The Null Device

Dinosaurs of the Counter-Enlightenment

Creationists in the US have launched upon a new offensive: buying up the country's numerous dinosaur-shaped roadside attractions and turning them into Creationist propaganda exhibits, disputing the Godless heathen assertion that dinosaurs died out before humanity arose:
The nearly 7-acre museum, low-tech theme park and science center embodies its founder's belief that God created the world in six days. The dinosaurs, even super carnivores such as T. rex, dined as vegetarians in the Garden of Eden until Adam and Eve sinned -- and only then did they feast on other creatures, according to the Christian-based young-Earth theory.
About 4,500 years after Adam and Eve arrived, the theory goes, pairs of baby dinosaurs huddled in Noah's Ark, and a colossal flood drowned the rest and scattered their fossils. The ark-borne animals repopulated the planet -- meaning that folk tales about fire-breathing beasts are accounts of humans battling dinosaurs, who still roamed the planet.
Cranky old atheist scientists have responded with the usual disdain:
"Dinosaurs lived in the Garden of Eden, and Noah's Ark? Give me a break," said Kevin Padian, curator at the University of California Museum of Paleontology in Berkeley and president of National Center for Science Education, an Oakland group that supports teaching evolution. "For them, 'The Flintstones' is a documentary."
But the Creationists aren't daunted:
The pastor and the Kanters now hope to turn Mr. Rex's innards into exhibits about cryptozoology -- the study of speculative creatures, such as Bigfoot -- and creationism. They will somewhat mirror those in Santee, which takes visitors from Genesis to modern times with placards that say Darwin "came at just the right time to be the catalyst for a revival of ancient paganism" and that evolution birthed Communism, racism and Nazism.
Kids flock to the huge statues. "And it's not like they're crying, 'Oh, mommy, take me out, I'm scared.' They're drawn to it," Chiles said. "There's something in their DNA that knows man walked with these creatures on Earth."
In other words, "in your heart, you know it's flat".

I wonder how long until the Creationists' Australian counterparts start buying or building roadside Big Things to spread their message; and, indeed, how much Federal Government funding they will be eligible to receive for such faith-based programmes.

Along similar lines: a New Republic article on how the religious right adopted postmodernist relativism as a weapon against that frustrating Enlightenment empiricist tradition, paving the way for know-nothingisms like "Intelligent Design" to be passed off as equally valid alternatives. It'll be interesting to see whether they'll succeed by weight of numbers in rolling back the Enlightenment and rendering scientific rationalism as a secret doctrine much like alchemy, taught only on a need-to-know basis to those who design and launch the religious-broadcasting satellites and web browsers the masses use, or whether the counter-Enlightenment will burn itself out, and possibly drive inquiring minds towards hardcore atheism at the same time.

There are 4 comments on "Dinosaurs of the Counter-Enlightenment":

Posted by: Graham Wed Aug 31 02:07:19 2005

Oh yeah. And then the US just gets rolled by the decadent Europeans and inscrutible Asians.

Posted by: gjw Wed Aug 31 02:20:47 2005

Personally, I'm waiting for Intelligent Design kiddies to start rocking up in university biology courses...or attempting to try for honours or PhD - how far do you think they'll get before they crash and burn? As soon as they discover actual, real live science requires hypothesis testing, experimental rigour, and peer-reviewed publication, I'd say.

Posted by: substitute Wed Aug 31 02:22:55 2005

I guess this is new news because BoingBoing finally covered it. I think I posted something about this a year or so ago. It made me terribly angry because the Cabazon Dinosaurs were part of my childhood, one of those great roadside attractions, and now they're another weapon in the war on science. Plus, they were in the Pee Wee Herman movie.

Posted by: fossil Tue Nov 11 09:15:39 2008

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