The Christian Post reports that the Cincinnati Zoo was forced to quit bundling its tickets with those to the Creation Museum in Petersburg, KY. This has been blogged to death all around the internet, and I’m going to join in ganging up on the story.
According to the Creation Museums founder, Ken Ham, however, the zoo received hundreds of complaints, many of which were opposed to the faith and ideas that the museum presents.
Its a pity that intolerant people have pushed for our expulsion simply because of our Christian faith, Ham said, expressing disappointment in the zoos decision but also understanding of its perspective.
I want to pick on a couple of points in that one.
First, in calling opponents of this deal “intolerant people” Ken Ham accepts to bizarre modern notion that a lack of endorsement or assistance constitutes intolerance. I don’t regard those who refuse to give money to my church as intolerant. I don’t regard those who refuse to give money to a political candidate they oppose as intolerant. Bundling tickets is sharing value. It’s not intolerant to fail to do so, neither is it intolerant to oppose doing so.
Second, the problem here is not the Museum sponsor’s “Christian faith.” It’s their completely untenable scientific ideas which their Museum is designed to promote. I’m a Christian. More importantly folks like Dr. Kenneth Miller and Dr. Francis Collins are Christians. It’s not the Christian faith that’s the problem, it’s the particular unscientific views of Answers in Genesis that are the problem.
The Museum pushes young earth creationism, which requires a wholesale rejection of the bulk of modern science either directly or in its implications. Of course, we don’t see them rejecting all the technology that’s based on atomic theory when they reject radiometric dating. That would be impractical. But it’s implied.
In bundling tickets, the Cincinnati Zoo was, in my opinion, giving too much tacit recognition to a museum that should be treated as outside the bounds of scientific discourse. There is simply no redeeming value in it at all. Now note that I don’t say it should be closed, or that its sponsors should be imprisoned, but I do say that they should not be treated as scientists engaged in the endeavor of bringing science to the public.
One of the great negative side-effects of post-modernism has been this idea that all ideas are somehow equal and that we are intolerant if we don’t treat them as such. It goes hand in hand with the view that if we allow the expression of all sides of an issue, giving them equal time, we have somehow properly covered that issue.
My view, on the contrary, is that ideas have to earn their place at the table. People who espouse unpopular ideas should be prepared to do the work of getting them to that place. The Creation Museum presents propaganda for a viewpoint that has never earned its place at the table, and indeed has repeatedly demonstrated that it doesn’t deserve such a place. An organization that is engaged in science should not even appear to endorse it.
David at He Lives takes quite a different position than I do. He says:
Ken Ham’s (silly) creation museum and the Cincinnati Zoo had a joint Christmas promotionbuy a ticket to one, see both. Now that is an odd, strange-bedfellows sort of pairingbut so what? People who wanted to visit both attractions could save a little money, and both places get a piece of the pie, including potential visits to their respective gift shop and restaurant cash cows. A win-win.
Of course I risk having David tell me I have my “panties were bunched around his eyeballs” as he did of James Leach, but I agree much more with Leach. These are not merely two tourist attractions. I’m betting that neither institution would claim that as their primary purpose. The Creation Museum has as its goal religious proselytization, and the Zoo, one would hope, has an educational purpose.
I would suggest that this was not the pairing of two tourist attractions, both of which were harmless. I would see it much more as similar to Disney World offering a bundled package with a tour of some whorehouses.
But I’m sure I’m just over the top. I take both my science and my faith seriously. Because I take my faith seriously, I wouldn’t want my church contributing in any way to the Creation Museum. Because I take science seriously, I don’t want any scientific institution or group to contribute in any way to the Creation Museum.