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Putting lies and fraud on exhibit

Marketplace Staff May 25, 2007

Putting lies and fraud on exhibit

Marketplace Staff May 25, 2007


KAI RYSSDAL: The Creation Museum opens on Memorial Day in Petersburg, Ky. It might resemble other natural history museums you’ve seen, but there’s a significant difference. Financed by private donations, the displays are predicated on a belief in creationism. Admission’s about 20 bucks for adults, 15 for seniors, 10 for kids. But commentator and physicist Lawrence Krauss says it doesn’t make sense to pay to see bad science.

LAWRENCE KRAUSS: How much money and glitz does it take to institutionalize a scientific lie? In the case of the Creation Museum, about $27 million worth.

The reason for this museum is quite simple: The historical record in Genesis must literally be true. Since this is incompatible with essentially all of modern scientific knowledge, therefore modern scientific knowledge must be incorrect.

But if you want to renounce modern science as flawed, then an intellectually honest approach would be to also renounce technologies such as airplanes, cars and even radios that work using precisely the same scientific principles that tell us the earth is well over 6,000 years old.

But that’s not the approach the Creation Museum takes. It renounces knowledge, but has spent lavishly on creating the illusion of science.

So, they’ve created a museum that appears scientific, but that simply lies about the science instead.

The Creation Museum uses dazzling and expensive animatronic displays made possible by hard-won advances in science to suggest the viability of a literal interpretation of Genesis.

That includes a six-day creation of the Earth, a 6,000-year-old universe, and a world where dinosaurs and humans happily roamed together. All of these are inconsistent with everything science tells us about the natural world.

Alas, such scientific fraud is not subject to legal intervention unless there is a financially injured party.

But what of the intellectual injury to thousands of young children who might visit the museum — built to be within a day’s drive of two-thirds of the U.S. population — and who come out confused about science, the very thing that can give them a competitive edge in the modern world.

Religion doesn’t have to be bad science. And, similarly, bad science shouldn’t be defended simply because it might have a religious basis.

While religious tolerance is important, there should be little tolerance for promoting or consuming such religiously motivated scientific fraud.

RYSSDAL: Lawrence Krauss is a professor of physics at Case Western Reserve University.

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