Everyone who knows me knows that I have a long history with creation “scientists”. Creationism is a fundamentalist Christian political movement that asserts both the literal historical and scientific truth of the Bible and also asserts that the USA should be a “Christian nation” ruled by strict Bible-based law (as they interpret it). Quite simply, they are the American version of the Taliban. Among other idiocies, they assert that all of modern science is an atheist conspiracy against them, the Earth is only 6,000 years old, fossils come from Noah’s Flood, and humans and dinosaurs lived together in the Garden of Eden.
Although none of this laughable crap has been taken seriously by science since the founding days of geology, astronomy, and paleontology in the 1700s, fundamentalist Christians in the Religious Right have political influence all out of proportion to their numbers, and have managed to find a welcoming home inside one of the major American political parties—where science denial on everything from global warming to vaccines to evolution has been openly embraced by the party. Using this power base, creationists have attempted to pass a number of laws forcing public schools to teach their “alternative science”. Back in 1981, I helped form a local political coalition to fight against creationist attempts to introduce an “equal time” law in a Pennsylvania school district. I also founded the Creation “Science” Debunked website, which was at the time one of the largest anti-creationism resources on the Web, and also ran the accompanying email list. I’ve been fighting against these morons for most of my adult life. So, while I was in Cincinnati, I had to visit the “Creation Museum” just over the river in Kentucky.
Let’s get one thing clear from the start: the “Creation Museum” is not actually a museum, at least not in the sense that normal people understand it. Even though it has dinosaur skeletons on display and pretends to be a science museum, there is not a drop of “science” anywhere in it, and it has no “educational” purpose or goal whatsoever. It is really just a church, which uses slick 21st century technology to present a fundamentalist religious message that drags people back to the 15th century. It actively makes people dumber. Brain cells die just from being inside this place. “The Stupid” permeates everything here like the sulfurous odors of the Hell they think everyone is going to (except, of course, for themselves—they take “holier-than-thou” to a thermonuclear level of arrogance).
The “museum” is the brainchild of Ken Ham, an Australian who runs a fundamentalist Christian organization called “Answers in Genesis”. AiG, as it is known, was formed in Australia with heavy funding and support from American creationist groups such as the “Institute for Creation Research”. There followed a long and comical split in the organization which revolved around fundraising and personalities and lots of lawsuits, and involved, among other things, accusations of “necrophilia” and “witchcraft” (I kid you not). In 1994, Ham moved to Kentucky and began running the US-based portion of AiG. In effect, the organization split into two, with the American half, still run by Ham, disowning itself from the Australians.
Ham, meanwhile, conceived the idea of a “creation museum” which would allow him to spread his religious message and, perhaps more importantly, wring money out of his faithful flock. He managed to convince authorities in Kentucky that his “museum” would be a tourist attraction and would also provide jobs for local citizens, so they agreed to change some zoning laws and gave the go-ahead. With each year, Ham’s vision grew grander, and by 2004 he had raised some $27 million from donors (presumably people who still pine away for the good ole days of the Dark Ages) to pay for a 70,000 square foot “museum”. It opened in 2007, and plans for another expansion followed in 2016. In the meantime, Ham also opened a second “museum” at another location in Kentucky—called “Ark Encounter”, this was a “life-sized reproduction” of Noah’s Ark. Ham claims over 300,000 visitors a year to his “museums”.
There have been some legal issues. When local school districts began running sponsored field trips to the “museum”, several church/state groups filed lawsuits. (I did not see any school groups there, but all the buses in the parking lot had church names on the side.) Controversy also arose when Ham debated TV educator Bill Nye “The Science Guy” in the “museum” auditorium, and when the “museum” refused to allow entry by a married same-sex couple to one of its events.
Some photos from a visit to … what shall I call it? Fantasyland for Fanatics? Funland for Fundies? Disneyland for Dolts?
My head still hurts from the mass overdose of “The Stupid”.