Newswise — Professional paleontologists from around the world are concerned about the misrepresentation of science at the newly opened Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky. The Creation Museum has been marketed to the public as a "reasoned, logical defence" for young-earth creationism by Ken Ham, the President and CEO of Answers in Genesis, which runs the Creation Museum.
The Society of Vertebrate Paleontology, a world-wide scientific and educational organization concerned with vertebrate paleontology, contends that the museum presents visitors with a view of earth history that has been scientifically disproven for over a century. The Creation Museum's fossil exhibitions, though artistically impressive, include a vast number of scientific errors, large and small. These errors range from implying that the Earth's sedimentary rocks were deposited by a single biblical Flood, to claiming that humans and dinosaurs lived alongside one another, to denouncing the reality of transitional fossils.
"Ken Ham is not recognized as a scientist or educator among experts in the fields of geology and paleontology, and his views on the interpretation of Biblical texts are extremist. Visitors to his 'museum' may arrive knowing little about these sciences, but they will leave misled and intellectually deceived," said Dr. Kevin Padian, professor and curator, University of California, Berkeley and president of the National Center for Science Education.
The fossil exhibits at the Creation Museum discount the last 150 years of paleontological and geological discovery. Not only are transitional fossils, including snakes with limbs and dinosaurs with feathers, abundant in the fossil record, but radiometric dating allows paleontologists to pinpoint the timing of major events in the ancient history of the earth.
For example, Tyrannosaurus rex existed over 65 million years ago, whereas modern humans didn't show up on the scene until 200 thousand years ago. They never walked side by side. The Creation Museum neglects to include this critical data in its analysis of the history of life on earth. "Most of us in the public view museums as places to get the latest information on scientific discovery. In this case, the Creation Museum is using the disguise of science museums and centers without including an iota of science inside," said Dr. Kristi Curry Rogers of the Science Museum of Minnesota.
"That's the real danger of such a place " undermining the basic principles of science, eroding the public's confidence in science, and causing a general weakening of science education in the country," commented Dr. Glenn Storrs of the Cincinnati Museum Center.
Dr. Catherine Badgley, a professor at the University of Michigan and president of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology, remarked, "according to the Creation Museum, the history of life is short, sin-ridden, and laden with moralizing imperatives. In contrast, the real fossil record shows that this long history is brimming with discoveries of new kinds of animals, plants, and environments, inviting people to use their unusual minds to question, to reason, and to wonder at life's remarkable variety."
Founded in 1940, the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology is the leading North American scientific and educational organization concerned with vertebrate paleontology. The purpose of the society, which has 2200 members from 40 countries, is to advance the science of vertebrate paleontology, including the history, evolution, comparative anatomy, and taxonomy of vertebrate animals, as well as the field occurrence, collection, and geological context of fossil vertebrates. The society is also concerned with the conservation and preservation of fossil sites. It publishes The Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, a leading journal in the field.