Because stupid people need museums too.
This is about the distinction between form and function. Specifically about the talismanic power stupid people invest in the former in the hopes of conjuring the latter.
Genesis of a museum
Creationists, saying all the answers are in the Bible, put their beliefs on display in $25 million facility
By Lisa Anderson
Tribune national correspondent
April 25, 2006
PETERSBURG, Ky. -- The recent fossil discovery of a 375-million-year-old fish that could lurch ashore on bony transitional fins--apparently a long-sought missing link between sea creatures and land animals--made a spectacular splash in evolutionary science circles. But it created nary a ripple on the placid American campus of Answers in Genesis, where an enormous museum chronicling the biblical six days of creation is rising fast amid rolling fields.
Ken Ham, co-founder and president of Answers in Genesis, believed to be the world's largest creationist organization, and most "young-Earth" creationists are as unimpressed by science's finding another piece in the evolutionary puzzle as they are with science's finding the Earth to be 4.5 billion years old.
Using biblical calculations, young-Earth creationists believe the planet is about 6,000 years old; old-Earth creationists believe it could be older. Both, however, take the Bible literally and reject Charles Darwin's evolutionary theory that all life, including human, shares common ancestry and developed through random mutation and natural selection. Evolution enjoys near-universal support among scientists.
Not so among the American public, about half of which endorses creationism, according to polls. While new concepts such as intelligent design, which posits that life is so complicated that an intelligence must have devised it, recently have suffered setbacks from court rulings and scientific findings, creationism thrives, and Answers in Genesis is a strong sign of that.
Just hours after the fossil fish, called Tiktaalik roseae, landed on the front pages of many newspapers earlier this month, it also surfaced on the Answers in Genesis Web site. In a posting titled "Gone fishin' for a missing link?" the organization, in effect, threw Tiktaalik roseae back.
"Because evolutionists want to discover transitional forms, when they find a very old fish with leg-bone-like bones in its fins, they want to interpret this as evidence that it is some sort of transitional creature. . . . It may be just another example of the wonderful design of our Creator God," the posting said.
For creationists, there are no transitional creatures and no doubts. In the Book of Genesis, the biblical calendar of creation is as clear and simple as it is sacred: God created creatures of the sea and the air on Day 5. Land animals and man appeared on Day 6. And all of this, including the creation of Earth, happened about 6,000 years ago.
According to nearly a quarter-century of Gallup polls, about half of all Americans consistently agree with the biblical account that "God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so." Polling also indicates that a majority of Americans say creationism should be taught alongside evolution in public school biology classes.
"It is strengthening. It's not adding more proponents, it's growing in terms of giving increased confidence to those who share that belief," said Ronald Wetherington, an anthropologist at Dallas' Southern Methodist University. He cited an American political climate in which creationists, who include many so-called values voters and evangelicals, feel politically and culturally empowered rather than marginalized.
"The 250,000 people going to it will go back to their legislators and pressure them to vote for Jesus," said Volney Gay, director of the Center for Religion and Culture at Vanderbilt University in Nashville. "There's a suspicion of science and a suspicion of intellectuals in general."
Said Ham: "What we see is if you can get information to people, their worldview will be changed, and the way they vote on issues, on a school board or whatever, will reflect that change."
The dinosaur replicas, many of them animatronic, are spectacular: Creationists say dinosaurs lived simultaneously with humans because their death came only after original sin. Some of the more compelling effects are in the key rooms depicting what are called "The Seven C's of History." They are: creation, corruption, catastrophe (the destruction of the world by Noah's flood), confusion (Babel), Christ, the cross and consummation (his death and resurrection).
Along the Creation Walk
For instance, soft lighting, gentle sounds and pleasant fragrances will mark the Creation Walk, where Adam and Eve chat with God in the Garden of Eden before they are corrupted to commit original sin by an animatronic serpent. The dimly lit Corruption galleries, by comparison, will feature videos of pain and suffering, noxious odors and the heat, literally, turned up.
"We're trying to make this the most uncomfortable place in the museum to show how original sin has corrupted the universe," Zovath said on a tour through the site.
- - -
Terms of debate
Evolution: Charles Darwin's theory, accepted nearly universally by scientists, says that all life on Earth, including human, shares common ancestry and evolved to its present state through random mutation and natural selection.
Creationism: Advanced by religious conservatives in response to Darwin's theory, creationism adheres to the biblical account that God alone created the world and all life in it, much as it is today, at one point within the last 10,000 years.
Creation science: Claims scientific evidence for the biblical version of creation.
Intelligent design: Considered a successor to creationism, intelligent design became popular in the early 1990s after the U.S. Supreme Court banned the teaching of creationism in public schools in 1987. Intelligent design posits that there are weaknesses in Darwin's theory and suggests that an unnamed intelligence must have designed some aspects of life.
-- Lisa Anderson
Future historians -- probably Indian -- will disinter this animatronic idiocy and admire the handiwork of the Pre-Columbian natives who fashioned such cunning, pre-literate totems.
Then they will note the date – the early 21st Century – and the location – at the heart of what was then the most technologically advanced civilization on Earth – and they will laugh and laugh and laugh.
Clearly the Americans, being a generous and noble people, had found a wise and humane was of dealing with the residuum of mentally stunted halfwits that every society will inevitably produce. Those few angrily underclocked child-men who cannot cope with the rigors of math or science or conjunctions or hitting the bowl when they pee.
Like Colonial Williamsburg or South Dakota, Americans had manufactured another wholly fake community for some socially intriguing reason that our descendents (or the descendents of the people we speak to when we call the 800-number on the back of our major appliances when they flake out) will theorize cleverly about.
That rather than efficiently generically engineering the incapacitating disease of conservative fundamentalism out of our blood, we humanely gave them their own s-l-o-w children’s camp. It was a dim-but-cheery place with its own, comforting fake history of the planet, its own cartoon God, and even its own news network that told the stupid people that God loved them better than anyone else. That they didn’t need sense enough to pound sand or as much compassion as God gave a Pitcher plant, as long as they were “Saved”.
And anyway, they weren’t really stupid.
The “elites” were stupid.
And maybe these “Flowers For AlgernonLand” designers even had a few chuckles at the expense of their devolved fellow citizens; perhaps once in a while laughing themselves to tears as the dense denizens of the place scared themselves over and over again scampering down “The dimly lit Corruption galleries, by comparison, will feature videos of pain and suffering, noxious odors and the heat, literally, turned up.”
Dumbing down by several orders of magnitude a complex allegory about the inherency of pain and loss in a dualistic Universe within the field of Time…into God’s own a Pull-My-Finger joke.
At least I hope that’s the tale they’ll tell themselves, because the truth is so much simpler and sadder.
The truth is that for all of its think tanks, fake media and Small Gummint bluster, the Republican Party would evaporate tomorrow like dew in a firestorm if it were not kept lavishly stocked with bigots and idiots. Without its bumper crop of racists yielded from the Southern Strategy, its millions of fanatically anti-Enlightenment Christopaths and the millions of garden variety stupids, the GOP would be one dead fucking parrot…and the people running the Party like a Long Con damned well know it.
Which is why every strategy is aimed at creating more stupid people.
Because the more logic-intolerant the base, the easier everything gets.
For example, imagine how much less you have to spend on marketing when you no longer have to worry about making a well-reasoned argument…about anything.
Piss in their hair and when they start to notice something is wrong, all you need to do is flash a picture of two men kissing and they’ll charge obediently off of whatever cliff they’re led.
Take a massive dump in their mouths and when the start to gag on it, and all need to do is scream “Ted Kennedy!” at them as loud as possible and they’re swallow your excrement like baby birds and beg for more.
Lie them into a ruinous war, send their kids off to die for the greater glory of Exxon, and when they verge dangerously on the edge of beginning to add two and two together correctly, all you need is (HT to the irreplaceable Billmon at the Whiskey Bar for his brilliant post from which I nicked this)…
The programmes of the Two Minute Hate varied from day to day, but there was none in which Goldstein was not the principal figure. He was the primal traitor, the earliest defiler of the Party's purity. All subsequent crimes against the Party, all treacheries, acts of sabotage, heresies, deviations, sprang directly out of his teachings.George Orwell
However, in the end the stupids already have buildings -- constitutionally inviolate buildings -- in which they can enact their own, ridiculous creation mythology over and over again to their widdle heart’s content.
They’re called “churches”, so why do they need a museum?
Because this is about the distinction between form and function.
Deep, deep down these people suspect they’re morons, which is why they need the constant reassurance of their Leaders and their God that they are not. They’re a mob, and a mob can always provoke fear, but in the end they crave the one thing they do not, and never will have: respect.
Respect, and the matriculation into the halls of wisdom of their idiotic ideas.
And since that’s never, ever going to happen, they need an alternative. One that their leaders are happy to provide.
Because part of the tragic deficiency of these people is that they cannot comprehend the difference between an Idea and a Representation Object. A pathetic fact they prove over and over again.
This is what every American Flag Burning debate boils down to: the rage of people who reflexively choose to value a Symbol over the Constitutional Ideal for which that symbol is a proxy.
This is what every Confederate Flag Worship debate boils down to: the rage of people who demand that the fake, manufactured history of their hate rag efface its actual history as a calculated symbol of segregation, lynching and Southern terrorism for much of the 20th century.
This is what every Fundamentalist punch-up comes down to: the rage people who furiously fetishize the literality and inerrancy of a book which is neither, and demand that their Idol trump both the Constitution and genuine religious scholarship.
These are the people to whom the GOP panders because these are the people on whom every one of their victories depends. And to that end they are they are cultivated, fertilized and praised to rafters.
And since they cannot comprehend the distinction between a Building and the Academy, WTF? Animate a few dinos frolicking with Adam and Eve, call it a Museum and Bingo!
Instant parity with actual Science!
Sure it’s every bit as childish and ridiculous as me putting a pair of Eisehower’s underpants on my head and claiming that I'm the co-architect of the D-Day invasion.
But of course, I’m not the GOP’s target demographic.
(Oh and one correction to the actual article. Ms. Anderson explains the several words and phrases at the end of the article under the heading of "Terms of debate".
She is mistaken.
There is no debate.)
UPDATE: Welcome Crooks & Liars visitors.
Beer in the back, and bathroom on your right.