The Creation Museum, one year on

The latest issue of Evolution: Education and Outreach features a few thoughts from Gordy Slack on AiG’s Creation Museum, which just passed the 1-year mark back in May. The controversy surrounding it has largely died down in the last year, particularly given the shenanigans involved with the release of Expelled, but Slack thought it profitable to take another look.

Slack starts off the piece by identifying what all the hubub is really about. While claims of creationists, like Tyrannosaurus rex lived alongside Adam & Eve and ate coconuts in Eden, are little more than delusions the creationists don’t particularly care. For them this is about their holy book, a book that they interpret in so narrow a fashion that nothing can be allowed to contradict it. They will make the most absurd arguments imaginable based upon their fear that if one part of their myopic interpretation of the Bible is wrong then their entire theological system goes out the window. Indeed, the aim of the museum is not to make people believe that humans lived alongside dinosaurs as an endpoint, but rather to provide them with excuses to eschew rational thought in favor of fundamentalist evangelical Christianity.

Not far into the next page, however, Slack repeats an oft-heard compliment made about the museum; that is beautifully executed, perhaps moreso than actual natural history museums;

The museum is beautifully built out of carefully chosen and expensive materials. The exhibits are well designed and artistically executed. And from a little distance they look familiar; dinosaur skeletons, soaring pterosaurs, live tropical frogs, a diorama of an archeological site, and primordial forests occupied by animatronic dinosaurs.

I admit that I have not been to the Creation Museum but plenty of others have and they have graciously shared their pictures on the web (some examples can be found here, here, here, here, and here) . What I’ve seen hasn’t particularly been impressive, seemingly like a mish-mash of poorly-labeled exhibits and animatronic figures. My biases are apparent, but the rows upon rows of fossil skeletons on the 4th floor of the AMNH put Ken Ham’s funhouse to shame. Indeed, the term “funhouse” appears to describe the contents of the building far better than museum, the emphasis being on the narrative AiG wants to sell rather than presenting actual evidence for their nonsense. Even then, the dinosaur sculptures look more silly than scientific, and their dromeosaurs are (of course) missing their feathers. I don’t imagine that AiG cares that there are now recognized osteological characters that denote the presence of feathers in dinosaurs like Velociraptor, though, so I expect that their dromeosaurs will continue to be nude.

The rest of the article is pretty much the same old stuff, pretty boring to anyone who is already familiar with AiG’s bag of tricks. What will eventually become of the creationist crown jewel? I can’t say. It is an amusement park, one many people seem convinced is the science museum they have waited for all their lives, and it does not do any of what a good museum should. It is not a research institution or a place where collections will be accumulated for comparison and study; it’s doors transport the visitor into a fantasy world where the most absurd claims can be justified by people who believe their are modern day prophets. Unless something of major importance occurs this is the last I expect to write of Ham’s wretched palace. I’m all too happy to leave it to rot.

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