From the Economist:
The Creation Museum
The Creation Museum
Keeping the word
The triumph of faith over experience in Kentucky
Dinosaus are monstrously exciting. Alas, museums with dinosaur exhibits tend to indoctrinate visitors with Godless evolutionary theory. So parents who believe that every word in the Bible is literally true have nowhere to take their tots for an uncorrupting fix of Tyrannosaurus rex.
Until this week. The Creation Museum opened in Petersburg, Kentucky, on May 28th. Here impressionable youngsters can watch awesome animatronic dinosaurs interacting with primitive humans, just as Genesis implies they did, shortly after the beginning of time one Monday morning in 4004 BC.
The museum's aim is to teach visitors how to answer attacks on the Bible's authority in geology, biology and so on, while providing a "family-friendly experience". The founder, Ken Ham, raised $27m from thousands of pious donors to build it. The exhibits are as whizzy as any in a theme park. But starting with scripture and trying to force the facts to fit makes for odd science.
The museum says that, if Noah took two of every animal on his ark, he must have had dinosaurs. Could dinosaurs have fitted into a boat only 300 cubits (about 135m) long? "It is likely that God brought young adults. Being smaller, they would be easier to care for."
The attention to detail is superb. In one exhibit, tiny human figures about to be engulfed in the rising floodwaters are shown throttling each other, to remind visitors why they deserved to drown. The flood killed off most dinosaurs, of course, but the descendants of those Noah saved survived until quite recently, which is why legends of dragons pop up in so many cultures. They were probably hunted to extinction by chaps like St George, says another exhibit.
The debate about the origins of everything is presented even-handedly. Some people trust God, accept that the universe is 6,000 years old and will go to heaven. Others trust human reason, think the Big Bang happened 14 billion years ago and, having abandoned God, are quite likely to start browsing the internet for pornography or commit genocide. Vistors are spared graphic examples of porn, but there are some nasty pictures of lynched black Americans and of Nazi concentration camps.
The museum has humorous touches, too. Fragile displays are labelled "Thou shalt not touch! Please". Unfinished exhibits carry the apology: "This space is still evolving". And, apart from the supercilious ape-descended journalists at the opening, the crowds seem to love it. Ben, from West Virginia, says he is delighted to be able to take his children to a museum that stands up to secularism, even if, at four and two years old, they may be "a bit young to take it all in".