The 45-foot-high concrete apatosaurus has towered over Interstate 10 near Palm Springs for nearly three decades as a kitschy prehistoric pit stop for tourists.Now, I grew up within an easy drive of the Cabazon dinosaurs. From long before I was a kid, they were the most kitchy spot in all of southern California. Even when I was in college, we'd occasionally drive out there just to have a late-night study session at the little roadside diner out there. And now, the owners are turning it into an argument for the exact wording of the Book of Genesis:
Now he is the star of a renovated attraction that disputes the fact that dinosaurs died off millions of years before humans first walked the planet.
Dinny's new owners, pointing to the Book of Genesis, contend that most dinosaurs arrived on Earth the same day as Adam and Eve, some 6,000 years ago, and later marched two by two onto Noah's Ark. The gift shop at the attraction, called the Cabazon Dinosaurs, sells toy dinosaurs whose labels warn, "Don't swallow it! The fossil record does not support evolution."
The Cabazon Dinosaurs join at least half a dozen other roadside attractions nationwide that use the giant reptiles' popularity in seeking to win converts to creationism. And more are on the way.
"We're putting evolutionists on notice: We're taking the dinosaurs back," said Ken Ham, president of Answers in Genesis, a Christian group building a $25-million creationist museum in Petersburg, Ky., that's already overrun with model sauropods and velociraptors.
The nearly 7-acre museum, low-tech theme park and science center embodies its founder's belief that God created the world in six days. The dinosaurs, even super carnivores such as T. rex, dined as vegetarians in the Garden of Eden until Adam and Eve sinned — and only then did they feast on other creatures, according to the Christian-based young-Earth theory.And then there's Dinosaur Adventure Land out in Florida:
About 4,500 years after Adam and Eve arrived, the theory goes, pairs of baby dinosaurs huddled in Noah's Ark, and a colossal flood drowned the rest and scattered their fossils. The ark-borne animals repopulated the planet — meaning that folk tales about fire-breathing beasts are accounts of humans battling dinosaurs, who still roamed the planet.
Kids romping through the $1.5-million Florida theme park can bounce on a "Long Neck Liftasaurus" swing seat; launch water balloons at a T. rex and a stegosaurus, and smooth their own sandbox-size Grand Canyons, whose formation is credited to the flood. A "fossilized" pickle purports to show that dinosaur bones could have hardened quickly. Got an upcoming birthday? Dinosaur Adventure Land does pizza parties.Holy meteor strike, Batman! The anti-evolutionists are coming out of the woodwork!
"Go to Disneyland, they teach evolution. It's subtle; signs that say, 'Millions of years ago' " said evangelist Kent Hovind, the park's founder. "This is a golden opportunity to get our point across."
The creation museums are riling mainstream Christian denominations that believe the Earth is billions of years old and that God uses evolution as a tool. This conviction makes modern science compatible with their faith in a creator.This is just getting silly, folks. "Fossilized pickles" proving that the dinosaurs could've existed four thousand years ago? Baby dinos on the Ark? Vegetarian T. rex? And they really expect their alledgedly scientific theory to be taken seriously?
"Taking the Bible as astronomy or physics is blasphemy. They're treating it as an elementary textbook and it's not," said Francisco J. Ayala, a UC Irvine evolutionary biology professor and ordained Dominican priest.
"We believe that God created the world…. They misread, misquote and misuse the Bible, but they will lose out to science," said Ayala, a past president of the American Assn. for the Advancement of Science.
Hugh Ross, an astrophysicist and founder of Reasons To Believe ministry in Pasadena, frets that "young-Earth theologians" damage the credibility of scientists who are Christian and push intellectuals away from religion.
"I'd put them in the same category as flat-Earth people and the people that think the sun goes around the Earth," he said. "They think they're defending the truth, but the young-Earth model has no scientific integrity."
Open challenge to all creationists: Do an actual study, based off of scientific principles (which means that you should not use the Bible as the main support of your argument), and submit it to a peer-reviewed scientific journal. Then, and only then, will I be willing to listen to this.