America and the Creationist Museum

Just when I start to feel safe in identifying as an American in the UK, something comes along to make me cringe. The big news from yesterday concerned the opening of a “Creationist Museum” in Kentucky in the US. The idea that there is sufficient support and resources available to encourage such an effort–the museum is listed as costing $27 million and that’s a lot of money in any currency–is somewhat shocking given the pure propaganda context of the place. The whole thing plays into the hands of those who wish to dismiss Americans as nuts in general and American Christians as strange outliers in the developed world. There are shocking statistics about the way that American society as a whole does not actually benefit from religion, and although I take most social science research with a grain of salt, I think there is some scope for serious thought here.

In a strangely timed coincidence, I was at a discussion last night concerning the book, “The God Delusion” by Richard Dawkins (which is probably the book mentioned at the close of the article). The book has gotten mixed reviews but been very popular, and I do plan to read it when time is available (perhaps on an upcoming long-haul flight). It seems to me that there is a decent point made by Dawkins about the religious indoctrination of children and I suspect (but don’t know for certain) that this is a major factor in things like the Creationist museum. A strange sort of peer pressure in the US makes it not just okay to believe in things like this (young-earth pseudo-science) that contradict common sense, science and experience, but also mandatory to demonstrate these “values” publicly and boldly–with a $27 million Creationist museum as a good example of money that could have been better spent on something to help with the actual ills in American society.

Update: See a nicely complementary piece on the Onion.

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3 responses to “America and the Creationist Museum

  1. Yeah, but it is private money – the thing is not publically funded, thank god (er, right). So for these people, they *are* using their money to address the social ill of what they term as godlessness in American society… and they have that right.

    I think that within six months the whole thing will be valued only for its kitsch value, like the Spam Museum in Minnesota. It is too off-the-charts to be taken seriously.

  2. notfromaroundhere

    I think this issue of “it’s private money” is exactly the problem! For a long time, the far-right in the US (including the ultra-fundamentalist evangelicals) have argued that the government should not be involved with social welfare programs but that these should be run through the churches with private money and government should be small. OK, that’s a lovely idea if the churches really take up the reins and do so, but if instead you’re going to spend millions on this museum in the face of a deepening health care crisis when the uninsured or underinsured are such a large part of the population (and that’s just one of the social ills that is truly problematic in the US) well, then I do have a problem with how people are spending this “private” money.

  3. American churches *do* spend a lot of time and money on social welfare initiatives, you can’t discount that in the face of a group of idiots who are wasting money on animatronic vegetarian dinosaurs on Noah’s Ark (though, is it wrong that part of me wants to go to the museum just to see the animatronic dinosaurs? I have a bit of a weakness for such things). This particular group – and the money they’ve spent on the museum – is not representative of the whole, and the article does not give us any indication of where this money came from. Is it the product of special offerings on Sunday mornings, or was there a wealthy and eccentric donor who was unwilling to spend his money any other way? Anyway, unless you advocate a system in which some higher power – like the government – has a vote in how you spend your money or the right to intervene if you’re not spending it the “right” way, there’s not much that can or should be done about it. You can call them hypocrites, if you can ascertain what their political beliefs are and determine that they are against the government providing for the poor, but not much else.

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