Righting America

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The Strange Use of Science at the Creation Museum | Righting America

by Susan Trollinger

In Righting America, we took seriously AiG’s claim, as articulated by Jason Lisle (PhD in astrophysics and director of the planetarium at the Creation Museum), that there is “plenty of science that confirms a biblical creation” and that “[m]uch of this science is presented in the Creation Museum” (Righting America 71). Thus, to test this claim we performed close readings in the Science chapter of the many placards and exhibits that appear to display scientific evidence in the Creation Museum.

Importantly, we did not focus on evaluating the science presented there since we are not scientists. Instead, we stuck with our approach of taking AiG’s arguments are on their own terms. Rather than ask “is this good science?” we asked whether the science at the Creation Museum passes AiG’s own test for real science (it has to be observational) and whether it is it mobilized on behalf of an argument that actually supports a biblical creation.

If you’ve read the Science chapter, you know that while the Creation Museum certainly seems to display a lot of science in the form of information on placards, miniature dioramas, videos that talk about DNA, and so forth. When you look at all those placards and displays and videos closely, a very different impression emerges.

Take the Flood Geology room, the area in the Creation Museum that looks to be one of the most (if not the most) grounded in science. One’s first impression upon entering that room is that it is filled with a lot of science. There are, after all, 38 placards with various diagrams and models and information on them. But when we carefully examined these 38 placards, we found that surprisingly few (only 42%) of them display scientific evidence that passes AiG’s test for real science.

Even more surprising, to quote from Righting America:

In the end, only two placards in the Flood Geology room that offer arguments on behalf of a biblical creation reason in the traditional scientific way—that is from observations to conclusions—and mobilize scientific evidence that passes muster as observational science. Put another way, just 5 percent of all of the placards in the Flood Geology room reason from “real” [according to AiG’s criteria] scientific evidence to a global flood. Whatever one’s definition of “plenty of science”. . . 5 percent seems unlikely to rise to it (102).

A good question to ask about the placards in the Flood Geology room (and elsewhere) is: What are all those placards doing that are not making a scientific case for biblical creation? The answer, we found, was that while many display what does appear to be “real science” (according to AiG’s definition), they don’t make an argument that connects that “real science” to a claim for a biblical creation.

The Creation Museum makes odd use of scientific evidence on behalf of a biblical creation, indeed.

That said, we should point out that in the full quote from Jason Lisle (referred to at the beginning of this post), he points out that

Much of this science is presented in the Creation Museum. Some of this science in the museum is very apparent (such as information presented in the planetarium, or the Flood . . . geology room). But much of the science is ‘behind the scenes,’ and you may not have noticed it (Righting America 71).

Perhaps the compelling connections between “real science” and a biblical creation can be found “behind the scenes” of the Creation Museum.

Stay tuned.