Retrospectacle: A Neuroscience Blog

The Flying Spaghetti Monster would not be pleased to learn that the world’s first (and I desperately hope, only) Creationist museum will soon open in a bustling part of backwood Kentucky. This $25 million Disney-fied, anamatronic monstrosity is dedicated to presenting the biblical creation story as factually accurate.

The Creation Museum – motto: “Prepare to Believe!” – will be the first institution in the world whose contents [editor's note: and ideas]…. are entirely fake.

This museum is the brainchild (and I use the word ‘brain’ loosely) of one Patrick Marsh, an ex-employee of Universal Studios whose eyes were opened–hallelujah!–when he was born again through Jesus. He believes that the bible is completely factually correct:

“The Bible is the only thing that gives you the full picture,” he says. “Other religions don’t have that, and, as for scientists, so much of what they believe is pretty fuzzy about life and its origins … oh, this is a great place to work, I will tell you that.”

As you meander through the museum, likely dumbstruck with disbelief, you will encounter mechanical models of dinosaurs whose real counterparts apparently co-existed with people. No matter that dinosaurs were never mentioned in the bible, likely god had more pressing matters to write about than his children getting torn limb from limb by T-Rexes. In addition, you can purchase books and models of dragons in the museum store–dragons being real animals similar to dinosaurs. In this building, the world is only 6,000 years old (as calculated by a 17th century bishop, and swallowed whole) and the Grand Canyon was created by Noah’s Flood. Speaking of the Flood, in the museum you’ll also find a large model of the Ark, as well as a soothing voice explaining how all those animals that usually eat each other were able to behave themselves for 40 days on a big boat that didn’t even have a midnight buffet.

And what about those pesky *humanoid* fossils? The ones that proponents of evolution claim are our ancestors. Well Mr. Marsh has an explanation for them as well:

“There are no such things. Humans are basically as you see them today. Those skeletons they’ve found, what’s the word? … they could have been deformed, diseased or something. I’ve seen people like that running round the streets of New York.”

Continue on, and you’ll see the Tree of Life and a life-like representation of God removing Adam’s rib to make Eve (with a warning for children!).

“Absolutely, because we are in there, being faithful to scripture.”

However, one thing you will NOT see is any nudity, despite Adam and Eve being described as naked in the bible.

With this commitment to authenticity, I find myself asking what they are doing about the fig leaf. Marsh considers this gravely and replies: “He is appropriately positioned, so he can be modest. There will be a lamb or something there next to him. We are very careful about that: some of our donors are scared to death about nudity.”

The other minds behind the Creationist museum? First there’s Dr Jason Lisle, who has a PhD in astrophysics from the University of Colorado at Boulder.

The museum’s planetarium is his pride and joy. Lisle writes the commentary. “Amazing! God has a name for each star,” it says, and: “The sun’s distance from earth did not happen by chance.” There is much more in this vein, but not what God thought he was doing when he made Pluto, or why.

The museum’s director is Ken Ham, a former science teacher (!!!!!) from Australia.

“You’d never find something like this in Australia,” he says. “If you want to get the message out, it has to be here.” On top of the shelves is an array of fluffy poodle toys, as well as cuddly dinosaurs. “Poodles are degenerate mutants of dogs. I say that in my lectures and people present them to me as gifts.” “We want to try to convince people using observational science,” he says. “It’s done very gently but forthrightly. We give both sides, which is more than the Science Museum in London does.” This is true in that the Creation museum does include an animatronic evolutionist archaeologist, sitting beside a creationist, at one point. But there’s no space for an animatronic Charles Darwin to fit alongside King David and his harp.

Ham is even a fan of Dawkins, and has “flipped through” his most recent book. His critique?

“The thing is, Dawkins does not have infinite knowledge or understanding himself. He’s got a position, too, it’s just a different one from ours. The Bible makes sense and is overwhelmingly confirmed by observable science. It does not confirm the belief in evolution.”

The museum, when it opens, is expecting 300,000 visitors a year.

“You’ve not seen anything yet,” [Ham] says with a smile.

It has already been suggested by a couple of my friends that when this place does open, we will have to take a road trip down to it. I am debating this. On the one hand, I’m sure a group of irreverent atheist hoodlums could kick up a lot of fun at this joint, but is it worth a lifetime of nightmares that Americans actually believe this stuff???

Comments

  1. #1 Rob Knop
    November 14, 2006

    My favorite quote from Jason Lisle in that article is :

    And how did he pass the exams? “I never lied, but if I was asked a question about the age of the universe, I answered from my knowledge of the topic, not my beliefs.”

    I other words… he knows his beliefs are wrong. And yet….

    It bothers me that this guy is out there representing astronomers. It also bothers me that he’s out there representing Christians. He’s an embarrassment to both.

    -Rob

  2. #2 John McKay
    November 14, 2006

    Sadly, this is nether the first nor the only creationist museum in the world. There are a half dozen of them in the US and a scattering in other countries. We’re the worst though.

    Till now, I think the biggest and slickest has been the Institute for Creation Science’s museum in Santee, CA. I remember seeing a film they put out in the seventies that was mostly a walk through the museum. The funniest part was the narrator explaining that creationists don’t believe the Grand Canyon was created all at once; it probably took months or even years to form. There are also single topic creationist museums at places like The Grand Canyon, Mt. St. Helens, and Mt. Ararat, Turkey. Guess what that last one is about?

    A lot of these museums are more along the lines of roadside attractions, like the Creation Evidence Museum in Glen Rose, TX whick was built to show off a famous set of bogus fossil “man tracks” on the Paluxy River. And then there was Hovind’s Dino Land, probably soon to be auctioned off for back taxes.

  3. #3 Robster
    November 14, 2006

    A road trip was mentioned over at Pharyngula, also. I’m planning on being there, regardless.

    A couple of gems…

    There are no such things. Humans are basically as you see them today. Those skeletons they’ve found, what’s the word? … they could have been deformed, diseased or something. I’ve seen people like that running round the streets of New York.

    Never mind that those deformed, diseased fossil skeletons are all older than modern humans, and no modern human skeletons are older than the deformed, diseased ones. Or that actual scientists can put together a ‘family tree’ with those skeletons. But nice job puting in a jab at NYC. I have yet to see a Homo erectus or Homo habilus on any of my visits to the city…

    “Poodles are degenerate mutants of dogs. I say that in my lectures and people present them to me as gifts.”

    Poodles are degenerate mutant dogs? (Mutations, from the YEC point of view always are deleterious, which is simply not true.) Poodles, while their traditional grooming is pretty goofy, but there aren’t many breeds that are smarter or friendlier. Mutant wolves, I could go with, but degenerate? Not when you compare the number of poodles to the number of wolves. Poodles, even as a breed or perhaps subspecies, are more successful than their lupine predecessors. Because poodles are more fit to occupy the niche as pet, they have flourished, while wolves have found themselves pushed out of many regions as apex predators by a squishy, blunt toothed, soft nailed hominid.

    The thing is, Dawkins does not have infinite knowledge or understanding himself.

    Neither does Ham. Dawkins does know more about science than Ham.

    With this commitment to authenticity, I find myself asking what they are doing about the fig leaf. Marsh considers this gravely and replies: “He is appropriately positioned, so he can be modest. There will be a lamb or something there next to him.”

    Adam was a sheep shagger!

  4. #4 Koray
    November 14, 2006

    This actually makes me want to visit this ‘museum’. It definitely does not look boring.

  5. #5 Sandra Porter
    November 14, 2006

    This is an interesting quote:

    “Poodles are degenerate mutants of dogs. I say that in my lectures and people present them to me as gifts.”

    I don’t mind poodles and I’m rather puzzled by the quote. How can you have a degenerate mutant, if not through evolution?

  6. #6 Curt Rozeboom
    November 14, 2006

    With this commitment to authenticity, I find myself asking what they are doing about the fig leaf. Marsh considers this gravely and replies: “He is appropriately positioned, so he can be modest. There will be a lamb or something there next to him.”

    Adam was a sheep shagger!< \i>

    Well, the only commandment that Adam had been given was not to eat from the tree that would make him knowledgable about right and wrong. God hadn’t forbidden beastiality. It also says that, before God created Eve, Adam was unable to find a suitable mate among the animals. I wonder if we can get pre-Fall beastiality to become an accepted church doctrine… If any of you do make a trip there, it might be an interesting point to raise. ;)

  7. #7 coturnix
    November 14, 2006

    I love my poodle! She is smarter than some of those people quoted above…

  8. #8 Rob Knop
    November 14, 2006

    Adam was unable to find a suitable mate among the animals.

    We really do need to find out how hard he tried.

    Did he give any of them more than one chance, for example?

    And where did he find time to do all of this within one day? Talk about stamina!

    -Rob

  9. #9 Roy
    November 14, 2006

    There are no such things. Humans are basically as you see them today. Those skeletons they’ve found, what’s the word? … they could have been deformed, diseased or something. I’ve seen people like that running round the streets of New York.

    Right. I see them all the time. In fact, I think there are some people like that in my office. I was just telling my friend here, “Doesn’t it look like Karen upstairs has a bad case of Australopithecus?” And Mike in receiving looks like he’s suffering from some serious Kenyanthropus if you ask me. He’s pretty hairy, at least.

    It has already been suggested by a couple of my friends that when this place does open, we will have to take a road trip down to it. I am debating this. On the one hand, I’m sure a group of irreverent atheist hoodlums could kick up a lot of fun at this joint, but is it worth a lifetime of nightmares that Americans actually believe this stuff???

    Oh, I can’t wait to tell my friends about this- I imagine it will make our “must visit” list pretty much instantly. I long ago reconciled that Americans (and people in generally, really) believe in all kinds of patently ridiculous things (a cheap shot? I think not).
    I’m practically giggling in anticipation, already.

  10. #10 Shelley Batts
    November 14, 2006

    Perhaps if the Museum was over-run with …er….’curious’ un-believers asking all these perfectly reasonable questions, they might even hit more that 300,000/year!

  11. #11 Rob Knop
    November 14, 2006

    The real problem with visiting the museum is…

    …they get your entry fee.

    Otherwise I might gleefully go and make fun of it. On the other hand, there are lots of real cultural and scientific public attractions I haven’t seen that I’d love to see one day, and as such it would probably be a better use of time to do that.

    -Rob

  12. #12 Ben
    November 15, 2006

    I think this applies…

    http://xkcd.com/c154.html

    Did you like “Fourier”, Shelley?

    The funniest part was the narrator explaining that creationists don’t believe the Grand Canyon was created all at once; it probably took months or even years to form.

    Simply sublime.

    Count me in for the road trip…I’ve spent money on worse things, methinks.

    ‘sup foo

  13. #13 Shelley Batts
    November 15, 2006

    Sup fool! Rob Knop has a point, Ben………so we’ll just have to sneak in. I kinda like the idea of commiting some kinda “sin” to get in there anyway. :P

  14. #14 csrster
    November 15, 2006

    What’s the problem? Creationism _belongs_ in a museum.

  15. #15 anomalous4
    November 15, 2006

    It also bothers me that he’s out there representing Christians.

    I dunno what he’s pushing, but it sure doesn’t bear any resemblance to the Christianity this Baptist preacher’s kid grew up with. He sure doesn’t represent me – or anyone I know!

    Perhaps if the Museum was over-run with …er….’curious’ un-believers asking all these perfectly reasonable questions, they might even hit more that 300,000/year!

    I’d like to join you guys for the road trip, but I’d probably be laughing hysterically through the whole museum and get thrown out.

    OTOH, they say the only thing the Devil can’t tolerate is ridicule. Get behind me, Satan, so I and a few dozen of my buds can moon you!

  16. #16 Ole Blue The Heretic
    November 15, 2006

    I was told by a creationist that the dinosaurs were the wok of the devil to tempt us not to believe. I laughed hysterically at him.

    Funny though…he never spoke to me again.

  17. #17 Leslie in CA
    November 18, 2006

    And how did he pass the exams? “I never lied, but if I was asked a question about the age of the universe, I answered from my knowledge of the topic, not my beliefs.”

    I other words… he knows his beliefs are wrong. And yet….

    See, I interpret that differently than you do, Rob. It reads to me as: “I never lied; I just said things I “knew” (believed) to be untrue.” Gee, isn’t lying a sin?

    I’ve heard of Ken Ham before. He runs an organization called Answers in Genesis, which of course teaches a literal interpretation of the Bible. But as you can see at the linked page, there are other fundamentalists who have been denounced by Ken Ham as … extremist. I kid you not. Kenneth Ham is quite literally a moderate in the creationist world.

  18. #18 unique_stephen
    January 15, 2007

    Will Adam have a navel?
    And will he have one less rib on one side?