If you want to see what folks are saying about the new $27 million Creation Museum in Kentucky, you could do a lot better than checking out the comments section of the museum's website.
The site acknowledges a single critic, a 'raving' Cincinnati journalist who allegedly compared the museum's operators with Holocaust deniers in a phone call to a lawyer friend of the museum. By ignoring reasoned criticism of the museum's superstition-based junk science and focusing on this one off-key slam, the museum's operators attempt to portray themselves as benign, misunderstood victims of unrighteous haters.
Aside from the meanie in Cincinnati, the website reports nothing but admirers:
'Finally we have a place to take our children that we don't have to worry about the message they are hearing,' writes 'P.F.' from Ohio.
'[The museum's] going to be a great complement to what we have at Big Bone Lick State Park,' enthuses the head of Kentucky's tourism board.
(No. Seriously. I wish I made it up.)
'Incredible,' says Tim Wildmon, gay-bashing leader of the American Family Association.
'Its 60,000 square feet of exhibits are often stunningly designed,' cheers the New York Times-a minor point lifted from an article that otherwise characterizes the museum as 'weird,' 'strange' and 'peculiar.' I guess lying by omission isn't the kind of lying God meant us to avoid when He burned the magic rules into the magic rocks with His magic finger.
You'll have to look elsewhere to find out what rational people think of this fairyland disguised as a museum:
The Economist ridicules the museum's dissing of nonbelievers: 'Those who trust human reason [and] think the Big Bang happened 14 billion years ago... having abandoned God, are quite likely to start browsing the Internet for pornography or commit genocide.'
Eugenie C. Scott, director of the National Center for Science Education, quoted in The Washington Post, bluntly tags the museum 'the creationist Disneyland.'
It's easy to get why the mainstream press is simultaneously horrified and amused by the Creation Museum. Dozens of awesome animatronic dinosaurs give kids a chance to marvel at 'dragons' without being exposed to the propaganda of science. The museum presents the universe as 6,000 years old, Tyrannosaurus Rex as a vegetarian living in Eden, and baby dinosaurs riding on Noah's ark, among other curiosities designed to conform to Bible mythology. How can you not chuckle at a saddled triceratops, while at the same time feel damn sorry for the brainwashed kid lifted onto it for a family photo?
It's also easy to get why critics argue that the museum is dangerous. After all, the Kentucky museum is only the latest and most extreme version of a worldwide trend among 'Young Earth Christians' to bolster their faith with fake science. There are a couple dozen other creation museums in the world dedicated to proving that the Bible is a literal, infallible account of actual events. And when recent polls show that nearly 40 percent of Americans agree with the type of views put forth in creation museums, it's hard not to worry.
I recently visited the second largest creation museum in the world (located in our own backyard, right next to the Santee Drive-in), and, frankly, it was pretty boring. Just tons of dry text in lighted wall panels, a few finches, an aquarium of guppies, some pictures of those who believe in God (good guys) and those who don't (bad guys). I asked a friendly employee if they had any plans to make the museum more fun in light of the buzz over the new Creation Museum in Kentucky and she said no. I was disappointed. Where are our dinosaurs?
Seems to me that rather than gripe about these museums and wish them away, we should call on them to expand. The Kentucky museum is on the right track, but let's push them to go even further-if creationist museums remain as dull as your average secular museum, the real danger is that they'll gain an air of mundane credibility.
Even Kentucky falls way short. They had 27 million bucks and couldn't get past Chapter One? Bringing Genesis to life is a start, but what about the rest of the Bible? Science doesn't stop at discussing evolution, and neither should pseudo-science. If these daydream believers want to persuade heathens to accept the Bible as absolutely true, they can't cherry-pick it the way they cherry-picked the New York Times article. If it's all true, then let's see all of it.
Let's see a talking, burning bush and a talking donkey like the one in the Book of Numbers; let's see a stick turn into a snake, the parting of the Red Sea, the sun standing still, zombies, giants, and God slaughtering everyone who pisses him off. Let's see a woman made from a man's rib. Let's see God wrestle with Jacob until Jacob's hip gets fractured. How about having an animatronic blasphemer that your kids can stone to death? They could sell handfuls of stones from a vending machine for a couple bucks. For that matter, throw in a woman who lost her virginity before she got married, a disobedient child and a wizard. We'd have to stone them. It's in the Bible! Let's see Jesus walking on water, cursing a fig tree, and driving demonic pigs into the sea. And while we're going there, let's have a rule that menstruating women aren't allowed in the museum, in keeping with Leviticus. OK, I guess maybe parts of these Bible-as-truth museums should be 'adults only,' like this one: 'If a woman grabs a man's privates during a fight, her hand is to be cut off' (Deuteronomy 25:11, 12), but most of it could be made G-rated, or at least PG.
Just imagine: the whole Bible coming to life in all its ridiculous glory. It would blow kids' minds beyond belief! And beyond belief is a pretty good starting place for getting real.
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