[Paleopsych] Telegraph: In the beginning . . . Adam walked with dinosaurs
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Thu Feb 3 20:20:00 UTC 2005
In the beginning . . . Adam walked with dinosaurs
Wednesday 12 January 2005
By James Langton in New York
With its towering dinosaurs and a model of the Grand Canyon, America's
newest tourist attraction might look like the ideal destination for
fans of the film Jurassic Park.
The new multi-million-dollar Museum of Creation, which will open this
spring in Kentucky, will, however, be aimed not at film buffs, but at
the growing ranks of fundamentalist Christians in the United States.
It aims to promote the view that man was created in his present shape
by God, as the Bible states, rather than by a Darwinian process of
evolution, as scientists insist.
The centrepiece of the museum is a series of huge model dinosaurs,
built by the former head of design at Universal Studios, which are
portrayed as existing alongside man, contrary to received scientific
opinion that they lived millions of years apart.
Other exhibits include images of Adam and Eve, a model of Noah's Ark
and a planetarium demonstrating how God made the Earth in six days.
The museum, which has cost a mighty $25 million (£13 million) will be
the world's first significant natural history collection devoted to
creationist theory. It has been set up by Ken Ham, an Australian
evangelist, who runs Answers in Genesis, one of America's most
prominent creationist organisations. He said that his aim was to use
tourism, and the theme park's striking exhibits, to convert more
people to the view that the world and its creatures, including
dinosaurs, were created by God 6,000 years ago.
"We want people to be confronted by the dinosaurs," said Mr Ham. "It's
going to be a first class experience. Visitors are going to be hit by
the professionalism of this place. It is not going to be done in an
amateurish way. We are making a statement."
The museum's main building was completed recently, and work on the
entrance exhibit starts this week. The first phase of the museum,
which lies on a 47-acre site 10 miles from Cincinatti on the border of
Kentucky and Ohio, will open in the spring.
Market research companies hired by the museum are predicting at least
300,000 visitors in the first year, who will pay $10 (£5.80) each.
Among the projects still to be finished is a reconstruction of the
Grand Canyon, purportedly formed by the swirling waters of the Great
Flood - where visitors will "gape" at the bones of dinosaurs that
"hint of a terrible catastrophe", according to the museum's publicity.
Mr Ham is particularly proud of a planned reconstruction of the
interior of Noah's Ark. "You will hear the water lapping, feel the Ark
rocking and perhaps even hear people outside screaming," he said.
More controversial exhibits deal with diseases and famine, which are
portrayed not as random disasters, but as the result of mankind's sin.
Mr Ham's Answers in Genesis movement blames the 1999 massacre at
Columbine High School in Colorado, in which two teenagers killed 12
classmates and a teacher before killing themselves, on evolutionist
teaching, claiming that the perpetrators believed in Darwin's survival
of the fittest.
Other exhibits in the museum will blame homosexuals for Aids. In a
"Bible Authority Room" visitors are warned: "Everyone who rejects his
history - including six-day creation and Noah's flood - is `wilfully'
Elsewhere, animated figures will be used to recreate the Garden of
Eden, while in another room, visitors will see a tyrannosaurus rex
pursuing Adam and Eve after their fall from grace. "That's the real
terror that Adam's sin unleashed," visitors will be warned.
A display showing ancient Babylon will deal with the Tower of Babel
and "unravel the origin of so-called races'', while the final section
will show the life of Christ, as an animated angel proclaims the
coming of the Saviour and a 3D depiction of the crucifixion.
In keeping with modern museum trends, there will also be a cafe with a
terrace to "breathe in the fresh air of God's creation'', and a shop
"crammed'' with creationist souvenirs, including T-shirts and books
such as A is for Adam and Dinky Dinosaur: Creation Days.
The museum's opening will reinforce the burgeoning creationist
movement and evangelical Christianity in the US, which gained further
strength with the re-election of President Bush in November.
Followers of creationism have been pushing for their theories to be
reintegrated into American schoolroom teaching ever since the
celebrated 1925 "Scopes Monkey Trial", when US courts upheld the right
of a teacher to use textbooks that included evolutionary theory.
In 1987, the US Supreme Court reinforced that position by banning the
teaching of creationism in public schools on the grounds of laws that
separate state and Church.
Since then, however, many schools - particularly in America's
religious Deep South - have got around the ban by teaching the theory
of "intelligent design", which claims that evolutionary ideas alone
still leave large gaps in understanding.
"Since President Bush's re-election we have been getting more
membership applications than we can handle,'' said Mr Ham, who expects
not just the devout, but also the curious, to flock through the
turnstiles. "The evolutionary elite will be getting a wake-up call."
Answers in Genesis
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