Wednesday, May 28, 2008

It Was Childish Enough Before...

According to Answers in Genesis, Ken Ham's laughable but well-funded Young Earth Creationist organization, the Creation Museum that blights my home state of Kentucky will soon receive a small makeover in the form of numerous kiosks and additions to make it more kid-friendly. Considering the fact that the Museum peddles a bizarre history in which the universe was created 2,000 years after the invention of the battle axe* and Noah took dinosaurs on the ark,** I don't know exactly how the Creation Museum could get any more childish. Honestly, this is an organization that exists for the purpose of arguing for the historical accuracy of The Flintstones. Other than, I dunno, hiring on Barney the Dinosaur as a greeter, what could they possibly do to kiddify it even more? I guess it's important to drum this crazy message into children before they've had the chance to develop any critical thinking skills whatsoever.

On another note, I'm looking at the museum's rates I see that it costs a whopping $19.95 plus tax for an adult to get in. Meanwhile, the Louisville Zoo, where you might actually learn something that's true, costs a mere $11.95 for an adult admission, and the Louisville Science Center only charges $15 for admission to the center itself and an IMAX show. Hell, even a yearly family membership to the Zoo only costs $75 compared to the Creation Museum's whopping $125, and the Louisville Zoo boasts a world-beating gorilla enclosure whereas the Creation Museum has nothing but fiberglass dinosaurs and lies. Apparently the Young Earthers are as money-hungry as they are asinine.

* Archaeological evidence shows that the first axes with a handle (haft) were manufactured around 6,000 BC. The Creation Museum's brand of YEC is premised on a universe that began around 4,000 BC.

** Recall the Testing Poe's Law post in which a similar argument was found to be indistinguishable from parody.


Garret said...

I better buy my tickets now, before they are all sold out! I needs me an edukashun!
It seems a little more natural to say the dinosaurs died out in the flood, doesn't it? Lets just force the story to jam dinosaurs on board, in baby form- to go extinct after the flood. WTF!?
Anyway, this should cause more people to take a serious reconsidering of the viability of the narrative in the first place. It can only lead to good, I hope.

Now an honest admission-

I can't believe that I actually never noticed the different narratives in Genesis- chap one has man created last, and chap two has man created first! I had been so busy being sure that the bible was infallible, that it never crossed my mind to actually look closely at the details. What a moron! I feel like such a chump sometimes. The answer to this is positively inadequate and retarded.

Jason said...

I was also not really aware of the two creation stories. I knew they were there, but people told me that chap 1 was a general description, and chap 2 went into more detail, and that they didn't really conflict, and I believed that without really reading too closely.

But then, about a year ago, I read them both again with a critical mind, and HOLY COW was I amazed at how chap 2 went out of its way to contradict chap 1. At that point, however, I had already accepted the evidence for evolution.

Skippy the Skeptic said...

Gary Greenberg's "101 Myths of the Bible" has some interesting commentary on Genesis from a standpoint of comparative religion. He compares and contrasts the two Genesis accounts with various creation myths from other regional religions and you can really see how they borrow from Egyptian mythology. He goes into quite a bit of detail(The first 27 "myths" he discusses are all from the creation accounts.) and I can't really do it justice here.

Basically his thesis is that the J source version of the Creation (something like 2:4-25) is rooted in a flavor of Egyptian mythology centered around the city of Heliopolis, whereas the P source version (1:1-2:3) is rooted in mythology from Thebes. Contact with the Egyptians (and also with the Babylonians), Greenberg contends, led the Hebrews to assimilate some of their mythology and rework it into monotheistic terms. Anyway, it's a pretty interesting book, and it's like $10.50 on Amazon if anyone's interested.

It's also work looking at R.E. Friedman's two popular works on the Documentary Hypothesis, "Who Wrote the Bible?", which is a general overview, and "The Bible With Sources Revealed", which is the full annotated Pentateuch with all of the hypothetical sources split out. (Here's a tip - whoever was responsible for P really loved lists and measurements and apparently didn't care about being boring.)

Garret said...

Thanks Skippy and Jason. It is exactly as you say Jason- a close look, and BAM! It is totally, and clearly two different accounts of the same "event".

Here is how puts it-
"Then, Moses goes on to detail the creation of Adam and Eve as is seen in verses 7 thru 24 of Gen. 2. Proof that it is not a creative account is found in the fact that animals aren't even mentioned until after the creation of Adam. Why? Probably because their purpose was designated by Adam. They didn't need to be mentioned until after Adam was created."

This, obviously is not an answer at all. "proof that it is not a creative account?" huh?
Animals didn't need to be mentioned? They were mentioned- it said out of the ground he made them, after man! In chapter one, that was not the order, plants and animals, and then man. No gymnastics can fix it, that is the plain reading!

Now the dorks at AiG have Mrs. Noah breast feeding baby raptors. Okay, so I made that up, just keeping the trend going!

JAK said...

Read Friedman. The Bible With Sources Revealed has the Pentateuch with each source highlighted in a different font/color, and really drives the point home.

Garret said...

Thanks Jak, gonna order it this week!

JAK said...

Heh. I need to read Skippy's posts all the way through before I chime in.

Genesis and Exodus are interesting in a number of ways, but they become especially intriguing when you read them as aetiological stories - explanations of why different societies were what they were, how cities got where they were, how the Hebrews came to be*, and such.

At one level, they're very natural stories of national culture and heritage, which later got co-opted for political reasons.

*Read the Cain and Abel bit carefully. It's pretty clear in context that there were other peoples around by that point (Cain went out and found a wife, Cain worried about others attacking him for his sins, and such). This story wasn't about how all people came to be, it was about how the Hebrews came to be. Other people had their own gods and their own origins, and the early Hebrews had no particular problem with that. (This is later echoed in Exodus, with the "no other gods before me" commandment - it wasn't saying there weren't other gods out there, just that YHWH was supposed to be first for the Hebrews.) The term for this is henothesim - worshipping one god as the greatest while acknowledging the existence of other gods.

JAK said...

There's an editorial cartoon in the 30 May 2008 Louisville Courier Journal that sums it up nicely.