Atheists and agnostics are planning what they call a positive, upbeat protest against the Creation and Earth History Museum (CEHM) this weekend in Santee, Calif.
The protest, organized by John Viggiano, a member of the San Diego New Atheists and Agnostics (SDNA), is hoping to focus more on improving “the public image of science” than on criticizing creationism, according to meetup.com.
“Science has a PR problem and it’s our job to do what we can to fix it, locally anyway,” Viggiano shared. He was put off by the image of angry picketing protests and tired of the “angry-atheist thing,” which to him, did not work.
Having been inspired by speakers at the Beyond Belief Convention, particularly author Sheril Kirshenbaum and Chris Mooney, Viggiano wants to educate the public about science and evolution, instead of berate them.
“Come join me in a ‘positive, upbeat protest’ of the creation museum on their ‘museum day’ event. Bring whatever literature you’d like to distribute,” he recommended.
The SDNA planned the demonstration to fall on “Museum Day,” a nationwide event organized by the Smithsonian Institute, where many museums across the U.S. would offer free admission for a day.
In San Diego, several museums are participating, including the CEHM. Their “Museum Day,” which will be held on Saturday, Sept. 24, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., will feature several events and seeks to educate attendees about everything from human anatomy to dinosaur gardens.
The museum, a 7,500 square-foot building run by the Life and Light Foundation, supports a literal six-day creation and young earth belief, “with an ever-growing emphasis on God’s design in creation,” according to the website, in direct contrast to the SDNA’s belief in evolution and claims that the earth is around 4.5 billion years old.
Throughout CEHM’s “Museum Day,” guest speakers like Dr. Duane Gish, Biology Director David Hillaker, Geologist Steve Austin, and Answers in Genesis’ Dr. David Menton will be given the opportunity to speak about creationism to the public.
Viggiano, who works as a chemist for Cantor’s Scantibodies Laboratory, considers creationists to be “delusional.”
Though he acknowledged leaders like Tom Cantor, the founder of Life and Light Foundation and president of Scantibodies Laboratories, for his success in the field of science (he recently built a state-of-the-art plasma donation center) Viggiano believes a majority of people in the U.S. are still in fact ignorant when it came to science.
“Most of the people in this country cannot even name a single, living scientist... Ignorance certainly plays a role,” he wrote on meetup.
At the protest, he plans to speak about: science’s impact on billions of lives through better crop yields and medicine, evolution’s role in science, and Christian views on evolution.
“Personally, I’ll be recommending my favorite books and documentaries and passing out flyers and booklets on our group, evolution, and science in general. I’m also considering bringing a few science toys/gadgets.”
“You’ll see me in the back of my pickup truck on N. Woodside Ave near the museum," he added. "Also, of course the museum will be air conditioned and they won’t kick us out if we’re nice.”
Other members of the SDNA will join him at Saturday’s event. Currently, only a few have signed up for the day.
While Viggiano’s studies in science have affirmed his nonreligious beliefs, Cantor’s extensive work in the labs have given him all the more reason to believe in God.
“My work in biochemistry has given me specific reasons to worship God, for I see the careful attention that God put into the details of biochemistry,” Cantor shared on his site. “On the flip side, my understanding of the Creator has helped my work in biochemistry because it gives me the right foundation for our research.”
The “Positive, Upbeat Protest” is scheduled to take place at the Creation and Earth History Museum on Saturday at 12 p.m.
The SDNA was founded in 2006 and has more than 700 members now. The group also held a 2009 protest against creationist Ray Comfort’s “Origin into Schools Project.”