Different Starting Points
After our last road trip, I spent a long time trying to understand the disparities between myself and my fellow Americans living only a few hundred miles away. Our differences ranged from political ideologies to lexicons to the social normalities people often take for granted in their hometowns. Today, I was once again reminded of that pressing question: how could we have so much yet so little in common?
Our day was spent at the Creation Museum, a behemoth of an institution with 75,000 square feet, over a hundred exhibits, and an actual zip line, not to mention a life-size Noah’s Ark. When my mom and I were in Indianapolis, we noticed how seemingly empty it was; the streets were almost bare of cars and the sidewalks were empty. When we asked locals about it, they said it was normal and asked what sort of sped-up, crowded world we came from. I’m convinced that Indianapolis was so deserted because they were all at the Creation Museum. The parking lot was packed, their auditorium showings were largely sold out, and the exhibits were chock-full of people of all ages who had made the pilgrimage to the museum.
The Creation Museum is about creationism, and the ideas espoused within their walls are concerned with the intersection and cohabitation of science and creationism. Just as I believe in evolution, the tenets of the museum state that they believe devoutly in the creation of the world as told in Genesis. Many of the exhibits were concerned with reconciling recorded human history, ranging from Herodotus to cowboys, with the simultaneous existence of dinosaurs. If the world is only a few thousand years old, dinosaurs frolicked in the garden of Eden with Adam and Eve and roamed the earth with their descendants. There was a video playing on a loop above a display of dinosaur fossils explaining how two paleontologists could see the same bones and one could say that they were 65 million years old and the other that they were only a few thousand. The solution? The latter had a different starting point: god’s word, Genesis, instead of man’s word, evolutionary theory.
The majority of our afternoon was spent listening to the day’s guest speaker, whose lecture was concerned with whether or not the book of Genesis is relevant. His answer was a booming yes, stated with conviction. He presented the issue of the church abandoning the teachings of creationism, of young people leaving their Christian faith, and of the departure of Christian values from Western, specifically American, society. What struck me was that many of his examples were what I interpreted as shining moments of American legal history: the banning of prayer in public schools, the Roe V. Wade decision, the legalization of gay marriage, the Scopes Monkey Trial, and other highly politicized events. He had the room in the palm of his hand, and he explained to us how without Genesis, biblical logic crumbles, and the collapse of the faith itself follows. I heard fearmongering; the woman to my right heard a voice of solidarity from the podium.
The Creation Museum is a beacon of reassurance and education for those who find peace and truth in its teachings. As the man who spoke noted, there are only 4 or 5 institutions that teach creationism like they do. Though my views don’t align with those expressed on the signage at the museum or in the hearts of its attendees, I think there is unparalleled value in working to understand the minds of people who have different ideologies. We may only be 2 days into the summer, but I have a feeling that this stop will be on the highlight reel.