Creationist assault on museums

Science museums and other natural science institutions are now training their staff and volunteers to cope with challenges to the theory of evolution that are increasingly common and occasionally downright aggressive.

One company, called B.C. Tours “because we are biblically correct,” even offers escorted visits to the Denver Museum of Science and Nature. Participants hear creationists’ explanations for the exhibitions.

One of these groups might be 30 or 40 people strong. (So now creationists travel in packs?)

Obviously, if they pay to go in, creationists have every right to experience the museum as well as ask staff tough questions. But not questions that, according to the article, have become openly hostile and belligerent.

They peppered Dr. Durkee [of the Museum of the Earth, Ithaca, NY] with questions about everything from techniques for dating fossils to the second law of thermodynamics, their queries coming so thick and fast that she found it hard to reply.

After about 45 minutes, “I told them I needed to take a break,” she recalled. “My mouth was dry.”

Staff have been told to explain to museum goers that evolution (or geology or natural science) exists in the realm of science and therefore responds to questions that can be empirically tested (also that, contrary to belief, there isn’t loads of evidence countering evolution). The training allows staff to rehearse answers to common questions. It can make staff comfortable, not just with the script, but also with the intellectual and philosophical underpinnings of evolution. The training also underscores that there are thinking creationists who will appreciate the explanations even if they remain unconvinced.

If all that fails then staff should simply “excuse themselves by saying, “I have to go to the restroom.””

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