|The Early Days of a Better Nation|
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Last Friday three hundred or so sceptics visited the Creation Museum, and lots of them have blogged about it. P.Z. Myers has written a slashing takedown, and provided a handy roundup of other reactions, including those of the estimable young blogger Blag Hag. Like most people, these sceptics identify creationism with the outlook promoted by the museum, and for all practical purposes they're right. But it was not always so.
One of the surprises in Ronald L. Numbers' The Creationists, which I've just read, is how recent and contingent even within creationism this whole Young Earth/Flood Geology farrago is. Well into the 1950s, many if not most mainstream (so to speak) fundamentalists accepted an old Earth, with progressive creation or even theistic evolution, which they accommodated to Genesis by postulating an indefinite length of time between the first and second verses (the 'gap theory') or within each creation day (the 'day-age theory'). Changing that took the life-long labour of George McCready Price, the source of whose commitment to a recent week-long creation was not so much the inspired words of Genesis as the inspired visions of the prophet Ellen G. White. Price's work in turn inspired the authors of The Genesis Flood.
Ken Ham's outfit, which sponsors the Museum, manages to outdo even these modern founders of flood geology, by sticking to the 4004 BC date for creation, instead of giving themselves a few thousand extra years of wiggle room for post-Flood prehistory. But, just as Eden had a snake, the Museum has a squiggle. As P.Z. points out, all the geological epochs are tagged ~2348 BC. Some day, an upstart challenger may yet damn Ham for that squiggle. What d'you mean, circa 2348 BC? It was exactly 2348 B.C.! About teatime!