Thursday, May 24, 2007

When dinosaurs roamed Eden

Perhaps you are foolish enough to take the travel advice we offer from time to time here at ITM. Perhaps you have already booked your ticket for JesuslandJerusalem in Orlando, where history comes alive and the Messiah walks the earth to the accompaniment of "original musical productions." So, having shaken hands with a Jesus impersonator, what do you do next?

Book a ticket for the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky, of course. Where else can you see dinosaurs roaming the Garden of Eden? According to the New York Times, you can enter the following alternate universe:

Outside the museum scientists may assert that the universe is billions of years old, that fossils are the remains of animals living hundreds of millions of years ago, and that life’s diversity is the result of evolution by natural selection. But inside the museum the Earth is barely 6,000 years old, dinosaurs were created on the sixth day, and Jesus is the savior who will one day repair the trauma of man’s fall.

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.

What is glossed over blithely by the museum's curators is that the Garden of Eden was not actually large enough to sustain the nutritional requirements of thousands of herbivorous dinosaurs, and what else could God say but "D'oh!" when an especially peckish Apatosauraus devoured the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, snake and all? Then there is also the untold story of how a rebellious T. Rex devoured Abel (there just wasn't a lot of meat to go around) and Cain had to shoulder the blame.

All snark aside, Edward Rothstein's museum review from which I've posted an extract is patient and, given the museum's mission, generous.

PS If you'd like to follow through ITM's ongoing conversation about fantasizing the past as a place for the present to inhabit, you may be interested in these earlier posts:


Karl Steel said...

Newer readers might not have seen this:

Tredington - St. John the Baptist
5 mls NW of Cheltenham
The church has a timber-framed tower & spire. In the porch floor are the fossil remains of a marine reptile similar to an Ichthyosaurus. There is a fine Norman chancel arch and Elizabethan plaster ceiling. Outside is a 14th century churchyard cross.
Tel. 01242 680307 Open all year, daily."

Jeffrey Cohen said...

My summer project is to take the trek and finally see the thing.

Michael O'Rourke said...

and come to Dublin?

Jeffrey Cohen said...

If my son has his way, Michael, we will ... he fiercely wants to be in Ireland. But we have an apartment in London for two weeks, and two weeks is the duration of our stay ... and Dublin isn't exactly a day trip!