Monday, November 18, 2013

The Creationism Museum

A couple of weeks ago I was driving home from my grandparents' house and I missed an exit. One exit north of where I usually turn onto the 52 West, I saw a Tyrannosaurus Rex on the side of the road. Your curiosity would be piqued too, right?

It turns out that the dinosaur belongs to the Creation & Earth History Museum, a museum that presents an Biblical Literalist interpretation of science. I obviously had to go.

I returned a week later with my friend Christine to explore. Although we both disagree with most of the precepts of this strain of creationism, we went in respectfully with open minds. The museum is fascinating. A few of my favorites exhibits:

Things that science doesn't understand.

God designed giraffes so that only lions can kill them, and even then only when they are lying down.

Weren't dinosaurs too big to go on the ark?

No! And for the big ones Noah just took baby dinosaurs!

The number of animals that needed to fit on the ark
"Some stories of 'creation' are crude in the extreme, as with one of the Egyptian myths centering around Ptah. As we examine these records they are totally unacceptable to intelligent, thinking people. On the other hand the simple yet majestic record of the Bible is totally believable, to one who accepts the concept of God."

Overall, I believe that the museum is an enjoyable experience for people, no matter their beliefs. However, my biggest complaint was the amateurness of how the exhibits were presented. Each placard and legend desperately attacked evolution and the parts of mainstream science (like carbon dating) that don't agree with a literalist interpretation of the Bible, but without much logic. Using words like "obviously" and "absurdities" ignore that there is a real discussion going on about these topics and probably don't help to prepare believers for a reasonable debate. Even if you were to take every word of the Bible as scientific fact, so much about the exhibits was, well, unscientific.

"There are similarities to the Biblical Flood record but, as with Creation, there are much greater dissimilarities. The Bible record is superior and is historically acceptable. The Epic of Gilgamesh... is all very different from the majestic and totally acceptable record in Genesis. There is no superstition, no magic or grotesque absurdities in the Biblical record. It is straightforward factual history."

A book in the gift shop that tackles Christian education in the US warned that although a large majority of Christians believed in a literal interpretation of the Bible, a much smaller percentage believed that the world was only a couple of thousand years old (as argued by the museum), even though the first belief should logically lead to the second. This logical paradox neatly wrapped up my feelings on the museum: I respect everyone's right to their beliefs, and I'm more than happy to discuss and learn from others, but circular logic and ignoring others' arguments don't help anyone learn anything.

On a lighter note, I just went to a Creationism museum!