Friday, October 26, 2012

Your Opinion: Is the Creationist Use of Dinosaurs in Child Education Underhanded?


Answers in Genesis has an interesting little article about the use of dinosaurs to promote their work.  They have been producing a series of billboards featuring ferocious and beautifully drawn dinosaurs, in hopes of attracting people to their creation museum.  This has sparked some outrage online - how dare Creationists use dinosaurs to lure children into religious teachings!  
One reporter called and told me, “An educator I spoke to said you are intentionally using dinosaurs as a bait to get kids to the museum. Do you admit it?”
My reply, though I did not care for the word “bait,” was, “Of course we are! We’re not just trying to attract children, but dads and moms. We wouldn’t have gone to the effort of building a museum if we didn’t want all people to visit!”
I tend to side with the reporter - there seems to be something underhanded in the way Creationists use our culture's obsession with dinosaurs to validate their message.  They, of course, do not see it that way:
For their part, atheists use dinosaurs to try to convince children there is no God—and that evolution and millions of years are fact. At the Creation Museum, we use dinosaurs in the opposite way: to tell adults and children the true history of the world from the Bible, including the gospel message. 
 What do you think?  Is the Creationist use of dinosaurs manipulative and underhanded, or is it a fair way to get kids excited about the Christian faith?

12 comments:

Thesauros said...

It's a Museum. It's a business. What's underhanded about drawing people to your business?

Goemon5 said...

First we should separate science, education and religion. Education must increase the knowledge and mental capabilities of people. That can happen through both religious and scientific texts. The scientific way of thought takes the evidence and builds an explanation around it. Children can think about whether or not there are any flaws in that story.

Creationists, on the other hand, tell the story, and build the evidence around it. This does not require any thinking from the student. In fact, thought and criticism are strongly rejected by creationists. You can take any fairy tale and build certain foreign elements into it. I bet all of us did that in certain camp situations in our youth. This process does not require any complex thought; it does not stimulate progressive ideas. This way of storytelling is entertaining, but not educational. And children are especially susceptible to entertainment. At the same time they are also very keen about learning, so that a false combination of both can have fatal consequences for their understanding of the world.

I find the word combination of "Creation Museum" repulsive. A museum exhibits a collection of artefacts that are in some way relevant for mankind. The creationist version is more of a road show of ideas. Instead of artefacts the display consists of signs and images that demonstrate how creationists explain the world. It does not quite matter to me if they use dinosaurs, smurfs, grapefruits or cotton napkins to tell their story. But their method of manipulation is dangerous and should be banned.

Thesauros said...

Creationists, on the other hand, tell the story, and build the evidence around it.

Yes, unlike materialists. I guess you've never examined any of the Atheist Origin of the Universe Mythologies? There's at least a dozen. The building of evidence to support them has even included Hawking's imaginary space / time. Or his suggestion of a multi verse just as though moving the origin of matter back a trillion universes changes things.
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"This does not require any thinking from the student. In fact, thought and criticism are strongly rejected by creationists."

Right, because again, stating that some things like a universe can just pop into existence without any cause has come about because of a great deal of scientific evidence - you know, observing, testing and verifying again and again and again that things begin to exist without an external cause.

It would seem that in the case of origins it is ONLY the Creationists who have thought long and hard enough to see the problem with concluding a material cause of the universe even though literally nothing material existed until Big Bang.

In fact it is atheist Richard Dawkins who tells us that we shouldn't bother with thinking about "the why of the universe's beginning."

Corrabelle said...

Creationists believe that we, and our universe (not just parts of our universe, but all) were created by a higher being. Regardless of young earth, new earth etc, God made all.

Are dinosaurs "untouchable" for some reason? If the billboard had pictures of elephants, or lions, would this have really made a difference?

I don't see their using dinosaurs as any more manipulative in advertising as any other type of museum using dinosaurs in theirs.

Nor does either one own the sole rights to display dinosaurs, or any other animal for that matter.

Do they have information in their museum about dinosaurs? (regardless of being controversial?)

Extinct animals=fun. Ta da.

p.s. There's a business not far from here that has a massive dinosaur sculpture by it's driveway. They have no Jurassic information-they don't even have so much as a fossil. They sell lawn furniture...and no one seems angry about it. hmmmm

Thesauros said...

"I don't see their using dinosaurs as any more manipulative in advertising as any other type of museum using dinosaurs in theirs."

Yes, but other museums aren't a threat to atheism. Presenting people with alternatives to Atheist Myths is seen by atheists as not being fair.

Goemon5 said...

This is getting fun. Stating that the universe pops into existence without a cause ignores a major part of scientific literature. Causation is one of the essential concepts of science. We simply don't have a very coherent understanding of the beginning of the universe. And that's what every good museum exhibits. "Here is some evidence; this is what we think it tells us. If you have a different idea, we would like to discuss it."

We simply don't know about many things, such as the beginning of the universe. And a good scientist acknowledges that. Creationists, on the other hand, pretend to know the answers to just about everything without any discussion at all. But not knowing something does not mean you can make up any story you like.

Goemon5 said...

And stop bragging about atheists. This is not a brawl of super-monkeys "Atheists Vs. Creationists". The topic is: "are creationists manipulating children's educational path, and do they have a right to do so?"
In my opinion they are, and they do not have any more right to do so than any other cristian group. Faith and science are two separate topics, and they should not be mixed.

Andrew Jones said...

I don't really see anything underhanded happening. Using characters and images is pretty common marketing.

It's like toilet paper companies using puppies. or Polar bears to sell soda.

In fact the creationist museum actually has more justification because dinosaurs are at least related to their "product"

Goemon5 said...

These creationists are not actually selling anything. I am fine with dinosaur stickers on cookie boxes.

The creationist "museum" influences the education of children by combining a marketing trick with hollow phrases. They don't try to sell, they try to manipulate. That's why theit methods are banned from most parts of Europe. If US and Canada ever want to close the technological gap between Europe and America, they need to reduce the manipulative influences on children, and support logical thinking.

Matthew said...

Thank you everyone for your thoughts, and please keep this important conversation going.

Andrew and Corrabelle, I was wondering if you found it distasteful to be talking of marketing at all in relation to the church? Should we be okay with Christians 'marketing' Christianity in order to make it more 'fun'?

I agree with Thesauros that Creationists have the right to use dinosaurs for whatever they want. As a Christian however I am uncomfortable with how they use dinosaurs to manipulate children into believing in the Bible. In the end, I think it does more harm than good for Christianity. Because what happens when those kids realize that the story about dinosaurs as told by Creationists is both scientifically wrong and not found in scripture? How much distrust will they then have for the church at large?

I find Goemon5's analysis of how entertainment is branded as education to be astute. I'm not sure I understand Thesauros' point about the atheist story - I don't see multiverse theory being displayed as an absolute in the museums I have gone to.

One of my colleagues out here has told me that Creationists don't deserve to call their institutions 'museums'. A museum is a place of active research, which is sorely missing in Creationist museums.

Thanks for the thoughts everyone, this is an important conversation to be having, and I welcome (always polite) dissent.

faithplusart said...

"wondering if you found it distasteful to be talking of marketing at all in relation to the church? Should we be okay with Christians 'marketing' Christianity in order to make it more 'fun'?"

It depends... I think marketing is often viewed as more distasteful than it is both by the arts and the church. I don't think we can change the Gospel, and anytime we try to shape the word of God or our purpose to fit marketing standards we are in serious trouble. That being said, marketing in a full sense is about communication, it's about how you both draw people in and then communicate your story. Drawing people in and communicating is a large part of what the church does.

I have certainly seen marketing used in ways I find offensive to the gospel, but not always. For instance having a well thought-out logo for a church is marketing, even using the right language to invite people to your pot-luck is marketing. We need to market well. However that should never change the intent or the fullness of our message. Marketing needs to assist not supersede.

"As a Christian however I am uncomfortable with how they use dinosaurs to manipulate children into believing in the Bible. In the end, I think it does more harm than good for Christianity."

I completely agree with this sentiment, however this is my problem with a Creationist museum and how closely they tie Christianity with their thoughts not what mascot they put on their pamphlet.

I think the problem is not that a dino is a marketing tool for Christianity, the problem is that they turn Christianity into a marketing tool.

Jacob Hoss said...

What lunacy. I've been a palaeontology fan since I was a wee lad, and I don't think I've ever witnessed anyone try to use dinosaurs to convert children to atheists. I don't even know HOW that would work. This is another example of creationists' obsession with drawing false equivalencies, like that trying to simply educate children (and adults) about the real science of palaeontology is exactly the same as Ken Ham and the Hovind boys trying to use dinosaurs as mascots to push their nutty fundamentalism and conspiracy theories. It's utter nonsense. There's no hidden agenda with teaching about Mesozoic life. Many Palaeontologists and people in related fields (e.g. paleoartists, geologists, ornithologists, herpetologists, archaeologists, etc) are themselves religious, but that doesn't mean they feel the need to deny science the way creationists do.