This Memorial Day will be truly memorial for those who believe the universe is only 6,000 years old. The Creation Museum opens Monday in Petersburg, Ky. A creation of the creationists responsible for the Answers in Genesis “resource,” primarily Ken Ham, B.Sc., the designers of the new museum have managed to find $27 million to furnish their monument to Biblical literalism with the latest in multimedia and animatronic displays. Just think what those 27 million clams could have done for, oh … I dunno … the pagan public school system?
According to media reports, the folks behind the museum, which is less than a day’s leisurely drive from Chicago, Detroit, Indianapolis and Cinncinati, hope to attract 250,000 people by appealing to their innate sense of authority. Only 250,000? Excellent. I was worried they were actually hoping to change people’s minds instead of just preaching to the choir.
[Update: Canadian creationists aren’t being left behind: From the Edmonton Journal, May 24: Canada’s first creationist museum will open June 5 in Big Valley as “a scientific and biblically based alternative to the evolutionary view of Earth history” put forward by the Royal Tyrrell Museum 60 kilometres to the south, said Harry Nibourg, founder of the Big Valley Creation Science Museum.]
The New York Times has already taken a stroll through the ersatz jungles of 4,400 years ago, and toured the recreation of Noah’s Ark. Reporter Edward Rothstein’ polite review notes that the Creation Museum “stands the natural history museum on its head.” Skeptic Magazine‘s Stephen T. Asma calls it a “rebuttal museum” and his take is much more fun than Rothstein’s. Especially the discussion of how Noah fit all those critters aboard the little old ark:
I learned that Ham’s new exhibit diorama would show visitors how the dinosaurs lived on the ark (something Wilkins couldn’t have predicted), it seemed reasonable to ask how many sheep they’d be digging into.
“Well, that’s an interesting question,” Ham replied nonplussed. “We don’t know for sure, but from a biblical perspective we know that all animals were originally herbivores.” (Carnivore activity only happens as a result of the Fall — animals did not experience death before Adam’s sin.) “So it is possible that carnivores ate plants and grains while they lived on the ark. Even today we know that grizzly bears eat grass and vegetation primarily, so it’s not true that an animal with sharp teeth and claws must eat meat or must be a carnivore. At the very least, the carnivores could survive on vegetation for a significant time span.”
It’s worth noting that while Ham and others are trying to make the animal kingdom smaller so it will fit into the boat, earlier exegetes entertained the idea of making the ark much bigger in order to accomplish the same goal. Augustine, for example, argued that the biblical “cubit” was really more like 9 feet long, rather than the 1.5 feet that we usually accept. But John Wilkins put the brakes on that when he applied this new cubit to other biblical passages, pointing out that if Augustine and others were correct, it would also make Goliath’s head nine feet tall, simply too big for David to carry.
Well, at least, Ham isn’t troubled by that old adage about consistency and foolish minds.
Actually, now that I think about it, maybe it would be a swell way to spend an afternoon. As Asma muses:
Those of us who take a guilty pleasure in quackery of all kinds will be wont to keep this Creationist oddity on board the ark of museology, despite it’s illegitimacy. As long as we know what it’s about, we can enjoy its aesthetic and even its peculiar logic. Said Looy: “An independent marketing group out of Indiana says that a ‘sizable minority’ of visitors to the museum will be skeptics, atheists, and non-Christians. Our museum is going to be even more evangelical than what we intended two or three years ago.” And this rhetorical melodrama will of course make the museum visits all that much more fun for me and my twisted ilk.
Maybe we could invent a drinking game — one swig (from a properly disguised can of beer) for each violation of the laws of physics. By the time we left the place, we’d be so in the bag, we’d have to be enjoying ourselves.