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Creation Museum Part 6

(this is a continuation of Creation Museum Part 5)

Natural Selection is Not Evolution Tucked away inside the post-flood pseudo-science was a small room containing information about natural selection and evolution. As promising as that sounds (out of context), it fit snugly alongside all the other ignorance-perpetuating exhibits at the museum. Just the title of exhibit hinted at what was to come… “Natural Selection is Not Evolution.” No, of course it isn’t. It’s the primary method by which evolution occurs, but the Creation Museum draws a false distinction between the two in its sad attempt to discredit evolutionary theory.

What Is Natural Selection? The first plaque gives an accurate description at the beginning, but speaks of natural selection dismissively and then starts the real silliness in the last sentence. Here’s the beginning part (emphasis mine to highlight the dismissive tone).

Natural selection is the name Charles Darwin gave to an observable process, which results in small changes in the plant and animal world, such as fur color or plant height.

A common perception popularized by many scientists is that natural selection is a primary mechanism for evolution. […]

That last sentence would be more accurate if it stated, “Scientists agree that natural selection is the primary mechanism for evolution.” It’s not so much a “common perception” as it is a concept confirmed by an overwhelming body of evidence… an inextricable part of evolutionary theory.

Natural Selection and Evolution Then we get to the last bit (see the image to the left) where they start with the bizarre distinction between the two terms. Saying that natural selection and evolution are different concepts is like saying that wheels and bicycles are two separate concepts. They also claim that “many mistakenly interchange the two.” I don’t know where they get that notion, but anyone who has even a small amount of knowledge about evolution would not interchange the two. Perhaps it’s the creationists who make the mistake?

What's the difference between natural selection and evolution? The “What is” plaque is the first time they bring up the phrase “molecules-to-man evolution,” which they use throughout the exhibit. In the “What’s the difference?” plaque, they use the term and then lay down the foundation for their future deceit with the description of evolution.

Inherent in this process is the requirement for the origination of new genetic information as organisms evolve from simple to complex.

This is classic creationist text. It sounds scientific, but is nonsense. There is plenty of evidence, conveniently ignored by creationists, showing that “information” can increase during the evolutionary process. Some examples and explanations can be found here, here, and here.

How does natural selection work? The next plaque was, perhaps, the one I found most amusing. Not because of horribly botched science, but because of its accuracy. The first two paragraphs give an accurate, coherent summary of the role natural selection plays in the evolutionary process. Why my amusement, then?

It seems they felt the need to add the last sentence because it was improper to have a plaque that had nothing but valid scientific information. The last sentence reads…

Although natural selection results in the death of some organisms, it exhibits the care of God for His creation through a mechanism that preserves populations of organisms in a sin-cursed, post-Fall world.

It’s inaccurate (natural selection doesn’t result in death… just the opposite) and it tacks on a bit of woo-based silliness to an otherwise accurate plaque.

Common Misconceptions About Natural Selection Moving on, we find the “Common Misconceptions About Natural Selection” plaque, which returns us to scientific-sounding malarkey. The term “molecules-to-man” is brought up again in the claim that evolution is directional… which is blatantly false and evolutionary theory says no such thing. The claim is again made that natural selection causes a decrease in genetic information… it doesn’t (see links above). The bottom of the plaque shows “Evolution’s Tree” and the “Creation Orchard” again as well, which was shown way back at the beginning of the tour (see Creation Museum Part 2) when the dichotomy was being set up between human reason and “God’s Word.”

Further “misconceptions” are brought up on a plaque showing the variations in canidae family… wolves, foxes, jackals, coyotes, etc. The first claim is that speciation has never occurred with a follow-up statement that speciation has occurred (go figure). The second basically claiming that all canids are the same species and also brings up the “molecules-to-man” term again.

Common Misconceptions - No speciation Common Misconceptions - All canids are the same species

In the first case, the word “species” is a man-made term. So is every other word in every spoken language in the world. It’s farcical to put it in quotes as if it’s an irrelevant or incorrect term. Next, speciation definitely has occurred, both unobserved and observed. One species has definitely evolved into another, innumerable times, in Earth’s history… and a perfect example is reptiles to birds, which they try to use as a refutation. Then the plaque says that speciation probably did occur after the flood. This is either a case of incoherent babbling (likely) or a complete misuse of the word speciation (also likely).

The second plaque about dogs is just as disingenuous. Wolves and foxes, for instance, are completely separate species… as are Chihuahuas and jackals. Yes, they are all members of the order Carnivora in the exact same way that apes and humans are members of the order Primate… but it’s doubtful that you’ll hear a creationist agreeing that humans and apes are the same species. Their plaque is blatantly misleading.

Antibiotic Resistance An exhibit on antibiotic resistance is another futile attempt to show that mutations always cause a loss of information and are harmful. Then they again make the point of explaining how natural selection is not evolution.

Antibiotic Resistance - Detail This entire display refutes their own previous points about natural selection occurring and making species more fit for their environments. In one case, natural selection acts on beneficial mutations, but in this case, the claim is that mutations are harmful. Depending upon their examples, they waffle back and forth between the two points.

Blind Cavefish Two other mini-exhibits demonstrate the waffling. The Blind Cavefish exhibit explains how natural selection produced sightless fish for living in caves with no light. The claim is that natural selection resulted in a “decrease in genetic information (loss of eyes and pigmentation) not an increase as required for molecules-to-man evolution.”

It’s an absurd statement. The mutations didn’t cause a loss of information. They caused a change. Whenever natural selection acts in a way that’s acceptable to creationists, it is acting on “existing genetic information.” When they want to refute something, however, they say the mutation causes a loss of genetic information. It’s the exact same process, but they twist the words in a despicable attempt to support their ludicrous positions.

Three Blind Mice The “Three Blind Mice” mini-exhibit is another perfect example. The claim is that “mutations = loss of information.” However, for an ancient canid to turn into a fox, it’s simply natural selection acting on existing genetic information. The inconsistency is mind-boggling, but the sad part is that it’s couched in scientific-sounding language, so the average Creation Museum patron is going to swallow it hook, line, and sinker… and will walk away feeling proud of their new “knowledge.”

That’s how this entire museum works. It presents fallacious information in authoritative terms. Visitors who are already believers have their “faith strengthened,” but visitors who are curious and want to know about the science behind the exhibits are spoon-fed intellectually vapid garbage… with panache. The incredibly high visual quality of all these displays could easily make someone think, “If they went to all this trouble, it must be true!” …but it’s not. It’s false. It’s horribly false.

Conclusion Then to hammer home all the scientific-sounding hogwash, they conclude with this plaque. It asks, “Do we view natural selection using God’s Word or man’s opinion as our foundation?” Man’s opinion? Not only do they twist natural selection to fit varying bogus claims, but now they twist the idea of science when it suits their purposes.

So how do we view natural selection? That depends entirely on whether you want the truth… and the truth doesn’t come from a 2,000 year old book written by sheep herders. It comes from the scientific study of the evidence. It doesn’t come from the distortion of the evidence… or the cherry-picking of the evidence… or the ignorance of the evidence… or the denial of the evidence. Creationists do all of that. The Creation Museum does it with style.

The entire “Walk Through History” was a treat for the eyes and a violent assault on the mind. I was constantly moving from a sense of admiration for the craftsmanship and a sense of disgust at the content. At times, there was sadness, especially when I’d see a family coming through the exhibits with children. The idea that those kids were going to be indoctrinated into this scientifically inept, anti-intellectual world where ignorance and faith are glorified was and is sickening and horribly, horribly sad.

I have some hope that those kids, at least some of them, will escape that world and step into the light. Perhaps they’ll see a real science program that will start the wheels of intellectual curiosity rolling away from their fundamentalist holding pens and allow them to see the true wonder of our world and all its glorious, intricate workings. Perhaps a doubting friend will ask the right questions to dislodge the petrified accumulations of so many dogmatically uncompromising sermons and let them see how life is lighter and more beautiful without the chains of religion.

But perhaps not. Some of those kids will be stuck in that world for their entire lives. They’ll be raised that way and protected from any alternate viewpoints or ideas. They’ll be shuttered away from any kind of real, intellectually challenging science. They’ll be constantly given misleading or incorrect information about our world. Their parents will steep them in dogma, ritual, and ancient scripture for as long as they can manage… and the Creation Museum will be right there to back them up with pretty lights, bells, and whistles.

The museum is loathsome and its creators should be very, very ashamed.