by Susan Trollinger and William Trollinger
Why would anyone devote an entire book and a blog to the Creation Museum?
We have to admit this is a very reasonable question. In fact, it is a question we have asked ourselves on a number of occasions, particularly while sitting in a Cincinnati restaurant at the end of a day in which we had been immersed in the sights and sounds of the Museum.
Visiting the Creation Museum is an intense multimedia experience. Regardless of the number of our visits, each time we left the Museum we were exhausted. The massive amount of sights and sounds we encountered gave us little time to actually think about what was going on in the Museum.
In part, our book grows out of our continued thinking about the Museum. It is a reflection of how we made sense of the sensory overload we encountered. Our thinking about the Museum is informed by the history and politics of its sponsoring institution, Answers in Genesis.
But really, why devote so much attention to what some see as a seemingly inexplicable and bizarre cultural site? Why devote a whole book to a place that claims that the universe was created less than 10,000 years ago, that a global flood less than 5,000 years ago accounts for geological strata and the fossil record, and that humans and dinosaurs walked the earth together?
To many people, it may seem preposterous to answer these questions. However, many other Americans do not find these ideas preposterous at all. Millions of Americans have visited the Museum; millions more will most likely visit the Museum’s companion structure, the gigantic replica of Noah’s Ark set to open on July 7, 2016.
While some folks visit the Museum or will visit the Ark to gawk and mock, it’s clear that most visitors find much of what is presented to be quite compelling and believable.
As we posit in Righting America at the Creation Museum, to see the Museum, the Ark, and their sponsoring organization, Answers in Genesis (AiG) as “wacky but essentially irrelevant outpost[s] on the far outskirts of American life is a huge mistake” (2). Despite the fact that many folks wish it were otherwise, AiG and its tourist destinations lie squarely in the American cultural, religious, and political mainstream (albeit the right side of that mainstream).
As we embarked on what eventually became Righting America our goal was simple. We wanted to understand and explain the Creation Museum. That is to say, we wanted to understand and explain the Museum’s message and how the Museum conveys this message. And we wanted to explore what the Museum and its message means for America. (Spoiler alert: understanding the Creation Museum and Answers in Genesis proves to be quite helpful for understanding the 2016 presidential campaign.)
What is wonderful about this blog is that we are not confined to the pages of Righting America. We can continue to comment on the Museum, the Ark, and AiG (and comment on their comments!), while also broadening our examination of creationism and fundamentalism in American life. Better, we can include you in the conversation. We hope you will add your voice!