creationism and dinosaurs

One treeorchard

This past weekend, I decided to visit the Creation Museum in Boone County, Kentucky. I had heard about it for years and a grad student at IU even decided to write a whole book on it (due in 2020 from NYU press). So I took a few hours and checked it out.

Even though I think the science presented in the museum is deeply in error, I did enjoy my visit. The botanical garden is nice, facilities are very pleasant and the staff was nice. The museum is a nice two story building. It is mainly oriented toward the Old Testament but with a lot of explanations of how biological observations need to be conformed with scripture. It also has an unexpected racial egalitarianism. For example, at multiple times, I was reminded that God made one type of man, not many, and for that reason racism was evil.

Perhaps the most interesting thing was the heavy emphasis on dinosaurs. Part of this is likely commercial. Dinosaurs sell, a lot. But it is also epistemology. If there is one glaring piece of popular culture that directly undermine creationism, it is the popular belief in giant reptiles that lived millions of years ago. So they need to face it head on.

How? First, they attack evolution, which they define as the theory that all living creatures on earth evolved from single cell organisms via natural selection. See the left hand image above. Then, they argue that there is natural selection but employ an “orchard model.” See the right hand image above. In that model, biological variation occurs because the Lord made differ types of animals initially. Most variation we see comes from post-Flood speciation.

The second big step is a complete reinterpretation of the fossil record through an admittedly clever theory. According to catastrophic plate tectonic theory, the earth pre-Flood was essentially a single continent. It broke, and thus were created ruptures and valleys. Ecosystems near the edge fell first. Then, other ecosystems piled on. That is why it only looks as if the fossil record is really old, when it is not. But what about dinosaurs? The exhibit states that Noah took dinosaurs because scripture says he took pairs of all creatures. So where are they today? A video offers a simple explanation – they were preyed upon by other animals and humans.

I could further delve into where I think the science is off (e.g., at multiple points, exhibits claim that mutation reduces genetic variation) but I’d rather focus on how the organizational form of the educational museum, religious institution, heterodox science, and outreach program all come together. And this is especially clear in the treatment of dinosaurs. This is where pop culture meets new social movements and, frankly, it is fascinating.



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Written by fabiorojas

October 8, 2019 at 6:36 pm

Posted in uncategorized

3 Responses

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  1. I enjoyed this essay, but you owe it to the “grad student at IU” to name their name and give the book title, if known!



    October 22, 2019 at 1:40 am

  2. They’re waiting for it to be announced by the press as it is being finished up. But trust me, I’ll blog. It’s awesome.



    October 22, 2019 at 1:42 am

  3. […] what the Creation Museum in Kentucky says about dinosaurs. More interesting than you might think. What the museum says is wrong, of course, but the specific […]


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