For those born yesterday

The pursuit of happiness takes many forms and the American people are starved for entertainment. Those two truths taken in combination may explain the Creation Museum, which has just opened in Petersburg, Ky., not far from Cincinnati.

Lacking such an explanation, sensible people might dismiss such an oddity as just another of the devil's works to lure Christians into making themselves look ridiculous for the amusement of atheists, who are desperate for any sort of fun because they can't enjoy Christmas.

To the embarrassment of thoughtful believers, the Creation Museum has been built for people who were born yesterday, or more or less yesterday, because they don't believe in the great geologic periods that spoilsport science insists upon.

It's enough to make one bemoan the lack of an 11th commandment on the list given to Moses: Thou Shalt Not Be Stupid. But perhaps the Almighty knew that enough sinners would be on Earth without adding the silly, credulous and well meaning to their number.

Still, the creation of the Creation Museum will give people more entertainment than the usual faith-based attempts to ban such innocent childhood amusements as the Harry Potter books and Halloween as agents of witchcraft. After all, it provides fun for all the family, rather than seeking to ban fun for all the family.

The museum tells a fundamentalist Christian version of Earth's history, which insists that the Earth is only a few thousand years old and was created in a week. Evolution, heaven forbid, was not involved.

This view poses certain practical problems. According to the Associated Press story, some of the exhibits show dinosaurs aboard Noah's Ark with the explanation that all animals were vegetarians until Adam committed the first sin in the Garden of Eden.

Dinosaurs on Noah's Ark? I don't think so. It's not as if the sanitation crew didn't already have its hands full without the larger lizards knocking over the brooms with their tails.

Still, I suppose it could be true. After all, a steady diet of salad makes any creature irritable and mean, as I know from my own experience. Why, on my recent diet, I had turned into a Tyrannosaurus Rex by the second week and I don't even have huge fangs for the giant celery to get stuck in.

That may have been the turning point in the Cretaceous period, inasmuch as dental floss hadn't yet been invented, and certainly not in rope-like thickness.

Now I realize that sort of thinking will seem dangerously evolutionary in places like Kentucky, for it seeks to explain the moment when the salad days gave way to nature red in tooth and claw without reference to Adam's fondness for apples.

Nevertheless, I believe the Almighty made heaven and Earth but his days are not necessarily our days and that evolution was his mechanism of creation. I think the Bible is full of truth, some of it literal truth and some of it poetic truth, which sometimes has a greater power to touch souls.

I believe that he who made the heart also made the brain and we are supposed to use both. If we do not, evolution will be proved a fact by making the brain a vestigial organ, a process that already seems well-advanced in many quarters and not just in Congress.

Not surprisingly, because this is America — God bless it! — the opening of the $27 million facility on Memorial Day was reportedly a big success, with 4,000 guests in attendance. There were rave reviews (and not just by raving people) for the high-tech science exhibits created by a former Universal Studios designer. In other words, scientific know-how has been used to rebut science, which is rather cheeky.

Outside, dozens of demonstrators gathered to protest the attack on science and a plane flew over with a sign that said: "Thou Shalt Not Lie." But why bother? There is no changing the un-evolved mind.

We shall all know soon enough who is right and who is wrong and, besides, it's a day out with the family. It's not a Museum of Mission Accomplished where everything is sweetness and light in an alternative universe.

The Creation Museum is something to do between birth and dying, even around Cincinnati where they support the Bengals and can be forgiven for wishing for miracles. Not to be too literal about it, but Harry Potter isn't real either.

(Reg Henry is a columnist for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. E-mail rhenry(at)post-gazette.com. For more stories or to comment visit scrippsnews.com)