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.