A Creationist Visit to a Museum

Creationists, like all other mystics, thrive on questions that science hasn’t yet decisively resolved — the origin of life, origin of the universe, etc. They claim (with no evidence whatsoever) that such things are impossible by natural means, and then they assert (again, with no evidence) that the only answer to such questions is supernatural activity — whatever version of Oogity Boogity it is that they’re peddling. This kind of “explanation” (which literally explains nothing) is known as the God of the gaps.

The Discovery Institute is typical in that respect, and after they’ve identified some still-unanswered question, they tirelessly promote it and criticize all rational attempts to provide answers. That’s what’s going on in the latest post at their creationist blog: At Denver Museum of Nature & Science, Patron Reports Errors in Displays, Gets Brushed Off. It was written by Sarah Chaffee (whom we call “Savvy Sarah”). Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

Misrepresentations of the scientific evidence on evolution are everywhere. Check out the displays at your local science museum, for example, and you can’t help tripping over them.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! A better place would be the Discoveroids’ website. Anyway, then she says:

We received a note from a friend of ours [i.e., a creationist] who visited the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. In addition to exploring the new robotics exhibit with his grandchildren, Discovery Institute supporter and intelligent design enthusiast Jim Campbell decided to visit the origins-of-life section.

That must have been fun — a creationist looks at a godless museum’s Satanic exhibits. What did he find? Savvy Sarah tells us:

Two of the displays, on the formation of cells and the Miller-Urey experiment, were scientifically inaccurate.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! So what did he do? Savvy Sarah continues:

He sent a letter to the museum, pointing this out. On the “Recipe for Life” display [big quote from the creationist’s complaining letter, including]:

[Excerpt from the creationist’s complaining letter:] For an informed view on the subject of life’s origins, consider what Dr. James Tour has to say about it.

We already know what Tour says, because we wrote about his views a couple of years ago — see James Tour: Creationist Organic Chemist. He’s a proud signer of the Discovery Institute’s A Scientific Dissent From Darwinism.

Here’s another excerpt from the creationist museum visitor’s letter:

The second offensive museum display involves the Miller-Urey experiment. The experiment was certainly important and informative at the time it was conducted although there are now valid questions concerning whether the atmosphere simulated in the experiment was representative of the intended primitive atmosphere. … Again, this display is not worthy of the museum and the caption should be at least modified to more honestly represent the experiment.

The Discoveroids don’t like the Miller-Urey experiment. We’ve written about that before — see Discovery Institute: Ignore the Miller-Urey Experiment!, and also Casey and the Miller-Urey Experiment, #2.

Okay, so the creationist museum visitor wrote his complaining letter. Then what happened? Savvy Sarah says:

How did the Denver Museum of Nature & Science respond? In a September letter, they noted:

[Alleged quote from the museum’s response:] I have passed your recommendations to the multi-disciplinary team … . Due to travel schedules, they are not due to meet for several weeks, but are going to review your input, and will get back to you after that discussion.

Then what? Savvy Sarah reveals:

Campbell [the creationist museum visitor] followed up after receiving the letter, and then again a few months later, but has received no response.

Gasp — no response! That’s so revealing! And now we come to the end of Savvy Sarah’s post:

It’s great to see people using their scientific knowledge to point out flaws in Darwinian dogma. But a museum brushing off a customer, when it comes to evolution, sadly doesn’t come as a big surprise.

We’re shocked — shocked! The museum ignored a creationist’s complaints. This is an outrage!

Copyright © 2017. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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19 responses to “A Creationist Visit to a Museum

  1. One wonders what would be the response to a letter pointing out an error in a creationist “museum”?
    For example, pointing out a non-Biblical statement?

  2. Michael Fugate

    One wonders what would be the response if people could comment on the DI’s creationist internet posts? or books?

    I wrote a letter to Wells after he wrote “Icons”, has he responded? How long should I wait for a response?

  3. The Denver Museum is one of the most spectacular natural history museums around. I’ve been lucky to see the fossil collections behind closed doors, as well as the public displays. They have a great mineral hall, with a world-class rhodochrosite exhibit. Amazing gold ore samples are on display, as is a mind-blowing native silver-replaced fossiliferous limestone. A real finback whale skeleton is suspended from the ceiling – the 2nd largest whale species on Earth. The list goes on and on. It’s pathetic that professional science haters are bad-mouthing the place.

  4. One wonders if the best way to change the views of the scientific community is to conduct your own well-designed experiments or to pen sternly worded letters to understaffed museums?

  5. I have been there a few times, & it is awesome!! But The museum was way too polite, my response is …Nice to read your letter about our errors! We will change things as soon as you send PROOF that what we show is wrong. Till then piss off!!!

  6. Well, Denver is nuttin’ compared to the Houston Natural History Museum’s newly re-designed Hall o’ Life. It takes you through time from the pre-Cambrian, through the Intelligent Designer’s (blessed be he) Cambrian Explosion, through fish and all that stuff until, finally(!) – DINOSAURS! We have pterosaurs 30-feet tall (take that, Denver!) and a triceratops skin with enough details to see internal organ impressions and dimple-things that held quills or feathers.

    My favorite exhibit, though, is the “trilobite sequence,” a spiral cone of trilobites from early hatched to mature and “all” the molting stages in between. Must be a hundred of the little critters. Fascinating! Here’s a picture some guy took.

  7. Creationist logic: work backwards from a fable that twas old you to as a child and then stridently rearrange the rest of the world to fit your juvenile worldview.

    I can’t wait to see where creationists take the tooth fairy!

  8. I wonder what kind of response Hambo would give a critical questioner after a visit to his museum?
    Dear Sir/Ma’am: Enclosed are a pair of Biblical glasses and a brain eating slug.
    Thanks for the question, and for praying!

  9. While we have Oogity Boogity, alas Darwinists are left with fortuitous serendipity. And while we have god-of-the-gaps, my Darwinist friends rely heavily on time-of-the-gaps. The only problem is, with time the mysteries grow deeper and deeper and deeper. One can almost understand the need to lie to the public about how easy it is for life to arise.

  10. Hold on there! Did anyone look at the display being objected to? It presented what it called ” A formula for life”. That formula was: six basic chemicals, mix, add time & energy, simmer in an orderly way for millions of years. That’s a formula for life? I hate to say it, but the visitor had a point. Miller-Urey did not produce life per se, just some amino acids. It was a ground-breaking experiment, but it made some faulty assumptions about the primordial atmosphere & it did not produce life. We need to be a lot straighter & more careful about what we claim for our science.

  11. It seems to me that the museum could explain more about what is known and what is, as yet, unknown. For scientists, the gaps represent interesting research questions. A science museum should feature these questions.

    Creationists tend to view every gap in knowledge as a problem which is unanswerable by science and only explainable by the actions of their chosen deity. Museums could do a great service by having more exhibits that explore the edges of our knowledge, and the various hypotheses that have been advanced in some cases to address these questions, and how the scientific method works to select among hypotheses and so on. Museums should be about the process of science as much as about the findings of science.

    Dark matter and dark energy are the coolest ideas in physics, at least to me, precisely because we think they exist but do not know what they are. It’s the mystery that makes them interesting. The same excitement can be communicated by describing the fascinating unanswered questions relative to abiogenesis, and the efforts to investigate those questions – including the Miller-Urey experiments.

  12. Ah, yes — KevinC sounds more and more like Klinghoffer with every writing. Maybe it’s just the snark.

    And Savvy Sarah using the term “Intelligent Design enthusiast” — would that be “I.D.E.” for short? If a large group of them got together and moved en masse on a legitimate science museum, we should warn the museum to beware the march of I.D.E.s.

  13. @pe collier – I think you’re being way to nit-picky. The conclusions of the Miller-Urey experiment aren’t life, and the full text of the exhibit explains this.
    I don’t think they are misleading at all. The “recipe for life” in context with the rest of the exhibit isn’t misleading either.
    As for the creationist’s complaint, is the experiment still relevant? Here’s a link from Panda’s thumb explaining the nuances better than I can.
    https://pandasthumb.org/archives/2008/10/old-scientists.html

  14. Alas the poor Darwinists, KevinC, with their mountains and mountains of evidence. What do creationists have apart from an old book of myths and cheap lies to feed the rubes? And linking to a creationist vanity blog isn’t evidence.

  15. The creationists begin with their dislike of being related to the rest of creation: “I ain’t no monkey!” They have no reason or evidence to back that up, so they are driven to make up stories as if they are derived from the Bible. Their position is so weak that their would-be allies, the ID advocates, make a point of saying “We aren’t creationists.” (Which, by the way, leaves ID in the position of saying nothing positive at all.)

  16. Michael Fugate

    KevinC keeps linking to ENV posts he thinks we should read, then when we read them and comment his only defense is to send us off to read more ENV posts? The DI’s ability to do actual science is doubtful (even if it has nothing to do with ID) and its ability to interpret actual science is even worse. Why would anyone trust anything they say?

  17. Problem easily solved. Museums need a form letter:

    Dear creationist,

    You are full of ____.

    Sincerely,

    Museum staff

  18. ID and the DI [and its acolytes] are simply another version of The Lost Cause.
    http://civil-war-journeys.org/the_lost_cause.htm

  19. KevinC opines:

    While we have Oogity Boogity, alas Darwinists are left with fortuitous serendipity. And while we have god-of-the-gaps, my Darwinist friends rely heavily on time-of-the-gaps. The only problem is, with time the mysteries grow deeper and deeper and deeper. One can almost understand the need to lie to the public about how easy it is for life to arise.

    Kevin, I know you wish it were true that “with time, the mysteries grow deeper and deeper and deeper” for “Darwinists.” But it isn’t so. With time, more and more of the “mysteries” are being solved. The only way they’re growing “deeper” is that in order to solve them scientists have to look deeper, to resolve ever-subtler details. Creationists have to do so as well, in order to come up with new bogus evidence and fresh quack arguments in support of their ideas. It isn’t working well for them.