Monday, June 01, 2009

Science, Ken Ham and Common Ground

Shelly Emling of the Atlanta Journal Constitution profiles Ken Ham of the Creation Museum in Kentucky as part of a larger article on the gap between science and creationism. Of Ham, she says this:
Ken Ham, whose Creation Museum in Kentucky just celebrated its second anniversary this weekend, has never been more sure that the Earth is only about 6,000 years old and that God created everything in six divinely ordered 24-hour time slots.

To Ham, it doesn’t matter that scientists have recently unveiled Ida —- the 47-million-year-old fossil hailed as the evolutionary link between modern primates and more distant species —- the latest in a string of significant fossils to be hyped by the media.

“No other book gives an account of origins as specifically as the Bible,” said Ham, whose museum just 20 miles southwest of Cincinnati has attracted 720,000 visitors since opening in 2007.

Herein lies part of the problem, of course. It should matter. How much evidence does Ken Ham just ignore or dismiss out of hand? Here we have a primate fossil that is 95% complete, represents a primate that doesn't exist today, has not existed in the last two thousand years and is unlike any living primate. Is the thinking here that this simply represents yet another fossil that was resident on the Ark? How many species does that make, now?

The article continues with a discussion of different approaches to the problem, including the views of Francisco Ayala and Simon Conway-Morris but then ends with this howler:
Perhaps one day the debate over evolution and creationism will be settled. But I doubt it. The arguments on both sides are too persuasive. Still, one can hope.
The arguments on the creationism side are persuasive only if one knows absolutely nothing about geology, palaeontology or biology. That's what they're counting on.


  1. This is off topic, but I thought you'd like this from the NY Times:

  2. It is not off topic at all. Thank you very much for the link! That was most kind. I will try to include it in a post.

  3. And there's this from the article:

    Despite decades of space exploration, more than 90% of the mass in the universe has not been detected.Um, what? It has been detected! That's what those measurements of galactic rotation rates, gravitational lensing, and acceleration of the rate of expansion do -- they detect dark matter and dark energy. I have no great hopes for her forthcoming book, given her carelessness with language in that column.

  4. Thanks. I missed that howler the first time I read it. I was too stunned by her statement that both sides of the creation/evolution debate were "persuasive."