Sunday, August 28, 2005

The Takeover at Cabazon

The Dinos of Cabazon
Originally uploaded by DBM.
Travelers between L.A. and Palm Springs have long cherished the two dinosaurs built by Claude Bell behind his Wheel Inn. The apatasaurus and tyrannasaurus have appeared in countless films (including Pee-Wee's Big Adventure) and amateur photos (including this excellent one by my friend Amy). But now they've been taken over by creationist nutjobs, who've turned them into an attraction called "Cabazon Dinosaurs."

According to an article in the August 27th L.A. Times, you can now climb up to the gift shop located in Dinny the Dinosaur (the apatasaurus) and purchase a souvenir toy dino with a label warning "Don't Swallow It: The Fossil Record Does Not Support Evolution." The Times article by Ashley Powers quotes Ken Ham, the president of Answers in Genesis, a group building a $25-million creationism museum in Kentucky, as saying "We're putting evolutionists on notice. We're taking the dinosaurs back. They're used to teach people that there's no God, and they are used to brainwash people. Evolutionists get very upset when we use dinosaurs. That's their star."

Apparently this effort to appropriate dinosaurs to creationist young-earth nonsense is an ongoing nationwide phenomenon. You can visit Dinosaur Adventure Land in Pensacola, Florida, where the slogan is "Where Dinosaurs and the Bible meet!" Or, if you are in the vicinity of Dinosaur Valley State Park in Texas, you can contemplate the intermingled dinosaur tracks and human footprints at Carl Baugh's Creation Evidence Museum.

These efforts to use long-extinct giant reptiles to promote creationism are patently absurd. In that light, I'll leave the final word to Kevin Padian of the UC Museum of Paleontology in Berkeley: "Dinosaurs lived in the Garden of Eden, and Noah's Ark? Give me a break. For them, 'The Flintstones' is a documentary."