Answers in the New York Times25 May 2007
So I was reading yesterday's total softball exhibition review in the New York Times, on the new Ken Ham-built Creation Museum:
For the skeptic the wonder is at a strange universe shaped by elaborate arguments, strong convictions and intermittent invocations of scientific principle. For the believer, it seems, this museum provides a kind of relief: Finally the world is being shown as it really is, without the distortions of secularism and natural selection.
I mean, really softball:
The Creation Museum offers an alternate world that has its fascinations, even for a skeptic wary of the effect of so many unanswered assertions. He leaves feeling a bit like Adam emerging from Eden, all the world before him, freshly amazed at its strangeness and extravagant peculiarities.
You see, all freshness and light. But aside from being fantastically wrong, the thing sounds very creepy. I mean, it's like a Simpsons parody of itself:
Start accepting evolution or an ancient Earth, and the result is like the giant wrecking ball, labeled "Millions of Years," that is shown smashing the ground at the foundation of a church, the cracks reaching across the gallery to a model of a home in which videos demonstrate the imminence of moral dissolution. A teenager is shown sitting at a computer; he is, we are told, looking at pornography.
Clearly, the teenager is teenage Milhouse!
Well, the article is fairly clever, but not in the least bit critical of all this nonsense. Wondering who wrote it, I looked -- Edward Rothstein, the arts and culture reporter.
So I got to thinking, hmmm.... Why did the Times send their culture reporter to cover this museum in such a friendly way, when they assigned science reporter John Noble Wilford to cover this year's opening of the new Human Origins Hall at the American Museum of Natural History? I mean, they're on the same subject, right? Shouldn't they get the same reviewer?
Huh. So I got a little interested in what else Rothstein had written lately. I mean, didn't his trip on the Grand Canyon skywalk give him some insight into the Creation Museum's claim that it formed in 40 days and 40 nights?
And then I saw Rothstein's article from today's paper -- reviewing another new exhibit at the AMNH:
They lure children into dank swamps and devour them. They live in caves or among high rocks or deep in dense forests. They are covered with scales or thick fur. They have hands at the ends of their tails or a single glaring eye. They exhale fire, cause hurricanes with their wings or feast on human eyes, teeth and nails. They might also whimsically help the unwitting, but they are almost all mercurial, unreliable, tricksters.
Such are the mythic creatures of our earth.
Ah-ha! This is all becoming clear now. The Times wasn't really softballing the Answers in Genesis museum. It's just that Rothstein covers the unicorn and dragon beat!
How else to explain the uncanny similarities between these articles? For example, here is a passage from the Creation Museum review:
It is a measure of the museum's daring that dinosaurs and fossils — once considered major challenges to belief in the Bible's creation story — are here so central, appearing not as tests of faith, as one religious authority once surmised, but as creatures no different from the giraffes and cats that still walk the earth. Fossils, the museum teaches, are no older than Noah's flood; in fact dinosaurs were on the ark.
And here is a passage from today's "Mythic Creatures" review:
But these mythic creatures are actually transformations of real creatures glimpsed but barely understood. A sea serpent might be simulated by enormous schools of large fish leaping in the waves, the rise and fall of their bodies seeming to be knit into an enormous undulating being; turn a wheel at the exhibition, and miniature dolphins leap in the waves in a display case, appearing to form a single organism.
The kraken might have evolved from sightings of enormous squids, one of which was recently found in New Zealand, with single arms over 19 feet long. Nature sometimes trumps the human imagination.
OK, I admit it's confusing. One museum teaches mythology as science, another teaches mythology transformed by science. Read both reviews and see which is more interesting.