David DeWitt takes his educational duties seriously. Each year, the biology “professor” and director of the Center for Creation Studies at Liberty University takes his class on a field trip. Their destination is the Smithsonian’s Museum of Natural History, where the students in his Advanced Creation Studies course can bolster their “biblical view of natural history” by viewing a “temple of evolution.” In other words, they’re going to check out the enemy.
Adding to the ludicrous quotient even more, DeWitt’s trips are part of a recent trend: Plenty of adult creationists are reportedly taking these so-called “creation vacations” too. While scientists and science-lovers everywhere were celebrating Darwin’s 200th birthday, creationists saw the event as a chance to visit natural history museums, aquariums, geologic sites, and dinosaur parks to challenge evolution.
So what’s a trip to a museum like with a creationist? First, DeWitt’s class went through the fossil exhibit. His only complaint was that one of the films shown failed to discuss DNA, and only talked about amoeba. He bashed the film for being too ’80s, and called it “embarrassing” [ed. note: Oh the rich irony in that word choice].
When the class headed to the dinosaur exhibit, they had no objections—they don’t deny the existence of dinosaurs, they just believe that God created all animals on the sixth day. Never mind the fact that dinos first appeared 215 million years ago, and were wiped out about 65 million years ago. Or the plethora of fossil records proving that birds descended from dinos.
The creationists’ only major gripe was that the timeline showing geology’s 630-million-year history was “totally off,” since creationists believe rocks and fossils were formed about 4,000 years ago during Noah’s flood. As the group moved through the hominid site, a student noticed the size difference between human and ape skulls. The students wondered why God didn’t get any credit for creating all of the diversity on display at the museum.
DeWitt’s oh-so-witty comment to the Washington Post pretty much sums up the tone of the trip: “There’s nothing balanced here. It’s completely, 100 percent evolution-based. We come every year, because I don’t hold anything back from the students.”
So is DeWitt encouraging valuable debate by exposing his students to hard science with such a derisive tone? Or simply embarrassing our educational system? We’ll leave it for you to decide—though we will say you don’t see too many MIT kids on field trips to the Creationism Museum.
Image: flickr/ Jayeb333