It is rather uncommon of me to spend more than a couple of days in any city I visit on work. There’s usually only enough time to grab a Baja Chalupa (beans instead of beef) at a Taco Bell for nostalgia purposes in between the time spent commuting to the Chennai airport, standing at the checkin counter and sweet talking the counter person into giving me a free upgrade, encountering annoyed Govt of India employees at Immigration, wading through a crowd of old Indian people who do not understand that their seat numbers are not between “30 and 45” which are boarding right now, spending 20 hours in seats designed for mid-sized rabbits, eating food that’s been microwaved to oblivion, dreaming of using silencing anti-vocal-cord rays on annoying Indian babies, opening the overhead luggage compartments and doing a Ranganathan St with fellow passengers in the aisles well before the pilot even shifts to landing gear, running ahead of everyone to get to the front of the Immigration line at JFK, switching on my American accent (which turns on like a tube light usually) and explaining that I’m here for “business discussions”, searching for my luggage, telling customs that I really do not have any cigarettes, “curry” or “pickles”, dropping my bags off at the Delta counter which is manned entirely by kiosks and uncommunicative bots, taking the JFK Airtrain to Terminal 3 to find 1 Delta employee and 400 kiosks attempting to deal with 800 passengers all of whom have a flight to catch in the next 10 minutes, stripping down bare for the TSA security guys (and also peeling off my epidermis just to be on the safe side) and finally reaching Cincinnati, a place I seem to travel to more often than Sholinganallur or Siruseri.
Cincinnati is a large city with levels of urban excitement that slightly exceed that of a doped bear in hibernation. So when I found myself staring at a 2 week long stay, I was worried about what I would do in my leisure time. That was when my colleague Harish, who, by the way, coined the term amit_123, pointed out that the Creation Museum was just a few miles from downtown Cincinnati, my religious (and blogging) instincts fired up and we found ourselves at 2800, Bullitsburg Church road, Petersburg, Kentucky on a Sunday afternoon. Kentucky is filled with places that end in “burg” and for some reason it reminded me of whiskey and hooded white men wielding torches that burned crosses, so we decided to play it safe. I became Christopher (“Chris”) Asher and my friend, Harish Ravindran became (as a result of his undying fanboyism) Harris Jeyaraj. I even told him that he could explain his last name to evangelical Christians as “Victory of the Kingdom of God” or something to that effect.
For the uninitiated, the Creation Museum is a 21 million USD attempt to prove Darwin, Science and General Common Sense wrong. It is a museum dedicated to proving that the Bible was literally right and that the universe was created in 4004 BC. Nice vanity year no? Palindromic too. Like custom registration plates for one’s car. Not 4372 BC or 4197 BC. I’m sure God’s plates must read “D00D” or something
But my fear of shotgun-wielding redneck evangelical Xenophobic christians turned out to be entirely misplaced. Bad science apart, the place was thoroughly pleasant. Our carefully crafted Christian avatars were about as useful as a comb would be to Patrick Stewart.
I am always disappointed when my precisely nurtured stereotypes fail to come true.
Long lines! Most people in the queue did not strike me as fundamentalist nutjobs out to destroy the Western intellectual tradition. They struck me as tourists who thought it might be a decent idea to take their kids to a museum that advertised dinosaurs.
Now, lifetime members are a different species altogether. They pay $495 and are people who seriously believe that (barring the engineering that built the museum itself) science is generally bad and that (a specific English version of ) the Bible is literally true. But then I have met VHP-RSS type uncles in Chennai who believe that India had the Pushpaka Vimaana thousands of years before the Wright brothers. And people drop jewellery into the Hundi at Tirupati, so to each his own I guess.
This is what one sees right before one walks into the first exhibit (the Grand Canyon). Man, coolly going about his work while a dinosaur greedily inspects um..leaves. Confused? Don’t worry. Have Faith. Things will become clear soon
There you go. Clearly Wyoming Tyranoswareshwara Iyer was, before he was corrupted by the West and the temptations of McD and Taco Bell, pure high-class vegetarian. But given reptiles’ general bad breath, I am assuming garlic and onion were OK. Perhaps they were Doubting Tamasiks
A little further in, I found this, and if you have any common sense at all, it will now be crystal clear. If God wanted you to eat thorny thick-skinned pineapples, he would have given you flesh tearing teeth too. It’s called Intelligent Design, you canines of the feminine kind
I must say that this line of reasoning is wickedly brilliant and it’s all over the museum. Compare complex and hard-to-understand scientific reasoning with the powerfully simple “God created it” and it’s really like giving a small kid a choice between “Vitamin enriched protein augmented Spirulina fortified Ginseng extract” and “Chocolate ice-cream”
Yet another application of this beautiful trick. What are you gonna believe? Some terribly complicated explanation involving genes and evolution OR the “Vadivel Theory of the Origin of Man” – Why flood? Same Flood.
There was so much irony in this poster that it could very well become a shrine for anaemic patients. It’s one of Hubble Space Telescope’s legendary photographs and it’s being used here to prove the Biblical view that the “firmament” was created in 4004 BC. Yes, Hubble (of the expanding universe fame) Space (which is billions of light years across) Telescope (made from glass -> sand that is billions of years old).
After the Grand Canyon exhibit, I ran into this. Clearly, the family is breaking apart in the modern irreligious world primarily because in the past, women were expected to simply STFU and listen. As @cgawker points out, if there’s one thing all religions agree on, it’s that women should be given a hard time
In keeping with tradition, here’s a teenage Eve tempting a teenage Adam to visit the next exhibit
The next exhibit turned out to be the Garden of Eden. And as you can clearly see, Adam is Kabir Bedi and Eve has dual-purpose long hair. I looked around for an “A” certificate and a “Directed by Jag Mundhra” tag, but could not find it
A little further into Eden, I caught these 2 Miohippi in a compromising position. After a careful gender inspection of both of these proto-horses, I can confidently declare that this was the first Biblical lesbian couple. Perhaps only human same-sex relationships are disallowed
Once in a while, the museum tests you to see if you got a hang of their essential message. On lifting the knob:
Duh. Of course no. There you go. Simple, is it not?
Suddenly, Harish pointed it out, and it all became clear to me.
The Four Prophets of Peterology. They made stuff up in the past. I make stuff up now.
And finally, I saw this and it struck me that pretty much every thing in the world can be explained by these 7 steps. Let’s take this modern day example. Adam “creates” a fight with his girlfriend. His mind is “corrupted” with all manner of doubts. It becomes a “catastrophe” when she walks out. He is then “confused”. He says “Jesus Christ, what do I do now”. He calls her and she is still “cross” with him. He apologizes and they make up, and then they make out, thus leading to “consummation”.
So hahaha, LOL and all that at all these creationist duffers etc. But then, the only difference between a 21 million dollar Creation Museum in Petersburg, KY and people who consult astrologers is budget. It’s easier to laugh at dinosaurs eating pineapples than it is to smirk at someone breaking coconuts for Lord Ganesha. One’s own way of life is always superior no? “Our” philosophy was more advanced than this sort of simplistic nonsense no?
It was interesting that I did not find the sort of people Richard Dawkins always seems to find when he goes about pwning creationists. I just found regular folk who didn’t particularly care much about the complexities of the origin of life, the universe and everything else, not even two score and two times. To them one explanation is as good as the other and while we can bemoan this collective failure of rational thinking, there isn’t much one can do except build a better real science museum right next to this one. Even then, I’ll still visit this place to feed the alpacas
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