Creation "Museum" Part 4: Filling the Grand Canyon with Doubt

Monday, August 24, 2009 at 1:54 AM Bookmark and Share
The winding path that is the heart of the creation "museum" begins with a whole lot of questions and no answers. Why? Presumably to instill doubt about the real science, and in doing so make room for their version of things. Lets have a look.

First, you may remember that I mentioned that my impression from the "museum" was that they supported their pseudo-scientific claims by:
  1. The assertion that their interpretation of the Bible is truth, and
  2. the logical fallacy (false dichotomy) that non-creationist science is largely wrong, therefore they're right.
After waiting in line by the animatronic child next to the velociraptors and the displays mentioned previously, your ticket is scanned and you begin your tour of the "museum" proper. As you head into the long and winding path of exhibits inside the museum the first display is (I know, kind of random...) The Grand Canyon.


While insignificant compared to the rest of the place, a mere 10 feet past the entrance and the natural history of the Grand Canyon is all wrong.


Walking though a faux sandstone slot canyon, you see a "Myrtle's" Yellow-rumped Warbler (that's the eastern race of the Yellow-rumped Warbler, the western "Audubon's" race is different enough they used to be considered separate species), a Collared Lizard clinging to a vertical wall (they're actually not too fond of vertical terrain), and a tarantula-like plastic spider completely upside down on the ceiling (maybe possible, but hardly typical for desert, ground dwelling tarantulas).

To be fair, you do see these sorts of blunders in plenty of actual museums, nature centers, and the like - although I can't say I've ever seen 3 in a row clustered together right at an entrance before this day.

Next came the first of many "creation geology" propaganda pieces that seemed primarily aimed at instilling doubt about the common sense (and science-backed) explanation of how canyons are formed...

Definition: Propaganda is communication aimed at influencing the attitude of a community toward some cause or position. As opposed to impartially providing information, propaganda in its most basic sense, presents information primarily to influence an audience.
This video subtitles continue...
over a very long time
We know that mudflows from the crater of Mount St. Helens
carved this canyon out of soft rocks in only hours,
and this canyon out of solid rock in less than four years.
So how were canyons really formed?

... and that's it! Why all the questions but no answers?!

They, do provide their answer later on: the (scientifically baseless) claim that Grand Canyon was formed by the Flood ~2350 years ago.

Other displays in this first room include a similar line of questions, all following the same format:
The evidence is in the present... 
[description of some item or organism]  
But what happened in the Past? 
[3 or 4 more specific questions].

The subjects of these displays include "Lucy" (the famed Australopithecus afarensis specimen), meteorites, sapphires, dinosaur fossils, underground caves... you get the picture.  Basically lots of things that take "millions of years" to form (so say the scientists), all presented along side questions that practically beg you to doubt the science.

Having had a few friends and family in the military, and having watched the movie Jesus Camp, this reminded me of that ages old method of "breaking them down, then building them back up" - classic indoctrination

Back to the grand canyon. So what's the origin of that huge gash in the Arizona desert?

The evidence-based and very plausible explanation you might have heard is that it was formed by the Colorado River carving out millions and millions of years worth of sedimentary rock, and dumping the sediment at the Colorado River delta in the Sea of Cortez.

The Creation "Museum" instead asserts that it was formed by the great flood. The evidence to back the claim? [See how annoying those unanswered questions get after a while? ;-) ]

But what kinds of questions were not found in the displays? The criticisms creationists have been trying to rationalize away for years... If there was a global flood, why aren't there more grand canyons in the world? What's so special about this area? Where did the flood waters "suddenly retreat" to? Why does the canyon twist and turn so much if it was caused by retreating flood waters? How did all those rock layers get formed (by the flood? then eroded so quickly?

After fanning the flames of doubt and mistrust in the science, the creation "museum" then tries to rationalize why even if modern science was indeed correct - it wouldn't matter.  How? By rejecting a particular notion of uniformitarianism to suggest the scientists are wrong about the past. The catch phrase for this idea: "The present is not the key to the past" - the negation of a quote attributed to Charles Lyell - the father of uniformitarianism.

In short, they're basically saying "Things were different back then! So floods, population genetics, nutritional requirements, animal behavior, the weather, the water cycle... scientists can't just assume all these things worked the same way back then!" 


Anyway, if you've made it this far, I'll stop there and leave you with yet another video in the form of subtitles (maybe short one or two lines) - this time on the pseudoscience of flood geology. I can't address the numerous problems I have with some of these statements, so instead I'll include a few links to relevant information (feel free to offer any up in the comments section).

When we look at geological features around the world,
many of them are radically different from anything being formed today -
like thick mud layers over continents,
or coal seams covering entire states,
or fossil graveyards,
or frozen mammoths,
or miles of underground cave passages,
or thick ice sheets moving over continents,
or craters of supervolcanoes,
or canyons cut thousands of feet deep.
It looks like the present is not the best way to explain
the geological features of the past.

The Bible, however, offers another way to explain features from the past,
Noah's flood was a global judgment -
a violent catastrophe - upon the earth.
Based on this truth revealed in God's Word,
scientists are developing a series of models to explain how the Flood,
and it's aftermath, could have shaped the world today.
In the course of the Flood, erosion washed away mountains of rock
in some places, while miles of mud and sand were piled up in others.
The earth's crust was thickened in some places, and thinned in others.
Like jostled ice cubes sink and bob up to their proper level in the water,
some sections of land sank after the Flood,
while other sections rose.
Supervolcanoes and superquakes rocked the world after the Flood.

As centuries passed, the catastrophes became rarer and smaller.
Modern earthquakes and volcanoes are dim leftovers
from this violent period of earth's history.
Warm oceans after the Flood produced violent weather -
possibly even "hypercanes,"
huge hurricanes like the Great Red Spot on Jupiter,
which may have persisted for centuries.
High rainfall after the Flood filled enormous lakes,
eroded large canyons, and carved large cave systems.

As animals left the Ark, multiplied, and spread over the earth,
many of them were preserved as fossils.
Some were buried in ash and mud,
some were preserved by unique chemical conditions,
and others were frozen.
Truly, the present is not the way things were in the past.
Instead, the Bible is the key to help us understand
geological features around the world.

More critiques of creationist flood geology, can be found here.

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