A couple weeks ago, I visited the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky with two friends, and as you’ve probably guessed, it’s a museum that seeks to give visitors a biblical perspective of Earth’s early history via a literal interpretation of The Book of Genesis (with a little room left over for speculation, whimsy, and imaginative flights of fancy, weeeee!). According to this museum, the Earth is only 6,000 years old, dinosaurs lived alongside humans, and Noah actually fit all those animals aboard his implausibly gigantic boat — along with a few dinosaurs, because, you know, that sounds like a thing that happened. Basically, it’s the fundamentalist Christian’s panicked response to a modern world that seems to be moving further and further away from Jesus.
So yes, this museum is perfect ammunition for smug atheists looking to ridicule Christians and have their beliefs confirmed, who want to point at the fake penguins in the Garden of Eden exhibit and declare, “The fact I don’t believe penguins lived in a magical utopian paradise 6,000 years ago means I must be an intelligent person! Hooray for me!” Indeed, it must also feel satisfying to beat a special needs child at chess or race past an elderly person on the stairs. The people who built and attend this museum are, to me, sad uneducated/indoctrinated husks, and between all the intellectual masturbating, the non-deluded miss out on the true magnificence of this museum.
Imagine you gave 27 million dollars to a homeless schizophrenic gentleman to build the museum of his maddest fever dreams. Not only that, but he has Patrick Marsh, designer of Universal Studios attractions like Jaws and King Kong, to help engineer this fantastical acid trip dreamscape. That’s this museum — a voyage into a delightfully diseased mind plagued with enthralling delusions about the origins of the world. Ridicule’s a reasonable response, sure, but I would submit the primary one should be wonderment and respect for a group that has committed so completely to the portrayal of a brain eating itself Ouroboros style.
Whenever I would visit The Science Place in Dallas, Texas, my favorite exhibit was the animatronic dinosaurs. I would stare in awe at a T-Rex, opening and closing its mouth with all the articulation of a Chucky Cheese musician, a brontosaurus indolently swinging its neck back and forth as if watching an extremely slow game of tennis. The other exhibits paled in comparison to the majesty of an ostensibly living, breathing dinosaur. So imagine my glee when I discovered the Creation Museum, on the other hand, has over 80 technologically advanced animatronic dinosaurs: velociraptors, stegosauruses, triceratops, the works. Just when you say, ‘Hold on, I’ve seen a lot of words and pictures, none of which are dinosaurs. Where are the dinosaurs?” — boom, more dinosaurs. Next, some information about “the infidel Voltaire,” the godless monster Galileo — and then boom, back to the dinosaurs. Sometimes I felt like the museum founder Ken Ham (famous for glaring intensely at Bill Maher in the documentary Religulous) might have read the Dinotopia books as nonfiction (I wish they were nonfiction). Other times, as the museum plunged into pure mind bending surrealism, I felt as if I’d wandered into an enormous avant-garde art piece.
A sample of my favorite moments in the museum include:
- The justification on a small panel for incest among Adam and Eve’s early descendants: “Before jumping to conclusions, realize that all humans are related. Whenever someone gets married, they marry their relative.” Oh my, homeschooled fundamentalist children in Kentucky do not need this black seed planted in their fertile little minds, no sir.
- An exhibit in which statues of Adam and Eve are clearly about to get sexy in a lake, rendering the museum guests into creepy voyeurs.
- An enormous section of Noah’s Ark reconstructed based on specifications from the bible along with some creative license. The explanations for how Noah and his family fed and watered thousands of animals (including dinosaurs), grew crops, and survived for 377 days (!) are impressively ingenious and imaginative.
- A room inexplicably filled with terrible things, presumably to illustrate God’s punishment for believing in evolution. Footage of the holocaust is projected on a wall and massive photos of a wolf, a woman in labor, a mushroom cloud, a starving child, a pile of skulls, and other miscellaneous scary images surround you. It’s what my bedroom will look like when I can afford a projector and a few dozen photo enlargements.
- A hilarious video showing the results of the Tower of Babel in which God, in a moment of Kutcher-esque prankishness, mixes up mankind’s languages. All the construction workers look at each other in confusion and, rather than relearn their original language, decide on the spot to flee to separate corners of the planet. This is how we have different ethnicities. Fun fact: Neanderthals worked on the Tower of Babel (the Earth is only 6,000 years old, remember?).
- A video showing a younger brother playing a violent video game while the older one watches internet pornography with “a bag of drugs” placed conspicuously on the desk. The older brother calls the younger one over, and tells him, “I can get you that girl’s number.” There’s a porn website that posts actress’ phone numbers? Seems like a dangerous practice. Methinks somebody at the museum didn’t do his research into the standard policies of a pornographic website.
This list could go on endlessly because the museum is larger than some secular museums of natural history — 70,000 square feet! By the end of it, I was physically and mentally exhausted, but still I attended the Men in White show, a 20-minute 4D presentation in which two hip angels in overalls explain how scientists and teachers are pompous snobs who take Darwin’s word as gospel while creationists are persecuted for daring to preach a legitimate alternative. By this point, my cognitive dissonance had reached a fever pitch. I can only imagine the toll the experience took on a child’s spongy brain, but hey, the bad (thousands of brainwashed crazy children) is counteracted by the good (animatronic dinosaurs) so it all works out in the end.
A small final note: the museum seemed disconcertingly stocked with attractive girls my age, which is pretty unfortunate since there’s no credible scenario where flirting with girls at the Creation Museum will lead to positive results. And I tried to think of one, believe me. Most of them ended with me staring dead eyed out a kitchen window at a distant storm cloud, a baby in my arms and, on the counter, a newly empty bottle of sleeping pills next to a newly empty bottle of TGIFriday’s mudslide mix.