THE Creation Museum, a $27 million tourist attraction promoting earth science theories that were popular when Columbus set sail, opens near Cincinnati on Memorial Day. So before the first visitor risks succumbing to the museum's animatronic balderdash — dinosaurs and humans actually coexisted! the Grand Canyon was carved by the great flood described in Genesis! — we'd like to clear up a few things: "The Flintstones" is a cartoon, not a documentary. Fred and Wilma? Those woolly mammoth vacuum cleaners? All make-believe.

Science is under assault and that calls for bold truths. Here's another: The Earth is round.

The museum, a 60,000-square-foot menace to 21st century scientific advancement, is the handiwork of Answers in Genesis, a leader in the "young Earth" movement. Young Earthers believe the world is about 6,000 years old, as opposed to the 4.5 billion years estimated by the world's credible scientific community. This would be risible if anti-evolution forces were confined to a lunatic fringe, but they are not. Witness the recent revelation that three of the Republican candidates for president do not believe in evolution. Three men seeking to lead the last superpower on Earth reject the scientific consensus on cosmology, thermonuclear dynamics, geology and biology, believing instead that Bamm-Bamm and Dino played together.

Religion and science can coexist. That the Earth is billions of years old is a fact. How the universe came into being and whether it operates by design are matters of faith.

Last year, the White House attempted to muzzle NASA's top climatologist after he called for urgent action on global warming, and a presidential appointee in the agency's press office chastised a contractor for mentioning the Big Bang without including the word "theory." The press liaison reportedly wrote in an e-mail: "This is more than a science issue, it is a religious issue. And I would hate to think that young people would only be getting one-half of this debate from NASA."

With the opening of the Creation Museum, young people will be getting another side of the story. Too bad it starts with "Yabba-dabba-doo!"

Los Angeles Times

Editorial