Kentucky “Creation Museum” Arouses Passions

WE first encountered Jim Gaines, a reporter for the Bowling Green Daily News, when we posted Creationist Wisdom — Example 64, about two letters-to-the-editor that were written in response to one of his columns. Jim had dared to criticize the Creation Museum, constructed by Ken Ham. The “museum” is a creationist abomination built on greed, ignorance, and gullibility.

That newspaper had better gear up for a deluge of mail, because Jim has done it again. We present to you, dear reader, some excerpts from Jim’s newest column: Creating a stir by supporting science. The bold font was added by us:

For criticizing Ken Ham, I am accused of “attacking Christianity and all who believe the Bible is the inspired word of God.”

I must apologize. I did not realize that Ken Ham was numbered among the prophets, or that his cartoonish interpretation of the Bible was accepted as, well, gospel by the 2 billion or so Christians on the planet. If that was true, however, one would think his attendance numbers would be a bit higher. Where else can you go see a prophet nowadays?

But Jim doesn’t stop with gentle mockery. He picks up a veritable flame-thrower and marches right into the center of the pitchfork-wielding mob. Let’s read on:

Seriously, though, I’m very tired of seeing crackpots like Ham hide behind respectable Christians, claiming that they’re all being persecuted because one person making ludicrous assertions also claims to be a Christian.

Doing so begs the question: What does it mean to be a Christian? Most people assume that the definition is obvious. But anyone can claim to be a Christian, and many very strange people do. Sun Mung-Moon does. The Holocaust Museum shooter does.

Go easy, Jim. Most of the people who read your column are harmless, but one never knows …

Jim ignores our warnings. He even turns up the volume as his column continues:

And so does Fred Phelps, the ranting lunatic who pickets soldiers’ funerals because he thinks we don’t stone enough gay people to death. In fact, Phelps runs his own church, Westboro Baptist in Topeka, Kan.; just like Ken Ham, he claims to be doing God’s work.

Would anyone like to tell me that anyone who denounces Phelps’ hysterical bigotry is also “attacking Christianity?” Yet Phelps and Ham are actually doing the same thing, trying to hide their absurdities in the Bible’s aura of sanctity. They both quote biblical verses in their own defense. Phelps is rejected by the larger Christian community because his idiocies are more publicly offensive than Ham’s, but their method is the same.

Now you’ve done it, Jim! For us, this will merely generate more material for our blog. But for you — the crazies know who you are and where you work.

Here’s more:

If someone says to me, “I’m a Christian, which means I think we should all be kind to one another, as Jesus taught,” then I reply, “That’s fine. In fact, that’s admirable.”

But if they say, “I’m a Christian, which requires me to believe that Jesus rode around Galilee on a pet dinosaur,” my reply is, “That’s ridiculous.”

We often try to make the same point when we contrast private faith in un-evidenced things (which doesn’t trouble us), with the creationists’ fanatical demand that we must all be taught to believe in disproven things. Jim just made the same point, and he did it better. Moving along:

Evolution is scientifically accepted because it has withstood 150 years of that criticism, and only grown stronger as more research has been done.

[…]

When the blatant inconsistencies in Ham’s museum are pointed out, the standard cop-out is to write them off as miracles. It was all God’s handiwork, after all; so it can’t be expected to match what’s now understood of natural laws. But the point of the Creation Museum is to argue that the Genesis story is real science, and conforms to scientific standards. You can’t have it both ways. It can’t be a law-violating miracle and perfectly logical at the same time.

That’s why creationism is not science, and hence doesn’t belong in science classes.

The newspaper’s website has a “comments” feature below the column. We’re early, and so far we don’t see any comments. If you support what Jim is doing, why not click over there and give him a word of encouragement?

Copyright © 2009. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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20 responses to “Kentucky “Creation Museum” Arouses Passions

  1. I left a comment alerting Jim that if any replies citing “Darwin’s Black Box” to remind everyone that Behe accepts an old earth and common descent. And that if anyone recycles the usual “young earth” arguments to ask whether they challened any OECs directly.

    Of course I expect few if any replies addressing scientific issues.

  2. Frank J says: “… Behe accepts an old earth and common descent.”

    Your dream of inciting a Helter-Skelter holy war between old-earth and young-earth creationists is unlikely to be realized. They won’t splinter and start slaughtering one another until they’ve first triumphed in their joint objective. To prevent their triumph, it’s easier (for me) to lump them all together as irrational, theocratic creationists (which is true), while occasionally pointing out what a queer and inconsistent coalition they are. Anyway, everyone in this business has his own approach.

  3. That man rocks. He is a good example of courage under intense fundy fire (especially in his neck of the woods) and also a good example of concise and simple responses to stupidity so frustrating that sometimes it simply leaves me shaking my head in wonder.

  4. Randy says: “That man rocks. He is a good example of courage …”

    We have to give the management of the newspaper credit too. They don’t have to give him a platform, but they do.

  5. comradebillyboy

    Thank you Jim Gaines. Were I a religious believer, I would say you are a god-send. Instead I’ll just say you are voice of reason crying out in the wilderness of ignorance and superstition.

  6. Maine Operative

    I made a comment about Jim’s mention of the deceptive practices used by these “holy” warriors and emailed him a longer comment than the 200 word limit permitted on the BG Daily News site.

  7. Maine Operative says: “I made a comment … and emailed him a longer comment …”

    You’re a good operative.

  8. Curmudgeon wrote: “Your dream of inciting a Helter-Skelter holy war between old-earth and young-earth creationists is unlikely to be realized.”

    My dream is far more modest than that. It’s merely for them to show their evasion and double standards more clearly to those in their audience who are not hopeless. A casual reader – which I was for ~30 years up to 1997 – might erroneously think that they agree on “what happened when” and are not trying to hide any differences. So to me, highlighting their differences is just as important as highlighting their similarities.

  9. Weird. Two of you have indicated commenting, but I don’t see any comments. Do I have to register to see the comments?

  10. Comments at the Daily News are moderated, but the moderator doesn’t work weekends, so any left on my column (or Sunday stories in general) probably won’t appear until Monday morning – just about four hours before the Sunday edition is replaced by Monday’s paper.

    While the fundies don’t scare me, the editor has gotten very, very nervous about the handful od denunciations I’ve received. He doesn’t want me to write about evil-lution any more.

  11. Jim Gaines says: “He doesn’t want me to write about evil-lution any more.”

    May I assume that in return, he agrees that the paper won’t run stories favorable to creationism?

  12. Ha! Good luck with that. No, it’s merely a matter of avoiding controversy. Most scientifically-minded people, at least around here, only sigh and shake their heads when they hear creationist presentations (and WKU, home of Mr. God’s-Echo, has had several creationist lecturers whom we covered uncritically). It’s those who feel religiously offended who tend to write angry letters.

    By the way, several supportive comments have finally been approved to appear below my column. Thanks very much for the support.

  13. Jim Gaines says: “Thanks very much for the support.”

    No problem. Actually, it was a bit of an accident. Except when there’s a creationist legislative effort pending, I usually don’t bother with pro-science columns or letters-to-the-editor, because although we applaud such efforts, they’re rarely entertaining. Your column popped up because that goofy museum is sometimes worth mentioning, and I was looking at the letters that attacked you. It’s become an interesting imbroglio, but if the paper doesn’t want you to inflame the locals, it’ll all just fade away. But I’m glad you found us. Don’t be a stranger.

  14. Maine Operative

    The most ironic comment I’ve seen is the one from Ms. Taulbee “Mr. Gaines, respect my view as I do yours.” Readers of the Good Curmudgeon’s blog should find her suggestions most humerous coming as they do from the lips of a dyed-in-the-wool Hamite (I commented that she ought to send the list to Klinghoffer — he could use her advice). She states,

    “Mr. Gaines article might have been more effective if he had abided by the rules of debate such as:

    Attack the idea not the person.

    Refrain from saying you are wrong.

    You can say your idea is mistaken.

    If it is just an opinion, admit it.

    Do not present opinion as fact.

    Stress the positive, avoid bickering quarreling and name calling.

    Watch your tone.

    Disagree without being disagreeable.”

  15. Maine Operative says: “Readers of the Good Curmudgeon’s blog …”

    I know you’re not talking about me. You two-timing us? But it is amusing to have a creationist giving advice of any kind to anyone, especially regarding how to conduct a civil debate.

  16. Jim, would your editor back down if the number of supportive comments and letters to the editor increased, or is there a sense that bad press from the majority overrides any press from the minority?

    BTW, although I am a card carrying ‘member of the choir’, that article was well written and well targeted. Thanks for doing your part.

  17. Maine Operative

    Ah, my “Good Curmudgeon” is in the spirit of fans of Isaac Asimov who used to term him the “Good Doctor.” Of course, he was also a curmudgeon of sorts, too,

  18. b_sharp, I can’t say for certain, but I suspect there would be less (internal) fuss if things evened out. In the hierarchy of reader response, letters to the editor rate above all else. Article comments rank substantially lower, personal e-mails or verbal comments well below article comments, and – with apologies to The Curmudgeon – outside blog/media comments may actually be counterproductive. It’s almost as if wider readership is discouraged, a baffling approach for a media outlet.

    As for Asimov, he did embrace the label of curmudgeon. Asked for a Christmas column by Reader’s Digest, to run with mushy-sweet stories by other authors, he sent it one called “And Now, A Word From Scrooge.” It never saw print.

  19. Jim Gaines says: ” … with apologies to The Curmudgeon – outside blog/media comments may actually be counterproductive.”

    I’m used to being ignored. No problem.