Saturday, June 16, 2007

Creation Museum demands you choose God's Word or Man's Reason: 'Don't think... just listen and believe'

Ah, what a week! I'm just back from beautiful Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, where I spent time with family and friends hanging out at the beach and various pools and restaurants, sleeping a lot and eating incredibly fresh, tasty seafood. And getting a fairly good tan.

While I was away, worshiping the Sun — after all, I'm a member of one of the world's oldest still-going-strong solar worship and enlightenment cults, the Freemasons — it looks like others were off on a little religious pilgrimage-slash-vacation of their own.

The $27 million Creation Museum opened May 28 in Petersburg, Kentucky, just minutes from the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport.

One day I aspire to visit this 60,000 square-feet mockery of intelligence. It sounds like a delightfully entertaining way to waste a few hours and a few bucks ($19.95 per head, plus five dollars extra if you want to see the planetarium where they explain that no star in our sky is older than 6,000 years).

Since I haven't been yet, I'll have to virtually explore the Creation Museum via news articles, blogs, and the museum's own website.

The Masonic Fellowcraft degree teaches that we should view our world through the mechanisms and tools of science and the liberal arts. Nowhere are we admonished to blindly accept a book of faith, or a volume of sacred law, as fact. The Bible, or any Volume of Sacred Law, is "given as a rule and guide," and, as one of the Three Great Lights of Freemasonry, it is a symbol. The other two great lights, the square and the compasses, are understood as symbols; they're not used in Freemasonry to actually square up a building's frame, or to draw a physical circle.

Likewise, the Volume of Sacred Law is not to be taken literally. It is symbolic of the laws of God, or of Nature's God.

The Creation Museum misses this point, entirely. The museum's creators and financial investors take (or want to appear to take) the tales of the Bible's book of Genesis one hundred percent literally. This leads to some absolutely wacky things: Talking, upright-walking snakes, dinosaurs peacefully co-existing with humans, thousands of species of animals lining up two by two and settling down all cozy with each other for 40 days and 40 nights without anything for dinner. Humans without belly buttons. You know the fairy-tale story of creation in Genesis; I don't need to go on about it.

But the folks running the Creation Museum do need to go on about it, ad infinitum and ad nauseum.

The blogger at Blue Grass Roots, based in central Kentucky, recently visited the Creation Museum, already known by mainstream scientists as the Fred and Wilma Flintstone Museum. I hope you'll read his entire account. He's also posted excellent photos of the various exhibits. (Click on his small photos to enlarge them.)

He calls it "a museum full of shocking idiocy and unintentional humor."

Others are less kind in their criticism. Mel Seesholtz, Ph.D., says of the museum and its founders:
Let's be honest. Only someone with a neurological disorder or a pathological need to promote stupidity and ignorance in the name of a bible-based, fairy tale worldview would argue for "scientific" answers in Genesis or that "belief in evolution is the root of most of modern society's evils." When one considers the realities unveiled by quantum mechanics, Einstein's relativity and, more recently membrane theory, the pathology called "the biblical worldview" and the mental disorder — or more likely the ulterior motives — of those advocating it become clearer and even more sinister.
One of the first things you come to when you enter the museum is a gigantic plexiglass poster designed to make you choose between God and Man, or more to the point, between "God's Word" and "Human Reason." [See photo.] Go ahead.... Choose a pile of books and Descartes' quote "I think, therefore I am," or choose a big papyrus scroll and a quote from Yahweh, "I am that I am."

Oops. We know what Eve and Adam chose, don't we?

You'll find several exhibits and even a film showing the "true story" of creation.

Ironically, Eric Linden, the man who played Adam in the museum's movie-clip, had a rather checkered past. It seems he also ran a "graphic" website called Bedroom Acrobat, and was shown photographed with a transvestite. The museum stopped showing the 40-second film of a naked Adam and Eve (their naughty bits suitably hidden by foliage) as soon as the news broke about Linden, who had formerly appeared as a model for "SirFuxaLot."

More about Eric Linden:Since you can only get so much mileage out of the Six Days of Creation story (and only so many laughs when it's taken literally), the museum plods on unabashedly into more of Genesis using short films, animatronics and signage. Cain married his sister (the writer of Blue Grass Roots notes that Kentucky-area Christian fundamentalists, some his own relatives, have no fundamental problems with incest), and went on to populate the world. Noah's flood, they say, carved the Grand Canyon in just a few days.

As I've written many times before, if fundamentalist Christians want to believe this stuff and teach it among themselves, who am I to complain? Everyone has the right to practice their religion as they see fit.

But this claptrap isn't religion. They hold it up as "science." They want public schools to teach this nonsense as science. Museum founder Ken Ham has been pushing this Genesis pseudo-history in seminars for nearly 20 years in the U.S., and before that in Australia. Many of their backers are dominionists, Christian fundamentalist/evangelical zealots who truly aspire to replace America's republican form of government with a theocracy. Donald Wildmon, founder of the ultra-conservative American Family Association, and Zig Ziglar, noted motivational speaker, are quoted in the museum's "news" section, which isn't really news at all, but a list of breathless attaboys from museum vistors (an unnamed paleontologist says he's "drooling" over a fossil the museum possesses, and a rocket scientist's wife explains her husband played hookey from work to drive 1,100 miles to attend the pre-opening events at the musuem).

A rather neutral New York Times review from a few weeks ago has been blurbed just because the writer called some of the exhibits "stunning." (They should be "stunning"; they were designed by a former exhibit director of Universal Studios in Florida.)

The selling of this alternative, young-earth history has a purpose, and it's not to save souls for the glory of God. It is an attempt to prime children and cajole their parents who can't deal with science, rationality and reason into accepting a theocratic "we know what's best for you" form of government and leadership. Reason, they want you to believe, will steer you astray. Belief in a 6,000 year old planet and a 2,500 year old book that tells you about it, is all you need, they say.

Once, it was the Catholic church denying that the earth revolved around the Sun. Now, it's the fundamentalist, evangelical arm of Christianity denying pretty much the same things — intelligence, science, and Enlightenment. The museum people even get in a potshot at Voltaire, the prolific author, deist, critic of the Catholic church, and Freemason, [see photo] as well as at Dan Brown's book Da Vinci Code [see photo].

Then, as now, the lines are drawn. Will you choose Light, or Darkness? Odd, that both sides think their side is right, that their side represents Light. This is the age-old debate, the age-old dilemma, the age-old dichotomy. What is good, and what is evil? Blind faith, or reasoned enlightenment? The written word of others who claim to have been inspired by "God," or your own personal inspirations, reflections and revelations? God or man? God's word or man's reason? Light or dark?

As for me, I'll just keep on worshiping the Sun. Pass the cocoa butter....

Images: Above and linked to, by Blue Grass Roots, taken at the Creation Museum, June 2007

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23 comments:

  1. My choice? To believe in the "Source" or the "Is" (to use Richard Bach_, and to use my reason.

    Widow's Son, you owe me a glass of Pinot Grigio that went out my nose laughing at this....

    Traveling Man

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  2. I don't know if it is naivety or malice, but you post grossly mischaracterizes the motives and arguments of creationists.

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  3. To the anonymous poster:

    Just how does he mischaracterize their motives and arguments when he quotes them?

    The argue the Universe is 60000 years old, when carbon dating and Galactic Red Shift show otherwise.

    Widow Son's posts are neither naive or malicous, they are factual.

    Deal with it.

    Traveling Man

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  4. Anonymous wrote, "I don't know if it is naivety or malice, but your post grossly mischaracterizes the motives and arguments of creationists."

    Usually, when one makes an argument such as yours, one actually make a point. What, exactly, are the motives and arguments of creationists? How did I mischaracterize them?

    — W.S.

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  5. Welcome back, WS!

    I was squinting at the wall panel text in one of the photos of the museum you linked to -- the one that oh so subtly said "many religions have come and gone" next to a picture of the Buddha.

    But the worse was yet to come.

    Squinting more, I could make out the entry on Voltaire, and they call him an "INFIDEL philosopher."

    I can well believe they have problems with him - but to call him an infidel? When was the last time that word was used seriously in the West?

    Sounds like we've got our own home grown Taliban on the rise. Never has a single word worried me more.

    On a lighter note, I've been to another creationist museum: the Museum of Creation and Earth History in Santee, outside of San Diego. It's been there for years. Its a much more low budget affair, but makes all the same arguments.

    It is near another special museum, the Unarian museum, staffed by friendly folks who are patiently awaiting the return of our brothers from outer space so that we can rejoin the galactic convention. The brothers were supposed to come back in 2000, but it seems they've been delayed.

    I like the Unarians a lot, because they are upbeat and innocent and not at all likely to take over the US government.

    Anyway, the two museums make a great pairing if you're ever in the San Diego area.

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  6. The brothers were supposed to come back in 2000, but it seems they've been delayed.

    It's because the Vogon Constructor Fleets haven't finished the hyperspace bypass yet.

    Damn bureaucrats.

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  7. I hear that commanderies from ohio are donating their savings to the funding of this building?

    They subscribe to this belief and are willingly promoting it.
    a good cause

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  8. I hear that commanderies from ohio are donating their savings to the funding of this building?

    I think that we would all be better served if we did not post idle gossip. Would you care to elaborate on where you heard this, and if there is any way to check it out for certain?

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  9. "The Bible speaks for itself at the Creation Museum. We’ve just paved the way to a greater understanding of the tenets of creation and redemption. Our exhibit halls are gilded with truth, our gardens teem with the visible signs of life."

    This is a statement from the Creation Museum website. If I were a Jew I might be offended. Why does Creationism have to lead to redemption, particularly Christian redemption. In one of the photo's that display "poison" a Jewish looking man is displayed next to a comment on the Crucifixion. These comments and display's are specifically designed to one end and that is evangelism for Christianity. The beautiful thing about creation (wether by divine games or divine evolution) is that no one religion can claim ownership of it because no one made themselves nor our history. I could care less that this museum exists, all people have their religious rights and free speech, but to connect what these folks call science to only one religion is not nice.

    Plus the last time I checked Genesis was assumed to be written by a Jew.

    If God planned for me to have evolved from some other family of animals who am I to argue that. If he did just craft us from dirt then great.

    What is the big deal. Lets deal with the truth now. All man kind is made in the image of God so why are we killing God's image with hate.

    Darwin never hated the church. The Church hated him.

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  10. In our Lodge, when we get too negative during our discussions of the problems of the world, our WM encourages us to frame our comments in terms of solutions. I can't get this whole disturbing "Infidel" thing out of my head, so I'm posting again with a solution.

    The writer/media critic Douglas Rushkoff proposed in an essay some time ago that we should take back the Bible from the Fundamentalists. I'm paraphrasing, but this is what I remember of his argument, which I like very much.

    The Bible is an invaluable repository of wisdom, story and metaphor, and the basis of so much of Western culture--our art, our literature, our language--yet we have handed it over to the lunatic fringe. And because it is "all theirs' they can do what they want with it, which is claim it as literal, incontestable Truth.

    Rushkoff encouraged artists, writers, musicians, filmmakers, bloggers ;). all of us, to start looking to the Bible again as a source of inspiration--no matter what our religious beliefs.

    The more those stories are used, the more ways they appear in our culture through different eyes, people of all faiths and of no faith offering different interpretations, the better for all of us.

    We cannot allow our heritage to be co-opted by an intolerant Christian sect. By claiming the mythic power of the Bible for ourselves, we weaken their hold on its meaning.

    As Masons we already do this, of course. Freemasonry is brilliant that way. But we should do more outside of the Lodge.

    For instance, I am an artist and writer. I use lots of symbolism and mythology in my work, but I have to admit I avoid biblical references, and I think that it is probably because I don't want my work to be mistaken for Christian.

    Time to change that.

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  11. As a fundamental, Bible-believing Christian and Mason, I simply say that views like those presented at the Creationist Museum, DO coincide with strict Biblical interpretation. As a Mason, we aspire to science, but I challenge you to ponder what the Creationist Museum is saying, and consider the implications and possibilities of truth in its viewpoint. You may not agree, but taking the Bible as literal can tie up many loose ends, provide a solid picture of God's creation, and can provide peace of mind.

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  12. To Sis:. Kelly:

    Very well put. Kinda sorta ties in with another posting I made about creationism and evolution, that there can be both scientific and poetic truth.

    To the anonymous Fundamentalist Christian Mason who posted previously:

    I have pondered what the Creationist Museum is attempting to put forth, and I conclude that it is rubbish.

    Now, again, please do not take my opinion for an attack on your beliefs, it is an *opinion*.

    That opinion, however is based on fact. Please consider that no remains that can be remotely considered human have been found in the Mesozoic strata.

    In addition, taking the Bible literally results in an age of earth inconsistant with astrological observation and radio carbon dating.

    My conclusions are based upon reading multiple translations of the modern Cannon, (Including the King James 1611 version and the New Catholic Bible), and comparing the information found therein to a fairly large body of scientific work on the age of earth and the development of life on this planet.

    In light of that evidence I know, (please note I did not use the word "believe"), that the creation myth as presented in Genisis 1:1 to 3:3 is not literally true.

    As for "tying up loose ends", I would say that it produces more questions than answers. For instance, created before women do not have one less rib than men, (to cite only one example; and Sis:. Kelly can verify this for us.)

    You have every right to hold whatever beliefs bring you peace of mind, but to represent these beliefs, which clearly contradict the observable world as science is disingenuous.

    TM

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  13. Sorry, the "created before women" non sequitor was the result of self editing the post over time.

    I appoligize if there was any confusion.

    Traveling Man

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  14. To Traveling Man-

    Yes, exactly. There is scientific truth and there is poetic truth. I would like to believe that they do become one at a higher level, but I am quite certain they do not become one at the Creation Museum.

    The anonymous poster said that he found that literal belief in the Bible can "tie up many loose ends...(and) provide peace of mind."

    I admire that he lays it out so honestly. He's seen the options, and has decided to opt for the comfort of literal interpretation.

    We live in a stressful world and have enough to do without having to ponder the meaning of existence. Easy answers are easy to embrace--that's the seduction of dogmatism.

    Questioning is uncomfortable -- there are times when I do not like it at all and wish I knew something for sure. But at what cost certainty?

    Now I'm going to try to count my ribs...

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  15. sis:. kelly,

    Thank you for the kind words.

    The difficulty that I have been recently struggling with is that while I absolutely respect science for what it tries to discover and explain. My struggle is that I see far too often, the scientific community (admittedly, often pumped up by an overzealous media) quickly embracing "findings" as fact. We find a small bone fragment, and suddenly, we have a rendering of a healthy dinosaur family. We find a fragment of a pot, and we soon see drawings of an entire city and its culture. We observe that the genes of higher primates are strikingly similar, so we assert that they must all be related in some linear manner.

    While Freemasonry is obviously speculative, I personally find it difficult to accept that part of science that is truly speculating about instead of really assessing fact. I certainly don't dismiss speculation. Drawing conclusions on fact is one thing, but to claim as fact conclusions drawn on speculation, doesn't hold water in my book. Science at large never seems to want to hedge or admit that it may fall short in explanation. Instead, often for sake of the almighty buck, it makes claims that many times are premature or inaccurate.

    The reason I personally embrace the "young earth creation" scenario is really not out of comfort, nor trying to avoid uncomfortable questioning. On the contrary, my conclusion is based on long study--scientifica and Biblical. You see, I perceive God as all-powerful and omnipotent. Taken that way, a young earth creation scenario is really not out of the realm of possibility. That so powerful and capable a God could create such a creation seems reasonable. And to compliment His creation, science is the study of just how God created everything and its workings.

    In my opinion, I believe that we as humans tend to consciously or unconsciously impose human limits on a God that, in my perception, is all-powerful and omnipotent. (How can God create all that in 6 days? How could an ark hold all of the seeds of a new humanity and animal world?, etc.) While science has certainly proved and explained much about the world around us, I believe that over-zealous people, and people with agendas, too often draw conclusions to fit their theory instead of re-assessing their theories given the facts presented.

    I do not ask you do abandon science, but to simply consider if God could actually do such a thing. So, I challenge you to consider the possibility of a literal Biblical explanation and its implications.

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  16. The bible is a book composed of many books written by the hand of man in a human language claiming to be the revelation of God. The cosmos is the creation of God and is all that can ever be truly verified and understood. When asked to believe in the Bible I am asked to put my faith in the words and ideas of men who existed 2000+ years ago with a very limited understanding of the cosmos. Since the cosmos is a reality that can be proven, not only by the human senses, but by empirical study, I choose to believe in God's revelation through the cosmos (creation).

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  17. Dear Bro. Anonymous,

    It is of course absolutely fruitless to argue religion or politics, but your post is so thoughtful I had to respond.

    You say : " I believe that we as humans tend to consciously or unconsciously impose human limits on a God that, in my perception, is all-powerful and omnipotent. (How can God create all that in 6 days? How could an ark hold all of the seeds of a new humanity and animal world?, etc.) "

    I'd say quite the opposite is true for me. I have no trouble thinking that God could stuff all those animals on the boat.

    My problem is that the God I can imagine would have no interest in stuffing all those animals on the boat.

    The Old Testament God is a peevish deity who has constructed a world like a tower of blockks. Then, when it does not turn out the way he likes it, knocks the blocks down in a tantrum. I just can't take this deity seriously.

    But that's me. You're okay with it, so I'd ask you this:

    If your deity is omnipotent, why would he bother with the ark at all? Why would he not just, I don't know, wave his giant hand and make them--and the whole world-- all over again? Or bring them up to heaven for the 40 days? Or put them in his pocket? Whatever.

    I mean, honestly, to have to resort to using using a boat (!) to save his creations makes him sound like a half-baked deity whose power is actually rather limited I mean, what is he, a holy FEMA? This is a seed of doubt if I've ever seen one.

    I use the ark as an example, but of course this reasoning applies to the rest of the creation story.

    Now I'd be willing to consider the ark as a *metaphor* for something -- but you really believe there was an actual ark. Do I understand you correctly?

    I fear, brother, that you and I could be stranded on an island together for fifty years with nothing but a Bible to read, and we'd still not see eye to eye.

    But for all that, I do wish you well.

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  18. An interesting debate on the ark and as it is one of our symbols in the Master Masons Degree here in Virginia I quote from our Manual of Work.

    "The Anchor and Ark are emblems of a well grounded hope and a well spent life. They are emblematic of that Divine Ark which safely wafts us over this tempestuous sea of troubles, and that Anchor which shall safely moor us in a peaceful harbor, where the wicked cease from troubling and where the weary shall find rest"

    The ancient Babylonians had a flood story and the Krishna's say the world was created from music and the greeks give us the building of the planet through a Bird and a golden egg. The Maori people of New Zealand explain creation through a love story. Most of these have some root in Sun and Water.

    The many people and societies past and present, we know of, have all tried to explain our beginning. Most are poetic and quite beautiful, including the Jewish system (the christians only inherited it). Now since all of these are based on faith, as the Creation Museum is, then why are we calling this science and not a theme park. As I read these comments and the Creation Museum Website and some of the 'scientists' writings It is all thematic.

    Now I know what it is. A Christian 'Land of Lost' (look out for Sleestaks)

    BTW: you can find a good collection of creation myths at this website.

    http://www.magictails.com/creationlinks.html

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  19. Yes, exactly. There is scientific truth and there is poetic truth. I would like to believe that they do become one at a higher level, but I am quite certain they do not become one at the Creation Museum.

    "[...] For instance, when the Editors of the Guide were sued by the families of those who had died as a result of taking the entry on the planet Traal literally (it said "Ravenous Bugblatter beasts often make a very good meal for visiting tourists" instead of "Ravenous Bugblatter beasts often make a very good meal of visiting tourists") they claimed that the first version of the sentence was the more aesthetically pleasing, summoned a qualified poet to testify under oath that beauty was truth, truth beauty and hoped thereby to prove that the guilty party was Life itself for failing to be either beautiful or true. The judges concurred, and in a moving speech held that Life itself was in contempt of court, and duly confiscated it from all those there present before going off to enjoy a pleasant evening's ultragolf."

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  20. I'm such a weirdo.

    I believe in intelligent design. Then again, I believe in evolution. But, now that you mention it, I believe the Universe is intelligent.

    Go figure. I'm such a freaking moron.

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  21. To anonymous, you had written:

    You see, I perceive God as all-powerful and omnipotent. Taken that way, a young earth creation scenario is really not out of the realm of possibility. That so powerful and capable a God could create such a creation seems reasonable. And to compliment His creation, science is the study of just how God created everything and its workings.

    On the contrary, the Univers functions acording to certain laws. Raidoactive isotopes do not suddenly accelerate their half lives. While we may wrangle about the nature of Deity, just how that entity went about forming all that we observe is governed by physical laws.

    To posit that an omnipotent being may have done this or that is bounded by the observable universe. There is simply no evidence that the creation myth as related in Genisis is grounded in fact. The age of the universe has been scientifically proven to be several billion years old. (See: http://www.astro.ucla.edu/~wright/age.html)

    Your statements about bone fragments and pottery shards is a straw man argument and a logical fallacy.

    Again, I will state that you have the right to hold whatever beliefs you choose, be it Creationism, Intelligent Desgin or Flying Spaghettimonsterism. But it is not science and should not be taught as such.

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  22. And I just couldn't resist:

    "We love the Sun God he's a really fun God! Ra! Ra! Ra!

    :D

    TM

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  23. Interesting article, you make some interesting points.

    museum directory

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