Popular cartoons and movies may say humans and dinosaurs lived at the same time, but the idea is just plain wrong. The dinos were dead long before our hominid ancestors evolved. The fossil record leaves little room for argument.
The Bible says nothing about dinosaurs. To reconcile Scripture with the fossil evidence, creationists have to perform some fantastic mental and logical gymnastics to explain how Genesis somehow omits mention of such obviously big creatures.
On Memorial Day, believers in these convoluted arguments will celebrate the opening of the Creation Museum in Boone County, near Covington, Ky. The Museum, a project of Ken Ham’s Answers in Genesis, was built with $27 million in donations, so there are either a lot of very gullible donors or just a few very rich, gullible donors.
Excuse me, I mean faithful donors.
To counteract this monument to misguided generosity, a group calling itself Rally for Reason will hold a peaceful protest outside the museum’s gate beginning at 9 am that Monday. Although an atheist organization has spearheaded the rally, churchgoers will be there, too. If any of you out there will be in the area that day, I hope you will join in the protest.
It’s a free country and creationists can believe whatever they like, even if it’s just plain wrong. The danger in this museum is that it gives the uninitiated the impression that creationism is somehow “science.” Creationism is religious thought, and the museum is really just a church in disguise. [If you doubt the Sunday-school nature of the Museum, check out this walk-through
from the AiG site. I’m seeing more religion there than science.]
Face it. Most folks in Kentucky, teachers included I’m sad to say, are not good at critical thinking. Call a building a museum and they will assume that anything inside must be correct. After all, lots of museums have skeletons of T. rex and no argues whether T. rex existed. Right?
There’s one major difference between most natural history museums and the Creation Museum, which I will wager a lot of non-savvy teachers, vacation Bible schools and church youth group leaders organizing field trips will gloss over. Natural history museums base their displays and exhibits on almost two centuries’ worth of scientific investigation — evidence accepted by the majority of the world’s scientists and even many churches.
The Creation Museum, conversely, bases its displays on the belief that God created the universe in just a week, taking time off to rest on the last day. Constrained by their literal interpretation of Genesis, they bend (or more politely, reinterpret) the scientific evidence to support the concept that Creation occurred just 6,000 years ago. [Biblical scholars count the generations — all those “begats” — to arrive at a creation year of about 4004 BCE.] With so short an available time, the CM puts the dinosaurs and ancient humans alongside each other in terrestrial history. Noah’s Flood washed most of the dinosaurs off the face of the earth, leaving just the survivors on the Ark.
It’s a subtle ploy on the part of AiG to slip religion into the secular venue. Despite many challenges, the courts have upheld the idea that the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause prevents public school teachers from legally teaching creationism (though I suspect there are some in Kentucky who do it successfully, with no legal challenges). The courts recognize that creationism — and its kissing cousin, Intelligent Design — are really religious ideas, not scientific theories.
Now, such frustrated teachers have a convenient “museum” for their science classes to visit. The AiG has made it possible for creationist- and ID-believing teachers to take their students on a “science” field trip. You know AiG will be sending out mailers to schools in time for fall classes, if the AiG hasn’t done so already.
We have just recently begun the 21st century. At a time when science education is slowly gaining momentum after years of neglect, the opening of the Creation Museum is a giant step backward into pre-Darwinian, 19th century science. That most of its visitors will never once question the validity of the beliefs on which creationism is based is a leap back into the Dark Ages.
Show up on the 28th and encourage museum-goers to join the rest of us in the modern era.