The Cabazon Dinosaurs And Young Earth Creationist Museum, Cabazon, California

Posted on
Feb 19, 2014

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.

He is affectionately known as Mr. Rex.

 

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.

I DON’T KNOW WHETHER TO BE SCARED OR DELIGHTED. I think I might be both.

 

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.

I love how mama lion is just chilling there like, “Whatever. Dinosaurs. No big whoop.”

 

 

 

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.

Yeah …

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.

This is one of my favorite photos of me, ever.

 

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.

Leave a Comment

  • Wanderingone

    Funny I was just watching the debate between Ken Ham and Bill Nye. Quite entertaining. Mr. Ham’s rebuttal to most of Mr. Nye’s points was to say we weren’t around so we just don’t know what happened and of course he quoted the bible a lot. I loved it when Bill Nye brought up the tv show CSI and made the point that those people weren’t around when a murder occurred yet they used science and evidence to figure out how the murder happened. Over and over Nye gave concrete examples and over and over Ham said we just didn’t know because we weren’t there. Would be funny if there weren’t so many creationists out there that want to change what we teach our kids in schools.

  • my fiancé and I were JUST talking about this place during dinner. this is probably my favorite post of 2014 (and hey, there have been a lot of blog posts in 2014).

    I find this place so confusing. The intersection of faith and science is confusing because it seems to pick and choose from each to create the desired narrative. I hope that is fair to say. I actually wish that I had heard of the YEC’s earlier on in life. Growing up in a conservative evangelical family I was taught to believe a very literal meaning of the bible. Seeing a different narrative of the bible, however, might have pushed me to question my belief system sooner. While I do not agree in their beliefs, I always appreciate when some science enters a religious conversation. Or at least some science.

  • Hahaha Sometimes America freaks me out, and this is one of those times.

    If you find a museum explaining when and how unicorns got extinct, please inform us immediately!

  • For Heaven’s sake — apparently even the Catholic Church teaches that the Big Bang theory and evolution are not antithetical to a belief in God. http://io9.com/does-the-new-pope-believe-in-evolution-453874239

    I admit they are cool looking dinosaurs. I was going to suggest that you could see cool looking dinosaurs and dinosaur skeletons in any museum of natural history, but the truth is, their dinosaurs don’t usually have stairs inside the TRex. Still, I hope you didn’t have to pay good money to climb inside TRex and visit the museum. Personally, I wouldn’t have thought less of you if you had “shrug(ed) it off as pure silliness”.

    • They were cool dinosaurs, weren’t they?!! And yes, the stairs inside that TRex… I might have climbed even if I had to pay. It’s like the Statue of Liberty….only shorter and with teeth. Then again, if the creationist view of that place was so off-base, how could you even be sure the stairs were safe to climb? Yikes.

      • Everywhereist

        In all fairness, the stairs were built by the original owner, and they seemed pretty safe. 🙂

  • Yeah, I’m an Episcopal priest, we take the bible too seriously to take it literally. Literature and all. I’m afraid you were far nicer than me, I’m pretty sure my head would explode in such a place.

    My burning question though is why is the mama lion, and the raptor so much BIGGER than that itty bitty brontosaurus/apatasaurus?? (I am no longer 6 and therefore cannot spell dinosaur names properly. Sorry) It is tiny!

    • You weren’t alive when brontosauruses walked the earth, so how do you know they weren’t actually much smaller than the fossil evidence? 😉 (I could spell dinosaur names much better when I was 6 too. I relearned their spellings when our sons were 6, but the oldest will be 30 next week, so—game over in the dinosaur spelling department).

  • Ruth

    DINOSAUR HANDS!

  • Teresa

    All I could think of was the movie “The Wizard”!

    Thank you for your blog and allowing all of us strangers to be a part of your love story. It is truly amazing, hysterical and the highlight to most of my work days.

  • sounds like these YEC people watched one too many episodes of The Flintstones…

  • I literally smacked my forehead while reading this. My brain hurts. Too. Much. Nonsense. On an equally nonsensical note: apparently only 74% of Americans know the Earth revolves around the Sun.

    Good day, Internet.

    I said good day!

  • S

    One of my favorite places in the desert! The mini-park aside from the two giant dinos is only maybe 5 yrs old, and once when I was inside the Apatosaur (is it still a gift shop?) there was a poster showing how they wanted to turn the surrounding area into a GIANT theme park of the same idea. Like, current park x100.

    There used to be a crusader throwing a rock at the biggest t rex inside the park (not the one you climb into), but for some reason he was removed a few years back.

  • Chimp on a dinosaur? I don’t want to live in a world where that is not a thing.

  • Well done on having something nice to say… you did better than I could have!

  • Not gonna lie, but dinosaurs scare the crap out of me! Also, I like your hair long – so pretty!

  • Well! All I can say is I hope Grandma liked her pictures.

    • Everywhereist

      This is a seriously weird and hilarious comment. 🙂

  • This looks so fun, and is now going on my travel list 🙂

  • Una

    That’s it. I’ve gotta do a “mind-blowingly weird American museum” road trip. This place is out of control.
    Super post!

  • socalthinker

    If no one was there to witness it, then it didn’t happen? Who was watching when the events of Genesis (allegedly) occurred? The YECs don’t expect their own rules to apply to them.

  • That is gas. I would have thought a lot of that thinking died out (pardon the pun). Surely for their argument it would be easier if they took each day to mean 10million years then it might be plausible. I thought that is how the church etc got around the indisputable evidence of science! Pity these guys haven’t come across it

  • Madeleine

    What? No kissy pictures inside the T-Rex’s head? WHY?

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