Thursday, May 24, 2007

Creation Museum

My dad sent me this hilarious and terrifying article about the new Creation Museum opening up in Kentucky. It's worth reading the whole thing but here's a taste:

Located in Petersburg, Kentucky, near Cincinnati, the museum has an elaborate walk-through exhibit of Noah’s ark. As you enter the giant exhibit you encounter 12 animatronic figures building the vessel. You can then meander around two floors of animal pairs, walking both inside and outside the ark. There is also a display of the design plan of the ark to lend scale, demonstrating to visitors that this massive diorama represents only 1 percent of the total ark space. The walls are covered with mural paintings that show how Noah’s family took care of the animals, including engineering speculations about food and waste management. And crucial to the logic of the entire ark display is the exhibit showing how two of every “kind” of animal was brought on board, not two of every “species.”

If Noah had to get every species on board, then Ham and the other Creationists would be in deep trouble. The Amazon rain forest alone, according to some researchers, may contain as many as 20 million species of arthropods, which are themselves only a piece of the rain forest biosphere. The popular college textbook Biology (Campbell, Reece and Mitchell) sums up the numbers by saying that, “To date, scientists have described and formally named about 1.5 million species of organisms. We can only estimate how many more currently exist. Some biologists believe that the number is about 10 million, but others estimate it to be between 30 million and 80 million.” Even if we take the most conservative numbers of species and then add the staggering numbers of now extinct species (like the dinosaurs), we have an insane amount of animals to fit on a boat that’s less than two football fields long.

But the Creation Museum argues that Noah never had to take two of every species, but only two of every “kind,” and that cuts the numbers enough to reasonably pack the boat. What is a “kind”? Creationists are invoking the next level up on the ladder of taxonomy, the genus. To skeptics who think there were too many species of dinosaur to fit on the ark, for example, Ken Ham responds: “there were not very many different kinds of dinosaurs. There are certainly hundreds of dinosaur names, but many of these were given to just a bit of bone or skeletons of the same dinosaur found in other countries. It is also reasonable to assume that different sizes, varieties, and sexes of the same dinosaur have ended up with different names. For example, look at the many different varieties and sizes of dogs, but they are all the same kind — the dog kind! In reality, there may have been fewer than 50 kinds of dinosaurs.” In reality, scientists estimate that there were over 2,000 genera of dinosaurs.

My favorite thing about the article is that the guy in charge of the museum or the tour or what have you is named HAM. Like, as in, the son of Noah. Sometimes these things are just too tidy.

Oh, and, just in case you don't feel like reading the whole thing:

The socially conservative political stance of the museum is prevalent in almost every exhibit, but the coup de grace is the “Culture in Crisis” exhibit. Here the museum gives us a “natural history” of the breakdown of the American family. Visitors are invited to look through three windows of a contemporary American home. Videos loop to show two young boys looking at porn on the computer and experimenting with drugs. Another window shows a young girl crying, surrounded by abortion pamphlets. And finally the parents are shown arguing. A recreated church facade stands at the other end of the room, but the foundation of the church has been damaged by a large wrecking-ball labeled “millions of years.” The signage explains that the cause of all this misery is our move away from Genesis and toward the scientific ideas of geology and evolution. Ideas about an old earth make people feel small and insignificant, so naturally they do drugs and have abortions.

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