The Wife with One F is in nursing school with finals approaching, so it's my job to take my sweet but concentration-shattering three-year-old daughter out of the house so that when my wife is actually in a hospital setting later on saving your life, she doesn't forget where the hell your pancreas is. Usually this involves the park or the indoor playground at Memorial City Mall, but on Sunday she said she wanted to go to the dinosaur museum.
I was all up for that because I am still as dinosaur-obsessed as I ever was as a child. In fact, I'm mostly using this piece as an excuse to open random dinosaur Wikipedia articles. Do you know what a Titanoboa is? It's freakin' awesome, that's what.
At some point in the last couple of months, the museum added a ten-foot-tall animatronic tyrannosaurus with a saddle that you could let your kids ride for 60 seconds for the price of five dollars. Kids only, because of course I asked. Initially my daughter wanted nothing to do with it. She loves dinosaurs but also finds them scary. In the end, I reminded her about the time The Doctor rode a triceratops, and that was enough to get her in the saddle.
Now, that video up there is worth more than five dollars. Hell, having her tell the attendant she was sorry she hadn't worn her pink cowgirl outfit and matching rhinestone hat to ride her dinosaur friend alone was worth more than five dollars. It's just objectively awesome. If there were a show about a beautiful little blond cowgirl in pink boots riding a dinosaur around having adventures, you know you'd run every red light on the way home to watch that.
Still, there's a part of me that was unable to fully appreciate the sheer wonder of the image. It has to do with Young Earth Creationism and the way they ruin both science and religion.
The Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky, opened for business back in 2007. I am not allowed by my wife under pain of couch to order from their gift shop. Nonetheless, hundreds of thousands of people visit it each year and learn about an Earth that was created in six days and is only 6,000 years old, and how dinosaurs and man coexisted. Granted, at least some of the people attending are people like me who collect insane mockeries of science, but no one spends $27 million on a practical joke.
Instead, the museum is rife with attempts to explain away scientific discovery as persecution by secularists. As far as I know, there is no word that accurately describes accrediting hundreds of years of sober, triple-checked, cumulative work as mean doodoo-headism, so maybe someone should get on that.
Because they go to tremendous lengths to make this work. The guy who helped them with their displays? Patrick Marsh, who helped design King Kong and jaws attractions at Universal Studios and now uses his powers as a born-again Christian ironically to bring to life the exact same anachronistic hooey he did before. Just for a wholly different reason.
And of course, they have a triceratops you can ride.
I've got no problem with a passing interest in lost worlds and weird mysteries. I've got a friend that is a professional Bigfoot hunter. I think he's nuts, but he has a good time doing what he loves. Hell, maybe he'll find something. Stranger things have happened.
But my cryptozoologist friend isn't insisting that the public at large accept his findings. Not without proof, at any rate. He believes in what he believes, but he realizes that the burden of proof resides with him and will not otherwise mandate my acknowledgment.
But here in Texas, where our textbook choices affect the whole nation, we still have a huge problem with certain powerful sects of Christianity not being as magnanimous as a guy with hours of chupacabra footage. Until recently, elective Bible courses offering wholly Young Earth Creationist viewpoints could count as science credits...in addition to them also teaching non-Caucasianism being a curse laid on Noah's son Ham.
Up in Eastland ISD outside Fort Worth, they show videos produced by the Creation Evidence Museum. Our own governor has stated that evolution and creationism were taught together in our schools, though these are more part of those Bible courses I mentioned than in, say, biology. The battle between science and faith in classrooms just keeps on going
And for what? To what purpose? Why on Earth would someone spend this much time and energy on literally the least important part of the Bible. It doesn't matter if God made the world in six days or if he told the people He inspired to write the Old Testament down about brachiosaurus. They didn't need to know about the planetary collision that formed the moon or extinct sharks the size of a temple, so God didn't mention it for the exact same reason you don't explain calculus to a four-year-old learning shapes. Yet people continue to spend millions of dollars in order to defend the first three or four pages of a very long book.
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It pained me to see my incredibly happy little girl screaming, "Yeehaw," knowing that 1,056 miles away, another father was likely taking the same video, but afterwards I took my daughter into a paleontology hall that celebrates life in all its majesty and scientific discovery in all its wonder. Meanwhile, he is using those wonders to tell his daughter that the same science used to find them is really just trying to hate on Jesus.
Riding a dinosaur is cool. There can be no argument. It's just a little less fun when you can't forget that some people refuse to believe it's just a game, and aren't happy until you believe it with them, no matter the evidence. I know they believe the same about me, but that's because they're confused on what the word "evidence" means.