(this is a continuation of Creation Museum Part 3)
After the despair of Graffiti Alley, we headed into the Garden of Eden and the biblical creation story. It’s worth noting here that the Garden of Eden room was absolutely incredible from a quality standpoint. Like much of the rest of the museum, the craftsmanship that went into these displays was tremendous.
The path winds through the garden and touches upon different aspects of the creation story… Adam and Eve, Adam naming the animals, the serpent watching them bathe, etc. There are actual waterfalls, amazingly realistic plants, a “Tree of Life” that had spectacular detail, and (of course) dinosaurs. Before we get to those, however, let’s take a look at the displays and the accompanying plaques that explain them.
God didn’t want Adam to be alone, evidently, because “It is not good for the man to be alone.” It seems his desire to “dwell with humans for eternity” (see Part 3) didn’t include keeping Adam company himself. He needed to do that by proxy.
This is where the bible starts off with sexism, which it continues to promote with abandon in both the old and new testaments, not the least of which in 1 Timothy. Adam was created from dust, according to Genesis, but Eve was made from one of Adam’s ribs… as a helper.
Here are the plaques pertaining to Adam and Eve at the museum.
This is also where the the arguments for “traditional” marriage come from… not from any sense of logic or reason, but directly from the bible. It’s the only basis for denying marriage rights to homosexuals, which is sad. And it’s sad that this notion of using the bible as a guide to morality continues to be perpetuated in our society. To anyone who’s actually read the bible, it should seem an absurdity of the highest order. Two thousand year old dogma does not make for a genuinely enlightened society.
The tour continues with a scene portraying Adam naming the animals. According to one of the plaques (not pictured), Adam only named “birds, cattle, and beasts of the field – probably only animals closely associated with man [...]” It seems “beasts of the earth” and “creeping things” were not included (based on the scene at the museum, however, Adam did name penguins… go figure).
Then the plaque’s text starts in with pretending to be scientific with this statement.
If the created kinds correspond to modern families, as many creation biologists believe, then Adam named fewer than two hundred animals. Naming all these animals would require only a few hours, at most.
This argument of “kinds” is used throughout the “Noah’s Ark” displays as well, in an attempt to argue that all the animal “kinds” could easily have fit on the ark. I’ll get to that later, but this is where the museum first brings it up, if I recall correctly.
Of course, Adam would be naming goats and sheep and other common herbivores. Perhaps he would name common carnivores as well, but that posed no danger to him, since before the Fall, all the animals, including the dinosaurs, were vegetarians. The idea that, before the Fall, there was no death, doesn’t seem to apply to plant life. Across the path from Adam naming the animals, we get our glimpse of one of the vegetarian dinosaurs in the Garden of Eden who seems to have a fondness for pineapples. In the background, the gentle, herbivorous brachiosaurus is seen as well. Another dinosaur in the Garden is shown to have a greater fondness for apples.
Strangely enough, there are no examples shown of tyrannosaurus rexes or velociraptors in the Garden.
There are plenty of examples further along the tour that show before-and-after consequences of the Fall, such as poison, venom, scavengers, etc… but I’m getting ahead of myself. At this point, the Garden of Eden is all pure and death-free (except for plants).
Here is the first hint in the display that things are about to go horribly, horribly wrong. This scene was pretty spectacular, with real waterfalls and extremely detailed rocks, trees, and plants. Adam and Eve are innocently hanging out in a pool while the decidedly sinister-looking serpent rests coiled in the tree above… plotting his evil deeds, no doubt.
There’s no mention of how the serpent got into God’s perfect garden in the first place… or why he chose to manifest himself as a serpent instead of something more innocuous… like a vegetarian kitten or something.
Here are some close-ups of the scene with the accompanying plaque.
If you enlarge the photos, you can easily see the amount of work that was put into these displays to get the terrific level of detail. Regardless of whether you buy into the story or not, the displays were sincerely impressive.
The plaque in the middle is a good example of a problem with a literal interpretation of Genesis. The Creation Museum (and its parent, Answers in Genesis), is very clear about its literal interpretation of the bible. Yet the verse depicted here makes the statement that, if you eat the fruit of this one tree, you will surely die… that day. But that didn’t happen. Apologists will try to say that the verse means that Adam and Eve will die “spiritually,” not physically (and some later translations removed the temporal restriction)… but that’s not what the verse says. This is a common tactic among people who claim a literal reading. It’s literal when it suits them, but metaphorical when it doesn’t.
The serpent lures Eve into chomping on the knowledgey fruit (by telling her the truth, by the way), and she gets Adam to do the same (yet another biblical reason for sexism… it was all Eve’s fault)… and that’s where things go all to Hell… so to speak.
God’s gloriously perfect creation (except for the deliberate setup for failure and the presence of a supposedly evil serpent) was all wrecked because Adam chose to disobey God, choosing instead to listen to his only companion in the world and eat a bit of fruit.
With Adam’s sin, death and suffering entered the creation for the first time. Disease and natural catastrophes also began at this time. The creation is no longer perfect, as God originally designed it, because in Adam, we committed high treason against the God of creation.
Whoa there! WE committed high treason? I think not. I also think that in this story, the creation was extremely far from perfect. And if this biblical god decided that, because Adam ate some fruit that he wasn’t supposed to eat, an appropriate punishment was to create disease, natural catastrophes, suffering, and all kinds of other nastiness… pretty much forever… then I think that this story is about as far as you can get from an acceptable moral teaching. It’s reprehensible.
After the Fall, all kinds of “bad” things supposedly happened. The first blood sacrifices happened (pictured below), carnivores and death appeared (pictured below… but now with velociraptors which were noticeably absent from the Garden of Eden), and (gasp!) hard work appeared!
There is an entire section of plaques explaining things that happened after the Fall. I mentioned them earlier; venom, death, disease, carnivores, “Red Tooth and Claw,” scavengers, cosmic aging (seriously), conflict, poisons, weeds, burdensome work, etc. Here are a few examples of the plaques:
The plaque on carnivores states, “We do not know how meat eating first entered the world” but it’s possible that “the diet of some animals merely changed.” Actually, we do have a pretty good idea of how meat eating first entered the world. It’s pretty well explained by evolutionary theory. The plaque is absurd. The plaque on scavengers says pretty much the same thing, thereby descending to the same level of absurdity.
The plaque on weeds is the funniest, however. It basically says that, because God screwed up the original design, allowing things to get out of hand, he had to then step in and introduce the “overproduction of plants” to compensate for all the extra animals that would be around eating them. So plants had to “struggle against other plants for survival” (OMG natural selection!) and they grew where they weren’t wanted, hence becoming weeds.
The fact that some people can actually believe this story and these explanations are factual just boggles my mind. When read as an allegory, it works just fine, much like Aesop’s Fables. But nobody seriously believes that a talking fox tried to get some grapes, failed, and then walked away, muttering that the grapes were probably sour. It’s a story. That’s all.
That’s what the biblical creation story is, but the Creation Museum is alarmingly deceitful in its attempt to portray the entire story as true and scientifically accurate. More worrisome is the fact that many people agree with the museum’s viewpoint… and those people are indoctrinating their children to believe the same anti-intellectual nonsense that they themselves believe. It’s a recipe for societal disaster. When ignorance is promulgated as a virtue, as it is within the walls of this museum, civilization is harmed in an insidious way. When we stop seeking answers about our world, instead relying solely on ancient religious dogma, we take a grand step backward on the evolutionary ladder.
…and that is a bigger fall than the biblical authors could ever have imagined.
(the tour will continue in part 5)