My hope was that the trip would serve to help him to better understand Creationist arguments, and why it is that science contradicts these beliefs. We live in a fairly religious area (there are three churches within a 1-block radius of our home) and several of his friends are Creationists.
I was a little nervous about what we would find when we got there. My concern was mostly due to the fact that I tend to conflate Creationists with gun nuts. I was a little worried some protester would be there with his holy arsenal from the Book of Armaments. Fortunately, there were only a few slightly tense looking armed guards with dogs.
On standby for (cheap!) tickets we met up with a couple comprised of an evolutionary biologist and a physicist, so as we went through the "museum" for virtually every question we could come up with, one of the two had an answer. For basically all of the "arguments" that we saw, a critical mind and a 4th grade education were about all that were required. However, our own natural curiosity did lead to some interesting questions, and we learned a bit about meteors, why certain inherited traits are not necessarily advantageous, and a little bit about spliceosomes, introns, and extrons - it was really cool. They were great company.
We saw lots of cool T-Shirts in the crowd - one of my faves read something like, "If it weren't for Carbon-14, I wouldn't date at all".
Here are a few others that I liked. You can't really go wrong with Charles. Ok, maybe on a few minor points, but the man has got some serious credentials.
Below is the poor kid who got kicked out, apparently for saying that he didn't want to give the museum any more of his money for food, which was reported to have "ruined" someone's lame-ass vacation. We brought a backpack with snacks (because god apparently created us in his image while he was suffering from blood sugar issues) and water as we did not want to spend one more dime than necessary .
This one was very creative:
The place as a whole is fairly impressive in it is scale. Entering the museum you are immediately presented with prehistoric animals. Not just fossils, but also cool animatronic dinosaurs!
It really does grab your attention. What 5-10 year old kid (or 42 year old nerd), wouldn't be entranced by the site of these creatures? Especially when they are moving and... chewing their cud???
As we gazed at the first animatronic display my son said, "Dad, check it out - those dinosaurs don't have anything but molars!". I had completely missed this, in this case probably due to my own bias.
I have been wondering who that little girl is, because this is obviously "before the fall", based on the fact that those carnivorous looking reptiles don't appear to be interested in the large source of protein right next to them. Maybe Adam was a pedophile before the fall? Makes as much sense to me as Cain marrying his sister, but of course I'm a heathen.
Before jumping to conclusions??? WTF?!?! Like I am supposed to go, "Oh, well since you put it that way, now it all makes sense..."
A lot of what they are trying to do throughout the exhibits is to juxtapose "Man's reason" vs "God's Word":
You can't see it, but there are some really good books on the left. Here is the quote at the bottom, which IMHO, demonstrates what the entire "museum" is about:
Basically stating that reason is OK, until it contradicts this Bronze Age text, at which point you should just abandon your faculties. Lovely. Lobotomy anyone?
I seem to recall a quote (Jefferson? Russell? Paine? ) that basically said - in a much more eloquent way, "If god gave me this intellect, then why would he not want me to use it?".
Dinosaur fossils don't come with tags on them? Really? I don't even know what to say about this one. I did however recently finish reading "Nature's Clocks: How Scientists Measure the Age of Almost Everything", and I gotta say, there doesn't seem to be much debate at this point. As an aside, I thought it was an excellent read for the layman (myself) describing the many various dating techniques.
I love the title - "The Creation Orchard". We are just the perfect species aren't we?
Me neither. That's because it would be a gross violation of separation of Church and State, and it isn't freakin' science!
From my perspective, the condensed layout of the museum is:
1. Garden of Eden - All is well, everyone is a vegetarian, life is great... but no sex for anyone. This is apparently the perfectly designed world.
2. The Fall - Talking snake screws us all over. Now we have carnivores, venom, pestilence, disease, pain, TV evangelists, Ted Haggart...
3. And finally, just plain batshit insane (or "How the Flood Explains Everything!").
Keep in mind, this place really exists. Real children, with very malleable brains, are reading this crap, and worst of all - their parents are reinforcing it. All dinosaurs were vegetarians...
Perhaps they were Hindus.
Note that Adam, with his flowing mane and full beard, has absolutely no body hair. None. I don't think there was even any on his arms. I guess if he had a single chest hair it might have raised questions about his possible Simian ancestry, and we obviously wouldn't want that...
It was at this point that my son's poor prepubescent brain began to melt.
"Look at the size of that boat - eight people built that? But they lived in a desert, right? Where did they get all that wood? How much rainfall would it take to cover the entire earth?** What the heck?? I don't care how big it looks, there is no way they got two of every animal on that thing - think about it! And god killed everyone? Including infants? Innocent animals? Baby gorillas?!?"
Despite his calm demeanor, I could tell that every fiber of his being was screaming, "WTF?!?" (he is not allowed to say that - at least not in front of his mother), and I couldn't blame him as the same thought was running through my mind.
**We looked this up online after the fact - someone has calculated 6" per minute, over the entire surface of the earth, non-stop, for 40 days. That is one major gulley washer.
It was at this point that we heard a little boy ask his dad, "Did they really have a vegetable garden on the Ark?". The gentlemen paused as he mentally rifled through the 30 or so bible passages he could remember, and then finally said, "Yeah... well, I guess they would have had to."
Can't argue with that logic. Note that in the display, the garden was placed on a lower deck. It was amazing how green the plants were without photosynthesis....
1. I was quite impressed by how well both sides composed themselves. We got a few harsh glares, but for the most part, people were polite.
2. What my son and I both came away with was that the museum was not trying to promote any kind of science, not even scientific proof that there was a flood, etc. Anything that doesn't fit - the absurd lineage of Adam and Eve, the fossil record, the impossibility of the flood waters, the issues with photosynthesis - then well, "God did it". God can just make anything happen. Proof doesn't matter. Logic doesn't matter. Just get the flock in so we can wash their brains.
3. The most heart-wrenching part of all of this, was watching innocent children being told that this crap was real. I don't think the museum is intended to sway even the dullest of adults. It is intended to entice (remember the animatronic dinos), warp, and ensnare the minds of the very young. Impressions like this can be nearly indelible. It frankly sickens me.
4. I don't know why I found this interesting, but I did. One thing I noticed about the museum attendees was the near complete lack of ethnic diversity - unless you consider a bunch of Mennonites being ethnically diverse. With the exception of the SSA group, it sorta reminded me of going to a NASCAR race. (Yes, I also took my son to a NASCAR race. The tickets were free, and it was merely for observation. We're now sorta like anthropologists specializing in the habits of homo gutter rutilus). Oh crap, there goes my elitist attitude again.
5. Finally, I think that Creationism, at least the 6-day version presented here, will be ridiculed out of existence within my lifetime. I think it is imperative that we make sure that the children of this generation realize how absurd this viewpoint is. Keep up the fight!
Whew, we're done....
On the way home, we stopped for a short hike at Brookville Reservoir, and with our recently ignited passion for understanding the real history of the earth, we found and discussed fossils, which we both agreed were probably slightly more than 6000 years old...
Thanks for reading my firstest ever real blogomopost. Comments appreciated.