Did you know that dinosaurs lived peacefully alongside Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, some 6,000 years ago? Or that T. rex and the stegosaurus survived the Great Flood aboard Noah's arkor that the same flood carved out the Grand Canyon? Such is the history of our world depicted inside the $27 million Creation Museum in Kentucky, where 'œevolution gets its continual comeuppance,' said Edward Rothstein in The New York Times. The museum, which opened this week, is the handiwork of the Answers in Genesis ministry, a fundamentalist Christian group that believes the Bible is literally true. To advance this message, the museum uses the hightech trappings of mainstream naturalhistory institutions, including interactive displays and animatronic dioramas. In a specialeffects theater, vibrating seats are used to evoke the flood, while the planetarium displays the wonders of the universe as proof of 'œGod's glory.' The displays are disorienting, but surprisingly sophisticatedperhaps because they were designed by the same guy who created the 'œJaws' and 'œKing Kong' attractions at Universal Studios in Florida.
It would be easy to dismiss the museum as just another 'œbizarre roadside novelty,' like the World's Largest Ball of Twine in Cawker City, Kan., said the Columbus, Ohio, Dispatch in an editorial. But the Creation Museum is intended to sway schoolchildren, and thus might 'œdo some real harm.' In its displays, the museum's creators deceptively use 'œpseudoscientific explanations' to support biblical revelation, insisting, for example, that biology, geology, and astronomy all support the idea that Earth was created in six days. American students are already lagging in the sciences, said astrophysicist Lawrence Krauss in New Scientist. The last thing they need is a museum that uses 21stcentury animatronics to give fairy tales 'œan air of authority.''
Unfortunately, the assault on science and evolution is no longer limited to 'œthe lunatic fringe,' said the Los Angeles Times. In the Bush administration, government scientists have been chastised for mentioning the Big Bang without including the word 'œtheory.' Three Republican presidential candidatesSen. Sam Brownback of Kansas, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, and Rep. Tom Tancredo of Coloradohave declared that they do not believe in evolution. That's right: 'œThree men seeking to lead the last superpower on Earth reject the scientific consensus on cosmology, thermonuclear dynamics, geology, and biology.' Our next president is welcome to his religious convictions, but it would be reassuring if he were to concede that Earth is older than 6,000 yearsand that 'œThe Flintstones is a cartoon, not a documentary.'