A picture of creationism in geology today

Religion writer Hanna Rosin has an article in the New York Times Magazine on the creationist "avant-garde": trained geologists arguing that Noah's flood can explain the fossil record.

The point of departure is the Creation Museum:

The museum expected about 250,000 visitors in the first year. Instead, despite its $20 entry fee, it has had that many in six months, according to Michael Matthews, the museum's content manager. Almost every day, minivans and buses from Christian schools fill the parking lot, sometimes after 10-hour road trips.

Rosin attended a meeting of geologists committed to establishing creationist doctrine as a scientific inquiry. She does not explain the obvious barrier to doing so: creationist doctrine disregards all evidence that rejects its assumptions; such a practice cannot be reconciled with the scientific method. Still, they meet and try to hash out working hypotheses for the flood and post-Noahic biogeography. You can see the agenda for the "First Conference on Creationist Geology" here. The meeting attended by Rosin included some of the Creation Museum's geological consultants, who promote Young Earth Creationism as a necessary tenet of Christian belief.

The article describes the increasing successes of Young Earth Creationists -- they are dominating the Christian publishing industry and increasingly training students at Christian colleges to be "make their creationist logic more consistent" -- as long as "consistency" means the earth is less than 10,000 years old. I thought the quoted reaction by Stephen Moshier, a geologist at Wheaton College who qualifies as an "old-earther" according to the article, is profound:

These numbers [about the effectiveness of Young Earth Creationists in changing students' ideas] make Moshier cringe. "It can get so frustrating," he said. "Many of us at Christian colleges really grieve at what a problem this young-earth creationism makes for the Christian witness. It's almost like they're adding another thing you have to believe to become a Christian. It's like saying, You have to believe the world is flat to be a Christian, and that's absolutely unreasonable."

But probably the most illustrative section is the anectodal portion where Rosin describes her perception of these creationists' attitudes:

Like any group of elites, they were snobs about their superior degrees. During lunch breaks or car rides, they traded jokes about the "vulgar creationists" and the "uneducated masses," and, in their least Christian moments, the "idiots on the Web." One leader of a creationist institute complained about all the cranks who call on the phone claiming to have seen dinosaurs or to have had a vision of Noah's ark. (How Noah fit the entire animal kingdom onto the ark is a perennial obsession.)

Yet, the conference program on the Answers in Genesis site lists a presentation on "The housing and care of the cargo on Noah's Ark".

I wonder how they got the <a href=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weta">weta</a> just to New Zealand and nowhere else. And amazing how none of those mimic butterflies got confused for each other...