Kentucky’s new Creation Museum (Adam and Eve were really hot!)
Hallelujah! The Creation Museum has just opened its doors this week in Kentucky, U.S.A, with 4,000 visitors the first day. Armed guards dressed in black with attack dogs patrolled the grounds, presumably to deter the handful of atheist protestors who showed up from thinking they could get away with sabotage. Inside, animatronic, vegetarian T. rexes graze in the same fields where children play. In the picture published on salon.com, a very tanned and sexy Adam and Eve look at each other longingly, and I’m not sure because they’re mostly covered up with her hair, but it looks like Eve may have had breast implants (thanks, God!). No, wait: maybe that’s just her breasts before the fall.
The new museum puts me in mind of some of the anthropology publications that I subscribe to which have recently been serving up homilies about how anthropologists should rally round to oppose the teaching of creationism and intelligent design (ID) in American schools. As Chris Toumey puts it,
“Our discipline of anthropology ought to take the intelligent design agenda seriously, and should actively oppose it, for two reasons: First, it is wrong for our public schools to mislead students. Secondly, intelligent design is a prominent feature of the so-called culture wars. Each victory for intelligent design in the classroom or the courtroom makes it easier to discredit the accounts of human origins that we generate in anthropology, along with the methods and concepts that guide our work.”
Edwin Segal, meanwhile, complains that ID “shows no understanding of science, scientific thought, or scientific progress.”
I’d like to see Anthropology News and its ilk publish careful ethnographic analysis of the debates over intelligent design and the teaching of evolution in the United States. For example, in the set-up of Us vs. Them, with Them attempting to overthrow logic, science, and “progress,” we might see the glimmerings of an intellectual line of descent between contemporary anthro attacks on ID and the notion of “progress” that characterized early anthropology’s attempts to give an evolutionary framework to culture. And I for one would love to know more about what broad visions of time and human history are imagined by proponents of ID. Is it still fundamentally a story of progress? Is it eschatological? Is it a cyclical process of cultural decay and divine renewal (as the Mormon account of ancient American history is)? In the Creation Museum, for example, visitors are taught about the “‘Six C’s of History’: creation, corruption, catastrophe, confusion, Christ, and consummation.” Some of the interesting things that could be revealed about one nation’s multiple visions of human history get trampled down by the “down with ID!” line of attack.
For choir members who have heard enough serious talk about how Bad creationism and ID are, Colin Purrington has attempted to lighten things up a bit by proposing a hilarious set of science textbook stickers on evolution and intelligent design. The background: a school district in Georgia (southern U.S., not the former Soviet Union) mandated that the science textbooks that were being taught in the schools have a sticker attached to the outside of the books reading,
“This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully, and critically considered.”
Purrington proposes that opponents print up competing stickers, to be affixed over the school board’s stickers. A sampling:
“This book discusses evolution. President George W. Bush said, ‘On the issue of evolution, the verdict is still out on how God created the Earth.’ Therefore, until 2009 this material shood be aproched with an open mind, studeed carefuly, and critcly consid’rd.”
He also has a set of stickers that can be stuck to other texts that promote ID. A sampling:
“This book was anonymously donated to your school library to discreetly promote religious alternatives to the theory of evolution. When you are finished with it, please refile the book in the fiction section.”
There are more on Purrington’s Flickr website.
Back to the Creation Museum: how could anyone possibly poke more fun at it? This unbeliever is hard pressed to imagine anything that could be funnier than the museum itself, with its depictions of humans and dinosaurs peaceably living together and a Grand Canyon carved out instantaneously (geologically speaking) in the wake of Noah’s Flood. If Baudrillard could coin the term simulacra to describe a copy that has no original, what term might we coin to describe an object that is its own parody? I’m not an etymologist, so someone who knows Greek, please help me out here.