A new theme park places fundamentalist Christianity alongside the scientific process. Just don't question the logic.
Quick question for the good folks at the Creation Museum: How'd Noah fit all those dinosaurs into his ark?
After all, the educational facility—which opened over the Bible-friendly Memorial Day Weekend—places the giant carnivores on the same timeline as humankind. Imagine, instead of being separated by countless geological eras and hundreds of millions of years, it turns out we're practically neighbors sandwiched into a 6,000-year chronology that also includes the creation of the earth!
Perhaps docents explain fossil evidence as proof dinosaurs weren't considered worthy for the original three-hour tour (despite God's commandment that Noah get two of each kind of animal); there may even be an exhibit showing Tyrannosaurus rex as the horror unleashed by Adam and Eve eating from the Tree of Knowledge. Since the Creation Museum is based in the outskirts of Cincinnati, Ohio, I'll never know for certain. Why, however, is there such a scramble to blend faith with science? Especially when that "science" comes from the Bible?
The Creation Museum is the second theme park placing fundamentalist Christianity alongside the scientific process. The first, Dinosaur Adventure Land, promises a similar experience with a delicious twist: dinosaurs are just a colossal practical joke by God to make the unbelievers think the earth is older than it really is. DAL's founder is Kent Hovind, a disgraced Creationist best known for both his 10-year prison term for tax evasion and his participation with Chick Publications, a promoter of bigoted and racist tracts designed to scare readers into conversion.
On its site, the Creation Museum states "the Bible is the supreme authority in all matters of faith and practice, and in every area it touches upon." And the vast majority of its exhibits, designed around the historicity of the Bible, include:
a movie experience explaining the creation of the universe from an Old Testament point of view;
a "Bible Authority Room" which states categorically "the Bible is true - no doubt about it!" Anyone thinking otherwise is "willfully ignorant";
an exhibit proving man and ape have the same "birthday";
a day in the life of a fallen creation; and
the aforementioned "evil" T-Rex chasing after post-Eden humanity.
Of the three dozen attractions featured on the museum's walkthrough page, only two attempt scientific context, and even those disregard scientific method in favor of explaining why science can be bent around the Bible's innate correctness. I can't blame them, because the museum isn't designed to cater to people looking for a scientific approach to anything; they're chartered to proselytize fundamentalist Christianity by interpreting available evidence to match the Bible's teachings. They exalt Jesus Christ and want to "equip Christians to better evangelize the lost with a sense of urgency, through a combination of exhibits, research and educational presentations that uphold the inerrancy of the Bible."
The problem is, when you consider your source completely infallible, there's no longer a search for a rational, scientific basis. You're looking for anything that will bolster your case, even if it flies in the face of logic.
"The Bible is true from Genesis to Revelations!" is a poor starting point, as is the claim that the Bible "provides a reliable, eye-witness account of the beginning of all things." (Who was around to write about the creation from a first-hand account?) Why? Because no one can assert the Bible as true or reliable. There are many credible examinations of the Bible that analyze its multiple sources and deconstruct its fables and oral traditions; Richard Friedman's Who Wrote the Bible? is an excellent example, worthy of consideration.
Consider also that the Bible read by fundamentalist Christians is not the same Bible read by other Christian denominations. Catholics have the Apocrypha appended to the Old Testament; does that make the story of the Maccabbees any less important in the eyes of millions? And what of the books of the Bible suppressed by the Church in its early days, when Christianity was just one of dozens of Messianic cults vying for power? If the Bible is truth from start to finish, how do we determine which version of the Bible is the most true?
It's all well and good to try and get someone to believe what you believe. I think that's what a lot of people need: to be surrounded by like-minded friends with a common bond. And there are millions of churches around the country that provide just such a service. Why, then, the need to create a museum dedicated to fusing faith with its nemesis? Do Christians feel a wound that can only be healed by merging secular discussions with religious ones?
Recently, faded star Kirk Cameron teamed with pastor Ray Comfort to prove creation on ABC's Nightline without the aid of the Bible. They lasted about 30 seconds before they fell back on the Bible, the Ten Commandments, and the role of God. But that's okay; I'm not looking for proof when it comes to God, for proof is the absence of faith, and religion is rooted in faith. You aren't much of a believer if you think otherwise.
So enough with the desperate attempts to confuse an already confused populace about how scientific the Bible is. It isn't scientific, and it was never meant to be. Millions of non-fundamentalist Christians have managed to integrate science into their lives without having their very core shattered; some accept the Big Bang as the "divine spark," while others see evolution as God's hand in guiding the creation process over the course of a timespan that's a little longer than six days. The inherent belief in God doesn't disappear just because you find a few select chapters in Genesis to be a little kooky.
Several thousand educators are livid at the opening of this museum, as it only further blurs the line between fact and fiction. But really, it should be the faithful showing righteous indignation at these repeated efforts to shoehorn God into the laboratory. They're the ones having their faith diluted by a flood of uncorroborated information and silly assertions like dinosaurs on Noah's ark.
I mean, come on.
"I refuse to prove that I exist," says God, "for proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing."
"But," says Man, "the Babel fish is a dead giveaway isn't it? It could not have evolved by chance. It proves that you exist, and so therefore, by your own arguments, you don't. Q.E.D."
"Oh dear," says God, "I hadn't thought of that," and promptly vanishes in a puff of logic.
–Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
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