Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Creation Museum

Yesterday I went to the Creation Museum in northern Kentucky. Why Australians came all the way here to place their museum, I do not know. Still, it is a gift to me that a place so interesting is only a day trip, so daughter Endub and I made the expedition.

The museum is very nicely done. The Lexington paper reported that they spent $27 million. All the animatronics are up to date, the videos were professionally done, and the planetarium show was great. The content of the museum has generated controversy, because they promote a fairly extreme version of "young earth" creationism. When they opened, there were secularist pickets marching outside the gates. In fact, security was surprisingly strong and evident - electronic gates, uniformed guards, security cameras everywhere. The crowd was also great -- evangelicals from all over, a few respectful skeptics, a vanload of Mennonites, and four young goths in full Marilyn Manson get up. A sociologist's feast.

The tone of the museum is very calm. It is hard to convey very much information in a museum -- all the text presented in the plaques and video scripts would probably fit in a 100-page book. The visuals of the size of the stars and the distances of the universe were wonderfully done in the planetarium show, and could not have been done as well in a book. The core of Answers in Genesis' argument is that the Noah flood can account for the many phenomena that appear to have taken millions of years to develop. The visuals showing (hypothetical) floating forests being folded into coal seams by tidal waves, and giant rafts of logs circulating with currents carrying ark animals to different continents are very helpful in getting the picture they are trying to convey. Their reading of Eden has some new features I had not heard before, including the idea that all animals before the Fall were vegetarians, and no poisons, diseases, or other methods of dealing death yet existed in nature.

And then there are the dinosaurs. The Creation Museum loves dinosaurs as much as any natural history museum does. They have full-sized models, some of them moving, in Eden. They are about to open a whole Dinosaur Wing, which we got to peek into. The film that ends the tour suggests that Noah took dinosaurs on the ark, Job's Behemoth was a brontosaurus, and St. George fought one of the last remnant dino-dragons. In the park next to the museum the kids can play with a T. Rex, and Nessie swims in the lagoon. The New York Times story has the best set of pictures. They do not have my favorite scene, though: a cave girl playing with a squirrel, while two veliciraptors (or something like that) hang around nearby. I think one of the central creative decisions made in designing the museum was to take the dinosaurs, and dinophiles, head on.

I was not convinced by the Creation Museum, despite their slogan -- You Will Believe. There are plenty of other kinds of biblical and creationist views that do not entail believing in a 10,000-year-old earth. Still, I commend the expedition to all who can make it. And since the conflicts and scandals have already begun within Answers in Genesis, you might want to get there before the whole extravaganza implodes.

1 comment:

Heather said...

It can't be any worse than what the Discovery Channels (especially the History and Discovery International) are trying to do in explaining Biblical events with a Secularist viewpoint!

Anything that promotes active debate can't be a bad thing. Debate helps to clarify one's beliefs.