Scientists Visit The Creation Museum

While in the area for a conference anyway, a group of scientists decide to drop by the Creation Museum for a tour. The same folk that run the “Answers In Genesis” web site have the same answer to every question: God did it.

When you can make up answers then it’s pretty easy, right? If I substituted “The Flying Spaghetti Monster” for “God” the creation museum folk would be offended, but they could not offer a plausible explanation as to why I can’t use that term instead of theirs. It’s all “faith” after all… also known as superstition.
Paleontologists brought to tears, laughter by Creation Museum

While visiting this post, I wanted to address a sincere but ignorant commenter:

“I have personally witnessed irrefutable miracle healings (i.e. stunted limb growing out to full length spontaneously in a matter of seconds,) in respone to prayer in the name of Jesus. I would guess there were close to 40 witnesses to this miracle healing, many of whom, including myself, were standing only 2 or 3 feet away from the man who was healed; some of whom I still know by first and/or last name.”

The short-leg illusion is one of the oldest tricks of faith healers. I’m surprised people still fall for it today since it is so well known but I will briefly address it here.

FAITH HEALING: LEG LENGTHENING ‘MIRACLES”

The set-up for the trick: The subject/victim/mark is told to sit in a chair and then lift their legs straight toward the “healer” … lo and behold, one leg is shorter! That must be the source of all of their problems! The “healer” then does his/her incantation, grabs the legs and tugs.. and miraculously, the “short” leg “grows out” to match the “normal” one! Proof of God! Give money!

More experienced “healers” may simply command the leg to grow, usually followed by some other exclamation, like “LOOK, IT’S GROWING!” And suddenly a “miracle” happens…

Here is the simple basis for why this short-leg growth trick always works as it does; people don’t sit perfectly straight when they sit down. They usually lean slightly toward one ass cheek or another and in fact it is hard to sit perfectly straight and balanced even when ordered to do so. Uneven weight distribution causes ones pelvis to tilt slightly, which of course also affects how long your legs APPEAR to be relative to each other. If you don’t understand this, you should probably read a first year anatomy book before proceeding.

So when the mark/victim/subject holds his/her legs out straight, the pelvis angle will make it appear that one leg is shorter than another. When the “healer” tugs on the legs it causes the victim to shift his/her weight and sit straighter, changing the angle of the pelvis, so the short leg “grows.”

In the command (no touch) method of this trick, there is some loud declaration of a miracle happening right now! This is screeched so that the victim/subject/mark will lean forward to see if his her leg is actually growing – it is the leaning forward that causes the victim/mark’s weight to shift so the miraculous “growth” can occur.

In the unlikely event that the victim/mark accidentally manages to sit completely flat in the beginning so that both legs are viewed as the same length, the Christian miracle worker always has a backup plan: The faith healer simply pulls slightly on one shoe as he/she lifts the legs up, pulling one heel out and making one leg appear longer temporarily than the other. The Man/Woman of God then slides the shoe back into place again as he/she prays, making the legs suddenly appear the same length. This takes a little practice at sleight of hand work so that nobody sees what you are doing, but it’s still pretty easy.

A certain amount of showmanship is required to make this trick work well: You have to get everyone watching to believe that one leg is shorter FIRST, then you have to make enough noise and motion with your hands as the “miracle” happens so that nobody sees what you are really doing.

This is an observational trick easily confirmed by YOU: The reader can get together with his/her friends and try it. But please don’t be unethical – don’t be a liar – like these Christian “healers” and claim it is a miracle of God. It’s just a trick and a pretty cheesy one at that.

As a former ardent religious zealot, I was present and personally witnessed this trick being performed on a number of occasions. Some of these events were performed by famous evangelists including the healing duo popular in the 80’s, “The Hunters” – Charles and Frances.

This particular piece of cheesy stage magic is covered in the book “The Faith Healers” by James Randi (pages 128-130, complete with pictures). As bad as it is, however, it appears that tens of thousands of people are still fooled.

The faith healers, of course, have to learn how to do the trick before they can perform it. Not that this is hard – I mean, I just taught you how to do it in three paragraphs! But that also means that they KNOW it is a trick and they KNOW they are fooling the believers into thinking they have power from God.

I realize that some people would say f’ em for being that gullible, but I don’t think that you should take advantage of people just because they really want to believe in something.

You should ask yourself – If these faith healers have real power, why can’t they make an amputated leg grow back, hmm? Why is it that a “true miracle” can only be performed by stage magic methods? Believers dare not ask themselves this question, I guess.

Unfortunately, this reliance on stage magic strongly suggests that Christianity itself is false, because the proponents must resort to to the use of tricks to prove the validity of their faith. If what they claim to believe had any truth to it whatsoever, stage magic would not be required.

As a side note; although most people’s legs aren’t exactly the same length, pelvic tilt compensates for any differences in 99 percent of the cases. For people who have a difference that is really a medical problem, faith healers can’t do a thing.

How can we be sure? All you have to do is see the daily “Jesus on toast” stories that inundate the TV and print news to realize that if there were even one genuine miracle – EVER – it would get 24 hour news coverage. The fact that Christians have to lean on the “I saw someone tug on a leg once and it got longer” stories strongly suggests that they have nothing real to offer.

Additional discussions of the Scientists at the Creation Museum story: Paleontology and Creationism Meet but Don’t Mesh – NYTimes.com and Daily Kos: Scientists Visit the Creation Museum


Possibly related posts:

This entry was posted in News-Dailies and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Scientists Visit The Creation Museum

  1. Naomi says:

    I think it is important to allow people to believe what they want to believe in. I am a scientist (Geologist) myself who has a strong faith in God and I know that there is more to life than science alone. I have personally witnessed events that could not be explained by science and my faith really does benefit me in my daily life.

    Whether you believe or not, why not just let people choose for themselves!

    Thank you,

    Naomi

    Um, Naomi, where is anyone being forced to NOT believe, hmm? Name one? So then, where is this “allow people to believe what they want to believe in” nonsense coming from?

    People can and do believe whatever they want and facts and evidence don’t really count for much in general. The sociological evidence tells us that beliefs that are socially and personally pleasing take priority over hard facts and evidence by a wide margin.

    If anyone is prevented from believing what they want, it would be non-believers who are often punished for not being part of organized religion. They still get to “believe what they want” of course, but they often pay a high price for it.

    I agree, let people choose! But it must be an INFORMED choice. Give them real information, not made-up stories spoken as if they were truth. And I’m not talking about your personal faith here but the creationist nonsense referenced in the article.

    Come on, Adam and Eve riding dinosaurs? Really, doc? Seriously, doctor to doctor (you=geology/me=theology) even I never taught or accepted that nonsense. Furthermore, because I’m old I can tell you that young earth creationism was not part of 20th century mainstream Christianity until very recently (more the realm of small wacky fundamentalist cults). I did not learn it in seminary and would not even consider teaching it to schoolchildren.

    I don’t have a problem with someone believing in God ..well, unless you think God is telling you to kill people or something. Otherwise, it’s fine. However, I DO object to dogmatic religious interpretations of the world being taught along side actual evidence as if they were equal if not superior.

    The church has faced many choices over the centuries: Organized religion opposed the idea of a round earth, they fought viciously against the outrageous notion that the earth revolves around the sun and mainstream religion even opposed antibiotics. All of these things, like creationism, stem from a possible interpretation of the Bible.

    You still have active flat-Earth people who start with a religious premise based on the Bible and then try to “prove” their claims by attempting to criticize and question actual science. Like creationists they demand that school children should be taught their flat earth theory alongside actual science so that they can “decide for themselves.” They are no different than the young earth creationists cited in the article EXCEPT that hardly anyone takes them seriously. However both doctrines are equally foolish.

    So when you say, Naomi, “why not just let people choose for themselves” I say AMEN! But in order to make a choice, people need REAL information backed up with actual facts, not stories, legends and Bible proof-texting.

  2. Bruce C says:

    I witnessed a leg-lengthening in Zimbabwe about 15 years ago, which I never questioned for years: An American visiting speaker, first time in the country, his first engagement a small youth group; very informal. He asked if someone had one leg shorter than the other, with associated back pain; a girl I didn’t know came forward. I stood very close to her as he sat her down on a hard chair, took her shoes off, ensured her hips were square against the back of the seat, got her to lock her knees, and pushed against the soles of her bare feet, revealing the left leg to be about 1 inch shorter than the right. (I don’t remember if her knees were visible; the lower parts of her legs certainly were).

    He then prayed a very simple prayer, and I saw the left leg grow, over a couple of seconds, slowing till it stopped at the same length as the right (like some CGI special effect). I didn’t speak to her afterwards, just accepted what I had seen.

    There was no hype, and no mention of it when the same man spoke in our large church a few days later (with no further miracles). He seemed quite sane and down-to-earth, and would not have benefited in any way I could see from performing an elaborate hoax in such a ‘quiet’ manner.

    • clhaight says:

      You believed it, that was the benefit.

      Probably other people in the small group did, too. It’s not that elaborate, either; it’s in the same class as card tricks and only impressive-looking until you know how it’s done.

      The thing that bothers me the most is that people who claim to believe in God resort to cheesy stage magic illusions. It’s hard to imagine a justification for this that is internally consistent. It’s certainly not a moral act.

      Take a soldier who had his leg blown off in Iraq. Sit him down and pray over him and watch a brand new leg appear where there used to be a stump. THAT would be a miracle. Nobody could dispute that. It doesn’t happen, though. Just low-class stage illusions and suggestions.

  3. Chris Weppler says:

    An old friend of mine was touched by the Lord in the same way with one peculiar difference. One leg grew longer, but not only that his dick drags around under his feet now to. He always trips on it and yells OW!!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

86 − 83 =