers” and they have not managed to impede the march of discovery yet. I seriously doubt they will ever achieve the power to do so.
As frustrating as it is that Creationists (especially YECs) are so vocal, the fact of the matter is, the theory of evolution just doesn’t play a significant part of everyday life. If they didn’t believe in electricity, that might be a problem. And most of the folks who are OK with evolution couldn’t explain it to you correctly if they had to.
Your question is almost like asking: Is the US becoming a two-tiered country where half choose yellow as their favority color and half choose green. Is there any data that creationists shy away from all science training, or choose non-technical careers at a higher frequency than their equally religious non-creationist fellow citizens? Share some data with us.
Very true John… its not really that relevant on a day to day basis… I guess what irks me more is seeing that there is little common ground. That issues tend to be split in two and each side ignores the other. These kids certainly won’t be scientists…
I think the musuems are handling it quite well... what is sad is that they have to do it at all. Still this assault on "science" is wierd... and not that common elsewhere. If the US weren't a superpower and has been until now the major innovator in science it wouldn't bother me as much.
I guess soon you will have museums only catering to creationist mind set... ? That will create a generation of kids exposed to nothing but these beliefs.
It can’t be (unfortunately) both strong and growing? It’s influence certainly seems to be growing recently, what with people trying to push ID into schools, and powerful folks like the POTUS supporting that attempt.
Hopefully some good will come out of this, and some of these “B.C.-ers” who are bused in to harangue the museum employees will get some education about reality.
To me the increased stridency of the creationists sounds like the growling of a cornered animal. They know they are losing the battle, and they will fight harder because of it.
It is getting more and more difficult to keep people ignorant about science. Television and the internet stream the truth into every home. There it is for anyone with any curiosity to find. Even home-schooled children will eventually learn things their parents don’t know (or don’t want to know).
54% of Americans don’t believe humans evolved? I’d bet the number was 75% twenty years ago, and I’d bet the number will be 25% twenty years from now.
Are there no creationists in Brazil? Why is it such a big deal in the US, but not elsewhere? Don’t take this a tu quoque, it’s just that it sounds like you’re having trouble understanding this in the US, but it has nothing to do with country of origin. People believe crazy things everywhere in the world. Look at how many people believe in spirits or ghosts or the Loch Ness monster or the Bermuda Triangle or Big Foot or UFOs…
there’s another facet to this question: Maybe there is no increase in the number of people who believe in creationism-but there is an increase in the number of creationists who we see in public.
There seem to be more creationists today who go to museums, write letters to the editor, hassle local school boards, publish books, and draw attention to themselves.
These people used to be less visible, and only talked among themselves in their churches.
But over the last 10-20 years, everybody has become more visible–sectors of society that never mixed now see each other.On 100-channel TV, on the internet, on the 24-hour news stations. And in museums.
I worked as a paleontology interpreter at the local science museum for about two years. My job was to deal with the public by answering questions about natural history. In that time a grand total of one creationist approached me. He was going off on the creationist fallacy that the sun must be young because things get smaller as they burn. I told him the sun is not on fire.
There is a creationist museum or two in the country, but those are seen as kooky oddities. I’ve been in science museums from coast to coast (including the deep south) and none of them paid any credence whatsoever to creationism.
Seems like a good training program to quickly and effectively put out fires like this is perfectly reasonable and probably long overdue. The “two-tiered” nature of American society (I’d argue there are plenty more tiers, depending on what you’re talking about) is already firmly in place, so why not come up with effective strategies to deal with it? The purpose isn’t to win theological discussions; it’s to dispatch them in short order so that patrons who are actually interested in learning something don’t have to suffer the interruptions caused by creationist idiocy.
I think this has been discussed before. This “assault on science” seems normal to me since science assaulted religion first. Understand I am not a religionist, nor do I believe in the Biblical creation. But neither do I believe evolution answers the question of where man came from. It is only a theory. It is that science has dictated their verson to be held as fact. Big mistake for science in general. Wait until the mainstream public realizes science has dictated there is no such thing as spirit. That’s when the spiritualists will join in the fray. Over 90 percent of the population believe in the spiritual nature of man. And with good reason, millions of them have had spiritual experiences of one kind or another. Much of this is documented, and shows evidence of conscienceness existing after the death of the body.
Now it is not bad to have differances of opinion, but it is bad when the sides start calling each other names. Look at the posts in this thread alone. Religion is protrayed as ignorance, and superstitution. That doesn’t win friends and influence people. My personal belief is that science is not in a good enough position to ridicule the religionists. They all have votes.
Maybe because its become a political issue and creationists are very visible in the US ? Brazil is poor and its expected that the uneducated come with silly stuff… but well to do Americans with much better education are behind this IT and Creationist drive. Certainly creationism is creeping into Brazil… but thankfully its almost null
You, however, do not use the word “theory” in the same manner as scientists. “Theory” has a very specific meaning in that world and some very specific condistions must be met before the term is employed.
The museums are much more respectful and much more tactful than I would be.
(1) Science is based on observation.
(2) Science museums present science.
(3) Based on observation, the Earth is older than 6,000 years old.
Young Earth Creationism has absolutely no place in a scientific setting, and, should anyone in my hypothetical scientific museum bring up some absurdity about how their holy book tells them the Earth was created such-and-such way, they would be immediately countered with the most vicious set of outrageous creation narratives from other cultures in order to prove the absurdity of their point.
People who argue about Intelligent Design from a scientific setting (i.e. irreducible complexity) would be given a polite brush-off: “As a science museum, our goal is to make people aware of the facts, not to provide interpretation of the facts in one way or another.”
I recognize the need for science museums to maintain solvency - that is, telling creationists to bug off is a sure way to end up on the Southern Baptist Convention’s blacklist. But should I ever encounter someone who insists on pushing religious views in a science museum, I will certainly give them a piece of my mind.