Dinosaurs reinterpreted at the Creation Museum in in Petersburg, Kentucky.
Jonathan Adams for NBC News

This Week in God, 5.24.14

First up from the God Machine this week is a new edition at the Creation Museum in Kentucky, which as Eric Lach reported, will unveil a world-class Allosaurus skeleton today.
[U]nlike other museums, where dinosaur skeletons are used to “indoctrinate our kids with belief in evolution,” according to the institution, the Creation Museum’s skeleton will serve as “a testament to the truths found in God’s Word.”
 
“While evolutionists use dinosaurs more than anything to promote their worldview, especially to young students, our museum uses dinosaurs to help tell the account of history according to the Bible,” Ken Ham, president and founder of the Creation Museum and its parent organization, Answers in Genesis, said in a statement. “This remarkable allosaur is a great addition to our dinosaur exhibits. It’s been a pleasure to work with the Peroutka Foundation, which wants to use this great fossil in a God-honoring way.”
Around the world, real scholars working in legitimate institutions would unveil well-preserved dinosaur skeletons as a scientific breakthrough in fields such as geology, archeology, and biology. But at the Creation Museum, today’s unveiling of an Allosaurus – complete with a skull featuring 53 teeth – is perceived as evidence of creationism.
 
Indeed, someone who works with Answers in Genesis insisted the skeleton “is a testimony to an extremely rapid burial, which is confirmation of the global catastrophe of a Flood a few thousand years ago.”
 
In the world of actual science, the Allosaurus lived in the Jurassic period about 150 million years ago.
 
When it comes to the bizarre political dispute over science, creationists have often resisted the fossil record, with some suggesting dinosaur bones are satanic tricks intended to test evangelicals’ belief system. Now it appears at least some creationists have reached the opposite conclusion, not only embracing dinosaur skeletons but even adapting their worldview to say the bones fit into their young-earth creationist model.
 
Also from the God Machine this week:
 
* A fair number of Americans who claim to go to religious services regularly don’t actually show up: “[C] ounting churchgoers has always been a bit tricky. Some congregations tend to over-report attendance, seeking to demonstrate vitality. Others are more scrupulous, especially in denominations where churches pay assessments based on size. And it’s been evident for years that Americans tend to overstate their own religiosity: There is a persistent gap between the number of people who claim to go to worship services and the number who can actually be counted in pews.”
 
* Interesting poll results: “Americans would more likely support a philandering presidential candidate than an atheist one – by an 18 percent margin – according to a Pew Research Center poll published Monday. While 35 percent of respondents said they would be less likely to support a presidential candidate who had an extramarital affair, 53 percent of Americans indicated that not believing in God – the trait viewed most negatively of the 16 tested – would make them unsupportive of a candidate.”
 
* This again? “This week’s bad idea is brought to you by members of Congress who think it would be great to add a Christian prayer to the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. If this sounds familiar to you, that’s because some in Congress have been pushing this misguided measure every year since 2011. The proposal is pretty simple: A prayer given by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on D-Day (June 6, 1944) would be added to the memorial, which opened in 2004.”
 
* An important papal tour: “Pope Francis sets out for his first trip to the Holy Land on Saturday in what he has called ‘a strictly religious visit,’ but in a land where religion and politics are intertwined, he will walk a political tight-rope. Traveling with a rabbi and a Muslim leader in tow as a nod to inter-faith dialogue, Francis will visit Jordan, the Palestinian Territories and Israel in a crowded, three-day trip.”
 
* And the Family Research Council hosted an event this week, called the “Watchmen on the Walls” conference, featuring a variety of leaders from the religious right movement and politicians eager to pander to socially conservative pastors and activists. Notably, Franklin Graham offered a spirited argument in defense of condemning gay people: “Are we going to be cowards because we’re afraid? Could we get our heads chopped off? We could, maybe one day. So what? Chop it off!”
 

Creationism and Rachel Maddow Show This Week in God

This Week in God, 5.24.14