Fw: [asa] YEC Museum

From: Randy Isaac <randyisaac@comcast.net>
Date: Fri Jun 12 2009 - 10:52:59 EDT

-----Original Message-----
From: dfrank@ix.netcom.com

Date: Fri, 12 Jun 2009 08:50:31 -0400 (GMT-04:00)
To: Randy Isaac<randyisaac@comcast.net>
Subject: Re: [asa] YEC Museum

Thanks for asking, and you are probably correct about the number of tours and students. I could talk for a couple of days on dozens of topics related to the museum (and have!). I’ve taken students of all ages, church groups, and people of a variety of faiths and persuasions (reformed and orthodox Jews, Protestant, Catholic, Mormon, Friends, and Atheist). I’ve yet to have a bad experience, and most visitors I’ve taken (regardless of their predisposition) have found the experience to be worthwhile. The museum is very student friendly, offering large discounts and providing meeting rooms for student groups.

I’ve spent most of my life exploring the relationship of science and faith, and evolution/creation issues in particular. Here, I will glean for you a few of my impressions of the Creation Museum.

First, the Museum is very well done. It is not an accident that it has been successful. It was grandly conceived and a great deal of money was invested. I had intimate connections and conversations with the some of the major donors during the concept and design phase, and many, many millions of dollars were being invested even before the design was finished. Accordingly, I understand firsthand the objectives and strategies of the museum. I often say that it is probably the clearest and classiest presentation of Young Earth Creationism (YEC) in the world. If you want to know what and how a YEC thinks, then you should visit.

Second, I believe that scientists opposed to YEC make a colossal strategic error when they ridicule the museum. I take both science and the Bible seriously, yet I do not accept several of the beliefs and scientific interpretations held by the mainstream of YEC. Further, there are several examples of brilliant scientists who are also YEC, so it is arrogant and disrespectful to simply dismiss the position due to ignorance or irrational faith. Instead of ridicule, I find it far more effective to ask difficult questions and to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of various positions. After all, some YEC tenets are based upon choices of faith, and some upon scientific interpretations. It is important to know and explore the fundamental assumptions that are being made when you address such topics, and far more persuasive when you do not marginalize someone’s point of view right from the start.

Third, there is a lot of science in the museum. Despite what you may have read from the abundance of biased reviewers, it is a serious mischaracterization to label the museum as anti-science or devoid of science. For example, the presentation of the current evolutionary paradigm is clear and accurate. There are dozens of thought-provoking placards and scientifically based notions presented throughout. Yes, there is also quite a bit of theology and faith, evangelism, and of course, bias. But museums are seldom presentations of bare facts, and Ken Ham is right when he says that just about all the other museums are biased toward neo-Darwinism. So why can’t his museum be biased toward YEC?

However, Ken Ham would not characterize the museum as biased. Instead, he would claim that the Museum represents a consistent interpretation from a different set of starting assumptions. And to his credit, this is clearly stated in the early exhibits. When is the last time you visited a museum where the assumptions underpinning the presentations you were about to experience were clearly articulated at the start?

Two paradigms are clearly juxtaposed at the Museum: the one which emerges starting from "God’s Word," and the one which emerges based upon science’s best current understanding (“Man’s Wisdom”). The consequences of each paradigm are explored (especially the negative consequences of evolution and the benefit of faith in God's Word), and individuals are asked to consider which is the more reliable foundation for one’s faith: (a) “God’s Eternal Word”; or (b) science, which changes minute by minute. I would argue that both paradigms are actually based upon "Man’s Wisdom," since we necessarily use “Man’s Wisdom” to interpret God’s Word. Otherwise, how could there be differing YEC views? Which view represents the infallible Word of God?

With my science classes, I first prepare the students by making sure they understand the historical, social and scientific context of the debate. During our visit to the museum, I have the students take notes and complete worksheets where they record ideas that surprise them, that they do not understand, were impressed or unimpressed by, or even offended by. Afterward, we debrief the group, and I encourage them to discover the origins of their impressions. Which ideas did they find to be based upon science? Which upon faith? It is a remarkably productive opportunity to discuss, learn, and apply the scientific method.

After a recent field trip with about 30 gifted students (very high IQ), I suggested to the group that to balance this trip we could explore one of the special Darwin exhibits at another local museum (this is a big year for Darwin!). The reaction was nearly instantaneous and unanimous…YAWN. What? Students who don’t want another field trip? It turns out that they are already saturated and tired of the barrage of Darwin. They were thinking of the trip to the Museum as a effort to balance the overwhelming bias in every other presentation they'd encountered. So, how do you re-interest students in science and evolution? Expose them to a different point of view.

Finally, an anecdote. Many years ago I was living in a target evangelism area for the Jehovah’s Witnesses. They would drop by every Saturday morning, and I would invite them in and make them a pot of tea. They would make their presentation, we would have a nice discussion of scripture and theology, and I would ask them some tough questions. Over the years, I was assailed by several individuals, and I really enjoyed it. Despite many years of personal Christian scholarship, every once in a while (often enough to hold my interest) a topic would come up that would make me pause and ask myself, “Hey, do I really believe that, and why?” It was a great stimulus to my personal growth, and one that is not typically available in most church communities, since they tend to be more uniform. Several years later, I ran into one of the team leaders in the grocery store. He had since left the JW church, and said that the questions I had asked him had been important to him when he was !
 considering a change in his path. Discussion can be more persuasive than ridicule.

My experiences at the museum have been analogously stimulating. I’ve spent months of hours confirming and/or debunking several of the scientific and theological claims and ideas I’ve seen presented there. Without the stimulus, I doubt I ever would have learned or paid attention to some of the scientific phenomena. I haven’t finished the job by a long-shot, and I just love talking about it.

Dr. Douglas G. Frank
Blue Ash, Ohio
June 12, 2009

-----Original Message-----
>From: Randy Isaac <randyisaac@comcast.net>
>Sent: Jun 11, 2009 10:05 PM
>To: asa@calvin.edu
>Subject: Re: [asa] YEC Museum
>I wonder, by comparison, how many students visited the exhibitions at
>natural history museum in NYC, Washington, Boston, SF, Chicago, etc.
>Doug Frank, you've probably led more tours through the Creation Museum than
>the rest of us put together. Would you mind sharing some of your experiences
>and perspectives?
>----- Original Message -----
>From: "John Burgeson (ASA member)" <hossradbourne@gmail.com>
>To: "asa" <asa@calvin.edu>
>Sent: Thursday, June 11, 2009 6:07 PM
>Subject: [asa] YEC Museum
>> From the news today --
>> Two years after its controversial opening, the Creation Museum in
>> Kentucky has drawn 720,000 visitors, far more than the 250,000
>> annually organizers predicted. It brought in $7 million in receipts
>> last fiscal year, with organizers saying it has had an economic impact
>> of more than $20 million. Along the way, it has become a popular
>> science field trip destination for Christian schools, religious
>> groups, home-schoolers and public school clubs. Students represent
>> many of the museum's group visitors, which make up roughly 20 percent
>> to 30 percent of overall attendance, officials said.
>> Courier-Journal (Kentucky)
>> Burgy
>> --
>> Burgy
>> www.burgy.50megs.com
>> To unsubscribe, send a message to majordomo@calvin.edu with
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Dr. Douglas G. Frank, President
Precision Analytical Instruments, Inc.
Please send email to: Doug@ToolsForAnalysis.com

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Received on Fri Jun 12 10:51:49 2009

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