Often, when I visit a museum of natural history, I'm overwhelmed by the density of information presented in each room, in each diorama, on every plaque. Not so much at the Creation Museum. There, I was overwhelmed by the density expected of ME.
The Creation Museum is the creation (in more than seven days, I suspect) of a group called Answers in Genesis which espouses not only the literal interpretation of the Good Book, but a "Biblically-based world view." AiG spent 27 million dollars on this massive facility in Petersburg, KY. On opening day, a group of protesters staged a "Rally for Reason" at the CM presided over by Edwin Kagin, two-time Atheist of the Year, and my host for a recent house concert in northern Kentucky. (And my my song "Creation Science 101 " was played in constant rotation in the van on the way to the rally by my buddy John Welte.)
"Prepare to Believe" read the slogan at the ticket counter. Yes, I paid to get in, so you wouldn't have to.
Just inside the "Canyon Entrance" there's a video featuring two paleontologists gently brushing dirt from an embedded fossil. "My friend Kym and I are both pale-ee-on-tol-o-gists," explains the one who's white. "We look at the same fossil evidence, but we come away with entirely different conclusions. This is because we begin at Different Starting Points."
Kym, you see, relies on Human Reason and concludes that the remains are millions of years old. But our friend proceeds from the unquestioning acceptance of God's Word as revealed in the Bible, and knows that this specimen must have died and been buried in sediment in the Great Flood 4,300 years ago, give or take a Tuesday.
Human Reason and God's Word. Different Starting Points, see? The first two large exhibit rooms are devoted to this gleeful embrace of ignorance, A/B-ing Human Reason (wrong) and God's Word (right) as they pertain to the natural world.
It was Saturday morning, and the place was crowded with families and bussloads of Baptists. I heard a grandpa explaining to his son and grandson, "Evolutionists just assume that they're right, so everything they see fits "their theory." "Right," said the son, for his son's benefit.
In chamber after chamber, the Young Earth Creationist saga unfolds life-size. Eve is Cher with well-placed hair. (Until the shame of the Fall forces her to cover herself in animal skins - then she's, well, Cher.) Adam is a bearded Fabio. The denizens of Eden cavort with dinosours - one Triceratops even wears a saddle.
Methuselah is a scary audio-animatron who makes you guess his age. (969.) Noah looks something like Gene Hackman. Moses looks nothing like Charleton Heston.
There are several rooms and passages devoted to the horrors of an un-Biblical world - projected images of heroin addicts, blister-covered babies, Nazis, graffiti - which make some little kids cower until their moms assure them that it's going to be okay, because God loves them.
I kept walking, walking, walking. It's huge. And all around me the people were lapping it up like cream. "This is amazing," said one. "It's unbelievable!" said another.
Going in, I was naive enough to think there'd be some case made for Creationism, or some attempt to rebut Evolution. There's no such thing. It's just a big, big presentation of a small idea. It's like a lot of the Christian Music I've heard all across the country - schmaltzy, bombastic productions of boneheaded three-chord songs. This museum is not at all aimed at doubters, empiricists, sinners and Liberals like me. It's mind candy for the Faithful.
And yet, I look around at these people, and I'm not inclined to mock them. I like these people. They're funny, some of them. They're trying to do something good. And they are smart - yes, they are.
And I think about the tiny, simple world they've wedged between two leather covers, and I stop laughing altogether. Because these are the people Karl Rove jerks around. These are the people who vote against their own economic interests, against their own workplace safety, against the real security of the country they love, just so gay people can't get married. These are people who accept things on faith - things like, "Barack Obama is a Muslim," and "Sarah Palin is a reformer" and that there's a "Pro-Abortion Movement" in America.
I suspect that my funny songs wouldn't change their way of thinking, but that doesn't make them my enemies. My enemies are the powerful people who exploit the simple desire to have simple answers.
I left the Creation Museum happy for that clarity, and proud to be doing these songs, attempting at least to ward off an America whose slogan reads, "Prepare to Believe," or worse, "Abandon intellect, all ye who enter here."
(Roy Zimmerman is a satirical and skeptical singer/songwriter. More information can be found at http://www.royzimmerman.com)