Ken Ham vs. Scientific American Magazine

What is the expected reaction of a rational, science-literate person who visits the Creation Museum? We’re talking, of course, about the Genesis-oriented place run by Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo) — described in the Cast of Characters section of our Intro page.

The normally expected reactions would range from amusement, disbelief, shock, disgust, revulsion, or some combination thereof. A typical example was recently published in Scientific American, which you can see here: A Science Teacher Draws the Line at Creation. The author, Jacob Tanenbaum, who teaches fourth and fifth grade science, writes:

What disturbed me most about my time spent at the museum was the theme, repeated from one exhibit to the next, that the differences between biblical literalists and mainstream scientists are minor. They are not minor; they are poles apart. This is not to say that science and religion are incompatible; many scientists believe in some kind of higher power, and many religious people accept the idea of evolution. Still, a literal interpretation of Genesis cannot be reconciled with modern science.

As you can imagine, ol’ Hambo is red-faced, foaming-at-the-mouth, and sputtering mad about that. He and a few others have written Responding to the False Claims of a Scientific American Columnist. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:

AiG’s Creation Museum is being challenged once again by the secularists, this time in the renowned magazine Scientific American. … Unsurprisingly, Mr. Tanenbaum’s “facts” about our exhibits aren’t exactly accurate.

Curious, aren’t you? Okay, let’s read on:

For instance, Tanenbaum claims that we teach, regarding the global Flood, that “Noah saved all animal species that we see today from the Flood.” This is a common equivocation that evolutionists make in regard to the animals on Noah’s Ark. As we clearly teach in the Creation Museum, Noah didn’t take representatives of every species of animal we see today — he took representatives of every “kind” of land animal (which is usually at the “family” level of classification).

Yes, and after the Ark came to rest only around four thousand years ago, those few “kinds” underwent an incredible, lighting-fast burst of — gasp! — evolution into the millions of different species we see today. They swiftly populated all the continents. Kangaroos hopped all the way to Australia (leaving no ancestral “kinds” along the way), and sloths swung through the trees from Mt. Ararat to South America. Hambo continues:

[Tanenbaum] claims, “Creationists begin with answers and work to prove that those answer are right. . . . Scientists who formed the idea of human evolution did not invent the idea and go looking for fossils.”

Quite so. But Hambo disagrees. He says:

[We] have an eyewitness account of the origin of the world — the Word of God Himself, the Creator and Sustainer of the universe. We don’t have to rely on man’s ideas of how the world may have come to be, because the Bible tells us plainly how the universe and everything in it was created.

We’ve discussed that “eyewitness” claim in The Curmudgeon’s Guide to Creation Science, where we said:

Creationists claim that their evidence — scripture — is God’s uncontrovertible eye-witness testimony, which is far more reliable than the natural scientists’ unprovable assumptions about how things were in the unseen and unreproducible past. But there’s one little problem with that — the creationists don’t have the actual testimony of their eyewitness. What they’ve got is hearsay — the ancient writings of mere men who claim to have recorded God’s testimony.

Back to Hambo:

Tanenbaum also makes the same mistake that TV host Bill Nye made last year in widely watched YouTube videos and on TV interviews: he confuses historical science with observational science.

We won’t bother with that again. If you’re not familiar with the issue, see The Lessons of Tiktaalik. Moving along:

Tanenbaum ends the article stating that “if students do not understand how science works, we can destroy our country’s future or even threaten our existence on this old Earth.” Again, a student’s beliefs about the past (historical science) generally have little bearing on the experiments they perform in the classroom (observational science). Imagine what would happen if students actually applied a belief that everything came about by random chance over eons of time to a chemistry experiment. They might just throw the chemicals together, leave the classroom, and not return!

That’s definitely not worth a response, and that’s where we’re ending this thing. As always, dear reader, the choice is yours: Who ya gonna believe –Ken Ham or Scientific American?

Copyright © 2013. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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14 responses to “Ken Ham vs. Scientific American Magazine

  1. The old fuzzy Hamster sure loves his sideshow. If there was an explosion of species divergence within the last 4k errr no 6k.. ok maybe 10k years, then where are all the skeletal remains? It would be a paleontologists dream to have a vast record of recent mass divergence available. The scientific community would have been aware of such an event long before Ham was even a wee hamlette. So come on Creation Researchers, produce some of the evidence trail your claims imply the existence of.

    “As we clearly teach in the Creation Museum, Noah didn’t take representatives of every species of animal we see today — he took representatives of every “kind” of land animal” Is this statement not strikingly similar to this one ?

  2. Well, this is a tough one. I subscribed to Scientific American for over 25 years, but dropped my subscription after several editorial and ownership changes gutted the quality of SciAm and turned it into a tabloid. So, I may have to side with old Hambo in this one. I would also note that SciAm is one of the favorite magazines of the Tooters. ‘Nuff said!

  3. docbill1351 says: “I subscribed to Scientific American for over 25 years, but dropped my subscription after several editorial and ownership changes”

    Same here. I don’t know what they’re all about these days. Still, it’s difficult to side with Hambo.

  4. This is very much off topic, but I suppose I can squeeze it in here: Social Security Administration takes back reprimand of flatulent worker.

  5. Sciam had a rough run after losing it’s longtime editor in the 80’s. Dennis Flanagan was major driving force that kept Sciam on the leading edge for a span of 30+ years, the changes following his departure where immediately noticeable.
    Publishing in general saw a rough patch during that time as well, production cost increases drove numerous periodicals to reduce size and scope, many excellent small circulation magazines just disappeared.

  6. Charles Deetz ;)

    Kinds? Is that scientific, or something made up to fit the boat? Okay, it wasn’t made up, its a testable hypothesis. Sure it is.

  7. Yes, that is sure rapid evolution! That’s the theistic way: get out of one difficulty to enter another.

  8. “Imagine what would happen if students actually applied a belief that everything came about by random chance over eons of time to a chemistry experiment. They might just throw the chemicals together, leave the classroom, and not return!”

    That’s actually what the grad students do. Throw everything together and go home, no use staring at the flask hoping to see something. Sometimes they only take the experiment down and figure out what’s happened when someone else needs the hood space.

    Worked for Stanley MIller, didn’t it?

  9. Garnetstar says: “That’s actually what the grad students do. Throw everything together and go home”

    I’m much more sophisticated. I hang around junk yards waiting for a tornado to produce a 747. I haven’t seen it happen yet, so Darwin was obviously an idiot.

  10. retiredsciguy

    Dean: “…where are all the skeletal remains? It would be a paleontologists dream to have a vast record of recent mass divergence available. The scientific community would have been aware of such an event long before Ham was even a wee hamlette. So come on Creation Researchers, produce some of the evidence trail your claims imply the existence of.”

    Exactly! This is some field research that ICR could actually do. If they could find a trail bones showing how kangaroos, say, got from Ararat to Australia it would certainly strengthen their argument.

    They could also trace DNA. If that research were to show that Noah’s genes spread across the world in the past 6,000 years, they would have something to talk about.

    Of course, they don’t want to do such research, because they want us to take it on faith that what they say is true. They are also very much aware that this research has already been done, and shows no results supporting their claims.

  11. Sci guy .! Theres no kangaroo trail of evidence because they were probably airlifted to Australia by the storks. And the continents were probably still sliding around after the deluge, so some animals (like the sloth and the jaguar) stepped on the South American plate just as they came down the ark’s gangplank and were whisked away.
    After that scare, the sloths have had to take a lot of Darvon,,, really scared ’em.
    Its very possible the jaguar had a little molten lava spilled on it during the continental sliding, hence the spots.
    and so forth……….
    ‘specially if you’re ,,uh, delusional.

  12. retiredsciguy

    Thanks for the imaginative enlightenment, Doodlebugger! I always wondered about those kangaroos. Any ideas on how Noah got polar bears on the Ark in the first place? That’s another mystery I’ve wondered about.

  13. I’ve had SciAm around the house for nearly 40 years, either by my Dad’s subscription or my own. The magazine has gone through considerable changes, but so has the entire publishing industry. This year I might drop the dead tree version in favor of the digital edition, but I’m not giving it up.

    I might add, Mrs. Addict demands I read Steve Mirsky’s column aloud to her every month. Here is his latest hilarity.

  14. doodlebugger

    Ham says “What disturbed me most”
    Hey, Ken Ham has admitted he is disturbed for the first time.
    This could be a breakthrough.!
    Nah…