The second half was spent inside the museum itself, which was created by the people who run Answers In Genesis (AIG).
Here’s the recap. There are a lot of pages of notes, so I tried to condense wherever possible.
As soon as I got to the rally site, there was already a plane flying overhead with some welcoming words.
The protesters (of which there were many more than you can see in the next picture) were standing along the lone road that led to the entrance to the museum…
… which meant that everyone who visited the museum had to get past them. This made for some interesting interactions.
Like the woman who drove past everyone screaming:
Y’all need so many prayers!
I don’t know how prayers for us will lead to her understanding science, but maybe she knew something we didn’t.
Not all the hecklers were drivers. Some came right up to us as we protested. One lady and her (relatively nicer) husband came by itching to start a fight. Besides provoking people through their proselytizing, they handed out Dum Dum lollipops which had a special message (a weak version of Pascal’s Wager) attached to the stick:
If there is no God……
A believer loses nothing at death.
If there is a God……
An Atheist loses everything at death.
Who, then, is being a dum dum?
Would anyone like to answer that last question…?
Since they were passing out Creationist propaganda, someone in our group felt it would be appropriate to hand the lady a science pamphlet. As soon as it was in her hands, she quickly threw it to the ground like it had a disease on it.
That was sweet.
Let’s get back to some more of the positive aspects of the day.
There was a lot of media coverage of the protest.
Reporters from local, national, and international news were there. So were writers for Internet sites (including Salon.com). And there was one reporter who wouldn’t say where he was from…
That guy tried interviewing as many protesters as possible. I decided to talk to him. I don’t know why. I just wanted to see what he was trying to do. But here’s essentially how our conversation went:
Him: Do you believe in Evolution?
Me: Well, it’s not a question of “belief.” It’s as much a fact as anything we know.
Him: But it’s called the Theory of Evolution.
Me: Yes, but a scientific “theory” is more than just some random idea…
Him: Do you have faith in this theory?
Me: It’s not a question of faith. The evidence shows that Evolution is true.
Him: So you’re saying it’s fact?! Even though you said it’s just a theory?
Me: You’re twisting my words. Stop that. I’m gonna go now.
Later on, standing in line for the museum with a group of my fellow college-aged protesters, that same guy walked right in front of us and called out to (I presume) his family, ahead in the line. Somehow not noticing a bunch of young protesters wearing pro-atheist shirts, he started telling his family how he had “talked to the protesters” and got it all on tape! But then, those evil protesters kicked him out! So he was going to join the family in line!
Too bad he was lying. Here’s what actually happened: Since we were rallying on the grass (see above picture), the Man was interviewing people while standing on the road itself. This was expressly forbidden by the cops. The police actually escorted him out because he was violating the rules. But he neglected to tell his family that part of the story…
He wasn’t the only Creationist trying to cut in on the protesting publicity.
At one point, I was doing an interview, answering questions about my views on the museum. In the middle of talking into the camera about why the material in the museum was not Science, a lady interrupted me and started responding to what I was saying. Did I mention I was on camera at the time…? Her name was Jeannine Vest and she was there with her friend Kaye Fish. Both were mothers of young children (none were older than eight) and both had their Masters in Education degrees. They simply wanted to be at the museum on opening day. They came to our protesting area to hand us water. While they didn’t go inside, they said they would come back for a full visit very soon.
When the cameras turned off, I asked them why they thought the museum was a good place. They responded that there were so many museums… why not one with this point of view? They later added that there was no proof that radiometric dating or carbon dating were legitimate.
Oy. It’s so hard to engage in a dialogue with people who don’t even understand the basis of the discussion…
Ok. Back to the positivity.
Look! A picture of me with Nicole Smalkowski! Because she’s just awesome.
There were many protesters who were veterans to the atheist cause. And, to my delight, there were many people who had never participated in an event like this before. The protesters were young and old. There were even some religious people in the crowd (though not as many as I would’ve liked to see).
Tim O’Connor and his fiancé Connie Brockman were among the newcomers. They weren’t affiliated with any atheist group but had heard about the rally via petitions against the non-scientific teachings of the Creation Museum circulating through some real museums in Cincinnati. They came to the rally because they felt that they were seeing a lot of “aggressive negativity from religion” and wanted to curb it. They were curious (as was I) why there weren’t more religious representatives at the protest.
Another newcomer was Michelle Duennes, an agnostic college student from the College of Mount St. Joseph. She came because science is a passion of hers– she wants to be a college professor one day– and she wanted to protect her passion. Michelle was surprised at the large turnout as she didn’t expect to see so many people at the rally. She had wanted other students from her school to join her and started a Facebook group for that purpose. But to her surprise, there was a backlash from some of her classmates. Incredibly, one of them said that protesting the Creation Museum was just like standing outside the arena while a band you don’t like plays inside.
If only it was as simple as not liking the material in the museum…
A girl named Robin, who at 14 called herself an agnostic (“or a Pastafarian”), felt that the protest was a good idea. She was frustrated, however, when people came up to her and asked where they could park…
Sophia Riehemann, on the other hand, was a veteran of the atheist movement. She’s only 16, but she has gone to Camp Quest since she was 8. Not only that, but she was also present at the Godless Americans March on Washington back in 2002. I asked her if she thought the rally was effective. She felt it was, adding she hoped children being driven past the protesters would see that there were other ways to view the world than the Biblical view they were being raised with.
The issue of whether the rally was effective or not was on the minds of several people. Thomas and Raina, a couple from Pennsylvania, said the rally might be effective… but they were there because it was for a good cause.
Ben Myers, a student at The Ohio State University, felt the rally was absolutely effective. He stated that we were there to show our dissent, which is the highest form of patriotism. I asked him how he was dealing with the Creationists in our midst. He said the way to handle them was through non-violent protest or dialogue, adding that dialogue wasn’t really their language. He was optimistic, though, that our mere presence there would reach a lot of people.
Carol Carlson was a theist in the protesting crowd. While she (obviously) supported what the pro-Science people were doing, she did have some concerns. She felt that there was an implication being made that anyone with a Southern accent was automatically ignorant. She also did not appreciate the atheist speakers who mocked Jesus and Christianity– that’s not what the event was for. I did enjoy the fact that she learned to be a liberal while in the convent. Yep, she used to be a nun. But now, she was out protesting with the rest of us.
By the way… here were some of the protest signs that amused me:
- Dumbing down children is child abuse
- Disclaimer: Views inside are not scientific
- Absolutely Inaccurate Gibberish
- Science loves you… love it back and accept it
- Get your HAM and AIGs over there
Ooh. Last thing. Here’s a picture of a porta-potty at the rally site. I think we need to insert the letter “k” somewhere…
Coming up later: Part 2: My Day Inside the Creation Museum!
[tags]atheist, atheism, Rally for Reason, Creation Museum, Answers In Genesis, DefCon, Pascal’s Wager, Creationist, science, Salon.com, Evolution, Jeannine Vest, Kaye Fish, radiometric dating, carbon dating, Nicole Smalkowski, Tim O’Connor, Connie Brockman, Michelle Duennes, College of Mount St. Joseph, Sophia Riehemann, Camp Quest, Godless Americans March on Washington, Ben Myers, The Ohio State University, Carol Carlson, Jesus, Christianity[/tags]