PZ Myers has written a take down of the Creation “Museum” on his blog. For those unfamiliar with the so-called Creo-Zerg, Myers with the Secular Student Alliance and a number of other interested folk got together and did a tour of the museum. For those unfamiliar with the term “zerging”: It’s from a strategy employed in the old strategy video-game Starcraft. Zerg was one of the alien races you could play as and they could generate multiple units faster than the other two races in the game and overwhelm them long before they could even develop defenses. The idea here was less to overwhelm, and more to ridicule. It was supposed to be a bunch if people asking tough questions, and by all accounts it was a smashing success.
I was very religious and devoted in my teens, being raised that way. I have relatives who buy into creationism, though I myself believed completely in evolution while managing to be very religious at the same time after a very brief struggle to adjust. Part of what helped was the knee-jerk reactions of people who I tried to discuss the matter with. Their knowledge of evolutionary theory seemed so short on facts I quickly became convinced that they merely accepted it to be false without any real consideration. So, to separate myself from the pack I looked deeper into the matter and emerged with a clear grasp of the idea. This spirit of contrarianism has served me well.
So it goes with the myths and misconceptions evangelized in the “museum”. It is simple denial and omission of the evidence. In that respect it is exceedingly mundane, and not worthy of comment from someone who was never there. I did have a look at one of the pictures that incensed me (click to embiggen):
Picture is from the Pharyngula post linked above.
The “Tower of Babel” nonsense really gets to me because of its description of the origin of what we identify as “racial differences” (which are no more than superficial differences given cultural significance). Also, see Update #2 at the bottom of this post for more fail. The idea that our individual phenotypes emerged from random dispersal is ridiculous. If I take any population of blonds and disperse them in various countries, their hair color will not change significantly over a only a few generations so long as they continue to couple within the gene pool. the same goes for any population of dark-skinned people, or people with epicanthal folds of the eyelid. The only way these things change are as a result of adaptation to the environment over a long period of time. Not merely “a couple of generations,” as the poster suggests (these people believe in a 6,000 year old earth). It changes because of natural selection for people with these traits in a population. In fact, in genetics, polydactyly (having extra digits, in particular, a sixth finger) may be an autosomal dominant trait*. What this means is that like unattached earlobes, having a parent with the trait dramatically increases your chances of having unattached earlobes. Yet there aren’t that many people running around with a sixth finger, simply because it likely proved to be maladaptive and decreased survival odds for people with the trait.
It’s offensive to reduce phenotypic diversity to some vague unproven differentiation process that has inclined some people to believe that “smarter” folk from Babel chose certain areas, while “dumber” races from other inhabited still other areas.
This brings me to the other offensive aspect of the poster/”exhibit” which argues for a universal pattern for all modern languages. BULL. SHIT. Ancient Sumerian was not the first language for one thing. Unless you believe hunter gatherers communicated by grunts and cave art was drawn by the Devil to mislead you. Sumerian is unlike a great many languages, and belongs to its own linguistic family. In preparation for my Japan visit I’ve been learning Japanese and can tell you that similarities between Japanese and English, the Romance languages, Slavic languages, and Arabic are few and seemingly coincidental. Japanese is so utterly different from all of these that to argue that it is based on a similar format is nonsense. (Unless by format and grammar, you mean the language has words, and is spoken.) There is something called universal grammar, but to argue that this is based on Sumerian more than it is a function of neurological limitations and function is ludicrous. There’s a lot we don’t know about language and this attitude that Sumerian holds all the cards and all the answers is arrogant and retards impulse to explore further and objectively.
In fact it seems so much of the “museum” is about the exact opposite of exploration, as PZ Myers makes clear. These are people who are content with the answers they have and are made very uncomfortable to go beyond them and explore their basic assumptions. It is anathema to science, and yet they demand equal representation of their views in the scientific community. Science frequently features challenges to old ideas, yet challenge theirs and it’s considered persecution. You can only answer such nonsense with rational analysis for a brief period, and then much like the “birthers” the next step is simply ridicule. This is why we cannot and should not tolerate people who try to inject intelligent design (which is watered down creationism of the same absurd sort) into school curricula. Forget about the separation of church and state for a moment, this garbage is utterly without merit. If for that reason and no other, it deserves to be buried as an unfortunate chapter in human intellectual history.
Update: PZ Myers is linking to other accounts of the visit through his blog, here.
Update #2: The Babel exhibit also has a Hebrew fail:
Update #3: Greg Laden is um- laden, with more links.