Fw: NYTimes.com Article: Darwin-Free Fun for Creationists

From: Robert Schneider <rjschn39@bellsouth.net>
Date: Sat May 01 2004 - 08:02:02 EDT

Scroll down through the advertisement and read: the ever-energetic Kent
Hovind has entered another part of the entertainment business--theme parks,
while the more sober-minded Ken Ham moves forward with his own science
complex. I want to try the Jumpasaurus.


Subject: NYTimes.com Article: Darwin-Free Fun for Creationists

> The article below from NYTimes.com
> has been sent to you by rjschn39@bellsouth.net.

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> Darwin-Free Fun for Creationists
> May 1, 2004
> PENSACOLA, Fla., April 29 - Robert and Schön Passmore took
> their children to Disney World last fall and left bitterly
> disappointed. As Christians who reject evolutionary theory,
> the family scoffed at the park's dinosaur attractions,
> which date the apatosaurus, brachiosaurus and the like to
> prehistoric times.
> "My kids kept recognizing flaws in the presentation," said
> Mrs. Passmore, of Jackson, Ala. "You know - the whole
> `millions of years ago dinosaurs ruled the earth' thing."
> So this week, the Passmores sought out a lower-profile
> Florida attraction: Dinosaur Adventure Land, a creationist
> theme park and museum here that beckons children to "find
> out the truth about dinosaurs" with games that roll science
> and religion into one big funfest with the message that
> Genesis, not science, tells the real story of the creation.
> Kent Hovind, the minister who opened the park in 2001, said
> his aim was to spread the message of creationism through a
> fixture of mainstream America - the theme park - instead of
> pleading its case at academic conferences and in
> courtrooms.
> Mr. Hovind, a former public school science teacher with his
> own ministry, Creation Science Evangelism, and a hectic
> lecture schedule, said he had opened Dinosaur Adventure
> Land to counter all the science centers and natural history
> museums that explain the evolution of life with Darwinian
> theory. There are dinosaur bone replicas, with accompanying
> explanations that God made dinosaurs on Day 6 of the
> creation as described in Genesis, 6,000 years ago. Among
> the products the park gift shop peddles are T-shirts with a
> small fish labeled "Darwin" getting gobbled by a bigger
> fish labeled "Truth."
> "There are a lot of creationists that are really smart and
> debate the intellectuals, but the kids are bored after five
> minutes," said Mr. Hovind, who looks boyish at 51 and talks
> fast. "You're missing 98 percent of the population if you
> only go the intellectual route."
> The theme park is just the latest approach to promoting
> creationism outside the usual school curriculum route,
> which Mr. Hovind and others see as important, but too
> limited and not sufficiently appealing to modern young
> families. Creationist groups are also promoting creationist
> vacations, including dinosaur digs in South Dakota,
> fossil-collecting trips in Australia and New Zealand, and
> tours of the Grand Canyon ("raft the canyon and learn how
> Noah's flood contributed to the formation").
> Dan Johnson, an assistant manager of the park, said there
> were also creationism-themed cruises, with lectures on the
> subject amid swimming and shuffleboard.
> A Kentucky creationist group called Answers in Genesis says
> it is building a 100,000-square-foot complex outside
> Cincinnati with a museum, classrooms, a planetarium and a
> special-effects theater where moviegoers can experience the
> flood and other events described in Genesis.
> Ken Ham, the group's chief executive, said marketing
> surveys suggested that the complex would draw not just
> home-schooling families and other creationists, but
> mainstream church groups and curiosity seekers. Mr. Ham
> said a former Universal Studios art director was designing
> exhibits for the complex, including dioramas of Adam and
> Eve and a model of Noah's Ark. The complex will open in
> 2006 at the earliest, Mr. Ham said.
> At Dinosaur Adventure Land, visitors can make their own
> Grand Canyon replica with sand and read a sign deriding
> textbooks for teaching that the Colorado River formed the
> canyon over millions of years: "This is clearly not
> possible. The top of the Grand Canyon is 4,000 feet higher
> than where the river enters the canyon! Rivers do not flow
> up hill!"
> There is a movie depicting the creation, the flood and the
> fall of man, which fast-forwards from a lush Garden of Eden
> to a New York City traffic jam.
> There are no mechanized rides at Dinosaur Adventure Land -
> no creationist-themed roller coasters, scramblers or even a
> ferris wheel - but instead, a simple discovery center and
> museum and about a dozen outdoor games, each of which has a
> "science lesson" and "spiritual lesson" posted nearby. A
> group of about 60 parents and home-schooled children who
> visited Wednesday, including the Passmores, spent all
> afternoon trying the games, which promote religious faith
> more than creationist tenets.
> Take Jumpasaurus, which involves jumping on a trampoline
> while trying to throw a ball through a hoop as many times
> as possible in a minute. The science lesson: "You will use
> coordination in this game, which means you will be doing
> more than one thing at once." The spiritual lesson,
> according to Mr. Johnson: "You need to learn to be
> coordinated for Jesus Christ so you can get more things
> done for him."
> Somewhat more creationist in approach is the Nerve-Wracking
> Ball: a bowling ball on a rope, dangling from a tall tree
> branch. A child stands before the ball, and then a park
> guide gives it a shove from a specific angle, so that it
> comes careering back at the child's face only to stop just
> in front of it. The child wins if he does not flinch,
> proving he has "faith in God's laws" - in this case, that a
> swinging object will never come back higher than the point
> from which it took off.
> Eugenie Scott, executive director of the National Center
> for Science Education, which tracks creationist programs,
> said traditional creationists like Mr. Hovind had in fact
> given up on building intellectual credibility years ago.
> "They have been going the grass-roots mainstream route for
> at least 20 years," she said. "So I'm not surprised they
> are the ones sponsoring group vacations and theme parks and
> things like that."
> Dinosaur Adventure Land, tucked behind a highway lined with
> car dealerships in this metropolitan area of 425,000, sits
> next to Mr. Hovind's home and the offices of Creation
> Science Evangelism, which he said he founded in 1989. Mr.
> Hovind is well known in Pensacola, and even in a region
> where religious billboards almost outnumber commercial ones
> he is controversial. Escambia County sued him in 2000 after
> he refused to get a $50 permit before building his theme
> park, saying the government had no authority over a church.
> Just last week Internal Revenue Service agents used a
> search warrant to remove financial documents from Mr.
> Hovind's home and offices, saying he was not paying taxes
> and had neither a business license nor tax-exempt status
> for his enterprises.
> Mr. Hovind did not want to discuss the I.R.S.
> investigation, saying only, "I don't have any tax
> obligations."
> The man who calls himself Dr. Dino is also controversial
> among creationists, some of whom say he discredits their
> movement with some of his pseudo-scientific claims. Mr.
> Hovind got into a dispute in 2002 with Answers in Genesis,
> when he took issue with an article it published called
> "Arguments We Think Creationists Should Not Use." One such
> argument was that footprints found in Texas proved that man
> and dinosaurs coexisted; Mr. Hovind said he considered the
> argument, now abandoned by many creationists, valid. Mr.
> Hovind said he gave 700 lectures a year and that 38,000
> people had visited his park, at $7 a head. According to a
> map that invites visitors to pinpoint their hometown, most
> come from the Florida Panhandle and from Alabama,
> Mississippi and Tennessee.
> Rachel Painter, camp director at the Alpha Omega Institute,
> which runs several creationist family summer camps in
> Colorado, said creationist vacations had gained popularity
> as the number of Christian home-schooling families had
> grown. The institute started its camps 18 years ago with 4
> families per session, she said, but now up to 18 attend
> each, and from more states.
> Wade and Joan Killingsworth, who belong to a home-schooling
> coalition called Solid Rock Christian School, said they
> took their children to Colonial Williamsburg over spring
> break and came to Dinosaur Adventure Land because it was
> similarly educational. But they and the Passmores, who
> traveled from Alabama with eight minivans of like-minded
> families, said this type of road trip had far more to
> offer.
> "We've been to museums, discovery centers, where you have
> to sit there and take the evolutionary stuff," Mr. Passmore
> said. "It feels good for them to finally hear it in a
> public place, something that reinforces their beliefs."
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Received on Sat May 1 08:02:52 2004

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