When my girlfriend told me that the Baptist church down the street was holding a dinosaur fair at its summer camp, I didn’t expect anything unusual. I assumed the kids might watch Jurassic Park, or learn about the teeth of T-Rex, or excavate some fake fossils. Alas, I was wrong. The poor campers were being brainwashed:
The church is sponsoring the “Great Dinosaur Expedition,” a five-day series of games, skits and Bible lessons for kids. During the kids’ evening sessions, adults attend presentations of their own, from “Dinosaurs and the Bible” to “The Early Earth: Eden or Ape Men?”
Leading the talks is Dave Woetzel, a Concord businessman who wants to “attract people to the evidence that dinosaurs and men have always coexisted,” he told the Monitor last year. Woetzel’s pro-creationism website (genesispark.org) “questions the evolutionary illusions surrounding the dinosaurs and approaches the subject of origins with a literal adherence to the scriptures.”
Woetzel is “refuting the premise, the theory, that these (dinosaurs) occurred millions and millions of years ago,” said Ron Campbell, the church’s pastor. “It’s certainly something we would ascribe to. It’s the biblical view of creation.”
Church officials “haven’t necessarily taken a lead role” in promoting the teaching of creationism in public schools. But they agree with the position, Campbell said.
The talks and games have generated quite a following. On Sunday, the program’s first night, the crowd was 770-strong, Campbell said. Tonight, the day of the volcano’s eruption (about 7 p.m., if you’re hunting lava), Campbell expects another large audience.
Woetzel’s search for modern-day dinosaurs has taken him far.
In 2001, he traveled to Cameroon in search of a beast called li’kela-bembe. He didn’t spot the creature, but his efforts spurred the British Broadcasting Corp. to send a crew to the area, according to news reports. Last year, Woetzel scoured volcanic peaks and mountains for a glimpse of a pterosaur, a flying reptile closely related to dinosaurs. The pterosaur didn’t make an appearance, but Woetzel spoke with Umboi Island natives, who described a creature resembling the reptile, he told the Monitor.
As church membership has grown at Trinity, so has property. In the mid-1990s, the church bought a large parcel – which includes the barn and two farmhouses – from the Tilton family. In 1999, the church expanded its education wing. On any given Sunday, 1,000 individuals come to worship, Campbell said, making the church “one of the biggest in New England.”
What a fool. It’s not as if creationism doesn’t have enough epistemological problems – now they have to go and look for dinosaurs.