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NY Times museum review Creation museum

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  • Popplestone, Ann
    Re-visiting the How to deal with creationists thread.... Museum Review | Creation Museum Adam and Eve in the Land of the Dinosaurs By EDWARD ROTHSTEIN
    Message 1 of 2 , May 25, 2007
      Re-visiting the "How to deal with creationists" thread....

      Museum Review | Creation Museum

      Adam and Eve in the Land of the Dinosaurs


      PETERSBURG, Ky. - The entrance gates here are topped with metallic
      Stegosauruses. The grounds include a giant tyrannosaur standing amid the
      trees, and a stone-lined lobby sports varied sauropods. It could be like
      any other natural history museum, luring families with the promise of
      immense fossils and dinosaur adventures.

      But step a little farther into the entrance hall, and you come upon a
      pastoral scene undreamt of by any natural history museum. Two
      prehistoric children play near a burbling waterfall, thoroughly at home
      in the natural world. Dinosaurs cavort nearby, their animatronic
      mechanisms turning them into alluring companions, their gaping mouths
      seeming not threatening, but almost welcoming, as an Apatosaurus munches
      on leaves a few yards away.

      What is this, then? A reproduction of a childhood fantasy in which
      dinosaurs are friends of inquisitive youngsters? The kind of fantasy
      that doesn't care that human beings and these prefossilized
      thunder-lizards are usually thought to have been separated by millions
      of years? No, this really is meant to be more like one of those literal
      dioramas of the traditional natural history museum, an imagining of a
      real habitat, with plant life and landscape reproduced in meticulous

      For here at the $27 million Creation Museum, which opens on May 28 (just
      a short drive from the Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky
      ssions/kentucky/index.html?inline=nyt-geo> International Airport), this
      pastoral scene is a glimpse of the world just after the expulsion from
      the Garden of Eden, in which dinosaurs are still apparently as
      herbivorous as humans, and all are enjoying a little calm in the days
      after the fall.

      It also serves as a vivid introduction to the sheer weirdness and daring
      of this museum created by the Answers in Genesis ministry that combines
      displays of extraordinary nautilus shell fossils and biblical tableaus,
      celebrations of natural wonders and allusions to human sin. Evolution
      gets its continual comeuppance, while biblical revelations are treated
      as gospel.

      Outside the museum scientists may assert that the universe is billions
      of years old, that fossils are the remains of animals living hundreds of
      millions of years ago, and that life's diversity is the result of
      evolution by natural selection. But inside the museum the Earth
      ml?inline=nyt-classifier> is barely 6,000 years old, dinosaurs were
      created on the sixth day, and Jesus is the savior who will one day
      repair the trauma of man's fall.

      It is a measure of the museum's daring that dinosaurs and fossils - once
      considered major challenges to belief in the Bible's creation story -
      are here so central, appearing not as tests of faith, as one religious
      authority once surmised, but as creatures no different from the giraffes
      and cats that still walk the earth. Fossils, the museum teaches, are no
      older than Noah's flood; in fact dinosaurs were on the ark.

      So dinosaur skeletons and brightly colored mineral crystals and images
      of the Grand Canyon are here, as are life-size dioramas showing
      paleontologists digging in mock earth, Moses and Paul teaching their
      doctrines, Martin Luther chastising the church to return to Scripture,
      Adam and Eve guiltily standing near skinned animals, covering their
      nakedness, and a supposedly full-size reproduction of a section of
      Noah's ark.

      There are 52 videos in the museum, one showing how the transformations
      wrought by the eruption of Mount St. Helens in 1980 reveal how plausible
      it is that the waters of Noah's flood could have carved out the Grand
      Canyon within days. There is a special-effects theater complete with
      vibrating seats meant to evoke the flood, and a planetarium paying
      tribute to God's glory while exploring the nature of galaxies.

      Whether you are willing to grant the premises of this museum almost
      becomes irrelevant as you are drawn into its mixture of spectacle and
      narrative. Its 60,000 square feet of exhibits are often stunningly
      designed by Patrick Marsh, who, like the entire museum staff, declares
      adherence to the ministry's views; he evidently also knows the lure of
      secular sensations, since he designed the "Jaws" and "King Kong"
      attractions at Universal Studios in Florida.

      For the skeptic the wonder is at a strange universe shaped by elaborate
      arguments, strong convictions and intermittent invocations of scientific
      principle. For the believer, it seems, this museum provides a kind of
      relief: Finally the world is being shown as it really is, without the
      distortions of secularism and natural selection.

      The Creation Museum actually stands the natural history museum on its
      head. Natural history museums developed out of the Enlightenment:
      encyclopedic collections of natural objects were made subject to ever
      more searching forms of inquiry and organization. The natural history
      museum gave order to the natural world, taming its seeming chaos with
      the principles of human reason. And Darwin's theory - which gave life a
      compelling order in time as well as space - became central to its
      purpose. Put on display was the prehistory of civilization, seeming to
      allude not just to the evolution of species but also cultures (which is
      why "primitive" cultures were long part of its domain). The natural
      history museum is a hall of human origins.

      The Creation Museum has a similar interest in dramatizing origins, but
      sees natural history as divine history. And now that many museums have
      also become temples to various American ethnic and sociological groups,
      why not a museum for the millions who believe that the Earth is less
      than 6,000 years old and was created in six days?

      Mark Looy, a founder of Answers in Genesis with its president, Ken Ham,
      said the ministry expected perhaps 250,000 visitors during the museum's
      first year. In preparation Mr. Ham for 13 years has been overseeing 350
      seminars annually about the truths of Genesis, which have been drawing
      thousands of acolytes. The organization's magazine has 50,000
      subscribers. The museum also says that it has 9,000 charter members and
      international contributors who have left the institution free of debt.

      But for a visitor steeped in the scientific world view, the impact of
      the museum is a disorienting mix of faith and reason, the exotic and the
      familiar. Nature here is not "red in tooth and claw," as Tennyson
      asserted. In fact at first it seems almost as genteel as Eden's
      dinosaurs. We learn that chameleons, for example, change colors not
      because that serves as a survival mechanism, but "to 'talk' to other
      chameleons, to show off their mood, and to adjust to heat and light."

      Meanwhile a remarkable fossil of a perch devouring a herring found in
      Wyoming offers "silent testimony to God's worldwide judgment," not
      because it shows a predator and prey, but because the two perished -
      somehow getting preserved in stone - during Noah's flood. Nearly all
      fossils, the museum asserts, are relics of that divine retribution.

      The heart of the museum is a series of catastrophes. The main one is the
      fall, with Adam and Eve eating of the tree of knowledge; after that
      tableau the viewer descends from the brightness of Eden into genuinely
      creepy cement hallways of urban slums. Photographs show the pain of war,
      childbirth, death - the wages of primal sin. Then come the biblical
      accounts of the fallen world, leading up to Noah's ark and the flood,
      the source of all significant geological phenomena.

      The other catastrophe, in the museum's view, is of more recent vintage:
      the abandonment of the Bible by church figures who began to treat the
      story of creation as if it were merely metaphorical, and by
      Enlightenment philosophers, who chipped away at biblical authority. The
      ministry believes this is a slippery slope.

      Start accepting evolution or an ancient Earth, and the result is like
      the giant wrecking ball, labeled "Millions of Years," that is shown
      smashing the ground at the foundation of a church, the cracks reaching
      across the gallery to a model of a home in which videos demonstrate the
      imminence of moral dissolution. A teenager is shown sitting at a
      computer; he is, we are told, looking at pornography.

      But given the museum's unwavering insistence on belief in the literal
      truth of biblical accounts, it is strange that so much energy is put
      into demonstrating their scientific coherence with discussions of
      erosion or interstellar space. Are such justifications required to
      convince the skeptical or reassure the believer?

      In the museum's portrayal, creationists and secularists view the same
      facts, but come up with differing interpretations, perhaps the way
      Ptolemaic astronomers in the 16th century saw the Earth at the center of
      the universe, where Copernicans began to place the sun. But one problem
      is that scientific activity presumes that the material world is
      organized according to unchanging laws, while biblical fundamentalism
      presumes that those laws are themselves subject to disruption and
      miracle. Is not that a slippery slope as well, even affecting these

      But for debates, a visitor goes elsewhere. The Creation Museum offers an
      alternate world that has its fascinations, even for a skeptic wary of
      the effect of so many unanswered assertions. He leaves feeling a bit
      like Adam emerging from Eden, all the world before him, freshly amazed
      at its strangeness and extravagant peculiarities.

      The Creation Museum opens Monday at 2800 Bullittsburg Church Road,
      Petersburg, Ky.; (888) 582-4253.

      Ann Popplestone AAB, BA, MA

      CCC Metro TLC



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    • anthropmor@AOL.COM
      I want 27 million to create a museum of how *I* think the world should look- heavy sigh- Mike Pavlik ************************************** See what s free at
      Message 2 of 2 , May 26, 2007
        I want 27 million to create a museum of how *I* think the world should look-
        heavy sigh- Mike Pavlik

        ************************************** See what's free at http://www.aol.com

        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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