Wednesday, May 30, 2007

My response to Prichard's response to my response to Krauss's response: Or, why anti-creationists really ought to get a life.

Well, apparently one member of the mob out gathering wood to place at the foot of the stake being prepared for scientific heretic creationist Ken Ham noticed my CJ article, and was not pleased. Maybe they'll try to burn me now too.

You just gotta love these champions of open inquiry.

In a letter to the CJ editor today, James M. Prichard condemns my recent article pointing out the hypocrisy of the scientific establishment that cannot brook any kind of dissent when it comes to Darwinism. "Martin's Cothran's [sic] attempt," he says, "to portray Lawrence Krauss, a vocal critic of the new Creation Museum, as an alarmist seeking to 'stamp out divergent opinions on scientific issues' is comparable to condemning a surgeon general for warning against snake-oil peddlers."

Well, no, really it isn't. We can take the salesman's snake oil into the lab and test it to see if it is poisonous, and know for sure whether it is. But there's no way to take a theory of what happened tens of millions of years ago into the lab to see if it is inaccurate, and know definitely whether it is.

Can't be done.

And this is part of my point on this whole debate: you simply cannot know with any real clarity what happened that long ago, and anyone who says they do is simply blowing smoke. If you accept divine revelation (and that is another issue entirely), and you interpret it correctly (which is where, in my opinion, Ken Ham goes astray), you can at least claim some kind of certitude. The scientist with his fragmentary collection of fossils, however, is going to have to settle for hypotheses that can never be truly verified. How do you verify something that happened, say, 65 million years ago?

Science's theories of the past are always tentative. That's why, on the issue of origins, they should stop acting like their findings were handed down from Sinai.

"Make no mistake," says Prichard, "The Creation Museum sends a clear message to children that modern science is anti-religious." Is Prichard really concerned about people who portray modern science as anti-religious? If he is, then, once he's done protesting in front of the Creation Museum, he needs to take his picket signs over to the offices of people like Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris, and Steven Pinker. That's the whole message of the New Atheists: that science and religion are inherently incompatible.

I won't be holding my breath.


solarity said...

Opposition to this museum is a depressing illustration of two destructive trends that continue to gain traction in our culture. First is the increasingly prevalent view that evangelical christians are little more than a wacky fringe group. Secondly, any public expression of opinion that runs counter to the MSM should probably be suppressed or, at the very least, ridiculed. Diversity is an idol worshipped by the left in name only.

JPrichard said...

Vere Loqui? Truly speaking? For God's sake Martin, I would leave this noble banner behind the next time you ride off to do battle for the likes of Ken Ham. The irony of it all seems heaven sent!

You struck a mighty blow and I concede. Snake oil can be tested in a lab. However what creation scientist would waste his time on something that logical when he could calculate the space needed for the number of creatures Noah crammed in the ark?

I can't speak for the small number of protestors who gathered at the Creation Museum on opening day, but I personally don't want to see the facility shut down nor the Dinosaur Evangelist tortured at the stake. Indeed that quaint old Christian custom has no place in the modern world.

But, like Lawrence Krauss, I do believe that Ham should be challenged and exposed for his distortion of both faith and science.

A museum should educate, not indoctrinate children. To challenge evolution on scientific grounds is one thing. But Ham travels the world teaching children that Darwin's theory is evil.

Many, if not most of the museum displays are devoted to real and imagined "social evils" that plague the flag waving, psalm singing, white folks of the heartland. All, of course are spawned by Darwin's devilish idea.

The serpent of racism that slithers through Ham's Eden is bad enough. If Halle Berry and Denzel Washington had posed as the models for Adam and Eve the museum would be out of business in three weeks. But Ham had the good sense to portray the first man and woman as pretty white people. He needed that 27 million you see.

Ken Ham and Richard Dawkins are two sides of the same coin; although Ham's side is far more dull and worn. Yet,unlike Ham, Dawkins and the New Atheists don't target children with books, toys, games - and museums. Or should I say shrines to Bibliolatry.

As I stated before, your defense of Ham seems strangely at odds with your "family values" crusade.

Yet, I assure you that should Dawkins or Harris open a science museum in Kentucky that portrays religion as evil, I'll join you on the picket line. And I swear that on a good book - Thomas Jefferson's Bible.

Truly Speaking,

James M. Prichard

Martin Cothran said...


Of course, like many people critical of the museum, you read into my piece what you wanted to see. I nowhere "defended Ken Ham". As I've said elsewhere, I don't even agree with him. All I did was to hold the critics to the same standards they want to apply to Ham.

People don't generally like to be held to the same standards they want to apply to everyone else, so the response to my piece doesn't surprise me, although I would rather be judged on the basis of what I said than of what I didn't say.

If you want to challenge and expose Ken Ham, then go right ahead. Let's see some arguments. Krauss certainly didn't offer any. Let's see some actual statements Ham has made and a response to them. So far almost all I've seen is vague generalities and ad hominem attacks.

You keep saying Ham should be challenged. Then do it. The white people in the displays: good point, although that does not, ipso facto, indicate racism. Provincialism more likely. But at least it's a start. It's an actual argument. We're making progress.