Apr 28, 2010

Full Report From My Trip to The Creation and Earth History Museum

The intentional ignorance and general stupidity that signify the “Creationist” belief system are on proud display at the Creation and Earth History Museum (CEHM) in Santee, California. (It would be more accurate if the museum’s curators changed its name to the “Stupidity and Ignorance Museum” but, needless to say, I’m not holding my breath.) However, maybe I should hold my breath because if God wanted me to breathe he would breathe for me, right?

For those of you who may have assumed that such a Museum would at least attempt to contribute some rational ideas to a broad discussion of possibly the grandest scientific question of all time, that of the origins of the Earth and the universe, give up all hope now. The CEHM offers absolutely no evidence whatsoever that the Genesis creation myth is actually true. But never mind that. Why? Never mind, say the Creationists, because the creation story is in the Bible, which contains the word of God, which is by definition infallible.

If that’s not the best example of circular logic I’ve ever heard, then I don’t know what a circle is.

Unfortunately, the reason that Creationists couch what they’re doing as “science” is to get their bullshit into the public school system so your kids are forced to learn it. It’s not “science” by any legitimate definition of that word. If it were “science,” there would be at least one shred of physical evidence to back it up. That’s exactly the problem, though. You can’t have a rational debate with Creationists because every reasonable person knows that there’s no point in reasoning with intentionally unreasonable people.

Some wonderful tidbits of knowledge gleaned from my trip to the Museum:

1) There are no proven scientific errors in the Bible (to be honest, I kind of expected them to say that).
2) The universe is 6,000 years old (why weren’t there dinosaurs in the Bible?).
3) There was no death before Adam sinned (somebody build me a time machine).
4) The reason we have weeks in the calendar is because God created the universe in a week (never mind the fact that this non sequitor presumes the validity of the creation myth).
5) The fact that the Earth's moon is relatively larger than the moons of other planets is clear evidence of intentional design.
6) Darwin was a racist and responsible for the rise of the Third Reich (I’ve always naively blamed Hitler and the inherent weakness and instability that existed in the Weimar Republic due to its over-reliance on referenda policy making, which created perfect political conditions for a despotic ruler to take control in Germany).
7) We are not causing Global Warming and Global Warming is helpful, not hurtful (great waves for surfers?).
8) A “true” scientist must support the “Biblical Worldview” (that certainly disqualifies a lot of scientists, especially considering that studies show that the vast majority of those in the scientific community don’t believe in God).

As the coup de grace, the Museum claims that Noah's ark was spotted numerous times in the 20th Century, as recently as 1987. I’m not joking.

In 1973, Al Shappell “reportedly took photos (of the ark) from a Navy plane.” Inexplicably, “the pictures have not been released.” Maybe Mr. Shappell wanted to keep the photos a secret or, more likely, the Pentagon classified the photos for national security reasons.

There was another sighting in 1973 (2 in one year!) by Ed Behling, an “airman” stationed in Turkey. Allegedly, Mr. Behling was led “to an area where he could view the ark” by “an old shepherd” (where have I heard that before?) from atop a set of cliffs. Unfortunately, this historic revelation is still unproven because Mr. Behling “was unable to reach the ark without climbing equipment.” What a bummer! I guess it wasn’t worth Mr. Behling’s or anyone else’s time to go get climbing equipment and return to the site to verify the ark’s existence. Doesn’t that make Mr. Behling a bad Christian? I guess Mr. Behling also couldn’t be troubled to go get a fucking camera, either.

In 1908 and 1910, George Hagopian “claimed the ark was partially exposed on the edge of a cliff.” What cliff? What continent? I guess no one knows. Sadly, it appears Mr. Hagopian took this one to the grave. He and Jesus and God probably sit around and talk about it up in Heaven, though.

“In the early 1900s” (no more specificity needed) Jacob Chuchian “saw the ark on several occasions.” There you have it.

In 1943, Army Corps of Engineers enlistee Ed Davis “was taken to the ark by a family of villagers” where it was then located in Iran. Wow, this ark gets around! The proof of this sighting is a 1986 sketch drawn by “Elfred Lee.” Who is Elfred Lee? Did he ever meet Ed Davis, who was most likely dead by then? How did he know what Ed Davis saw? Apparently only God and Jesus know. That’s good enough for me, though.

In 1985, Jim Wilson drew a sketch of the ark “after studying photos taken from a U-2 airplane.” The Museum alleges that there are “at least eight sets of military photos or data (data?) which indicate the ark’s existence.” Sadly, those photos also appear to be unavailable.

Aerial photos of the ark were also taken by the “ark Foundation” (sounds like an unbiased group) in 1987 that for some reason are unavailable and still “awaiting investigation.” I guess the “ark Foundation” hasn’t had time to conduct an investigation in the last 23 years. They’ve probably been too busy trying to prove that Jesus was white and that God hates homosexuals.

The “Nice-Tibbetts Sketch”: In the “early 1940s, R. Taylor (apparently “R.” didn’t want to divulge his full first name) took photos of the ark.” Two Australian airmen “Nice” and “Tibbetts” (not even first initials?) saw the photos and drew a sketch from them.

Also “During WWII, numerous Allied (of course not Axis) aviators saw the ark from the air, and many others saw photographs.” Is it just me who’s thinking “Where the hell are all of these photographs?” Just to save you some time, I checked the Bible and they’re not in there, either.

“The Schwinghammer Sighting”: In 1959, when “airline pilot Gregor Schwinghammer was flying over Mt. Ararat, he saw a partially exposed rectangular structure sticking out of the mountain.” Good enough for me!

“The Walton Sketch”: In 1945 or 1946, “Lester Walton saw aerial photos taken from a high altitude reconnaissance aircraft camera” from 20,000 feet that showed the ark on Mt. Ararat at approximately 14,000 feet.

Mt. Ararat is apparently the Roswell of Noah’s Ark sightings.

While flying in an airplane in 1953, George Jefferson Green viewed the ark hanging off the edge of a cliff. He also took photos (believe it or not, they are “unavailable”) that Fred Drake saw and drew a sketch of. I guess Mr. Drake was a better artist, which is why Mr. Green didn’t draw the sketch himself.

“The Duckworth Report” (by far my favorite): In 1969, David Duckworth allegedly “viewed photos and artifacts from the ark at the Smithsonian Institute.” Unfortunately, though, “These remain unacknowledged and unavailable.” Apparently, and I’ve suspected this for years, the Smithsonian Institute is part of the pinko, liberal, godless, media-driven government conspiracy to end Christianity. I’m also quite fond of the name “The Duckworth Report.” It has a very official sound to it, kind of like “The Zapruder Film.”

I didn’t skimp on the details or numerosity of these ark sightings (I detailed all of them) because I wanted it to be clear that this wasn’t just some tucked-away corner of the Museum, with a couple plaques put up as afterthoughts. It was more like a section and these ark sighting myths appear to be almost a cornerstone of the belief system perpetuated by the Creationists. If you can believe that all of these sightings are true, then you can believe just about anything. In my view, that is extremely dangerous, especially considering the fervor with which these people believe (they built a fucking museum, for Christ’s sake).

Here are a couple questions I have for the Creationists:

Why would God waste his time creating the rest of the universe if there’s no life in it? Of course, it is quite possible that life has existed or does exist in some form or another elsewhere in the universe, but that is not what Creationists believe. According to them, God made Earth and the stars and Heaven and created life to exist only on Earth, including Man, who was made in God’s image. So, what’s up with the immeasurably large portion of the universe that exists outside Earth? Was God just showing off? Did he have some time to kill? Did he want us humans to have places other than Earth to systematically destroy through pollution and overuse of finite natural resources?

If the universe didn’t exist before God created it, then where did God live before he created our universe? Was there a universe before ours that he lived in? I highly doubt the Creationists would go for that. If not, then how did God “exist” if there was no universe for him to exist in?

Why did all the crazy Biblical stuff happen in antiquity? As one of my favorite people of all time, Bad Religion band member Greg Graffin once said: “well I guess God was a lot more demonstrative back when he flamboyantly parted the sea.”

While it may be futile to debate the creation myth and a lot of other myths with Creationists, it is especially futile to debate the existence of God. That’s because the Museum presumes the existence of God and then makes all of its arguments from that assumption. Surprisingly, though, the Museum does admit that science cannot prove that God exists. However, it proudly states that science also cannot prove that God doesn’t exist. What an accomplishment! The last time I checked, science cannot prove that anything doesn’t exist because it’s logically impossible to prove that something doesn’t exist, including God. Congratulations God. You can’t be disproven, just like Unicorns, the Tooth Fairy, Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, Pixies, Gnomes, Leprechauns, Vampires, Zombies and Gremlins.

If you’re more of a scientist and find all of this theological stuff boring, CEHM has something for you too. In what must be the scientific discovery of the century, the Museum has discovered the only true way to date a fossil (hint, don’t use science):

Some parting advice to any parents planning on taking their children to CEHM: if your kids are sexually promiscuous, you shouldn’t take them inside the museum because they will be dragged outside by dinosaurs:

God bless you all (unless you don’t believe in all of the stupid shit being said at the Creation and Earth History Museum).

Apr 12, 2010

Single for a Little Mingle

Classifieds: Personals (Single for a Little Mingle!)

I have been in a variety of disastrously masochistic long term relationships, with consistently scarring consequences. Recently I got drunk on vodka alone and “Googled” my ex-girlfriends. But I like being single, it’s totally great. Anytime I want to just lay in bed and cry, which is a lot, I can. No interruptions.

I think I’m just at a point in my life where I want to meet people and experience what’s out there. You know, just throw myself in the fray and see what happens.

I wouldn’t say that I date a lot. But it’s all about quality, not quantity. What matters is that you make yourself emotionally available, give yourself the chance to get hurt. For instance, just a few days ago I said “hi” to a woman in the street. She didn’t even give me a look like she wanted me to. I just went for it. It was great! And that’s what life’s about, stopping to smell the roses. You can’t let yourself be afraid of intimacy.

So…umm, write me a letter…I guess…if you want. But if not that’s totally cool. There are plenty of fish in the sea. That’s not to say that you’re not great, because you are. I mean, if I were to go for someone, it would totally be you because you are a rad chick. I’m just being honest, you know. When I meet someone cool I just gotta let ’em know. That’s just the kind of guy I am. I’ve been…uh…drinking a little bit. I’m not drunk, though. I’m pretty much sober. I’ve just had a couple drinks. Drinks…I like drinks. Have you ever had a lunchbox? It’s the coolest shooter, perfect for like a brunch situation. You take a shot of amoretto and dump it in a pint glass filled half and half with beer and orange juice. Brunch is pretty cool. Have you ever had a mimosa? They are great, really great. So…I guess if any of you ladies out there wants to go out for a drink sometime, drop me a line. That’s not to say all I do is drink. I like lots of things. Like TV for example. You ever watch TV? It’s really cool.

Apr 5, 2010

Garrison Keillor, On Being Folksy

Back when I was growing up, or, the “old days,” as some are fond of saying, people knew what it meant to be folksy. Nowadays, the Dave Barrys of the world are too few and far between, like the posts on a rickety old fence that has withered from neglect, as the sun and moon brought the spring, summer, fall, then winter. Yeah, my mom sure was a hell of a woman. They don’t make dames like that, least not anymore they don’t.

My father, who was as grizzled as he was proud, knew there was value in things like plowing a field and loving Jesus. Yeah, these days you’d count yourself lucky if you were to hear someone say “howdy” or “evenin’.” Come to think of it, I can’t say that I’ve been invited to a box social for going on a decade.

But there are places where the art of folksy still exists. Where a cell phone is about as rare as a dodo bird. Where people make their own ice cream. These are places like Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin. In the Midwest, you can throw a hedge ball in just about any direction and you’re more likely to hit a porch swing than a multiplex theatre or strip mall.

There’s a reason that people from small town America are called the salt of the earth, and it’s because they put more salt on their food than a family bible has wear marks. That’s a lot of wear marks, at least in my family it is.

No, I can’t say I’ve ever been to a movie premier. I probably couldn’t tell you where to find a Saks Fifth Avenue or a Blockbuster video. I like my clothes plain and my tones earth. I like to whistle and I certainly never raise my voice, that is unless it’s absolutely necessary.

I can tell you quite a few things about war, especially wars that the old red, white and blue struggled in. I’ve been known to pick off a pheasant from over two hundred yards. I’ve also been known to take that same bird home, strip its feathers and skin from its body, then cut its flesh from its bone and eat that flesh after most likely frying it in some fashion.

I know it’s not that cool to put ranch dressing on your salad anymore but then again I suppose it’s not too cool to sing in the local church choir, either. I guess I’ll take my chances.

I like movies about the struggles of man against impossible odds that are sad and yet wholesome in a somewhat understated way. If you think Grapes of Wrath is not the greatest American novel, then I am going to have to give you a stern talking to.

I’m somewhat socially progressive as well as frightened and unworldly. I believe that a pregnant teenager is a tragedy the likes of which Joseph Stalin could only envision.

I know enough to know that you can’t beat a rainy day at home with the family, wrapped up in a quilt that Grandma knitted with her own, weathered hands. Which grandma? Well, I suppose it doesn’t really matter, does it?

I have eaten potatoes cooked in more than a hundred and seventy forms. If you handed me a plate of sushi, I might confuse it with the newest Britney Spears album. I like my rock and roll rebellious, but nostalgic and non-threatening. I go to church, but I certainly don’t think I’m better than anyone else, because that’s how I was raised.

I’m folksy and I’m proud of it.

Apr 2, 2010

Jeffrey Dahmer for President

It’s amazing how people can respect mass murderers in the right context. Jeffrey Dahmer, for example - not well respected and justifiably so. On the other hand, there’s Julius Caesar, Ramses, Tutankhamen, David, Solomon, and on and on and on, every one of them a mass murderer. In fact, most of the “great rulers” we think of when we talk about world history were slave-owning, genocidal maniacs.

So why does old Jeff Dahmer get such a bad rap? Of course, he was horrible. No one in his right mind would disagree with that. But what’s the difference between him and all of our “great rulers”? The only differences are that 1) Jeffrey Dahmer killed less people and 2) he wasn’t interested in political power. That’s it. Every one of our great rulers was just as blood thirsty and just as violent, if not much more so, than Jeffrey Dahmer, John Wayne Gacey, The Zodiac Killer, Richard Ramirez, The Boston Strangler, The BTK Killer, David Burkowitz, The Green River Killer and Ted Bundy combined.

But the same people who see these serial killers as the lowest of the low are willing to name their kids after genocidal dictators. It’s so common that people no longer think about it. For example, consider how popular the name David has become. Everyone knows a person named David. In fact, I’d guess most people know several if not many people named David. It’s so common that you don’t even think of King David when you meet someone named David. It’s just a name, like any other. You might as well name your kid Lawrence.

But what would happen if I named my kid Jeffrey Dahmer? I’m just spit-balling here, but my guess is that most people’s reaction would be something along the lines of “Why in the world would you name your kid Jeffrey Dahmer?” My response: “Well, don’t get me wrong, we have high hopes for him, but we knew from the beginning that he was no Caesar. I don’t want to limit his aspirations, though, so don’t tell him I said that.”

Maybe we would like Jeffrey Dahmer better if he had become President. Or maybe it’s an issue of the passage of time. Just because all of these “great rulers” lived so long ago, we assume that they lived in a different world, where violence was the norm and, therefore, you can’t judge their actions with modern moral standards. Oddly enough, a lot of the people making that claim would probably be Christian, Jewish or Muslim and the last time I checked those faiths are all guided by very old books about morality. It really just depends on who’s winning the horrible game of conquest, doesn’t it? If you were a Jew a couple thousand years ago, the Egyptians were evil tyrants but if you were a member of a neighboring tribe anywhere near David on his rise to power, look the fuck out because he and his troops were going to rape your women and burn your village down.

History will not be kind to any serial killers and it obviously shouldn’t. But I’d be way more scared about living in Julius Caesar’s neighborhood than Ted Bundy’s.