Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Evolution: Putting God in His Place

By Kelly Jean Cogswell

803 words.

This weekend, the twenty-seven million dollar extravaganza of a Creation Museum opens up in Northern Kentucky. It was supposed to give God a boost, but by all accounts it's more like an expensive raspberry.

Kids will snicker at the exhibit showing what happens to young Christians when they doubt the infallible Word of God. Girls apparently end up at Planned Parenthood, and boys in their bedrooms with a girlie mag in one hand, and their dicks in the other.

On the science end, the museum has a model ark penning dinosaurs in with humans even though most of the rest of the world agrees Tyrannosaurus Rex died out long before the first raindrops fell on Noah's head.

I don't actually have a problem with that. I doubt evolution myself when Kansas creationist Kenneth R. Willard is on the verge of being elected President of the National Association of State Boards of Education.

Jerry Falwell may be dead now, but it seems like we keep having all the same fights, and it mostly boils down to sex, namely that no one, especially queers, should be having any.

The thing I really resent is that it's an Australian creationist, Ken Ham, behind the Kentucky museum.

With the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary housed there in my hometown of Louisville, and snake-handlers in the hills, don't we have plenty of our own homegrown fundamentalists to hatch hare-brained creationist exhibits?

Growing up, I swallowed it all, how God created the earth in six days, and rested on the seventh after declaring it all good. The only other story I heard more was the G-rated version of Noah and the Ark, maybe because they both had animals and the furry little creatures are supposed to lodge in the minds of children, or adults think so, anyway.

I'm pretty sure we'd have remembered as well if they'd told us how later on one of Noah's wives, or was it daughter, got him drunk so he'd screw her there in some cave and beget a lot of children to deal with post-flood depopulation and all. But again, screw sex.

As a kid, I used to close my eyes and try to imagine that vast, black, empty space that was all the world before the world was called into being by God whom I thought of as a kind of flashy magician.

He pulled the heavens and earth and animals and plants out of his hat, and then last of all, Adam and Eve, who could be considered the first taxonomists, forced to name everything in a kind of sub-contracting act of creation.

God getting all that done in six long days seemed just about right when each excruciating second of naptime at the Baptist Church kindergarten was like an eternity.

I couldn't tell time yet, and without those creaking hands dividing life into minutes and hours and days I was pretty sure you could create a whole universe between the snack and blankets and laying still, and the moment the teacher said, "You can get up now."

Even in Middle School, when I was studying that heretical nonsense of earth science and biology, it never crossed my mind to doubt the reality of the story. The two worlds coexisted, like water and air.

Not everything has to be reconciled. Like why Christians cling to that Old Testament creation story when there's another one found in the Jesus-filled New Testament. "In the beginning was the Word. And the Word was with God. And the Word was God."

It is that image that still sticks with me. I don't even think of it as metaphor, but a kind of literal description of creation.

There are the novels that get written over decades, and others that spring forth almost full grown like children from the head of Zeus. Why not animals from the hand of God, if you believe in one? Why not the world in six days? I don't scorn the literal-minded believer. After all, anything is possible with God. It's the definition of a supreme being.

The problem with the Creation Museum, science aside, is embedded in its title. It reduces the power of the God they're trying to promote to a couple of hi-tech tricks you can gape at, and then go buy a tee shirt and postcards afterwards. There's a short shrift for mystery, glory, awe, all the things I remember from childhood, or even from the struggle to fill paper with words.

The reverse is missing, too. I remember the old days, when there was the very real terror of hell, and I shivered in my bed at the thought of my soul rotting in sin.

Let's call it the Devolution Museum, reducing Creation to an Ark, Sin to the banality of abortion, or getting discovered whacking off.

No comments: