Okay, let’s get this out of the way early – I did a silly thing today. I’d been wondering about doing it and despite knowing that it probably was’t a good idea, I did it anyway. I visited the Creation Evidence Museum in Glen Rose, Texas and it changed my mind about something quite important.
But before I get to that, let me tell you about how my day started. Abilene to Palastine is another 300 mile day and I got an early start. Getting up and out wasn’t too difficult, last night was spent in possibly the nastiest motel I think I’ve been in yet. The sort of place where the carpets are so filthy that you get changed standing on your flip flops, just in case.
Motels this cheap don’t offer breakfast and to be honest, motel breakfasts are a bit shit if you don’t like insta-waffles and evil coffee. I was on the road by seven and breakfast was a can of Starbucks cold espresso, a bottle of green juice and a peanut bar. I’m a fucking plant-powered road warrior, that’s what I am.
I suffered these privations gladly though – because I was out on the open roads of central Texas before the central Texans were partway through their BBQ smoky bacon flavoured crunchola or whatever the hell it is that they eat for breakfast round here. Now that I’m good and out of the desert, I’ve got to tell you, this part of Texas is lush, green and properly beautiful. It’s biking heaven, with miles and miles of well-made, gently swooping blacktop and in the coolness of the early morning, I was just on the edge of being not-quite-cold at 60mph and it was more delicious a feeling than any breakfast you could put in front of me.
There’s a whole load of reasons people ride motorcycles; exhilaration, travel, camaraderie, the wind in your hair, bugs in your teeth, whatever. The one thing we pretty much all agree on is that it makes you feel *free*. America is the home of the brave, the land of the free and God Himself rides a motherfucking Harley Davidson.
Which brings me to the destination of this morning’s ride: the Museum. When I’d been looking for things to do as I rode between Roswell and New Orleans, I’d realised that Texas is really, really big and there’s not an awful lot in the way of things that a travelling motorcyclist might want to see. I’ve always imagined this part of the world as being all about large vehicles, guns and God, so as I learned about the Creation Evidence Museum, I was pretty much hooked.
When I pulled up on my offensively loud motorcycle, I was the only vehicle in the car park. I suspect that this isn’t a rare occurrence for visitors at the museum. I parked up and shot a little video footage, just in case they spotted me for the sexually deviant heathen that I am and ran me out of town on a pole. Wandering inside, I was welcomed by a young woman with a perma-smile who asked me if I was here to visit. Maybe she thought I was lost, I don’t know. Anyway, she relieved me of six dollars and in I went.
As you might imagine, the museum is the brainchild of one man (why is it always a MAN?), Carl Baugh, who founded the place in the eighties to research and display exhibits that support creationism. According to the forty five minute welcome video that I didn’t sit through all of, Carl would have you believe that the Earth is not, in fact 4.5 billion years old as the whole of the rest of science has concluded. Carl says that the earth is six thousand years old and that humans walked with dinosaurs.
Carl has made it his life’s work to search for fossils in the banks of the nearby Paluxy River, in Dinosaur Valley State Park which demonstrate man and dinosaurs living at the same time was totally A Thing. The museum displays some examples of these specimens, which Carl says prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that all of science is wrong and his is right. Here’s one of them:
Apparently, that’s a human footprint in there with the dinosaur one. I’m no expert, but I strongly suspect that the only reason you’ve not read about this “evidence” is that any experts worth their sauce have taken one look and laughed. Carl says that there’s a difference of opinion about his fossils. On the one hand, he says that they are genuine and that they prove an omnipotent creator God shazzamed everything in to existence in seven days. And on the other hand you have ALL THE OTHER SCIENTISTS EVER who say that this proves absolutely nothing of the sort and that his fossils area load of old tosh.
To bolster his case and lend him the credibility he almost certainly craved, Carl built a museum and filled it full of all sorts of irrelevant old tat to attract the kind of person who might find that sort of thing interesting. There are artefacts, scrolls, Hebrew Scriptures, even the inevitable scale model ark:
Everywhere you looked, there were bible verses and posters proclaiming the truth, which was As Plain As The Nose On Your Face. To bulk things out a bit, upstairs was a section on “The Works of Man” with some posters about the space program, an old Model T Ford and, bizarrely, a Penny Farthing. Knowing a thing or two about the later, I can tell you that it was a crap one.
The crowning glory of the museum, is the hyperbaric biosphere. The museum hopes that this huge, pressurised vessel will reproduce the atmospheric conditions that they say existed prior to Noah’s flood and enable them to ACTUALLY GROW BABY DINOSAURS. Baugh says that these conditions made creatures live longer and get bigger, smarter and nicer. He reckons that tests under these conditions have tripled the lifespan of fruit-flies. I don’t know about fruit flies, but if Carl ever succeeds in growing baby dinosaurs, I totally want one.
You can see the hyperbaric biosphere behind me. That’s my best “whatthefuckisthisidonteven” expression, if you were wondering.
So here we get to the bit where I told you it changed my mind about something quite important. I once thought that men like Carl Baugh did what they do because they were led – blinded even, by a religious fervour that made them overlook things that rigorous science would definitely notice. I thought that men like Carl Baugh were using their theories about young earth creationism to reinforce their message of Jesus coming to rapture us all up, so we’d better be good and ready.
What I’ve now learned is that although men like Carl can spend a lifetime attempting to study a subject (like, say paleoanthropology) – they manage to miss out on a whole bunch of obvious shit because they’re total fucking thickos who wouldn’t know the rigour of the scientific method if it shoved a Triceratops horn up their stupid jacksy. This isn’t religious fundamentalism, so much as someone who’s as thick as mince, being given money by other people (also as thick as mince) to build a museum and conduct ‘research’.
I actually feel sorry for Carl. The universe is a far more mind-numbingly complex and beautiful a place than he can find room for in his abbreviated little world view. If he was more intelligent and less charismatic (preachers of religion are always so bloody charismatic) then he might have got a couple of years into all this and gone, “Oh bugger, everyone else thinks this is bullshit – my bad” and gone off to do something else with his life. But much like gamblers throwing good money after bad and keeping playing the tables when everyone else thinks it’s a dumb idea, Carl is still going. Hunting for his fossils, making awful YouTube videos and most worryingly, getting funded by the good people of Texas to carry on doing this stupid shit.
As I was leaving, what saddened me the most were the children’s books in the inevitable gift shop:
It’s all very well polluting the minds of grownups with this stuff, but when you’re bringing your staggering ignorance into the classroom, that’s when you cross the line from being a common or garden thicky into being a first class git. People who peddle this old tosh to children are gits. I beat a hasty one, stopping for just a tiny little bit of selfie action in the car park:
The rest of my day was spent riding the fine roads of Texas, checking out the things that went past me as I hooned along. Like this:
(Clearly, not all Texans are Christian puritans) and this:
By the time I took that last photo, it was devilishly hot. I have no idea how people go about working outside in this heat all day – at least when you’re riding a motorcycle, you have natural air conditioning. The heat only gets unbearable when you stop.
I checked into a Super 8 chain motel this evening – no sticky carpets for me tonight!