February 19, 2006

Conflating Creation Myths With Understanding

This question and answer session might be ok if it were couched in terms of understanding a work of literature or historical fiction:

They are trailing Rusty Carter, a guide with Biblically Correct Tours. At a large, colorful panel along a wall, Carter reads aloud from a passage describing the disappearance of dinosaurs from the earth about 65 million years ago. He and some of the older students exchange knowing smiles at the timeline, which contradicts their interpretation the Bible suggesting a 6,000-year-old planet.

``Did man and dinosaurs live together?'' Carter asks. A timid yes comes from the students.

``How do we know that to be true?'' Carter says. There's a long pause.

``What day did God create dinosaurs on?'' he continues.

``Six,'' says a chorus of voices.

``What day did God create man on?''


``Did man and dinosaurs live together?''

``Yes,'' the students say.

Mission accomplished for Carter, who has been leading such tours since 1988. He and the other guides counter secular interpretations of history, nature and the origin of life with their own literal reading of the Bible. And they do so right at the point where they feel they feel science indoctrinates young people -- museums.

In the context in which it is presented, though, it is fraudulent and, perhaps, borders on child abuse.

Update (2/20): Myers is right that it is time to go on the offensive:

This is an excellent example of a place where the public and scientists and our institutions ought to be going on the offensive: when one of these tour groups goes through, and some biblical studies major babbles stupidly and misstates a scientific fact, everyone around him should turn around and shout, for the benefit of the group, "THAT'S NOT TRUE!"

Update 2 (2/20): Kieren Healy recommends some related reading.

Posted by Steve on February 19, 2006
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