You remember how Branson is Las Vegas for Ned Flanders? Well, not yet. It’s missing a crucial component– a multi-million-dollar salmon-colored temple of lies. Enter Rod Butterworth:
This is really God’s vision, not mine. In the summer of 2007 I visited several dinosaur museums in different states (including one in Branson, Missouri) that were totally evolutionary in philosophy. One day in September 2007 I was literally meditating about this while resting and it suddenly came to me like a vision from heaven—Branson needs a creation museum.
And thus, the seed for the Creation Museum of the Ozarks was planted.
Are Christians even supposed to meditate? Anyway, they got incorporated and got concept drawings up, but they only got an actual museum up just recently, in nearby Strafford. Somebody in the Joplin Freethinkers forwarded this news to everybody, and I was like “OMG OMG OMG WE GOTTA GO.”
I called ahead to see if they were open, and while that was the case, it seems Dr. Butterworth wasn’t going to be there that day. His assistants would guide us through. He didn’t ask our group name, so I didn’t mention it.
Saturday came, and a whopping three of us headed to Strafford. We got there about 25 minutes before it opened, so we had a look around. Oh boy. I realized this wouldn’t be as fun as I had thought.
Calling the current location a hole in the wall would be getting your expectations up. Try a dent in a very steep incline. It’s a tiny little office space sandwiched between two other buildings. The windows were littered with Jurassic Park decals and vinyl toy dinosaurs. I secretly praise the indifferent universe that more members didn’t make the trip, for I smelled disappointment on the horizon. Either that, or it was the “Kuntry-Fied Cafe” across the street. Disappointment smells like delicious greasy spoon food; it’s an easy mistake.
To further compound the awkwardness, the two assistants that accepted us were super nice, cheery and gracious. They were completely unlike Dr. Sharp and other professional creationists I’ve met, who usually treat everyone around them like a mark. Our snark glands deflated, and we settled for biting our tongues as we were given the grand tour.
Different, Fake Evidence for a Different View
The mantra of this museum is the same as the big one in Kentucky- “same evidence, different views.” “We all work from the same evidence,” our guide told us, “we just have different ways of interpreting it.” Which is true, somewhat. Scientists go at things from an empirical, naturalistic perspective. Creationists make shit up. I’m not exaggerating; every single piece of evidence on display was either a blatant misinterpretation, an outright hoax, or wishful thinking.
Our guides showed us this evidence that the scientific community supposedly ignored. They wish. We had Ica stones, the London Artifact, polystrate fossils, the chameleon art that Dr. Sharp was hawking, T-Rex “blood cells“, the “living fossils disprove evolution” fallacy, the “monsters like Nessie and the Thunderbird prove that evolution is false even though those animals haven’t been proven to exist and are probably bullcrap anyway but wevs” canard. All items on display, all previously debunked or irrelevant from the start.
There was one I hadn’t seen before that caught my attention. It was a man/dino footprint from the Paluxy River in Texas. If you follow the topic, you already know about Paluxy’s infamous hoaxes, but our guide beat us to the punch. He admitted that most of them were phonies, but this one looks like the real deal! It even says on the printout-“verified by spiral CT scan!” Yet the evolutionists won’t let this information out to the public!
It’s not often a dinosaur print resembles a Lucky Charms marshmallow shape. Here’s a graphic for those of you not attuned to the fact that animal tracks aren’t normally flat and cartoony looking.
When I got home I whipped out my google o’ nine tails and found out I wasn’t the first evolutionist to cover-up and ignore this thing. In creationist parlance, “covering up” is jargon for “looked at and dismissed as the obvious fake it was.” So creationists tried to salvage a source of bogus artifacts by presenting an even more bogus artifact. That works, I guess.
Did Not Do the Research
Along with the humbug and fallacies and strawberry Newtons (yum!) were a lot of mistakes that seem to have been made out of sheer laziness. Fossils were misidentified, names were mispronounced, theories that haven’t seen the light of day since the late 70’s (hello, swamp-dwelling hadrosaurs!) were touted as current mainstream consensus.
“But but but,” you say, “scientists make mistakes all the time! You’re always harping about how that’s your biggest strength!” Ah, but there’s a difference, which was demonstrated to us when we reached the subject of hominids.
In 2009, scientists uncovered remains of an early hominid called Ardipithicus. There was an ensuing media frenzy, and it turns out that it wasn’t as closely related to us as hyped. It’s still closer to us than chimps, though. Still an ape. Still a hominid. Our guide, however, told us that Ardi was debunked as “just a lemur.” That’s a little beyond laziness. It’s almost as if they’re deliberately lying to make the other side look bad. In science, mistakes are bugs in the system and are weeded out. In creationism, it’s a feature that’s selected for. That’s the difference between the two sides. That, and we have better taste in music.
Perhaps I protest too much though. These people believe in fire-breathing dinosaurs.
The Puzzling Possibility of Parasaurolophus Pyrotechnics
Remember when Dr. Sharp failed to deliver that doozy last time? Well, Dr. Butterworth and company came through, so eat it Sharp! We were escorted to the back to watch the above video, after which our guide elaborated on the remarkable abilities of Parasaurolophus.
Parasaurolophus was a lambeosaur, which is a duckbill dinosaur with a funky-ass head crest. After much theorizing and study, most scientists now think the crest was used to produce sounds. They even reconstructed the sound with computer models.
But some creationists, spearheaded by Duane Gish, like to think it stored hot chemicals in his head and shot it out in self defense, like how the modern day bombardier beetle shoots it out of its butt. Therefore fire-breathing. Therefore dragons. Therefore Jesus.
These guys get facts about the bombardier beetle and their own Biblical monsters wrong all the time– I challenge you to Google them yourselves, since I’m getting hyperlink fatigue– but everyone everywhere is mum on the possibility that Parasaurolophus could do this. Could it? I love dinosaurs, but I’m not an accredited Parasaurolophus expert. So I called someone who is.
I contacted Dr. Thomas Williamson, curator of the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science. You remember that Parasaurolophus sound reconstruction? He was behind that. I asked him if it was even possible.
“Wow,” he said, “that’s one I haven’t heard before.” Don’t blame me, man. Blame the evolutionist conspiracy.
Dr. Williamson politely disagrees. There’s no living analog of an animal with a bombardier-like ability to shoot hot liquid death out its honker, he told me. The crest was a thin structure and there was no evidence of any chemical-spewing bits. Most damning of all, however, was the fact that this crest was part of the respiratory tract. Inhaling toxic chemical residues doesn’t sound like evidence of good design to me.
But hey, science changes all the time. Perhaps when the CMOTO gets their funding they can use their spiral CT scans and make their own damn Parasaurolophus burnination simulation.
After the video was over, we were itching to end the awkwardness of the whole affair. We thanked our hosts, helped ourselves to some free literature, said goodbye to the Madagascar hissing cockroaches and made tracks to the nearby pizza joint. We felt dirty, and a little bit dumber, and I personally felt a little jealous because that rinkydink tourist trap had more Carnegie figures than I do (I collect those). A trip to the Springfield zoo helped us recoup.
Hopefully, if and when they get their big building, we’ll make another trip, and this time we won’t feel like schmucks.
Or better idea– we could just go to a real science institution instead. Like the nearby Dinosaur Walk in Branson!
This Thursday I’ll be presenting an even more laborious Powerpoint presentation at the Joplin Freethinkers meeting! It’ll be at Southwest Missouri Bank, Zora and Rangeline. 6:30 pm! Be there!
EDIT: Sweet bouncing baby Buddha! PZ Myers gave me a plug! Greetings Pharyngula readers!