The more I think about it, the more I must regrettably conclude that Americans, as a people, are dumb as a tree stump. Well, not dumb so much as stubbornly unreasoning and incurious. I believe that the studied ignorance of our citizenry is, in many ways, at the root of much of what ails this nation. Logic and analysis be damned, we’ll pretty much believe anything we want to believe. “George W. Bush is a suitable leader.” “Iraq was behind the terrorist attacks of 9/11.” “I’m not fat, just big-boned.” “Abstinence makes the heart grow fonder.” “Human beings did not evolve from earlier species of animals.” And on and on it goes.
With regard to Americans’ beliefs about evolution, it is worth noting that a study published last year revealed that, as compared to Europe and Japan, “the United States ranks near the bottom when it comes to public acceptance of evolution. Only Turkey ranked lower.” That’s right. The only country we beat out was one that shares its name with the wattled fowl we consume on national holidays. It turns out that only 40 percent of Americans fully believe that humans developed from earlier species of animals. By comparison, “in Iceland, Denmark, Sweden and France, 80 percent or more of adults accepted evolution; in Japan, 78 percent of adults did.” It’s little wonder that this nation can’t produce a decent automobile.
It’s also little wonder that this nation can manage to produce a Creation Museum that embraces the belief that the world is only 6,000 or so years old, humans and dinosaurs previously coexisted, and the Grand Canyon is the product of the Great Flood. Yes, and apparently The Flintstones is not a cartoon but a documentary. Yabba-dabba doo-doo.
Anyway, here’s what Reg Henry of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette had to say about America’s monument to ignorance:
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. [full text]