So much has gone on in the blogosphere in the past couple of days concerning the now infamous visit by the SSA and supporters to the Creation “Museum,” there is just no way to keep up with it all. My last post providing links to various reports on the CreoZerg barely scratches the surface.
As I noted before, Ken Ham, head of Answers in Genesis and the man behind the CM, has personally responded to the criticisms of his creationist theme park. He has continued this over the past couple of days, and his latest response is concerning (unsurprisingly) PZ Myers, yet again. PZ’s first full-on report of the CM included this picture:
(click for full size)
Beneath the picture he wrote:
With complete seriousness and no awareness of the historical abuses to which this idea has been put, they were promoting the Hamite theory of racial origins, that ugly idea that all races stemmed from the children of Noah, and that black people in particular were the cursed offspring of Ham.
PZ’s suggestion that the above graphic offers credence to the ridiculous racist idea that blacks are the offspring of Ham’s son, Canaan, who was cursed by his grandpa Noah because Ham (the son of Noah, not the creationist) saw Noah naked, made Ken Ham (henceforth referred to as "Ken") quite angry. Ken responded that PZ’s research could not be trusted, and that PZ was not interested in educating his students but instead wanted to “brainwash” them with “blatantly anti-Christian blasphemous propaganda.” He also offered up some strange version of an argument from authority saying:
…our own full-time PhD scientists and many other scientists who work in the secular world provided the research for the museum scripts. But, then again, he [PZ] wouldn’t want to acknowledge that people with better qualifications than he holds (qualifications obtained from secular universities, including PhDs from Ivy League schools like Harvard and Brown) were behind the Creation Museum teaching.
Of course, Ken does not list these PhD’s, nor, if he did, would it matter in the least. As PZ appropriately retorts:
These highly qualified PhD “scientists” believe in talking snakes, global floods, an earth that poofed into existence more than 10,000 years after the domestication of the dog, and that they can make a case against evolution by ignoring almost all of the evidence. They can wave their diplomas all they want, but against that palpable nonsense, I reject them bemusedly.
Most of this back and forth, fun though it might be, is not really relevant. What is relevant is that, contrary to Ken’s insistence, his “museum” does indeed serve to act in just the way PZ suggests, regardless of whether that is the intent. The map above does indicate something akin to the racist notion that those groups from Africa are descended from Ham. This stupid idea is hardly unknown, and, indeed, has its roots back several hundred years. From the Wikipedia article on the curse of Ham:
According to Catholic mystic Anne Catherine Emmerich [1774-1824], "I saw the curse pronounced by Noah upon Ham moving toward the latter like a black cloud and obscuring him. His skin lost its whiteness, he grew darker. His sin was the sin of sacrilege, the sin of one who would forcibly enter the Ark of the Covenant. I saw a most corrupt race descend from Ham and sink deeper and deeper in darkness. I see that the black, idolatrous, stupid nations are the descendants of Ham. Their color is due, not to the rays of the sun, but to the dark source whence those degraded races sprang."
In light of this, Ken, who admits knowledge of this position, has some responsibility to ensure that his “museum” does not contribute to this racist fable when presenting “information” (such as it is) that appears to suggest that very thing. Ken says he does this. He also writes, “In fact, it is only one of Ham’s sons who was cursed (and not Ham himself)—the younger son Canaan—who gave rise to the Canaanites and people of Sodom and Gomorrah—judged for their sexual immorality. And this ‘curse’ of Canaan has absolutely nothing to do with skin shade!” But, this is where it get funny. Part of what Ken misses is that, as has been pointed out by a number of people in the comments of Myers’ post, the CM map depicts the descendents of Ham completely missing Canaan. It’s quite strange to say that Canaan (the man) gave rise the city of the same name and yet depict Ham and his sons (including Canaan) completely bypassing the land they are supposed to inhabit on your own illustrative map! Ken can attempt to push this off on his “expert staff,” but he is the man behind the museum.
Ken’s attempt to deny responsibility for promoting the Hamite theory of racial origins is all the worse because he is clearly aware of the moral implications of the theory. He explicitly said:
“Not only do we not teach such an absurd idea (that sadly has been used by some to promote racism and prejudice against dark skinned people), we teach against it. In our book Darwin’s Plantation, I particularly deal with this issue, pointing out that dark skinned people (‘black’ people) are certainly not ‘the cursed offspring of Ham’.”
So, Ken demonstrates he is completely aware that some people have used the ‘curse of Ham’ to justify racism, and yet, instead of disposing of this stupidity on the displays in his creationist funhouse, he (at least implicitly) supports it by having a wall-sized diagram showing that Ham’s descendents did go toward Africa, completely missing the land supposedly named for Ham’s cursed son.
This is compounded by the fact that the writing at the bottom of the map above is almost entirely gibberish. Most of the words are not genuine words. Instead, they are merely groups of symbols meant to look like words. This in and of itself could be described as racist, though I think it is much more likely laziness on the parts of Ken’s “Ivy League” contributors. What is emphasized is a total lack of concern about producing anything in line with the facts, and this serves as an exemplar for Ken’s whole house-of-nonsense. The result is that, regardless of Ken’s insistence to the contrary, the CM present something that gives the impression that they support a ridiculous and racist idea on the origin of those with black skin. The fact that they push all sorts of bizarre and clearly false nonsense ruins any generosity that one might have in terms of interpreting their exhibits. The graphic in question itself puts forth the patently absurd idea that all the variety in our species arose in the past 4000 years, the time after the Noahic Flood. As the people behind the CM (Ken, especially) already believe and promote that kind of craziness, one just has no room to allow for any sanity in interpreting what they mean.
It might be interesting to point out here that Ken didn’t stop with the response given above. After that he wrote:
Ironically, as this atheist was falsely accusing us of racism, I was in Seattle speaking in the church led by a black pastor—and a good friend of our ministry. See the photo of me and Pastor Hutchinson a former NFL football player. And I spoke Sunday evening against racism! (By the way, a few years ago I spoke with Pastor Hutchinson at an anti-racism conference.)
Yes, he actually trotted out the ‘I can’t be racist because I have black friends!’ line. That alone speaks volumes.
Also, for the record, the preacher from the last quote is actually named “Hutcherson,” not “Hutchinson” as Ken claimed. Yes, he and “Hutch,” as Ken calls the man in picture captions, must be very close if he cannot even get his name right.