Sunday, February 20, 2011

A Visit to the Creation Museum

So this weekend we packed up the car to finally visit the Creation Museum, a building dedicated to the position of a group called Answers in Genesis that evolutionary theory is wrong and that the Bible explains all one needs to know about the 6000 year old earth. Now I have been highly critical of the organization behind this museum. I think the hardest thing for me is that the focus of the organization and of course the museum is to take the Torah text of the Book of Bereshit (Genesis) and make it their own, decide what it means, and build a tradition around. Any questioning of their vision is met with accusations of being either brainwashed by atheist science or closed minded. Now I have no problem directly with people who want to take the Torah try to build a theology around the words, but when someone takes a sacred text from one tradition, twists it for their own, and then tell everyone they have the only answer, I tend to be upset. So I will begin my story with the full admission that I walked in with bias. I was not disappointed.

From the first display I was met with both a lie about science (saying that scientist view the world through evolution and thus discount everything else) and admitting that what they are doing is not science while calling it science. You see the theme of the museum is that both evolutionary biologists and the rest of the scientific world and they look at the same evidence, just have different starting points. The starting point of the people who run this museum is that the Bible as they read it is completely infallible, accurate and 100% true. So anything that contradicts the Bible must be wrong. Of course this is not science, as anything that is discovered in science that contradicts evolutionary theory would be studied to see if it could replace the current ideas in part or whole. Darwin's theory has been refined over time. But the simple fact that evolution exists and there is a theory that explains it is not the end of the discussion. For those who see the Bible as the end of the discussion fail to take reality into account. One example is the idea of thorns found among dinosaurs. Since Genesis 3 seems to suggest that thorns only came into existence after the fall of Adam so any dinosaurs found with thorned plants means dinosaurs existed at the same time as people. Thus no millions of years old. This is just ridiculous as a way of trying to do science. But there it is.

But what I found most disturbing is the political message that the horrors of the world are the direct result of evolution and science being taught in the schools as opposed to their brand of religion. At one point I turned a corner to come face-to-face with a poster that included a picture of a lynching of a black man and piles of dead bodies from Nazi death camps. The image was to suggest these two events would not happen if we all embraced their brand of religion. However, history clearly shows that the KKK saw itself as religiously mandated and the Holocaust (the Shoah) had its roots in European Anti-semitism that was fueled by the Church. But ignoring all the horrors of history that were clearly the result of Christian aggression made me sick.

The museum also uses some Jewish imagery to suggest that Judaism would back their position, including a video of an apparent Rabbi discussing the meaning of the word "yom" day in Genesis. Throughout Jewish tradition the Bible is seen as poetry to help explain the unexplainable. Even great sages and rabbis argued that Genesis was to be understood at a deeper level, not just the words on the page. Evolution does not truly stand at odds with the vast majority of the way the Jews have understood Judaism.

Over all it was a good trip but I think it is disturbing to me to see so many people not understand basic science and those that do are ridiculed as close minded. We will see what the future holds. I have always believed that the universe is a puzzle that we have been given to tools to unravel. The Bible is not the stopping place but the beginning place. We must now go and study.


JSam said...

I'm guessing you expressed yourself pretty well. Hope you had a good discounted ticket;)

yaakov said...

I paid full price, which was high, but they made a high quality series of exhibits. It was not 'tossed together' as one review said. They also seemed to have a large security force which I assume is sadly necessary.
I kept quiet at the place, it was like I was in someone else's church but I do feel like the two loudest messages are attacks on science and other faith traditions. I could not simply not respond somewhere. I could write to Mr. Hamm but I fear it would never reach his desk.

RIP Anthony Bourdain and We Must All Be More Aware

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