Friday, February 26, 2010

Kentucky Creationists

VANITY FAIR has a delightful article by A.A. Gill, "Roll Over, Charles Darwin!", which is his account of a visit to the Creation Museum, which he says, has been battling science and reason since 2007.

Just off a motorway, in a barren and uninspiring piece of scrub, the museum is impressively incongruous, a righteously modernist building resting in landscaped gardens filled with dinosaur topiaries. It cost $27 million and was completed in 2007. It answers the famous question about what God could have done if he had had money. This is it. Oddly, it is a conspicuously and emphatically secular construction. There is no religious symbolism. No crosses. No stained glass. No spiral campanile. It has borrowed the empirical vernacular of the enemy to wrap the literal interpretation of Genesis in the fa├žade of a liberal art gallery or library. It is the Lamb dressed in wolf’s clothing.

The next things I noticed were the very illiberally accoutred security guards. They are absurdly over-armed, overdressed, and overweight. Perhaps the museum is concerned that armed radical atheists, maddened by the voices of reason in their confused heads, will storm in waving the periodic table, screaming, “I think, therefore I am!”

The Creation Museum isn’t really a museum at all. It’s an argument. It’s not even an argument. It’s the ammunition for an argument. It is the Word made into bullets. An armory of righteous revisionism. This whole building is devoted to the literal veracity of the first 11 chapters of Genesis: God created the world in six days, and the whole thing is no more than 6,000 years old. Everything came at once, so Tyrannosaurus rex and Noah shared a cabin. That’s an awful lot of explaining to do. This place doesn’t just take on evolution—it squares off with geology, anthropology, paleontology, history, chemistry, astronomy, zoology, biology, and good taste. It directly and boldly contradicts most -onomies and all -ologies, including most theology.

We start with the creation of the world, and of light. And there you are, immediately—Houston, we have a problem: you get light three days before you get the sun. But that’s fine—we’ve got an answer: the sun is, in fact, what God made to keep the light in. It was an afterthought, a receptacle born out of necessity.

Serendipitously, MORE INTELLIGENT LIFE, which is a fine site that is part of the Economist web enterprise, also has an article by Natasha Lennard about the institution, "Of Myths and Museums"

Inside the building’s 40-foot-high glass walls visitors are treated to a whistle-stop tour of Biblical history, arranged in a way that would not seem out of place in Disneyland. A darkened tunnel leads to a vast and verdant Garden of Eden, filled with exotic plastic flowers, peaceful creatures and pools of gentle water. A comely Adam discovers a comely Eve, whose modesty is preserved by her long, dark, synthetic mane. The garden also includes a wealth of prehistoric animals, such as a Tyrannosaurus rex, which we are told was tame and herbivorous before Adam and Eve snacked on that dastardly apple.

Dinosaurs had to have coexisted with humans, we learn, because there were no carnivores before man’s fall, and fossils show that some dinosaurs preyed on others. Therefore, the Creation Museum concludes, dinosaurs must have existed after the fall. But aren’t dinosaur-related fossils millions of years old? AiG and the museum have a handy explanation: such fossils only seem old because “organic materials are relentlessly attacked by bacteria,” so they decompose quickly. “Without the millions–of–years bias,” explains Andrew A. Snelling, the director of research at AiG in a paper published in Creation magazine, “these fossils would readily be recognized as victims of a comparatively recent event, for example, the global devastation of Noah’s Flood only about 4,500 years ago.”

If you can believe in a veggie T-Rex, you can swallow just about anything.

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