Friday, July 5, 2013

Why This Interfaith Gal Spent The Day At the Creation Museum

Act #186:  Try seeking common ground first.

I do not believe that the earth and all of its life forms were created 6000 years ago over a six day period.  I do not believe that the only legitimate marriage sanctioned by God is the joining of one man and one woman.  I do not believe that war, famine and natural disasters are the result of human belief in evolution.  Then why on earth would I think it would be a good idea to drop $29.95 for a single ticket to the Creation Museum (on my day off, nevertheless)? 

It's quite simple, actually.

Because I have good friends, a few family members, and have worked alongside some pretty cool people who happen to believe in the literal interpretation of the Christian Bible.  People whom I've found to be kind and compassionate, people who I respect deeply.  I wanted to have a better understanding of where they were coming from.  As our world seems to become increasingly divisive and adversarial, I wanted to believe in my heart that there was hope for us all to come together to do good, while still on this earth.  Oh, and for full disclosure, my kid also wanted to see the dragon exhibit. 

So, on this rainy Fourth of July, I packed up my family and we made the two-hour trek to Petersburg, Kentucky, home of the Creation Museum, a state-of-the art 70,000 square foot museum that presents a biblical account of the origins of the universe, life, and humankind, portraying a creationist narrative based upon a literalist interpretation of the Book of Genesis, and asserting that humans and dinosaurs co-existed 6000 years ago.  I'm not sure what I was expecting, but as our little interfaith/agnostic family approached the museum entrance, I began to get a little nervous.  Would we be spotted as non-believers, or as infiltrators?  Was it disrespectful on our part to show up to a party we weren't really invited to?  Would we be the only multi-racial family? Surely there were Asian Creationists who lived in Northern Kentucky, right?  But just when I was starting to think we should just turn back around and head to IKEA instead, a kind young father of three held the door open for us - with a huge, welcoming smile on his face...... and I breathed a sigh of relief.  That is until we walked into the first exhibit room and my five-year old kid loudly declared, "Look, that's my ancestor!" as he walked up to a life-size black and white photo of Lucy, the missing (depending on who you ask, I guess) link.  Yes, it was part of an exhibit debunking evolution, and yes every single head in the room turned to look at us.  At that point it was too late to turn around, so we smiled politely, and just kept moving on.

There were probably a million aspects of the displays that did not personally resonate with me or fit into my existing belief structure.  But that didn't matter.  I was not there to confirm to myself or to anyone else that I wasn't a creationist.  I already knew that.  I was there to push myself to perhaps, see where someone else was coming from.  To perhaps, gain an understanding of a perspective so drastically different than mine.  So throughout our 2-hour experience, I consciously tried to push aside any quiet, creeping thoughts of dissent in my head.  And instead, I decided to focus on the things that I personally agreed with.  Pretty soon, all those things I found to be mystifying and baffling didn't even matter anymore, and slowly all those things that I could really stand behind came into focus.  Things like:

Surprising as it may be, I dare say that me and the creationists have quite a bit in common.  This ain't Disneyland folks, so I'm not going to sugar coat the harsh realities that we will probably always have basic fundamental differences in our beliefs.  But what's the harm in starting a genuine conversation with those things that we actually have in common?  Sure beats talking around each other, or at each other, but not really with each other.  If we can agree that we are all valued equally despite our racial, political, and religious differences.......that there is still pain and suffering in the world............and that we can, and should play a role in alleviating that pain and suffering...why wouldn't we try to sit down at the same table and start there?  In the larger context of humanity, does it really matter if we disagree whether or not we walked the earth with dinosaurs?  Or if we descended from apes?  Perhaps, the most profound moment at the museum was when another little boy joined my son at the T-Rex exhibit and they both stood there, side-by-side, in a state of awe.  The only thing they knew about each other was that they shared a fascination with large, monstrous, pre-historic animals. 

And that was enough to get them talking.


  1. Awesome. I, personally, prefer IKEA to the creation museum but the kids sure did enjoy it the one time we went. (Because someone gave us tickets because it's flippin' expensive!) It's definitely a very interesting experience whether or not you're a Christian or a creationist or neither. I too like to focus more on the love than argue about things long ago. As a Christian it's pretty nice to go to a place like that and know you're (mostly) surrounded by people like-minded. It's hard to find a place outside of our little church circles where we can feel like we can relax and just believe what we believe. :)

    1. Awww....thanks for sharing Naomi! I have a hunch that most people feel like you do about expressing their beliefs. Your family has been instrumental in helping me understand and appreciate a different perspective and belief set!