Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Creationist Museum Built in Kentucky

Tomorrow I start a new Forum series at church, on the Creation Myths of Ancient Israel found in the first two chapters of Genesis. As you can probably imagine, I will focus on understanding these myths in their historic, cultural, textual and linguistic contexts. However, I will also focus on understanding them in their literary context.

I say literary context because so often we fail to account for literary genre when we read sacred works. In this sense, Biblical literalism fails to be literal. Simply put, you don't read a particular work literally if you read it without an eye to its genre; you simply misread it. And no texts have been misread like the Creation Myths of Ancient Israel found in Genesis.

For the penultimate example of this misreading, check this out. Reflecting the confusing hodge-podge of myth and science that is Creationism, Ken Ham, an Australian transplant and Biblical "literalist," has built a museum in Petersburg, KY, designed to depict a "Biblically correct" view of history.

I'd say something more about this if I weren't stunned into speechlessness.

4 comments:

Brian Beech said...

I honestly don't see why you're "stunned into speechlessness". He doesn't share the same beliefs as you, but its not as if the government or your tax dollars are paying for this exhibit.

I don't believe that other religions worship the same God that I do, but I'm not stunned when they put a place of worship up.

Sandalstraps said...

Brian,

So, do you think this was a good way to spend $34 million or so?

The spending of money has moral value no matter who is spending it, and I suspect God would be much more pleased with an alocation of resources that supported constructive ministries rather than grandious and reactionary monuments to ignorance.

Simply put, this is a staggering sum of money devoted to museum that memorializes a strange mixture of bad science, bad history, and atrotious exegesis, and I am stunned that it exists. Perhaps I should come down from my ivory tower, or wherever it is that "out of touch" people like me live, but I never thought that so much money could be raised for such a marginal idea.

But, I guess if Scientology can build such opulent monuments to religion as brainwashing, then nothing should suprise me, even this. But I imagine you would be stunned, too, if $34 million was raised to propogate a belief that you couldn't imagine anyone in their right mind holding.

Brian Beech said...

"The spending of money has moral value no matter who is spending it" - I'm not sure I entirely agree with this statement. Everything we do could be viewed as a moral statement, so the spending of money is no different in that regard, but to say that because they spent 34 million on something you don't believe in is immoral; I think that is a bad statement that is only based on personal belief. If that is the only context (you personal belief that it is immoral) you mean it in, well, you're entitled to your opinion, but if you're making a generalization about the whole situation and calling it immoral in a societal view; may want to reconsider.

Be careful whom you degrade when you say things like "a strange mixture of bad science, bad history, and atrotious exegesis" - you must keep in mind that there are many people that would, and probably do, degrade you by saying the same thing of your belief in Jesus.

Simply put, this is a matter of theology, which eventually comes down to individual 'belief', not proof, so your treatment of this is quite shocking to me.

I'm going to paint with a wide brush here and use some words that I know you don't like, but this is simply for means of an understanding of what I am thinking. Politically knowing you are more liberal than conservative (in the common day understanding of those terms), isn't it the liberals that preach tolerance and don't think that we should criticize other's religions? Funny that now you seem to attack a certain group that holds a belief that is different from yours. This is a side of you I've yet to witness (up until now)

Sandalstraps said...

Brian,

Tolerance means (in part) allowing people to do things that you may not agree with; it does not mean remaining silent with your disagreement. I'm not advocating that any action be taken by any party concerning this museum. I'm simply saying that it is an exorborant waste of money in the name of a God that I assume would rather see such money spent on something else.

To declare something immoral is not to claim that it should be regulated by the government. For instance, despite my pro-choice stance concerning abortion, I think that most actual abortions are morally impermissible. That said, they should remain legal for nuanced reasons that have been hashed out elsewhere. As such, my coming out against this museum, my declaring it to be an outrageous idea that should never have been able to raise the funds that it has raised to celebrate a ridiculous belief that flies in the face of good history, good science, good theology, and especially good exegesis, is not intolerant. My belief in the freedom of speech dictates that these people can say whatever they want. My belief in the liberty of conscience tells me that they are free to believe whatever they want. But my belief in both those principles also dictates that I have the freedom to call a bad idea exactly what it is, a bad idea that should not happen even as it should not be forcefully stopped.

Tolerance is not some liberal Kool Aid that we all mindlessly drink to suppress disagreement. Tolerance is an acknowledgement that there are real disagreements in the world, and that we should discuss those disagreements, and that those disagreements should be mediated peacefully rather than with force. And I am free to be tolerant insofar as I don't infringe on the freedom of others to hold beliefs and to express those beliefs, which not only not holding those beliefs myself, but also expressing my well grounded belief that certain beliefs - while people are free to hold them - are not only wrong, but even ridiculous.

I'm sorry if this disappoints you, but it is not intolerance.