Creating the Creation MuseumHow Fundamentalist Beliefs Come to Life

Creating the Creation MuseumHow Fundamentalist Beliefs Come to Life

Kathleen C. Oberlin

Print publication date: 2021

ISBN: 9781479881642

Publisher: NYU Press

Abstract

The typical story about creationist social movements centers on battles in the classroom or in the courtroom—like the Scopes Trial in 1925. But there is a new setting: a museum. “Prepare to Believe” is the slogan that greets visitors throughout the Creation Museum located in Petersburg, Kentucky. It carries the message that the organization Answers in Genesis (AiG) uses to welcome fellow believers as well as skeptics since opening in 2007. The Creation Museum seeks to persuade visitors that if one views both the Bible (a close, literal reading) and nature (observational, real world data) as sources of authority, then the earth appears to be much younger than conventionally understood in mainstream society. This book argues that the impact of the Creation Museum does not depend on the accuracy or credibility of its scientific claims, as many scholars, media critics, and political pundits would suggest. Instead, what AiG goes after by creating a physical site like the Creation Museum is the ability to foster plausibility politics—broadening what the audience perceives as possible and amplifying the stakes as the ideas reach more people. Destabilizing the belief that only one type of secular institution may make claims about the age of the earth and human origins, the Creation Museum is a threat to this singular positioning. In doing so, AiG repositions itself to produce longstanding effects on the public’s perception of who may make scientific claims. Creating the Creation Museum is a story about how a group endures.