Sunday, May 15, 2016

A Visit To The Creation Museum

A Visit To The Creation Museum
by Rob Cottignies

                 Should you ever be lucky enough to find yourself in the gloriously exotic land of northern Kentucky, take a wander over to the Creation Museum in Petersburg. Run by the Answers In Genesis Ministry, this place lets you see almost first-hand how every single thing in the Bible's first book truly and actually happened for real. Seriously.
            Ken Ham is the president of AiG, a group of Young Earth Christian Creationist Apologetics (I had to look it up too). He founded the Creation Museum because "AiG's main thrust is on Biblical authority. Believing in a relatively young Earth is a consequence of accepting the word of God as an infallible revelation from our Creator."
            Now, as a museum, this place is very well-done. It's big, clean, and thorough. Its plot of land is large and there are models and statues of dinosaurs everywhere. This place loves dinosaurs. A large part of the museum's focus is showing how often dinosaurs are vaguely-but-not-really mentioned in the Bible.
            You can probably tell by now that I am a skeptic but I did go into this visit with an open mind. It interests me how others see the world. I looked at it as a cultural experience in unfamiliar territory. But I could only suppress myself for so long.

            Before entering, make sure you really want to see the museum because the entrance fee is $30. This may seem steep to some of you, but I'm sure most of the profit goes to local charities and other important causes because a church would never try to make as much money as possible for ultimately no reason at all. Included with admission are a self-guided walk-through of the museum, two short films, some presentations throughout the day, and access to the petting zoo and botanical garden. Oh yeah, there's a petting zoo and botanical garden for some reason. Not included with admission but for nominal fees, you can enjoy short films at the planetarium, the other presentations throughout the day, camel rides at the petting zoo, an 'insectorium', mining for gemstones, zip-lining, a free-fall ride, grub at Noah's Café, goodies at the extensive multi-level gift shop, and/or a souvenir picture taken as you enter (which was not offered to me).
            Upon entry, I was treated to two immediate gifts of juicy goodness. While paying my entrance fee, the man next to me was asked for his zip code. Apparently from Minnesota, he said, "5-6……..6……..6-2." 56662. The zip code of the beast. The way he caught himself was excellent. I hoped security would escort this obvious demon out of the facility but no such luck.
            My second spat of good fortune came when the cashier told me a presentation was beginning in five minutes. I looked at my handy brochure to see that it was called Dinosaurs And The Bible. I wasn't about to miss that. Hosted by 'former public school teacher' Bryan Osborne, this hour-long production taught all about two dino-topics: 1) That dinosaurs lived peacefully with early humans, and 2) That dinosaurs did not evolve into birds or anything else because Evolution is evil and must be destroyed. Within itself, his argument was flawless. The ideas flowed together nicely and his PowerPoint images were spot-on. The main message of his presentation and the Creation Museum in general was to just accept what the Bible says. Don't question or assume anything. If you do, you'll look as dumb as this guy- 'A farmer was on the side of the road when he saw a cow giving birth. While watching, a city guy stopped and watched with him. The calf was halfway out. The city guy asked the farmer how fast the calf must have been running to get stuck in the cow like that.' See, the city guy was foolish because he assumed something that clearly lots of people would think when seeing a calf half-in a cow- that it had run in there. Also, this guy called anyone who's ever seen Jurassic Park a heathen. So we're all doomed.
            Bryan's argument reminded me of a Critical Thinking class I took in college. The professor said, 'All composers have two heads. Beethoven was a composer. Therefore, Beethoven had two heads.' The idea works within itself but not out in the big scary real world where people breathe and make sense and eat tacos.
            Littered with auditory gems, this presentation had me skipping down the hallway craving more. The first thing to be seen was a sign displaying The 7 C's In God's Eternal Plan- Creation, Corruption, Catastrophe, Confusion, Christ, Cross, Consummation. The first four were elaborately shown and described during the walk-through while the last three were detailed in a 17-minute video at the end of the journey. I guess space and/or money ran out. It would seem Ken Ham was not as good of a planner as God. But maybe that's the point.

            My adventure began with two mannequin archaeologists arguing over the age of an uncovered fossil. One said millions of years while the other argued just thousands, dating the dinosaur (I told you this place loves dinosaurs) back to the time of the Great Flood. A looped video played next to this diorama which showed an actor portraying the first guy recanting his initial idea and accepting the finding of the actor playing the other guy.
            A series of signs pitting Creationism against Science eventually led to a horrifying display of our current world in ruins. Through pictures, videos, and loud noises, I saw that sin is everywhere. Graffiti covered the walls, pictures showed mostly non-white people holding guns, and all sorts of abortions were happening. Gays were getting married and people in terminal pain were allowed to end their lives with dignity. Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together. Mass hysteria!!! The mannequin of a teen-aged boy even smoked a marijuana cigarette while playing video games and searching the internet for pornography. I can barely do one of those things at a time so this kid clearly must have sold his soul for the magical evil power.
            The corridor of despair ended with a walk through the Time Tunnel. This small hallway was completely dark except for some faint lights in the ceiling which I guess were supposed to represent stars. The only point of this I could surmise was that it's best not to ask questions in this place.
            The Garden Of Eden diorama was quite vast. There were several depictions of Adam and Eve doing everyday tasks like picking berries and hanging out with dinosaurs and other animals. Everything was peaceful in an awkwardly perfect way. It reminded me of Toon Town. The dinosaurs were mostly raptor-like, which was odd because this place condemned Jurassic Park, in which raptors pretty much stole the show. Other animals included giraffes, bears, and penguins. Just as it is now, climate change was imaginary in the Garden Of Eden, so all of these animals could live together in one ecosystem. It's been said that God created just one "kind" of each animal and "quick evolution" led to varieties such as domesticated dogs, wolves, coyotes, and hyenas. What was strange about the diorama was that I easily recognized the animals as they look in their current forms, with the exception of the wooly mammoth whose current form is less-wooly and more-skeletal. Again, some questions need not be raised.

            To be honest, I am not very well-versed in the Bible. I did not know that the Garden Of Eden was intended to be a perfect eternal Paradise. There was no death, no disease, no gay marriage, and all living things were vegetarians because plants are not living things. This was all shattered when a talking reptile convinced Adam and Eve to eat fruit from the one forbidden tree in the entire garden. Because they did this, we now have all the horrible things I listed earlier. Plus apparently this is why women get painful periods because the whole thing was Eve's fault. That was not stated in the museum (I've read it elsewhere) but it was explained as the reason why childbirth is so excruciating. Their act was the original sin that caused everything to be irreparably horrible forever.
            At this point, my skepticism went into overdrive. The first C taught me that God created Adam in his image without any base tools but then needed a human rib to make Eve. Was it just God's physical image but he left the mental part up to chance? If they were so susceptible to temptation, wouldn't that be because God made them that way? Also, if the serpent was some incarnate of the Devil, wasn't God also responsible for that trickery? From what I'd seen, God created everything. I would greatly enjoy this discussion in another medium.

            The exhibit about Noah and the Great Flood was the most in-depth. It even featured an animatronic Noah who answered all of my questions that the museum had already set in place for me. There was also a really-real-life-sized part of the Ark and a piece stating that Noah and his small family could certainly have built the multi-level city-sized Ark by themselves, though they were wealthy so they may have convinced others to help them. I guess that version of Noah was kind of a dick. 'Hey, there's gonna be a huge flood that will eliminate all life except for what I bring on a huge boat. I have the plans. Don't ask where they came from. If you help us build it, I won't so much let you on the ship but I'll give you a bunch of money which you won't be able to spend because you'll be working and then it'll be worth nothing because the planet will be covered in water. So yeah, want to help?' Trickery and bribery seem sinful to me, but I'd accept this idea over Darren Aronofsky's rock monsters.
            For those of you thirsty for as much Noah as possible, The Ark Encounter will be completed this year in nearby Williamstown. The building will be a full replica of the Ark as Noah built it, complete with cubits and everything. I wonder what will become of Noah's section in the Creation Museum. I'm sure there will be a discounted price on admission to both places, with no lack of self-promotion at either.

            If my words were not descriptive enough for you, here is a string of images from the Creation Museum. I realize I did not take nearly enough pictures but you can see more for yourself if you visit…

            What troubled me most about the Creation Museum wasn't its message or beliefs but how it contrasted specifically against Science at every opportunity. I feel that other similar museums about a culture's history would simply present their beliefs without contrast. 'Our ancestors believed the Sun was a god and all animals were born from trees.' Great! No argument. Done. But Answers In Genesis has made such effort to discredit Evolutionary thought that at the end I thought they were really grasping at straws out of insecurity. I don't have a problem with anyone's belief system but to present those beliefs as facts while debasing another method just seems wrong.
            And why only attack Science? The Norse believe a massive collision of fire and ice created the world. Hindus believe their three gods have always created, maintained, and destroyed the Universe in repetitive cycles. The Hopi believe one Creator made nine Universes and a Spider Woman created all life with her saliva. I assume AiG would have problems with all of these beliefs but they were not explicitly attacked in the Creation Museum. One could argue that these belief systems are not commonly taught in American schools (which is a shame) but Evolution is.
            The critical truth is that nobody knows how something came from nothing. I've stopped trying to figure it out but I enjoy learning about what different groups of people think happened. Believe what you want but don't try to force it on others. If you do, as people have been doing for a very long time, it can only lead to the ultimate C…

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