Creation Museum set to open

If you’re unfamiliar with Ken Ham, the relatively famous (or is it infamous) creationist, you will know him soon enough. Ham is part creator and director of a new Mecca for young earth creationists, a 27 million dollar facility designed by Patrick Marsh, whose visual flair helped engineer the Jaws and King Kong attractions at Universal theme park. The museum hopes to attract a quarter million visitors each year, and the sophistication and glitz of the place promises to attract droves of the faithful to witness the serene and strange sights of animatronic humans gleefully living side by side with lumbering, fresh faced dinosaurs. The site is a testament to the unyielding efforts of creationists to spread the notion that the Bible is THE authoritative book on everything, including ancient history, cosmology, and (as this museum tries to show) pre-history. But the museum does more than simply assert the age of the earth as a paltry 6000 years; as visitors take a tour of the history of mankind, from its fall from Eden, to Noah’s flood, they finally come upon the modern age, displayed as a decadent secular world that has abandoned the values of God and church. The final image is of a young man leering over his computer, supposedly looking at pornography (the ultimate decadence it seems if one is Christian).

What strikes one as odd is the dichotomous nature of the museum, which seems to be both disdainful of science and progress while simultaneously passing itself off as scientific. Alternative explanations to evolution are everywhere: the chameleon does not change color as a function of natural selection; instead, it does so to apparently communicate with others, and to show off its mood. The museum even endorses its own highly specific version of evolution, arguing that animals are evolutionary offshoots of the animals rescued in Noah’s flood.

But the museum’s sometimes dazzling displays and sophistication gloss over the shallow and highly misleading interpretation of historical events by creationists. Gone are the rigors of scientific inquiry in favor of biblical pandering. Unlike a real museum, which houses researchers espoused to uncovering the truths about the natural world, this new Biblical literalist ‘Mecca’ ensconces religious propagandists intent on dismantling history and science as we know it.

There has been a great deal of protest in the US over the opening of the museum, which has somewhat delayed the previous scheduled opening. Alas, the effort is both in vain and counter-productive; regardless of the protestations of scientists and secularists, creationists simply refuse to accept any theory that undermines their religious convictions. Strong opposition only enforces the idea that they are being unfairly prosecuted by intellectual ‘fascism’. The museum is not the cause of scientific ignorance in America; rather it is a symptom of it. Attempting to shut it down is tantamount to putting a Band-Aid on a gunshot wound.

As creationists further remove themselves from the inconveniences of reality, they will continue to build whatever institutions they can to house their antiquated beliefs. A museum is perhaps only the start for them. Their ambitions extend far further. But the intellectual havoc they create is not impossible to combat, nor is it necessarily permanent. The will of the general American public has to push strongly for scientific education. Sadly, the average citizen is interested less in the pursuit of truth and more in the pursuit of happiness, which the museum undoubtedly fulfills for some. The way to fight this museum will therefore come not from protest, or even boycott, but from a campaign on the part of secularists of equal and greater vigor to ensure we do not become complacent and uncaring about the importance of science and reason, lest it become hijacked by those concerned less with the truth of the natural world, but rather by Bronze Age myths.

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Comments (6)

  • avatar

    Arnold D.

    i like reading your blog BUT PLEASE please please install a spell checker or run your copy through one before you publish. bad spelling (of which i too am guilty) cheapens your arguments and makes all of us look bad!

  • avatar

    Jacob Fortin

    I think you mean “run your copy through ONCE” but I get your point. In any case, errors are sometimes made, for which I appologize.

  • avatar

    Dane

    Its nice to have assurance that i’m not crazy for believing that somewhere along the way the microwave mentality of america has trickled its way into the very essence of what makes us human: Our ability to question and always seek the answers. Instead our culture has settled into a lathargic mass of physical lard and mental laziness. its too hard to wrap their minds around the vastness of science so they’d rather unwrap another burger and proclaim thats what god wills.

  • avatar

    Joanna

    I’ve been thinking about this museum since I heard about it last week on Good Morning America and also read about it on the Internet in sites like this one and Slate.com. I wonder if the location, in Kentucky, is significant. I’m also curious about the membership campaign to raise money for such a museum. Where did the funds come from? Who is on the board of directors? The Bible Belt remains a force to be reckoned with, I guess, but that’s a lot of money to build such a museum these days. Consevative Christians doing their part to promote “family values” with their pocketbooks??

    I lived in the South during my childhood and I remember a miniature golf course that featured fairy tale characters…it went out of business….but that is what this Creation Museum is promoting…fairy tales. I can’t imagine it luring in enough tourists to spend money there…family friendly or not!! And certainly not organized around scientifically based evidence! They really need to dance around the term “science” don’t they? Isn’t this more of a “theme park”? Is it being taken seriously??

    Who is backing such an odd venture? This guy from the “Young Earth” movement? I’m very curious about this offshoot of religious “theology” in our culture and institutions. I’ll have to do some digging around about the man, Ken Ham, (what a name)…he was on a quick interview on GMA and he looked like a slick salesman! And I’m concerned about the power this “movement” seems to have to redefine Darwin’s ideas and dismiss his revolutionary theories and dismantle his brilliant efforts.

    I remember back when Rev. Falwell made the news by threatening a school board with “God’s wrath” when they dared to question creationism in a science class…or was it Pat Robertson? But anyway, whoever it was, there was an effort to put little stickers(ie: Warning Labels) on Biology textbooks in the South that warn about Evolution…is that still going on? I live in the Midwest so I was curious about other parts of the country and how Evolution is taught in classrooms (or avoided, diluted, etc). Do school board members still have the power to affect how science is taught in public schools? Home schooling may be producing recruits for the “cause” but public schools??? There is an old play I remember called “Inherit the Wind” that had a school teacher put in jail for being subversive enough to mention the Evolution/Creationist Debate. Based on the Scopes (Sp?) court trial that actually took place…this issue needs to be re-visited. History sure seems to repeat itself these days.

    The way I look at it, there is natural history and there is “supernatural mumbo jumbo”…and the two should not meet as some sort of blended, watered down excuse for “science”…which this Creation Museum seems to promote. The “entertainment value” of the Bible goes without saying…but is this what fundamentalist Christians want? To create the spectacle of miracles and “faith-healing” for financial gain and as genuine science? To thump the Bible over peoples’ ignorant heads?? They are making themselves huge targets of ridicule, nationally and internationally. Or is this part of their historical plan to be “persecuted” for their beliefs? The ever present “persecution complex” lives on in some faith communities..

  • avatar

    Lewis

    I say kill ‘em all and let god sort them out.

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