My tour through the Museum of Creationism and Earth History
|By Alex Zaragoza|
Are you there, God? It's me, logic
I've never had a problem with the theory of evolution—not because I'm of a strict scientific mind or a staunch atheist or I think people do kind of look like primates. I believe in evolution because it makes sense—at least more sense than simply pointing all around you and saying, "Oh, this right here was God. God made all of this." It's fascinating and frustrating to me how anyone can say that human existence and all of planet Earth was absolutely designed by a single supreme being. How can they be so sure? I visited the Museum of Creation and Earth History to find out.
Located in Santee, the museum teaches the Biblical history of Earth and aims to prove the validity of creationism through scientific evidence. It was started by Tim Cantor, CEO of Scantibodies Laboratory Inc., a biotech company that produces diagnostic kits and plasma, among other medical equipment. Cantor also hosts a Christian radio show called Friendship with God and started the Light and Life Foundation. He makes it his business to save those he believes are lost and "on the road to an eternal disaster" (according to the Friendship website) through the power of Christ. He feels that those most in danger are the Jews. Yikes. This guy is a hardcore, Old Testament Christian, which made me worry that the museum would be room after room of bloody baby-doll fetuses and threats of eternal damnation for all hairy-legged feminists.
Outside, you're greeted by a giant T-Rex statue, gaping mouth caught mid-roar. Walking through the doors, I found that they were already prepared for me and anyone else questioning Creationist beliefs. Above the reception desk hung plaques with two biblical quotes. The first read, "In the beginning, God created the heaven and Earth (Genesis 1:1)." OK, God made everything. Got it. But how is that possible? "Is anything too hard for the Lord? (Genesis 18:14)." Bam! Shutting down all the hat- ers with a "boom" louder than the Big Bang. God is their LeBron James. He's got this.
The sweet blonde at reception suggested that I start with the Earth History exhibit, which goes through the history of the planet according to the Bible. She assured that this would "make more sense." It starts with a big question mark that echoes the quandaries of all of God's confused souls in big, white Helvetica: Where do I come from? What happens after I die? What is the meaning of life? Apparently those questions would all be answered.
I entered a dark room filled with twinkle lights on the ceiling, meant to look like outer space. This gallery laid out how God created Earth from day one to seven. One placard pointed out "fallacies in the Big Bang Theory," saying, for example, that there's no source found that could be responsible for the energy needed for the primeval explosion. Another placard assured that God exists because no one has ever proven otherwise. Guilty until proven nonexistent, so to speak.
The next room celebrated the Garden of Eden with a small mural of Adam and Eve romantically holding hands and surrounded by animals. A video playing on a small flat-screen pointed out animals that defy evolution. Apparently, the fact that giraffes can have blood pump all the way up their necks and still drink water with their heads upside down is not the result of adaptation. It's an act of God. How? It's never made quite clear. That seemed to be a recurring theme as I continued from room to room. Museum curator Jason Payne later summed it up by saying that the world, the human body, animals, etc., are so amazing and miraculous that they had to be made by God. This is the message of the museum.
Suffice to say, I wasn't convinced of creationism. "We get a lot of skeptics," Payne said. "We welcome them. A lot of people laugh and scoff, but at the end of the day, they take in something. We hope they go home and think about it. But if they don't have the mindset that the Bible is true, they're not going to trust it. I believe every bit of it is true."
So, basically, this museum is meant for those who already buy into the idea. That makes sense in a way. There weren't any diabetics touring Willy Wonka's chocolate factory as far as I can remember. Augustus Gloop didn't fall into a chocolate river because he merely tolerated sweets.
The take-home message wasn't really beat into my head as much as I thought it was going to be. Only one room, designed to look like a peaceful living room, had a TV playing a video of Tim Cantor urging people to accept the Lord. But there were some sections that were controversial. I asked Payne why the section on the human body omitted the act of sex. It describes how sperm fertilizes an egg and shows a baby growing in the womb, but not how that all went down. This seemed to make Payne nervous. He asked why it mattered. I assured him it wasn't a trap and said that I imagined it's because children come here. He went with that explanation, as well. Then I asked him why there's a section that says evolution is to blame for racism.
He loosened up for battle, saying that Adolf Hitler read Charles Darwin's The Origin of Species and used it to argue that certain humans have a greater value than others. This led to a discussion on what Payne called the new Holocaust— abortion. We exchanged our views, me being vehemently pro-choice and he not, obviously. Strangely enough, it never escalated to me burning my bra in feminine rage or him screaming that I'd burn in hell with the gays. I walked away not at all convinced but at least glad to see we both evolved past those sort of antics.
Write to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also bug her on Twitter.