Remember how I said, like, just last week that even though I wasn’t a religious person, I could easily get behind the beliefs of those who are religious? Let’s keep that in mind, and remember that I am sometimes open-minded and loving, and accepting of the beliefs of others.
This, however, is not one of those times.
On our last day in Palm Springs, we went to visit the Cabazon Dinosaurs – about a 20-minute drive away in Cabazon. They were created by Claude Bell as a roadside attraction to bring customers into to his Wheel-Inn Cafe. The first one, an apatosaurus, was completed in the late 1960s, and the second, a giant T-Rex, was finished around 1981.
You may recognize them from a brilliant film called Pee Wee’s Big Adventure. (Side note: the scene with Large Marge scared the hell out of me when I was a kid. I just rewatched it. It is now funny. I guess time heals all wounds.)
Mr. Bell died in 1988, and his family sold the land (including the dinosaurs). It was purchased by a group called the Cabazon Family Partnership and MKA Cabazon Partnership. They opened up a museum adjacent to the dinosaurs, dedicated to Young Earth Creationism (let’s call it YEC for short).
My apologies, now, because I am going to try to explain a set of beliefs that I don’t personally hold because I believe in science. And I am probably going to sound like an asshole.
YEC takes a very literal interpretation of the bible, maintaining that the Earth really was created in just a week (or six days, really, since on the seventh day He rested). According to this view, the age of the Earth is generally estimated to be around 6,000 years old.
From AnswersInGenesis.org (which the Cabazon Dinosaur website links to repeatedly):
“… there is no proof whatsoever that the world and its fossil layers are millions of years old. No scientist observed dinosaurs die.”
So obviously all that radiometric dating that puts the world at around 4.6 billion years old is nonsense. Because no scientist observed it back when it happened.
YOU GUYS I HAVE SO MANY COMMENTS AND FEELINGS ABOUT THIS. Honestly, I don’t what to begin screaming about.
Interestingly, Young Earth Creationists do not dispute that dinosaurs existed.
I find this absolutely fascinating, because it means that they accept the science behind fossils. They believe that they are real and belonged to giant creatures that once lived on earth.
What they dispute is how old those fossils are.
Once again, from AnswersInGenesis.org:
“As you add up all of the dates, and accepting that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came to Earth almost 2000 years ago, we come to the conclusion that the creation of the Earth and animals (including the dinosaurs) occurred only thousands of years ago … Thus, if the Bible is right (and it is!), dinosaurs must have lived within the past thousands of years.”
AND NOW MY HEAD HURTS.
Since there was no death in the Garden of Eden, then dinosaurs could not have died out before man’s arrival on the earth because there was no such thing as death before the existence of Adam, and his betrayal to God.
Consequently, mankind, and all manner of mammals, walked the earth with dinosaurs. And that is why you will a display at the museum that features a chimpanzee riding a dinosaur next to a horse that is outfitted for Medieval Times.
Now, the museum’s website doesn’t mention all of this explicitly. They link out to a lot of other websites, but they keep their views on the down low on their own site. This kind of bothers me, because I suspect that a lot of people could end up visiting the Cabazon Dinosaurs without realizing that the place is a creationist museum.
But once you are there, it becomes very obvious.
So, then, how did the dinosaurs die out?
The beliefs of YEC maintain that dinosaurs were loaded onto Noah’s Ark along with every other species of animal on the earth (though they were likely young, juvenile dinosaurs. Because grown ones wouldn’t fit on an ark. Obviously). When the flood was over, the dinosaurs found that the environment had changed substantially, and were no longer able to survive.
Wait, so YEC believes in climate change? Huh.
Okay, anyway, most of the dinosaurs died out during this time.
Most of them. But some continued to thrive (I guess?), and a few may still be alive today. Like the Loch Ness Monster, which is proof that dinosaurs still live on earth.
I guess when you’ve already accepted that 1.) the earth is 6000 years old, 2.) dinosaurs lived on the earth with man, and 3.) you can fit two of every species of animal that has ever existed into an ark along with every species of dinosaur, Nessie seems totally probable.
I think Rand and I were both a little unsure of how to react to the place. I have plenty of friends who are religious, and I grew up Catholic. But my beliefs always worked with conventional science, and I wasn’t too keen on the YEC practice of denying some facts while embracing others.
Nor could I dismiss it all as ridiculous – that seemed unfair (at least, you know, until I researched it further). And so we were caught in a weird limbo – unable to take it all at face value, but unable to shrug it off as pure silliness. And so we tried to find some sort of weird balance between the two.
I think we succeeded.
Rand was particularly delighted by this model of a Triceratops.
Mostly because the photo used in the informational placard next to it was OF THE MODEL OF THE TRICERATOPS. He found this absolutely delightful.
I think my favorite part was the T-Rex – there are stairs inside of it, so you can climb up into its head.
There, Rand took a few more portraits of me.
At some point, I realized I should pose for a few nice ones … “for grandma,” my internal monologue noted. Which is really weird, because I only met one of my grandmothers, and she’s been gone a very long time.
It was an interesting, if factually-specious, way to spend an hour. As we drove back to the rental house, Rand asked me what I thought of the place.
“The dinosaurs were cool,” I said. And I realized that was something that nearly everyone – regardless of creed – could agree on.