I’m fascinated by roadside billboard advertising. The reason is this: With most other forms of advertising, your ad finds its audience: You broadcast on Idol, and wherever they are — the gym, living room, bed room, bar — people who want that show see your ad. With a billboard, you’re stationary — everyone who sees your ad has to drive by … and in one direction! How do you know that the strip from Oak Cliff to Waxahachie is where most men who’ve had vasectomies want to get their procedure reversed? Why not Sylvan to Arlington? Inquiring minds….
So I was curious the other day, driving to a friend’s house for dinner, to see a billboard along I-30 East with a dinosaur on it. It looked like the kind of thing you’d see at a theme park. It said “The mighty T-rex!” or something, and then, “674 miles ahead to Cincinnati, Ohio.” (It’s actually in Northern Kentucky.)
What strange hell is this? Why advertise in East Dallas for a museum in the Midwest?
Then I looked more carefully at the ad. It gave its website: CreationMuseum.org.
And I began to understand.
What in the blazes could a dinosaur — the perfect symbol not only of Earth’s scientific age, but of evolution itself — have to do with a museum whose name seemed to imply a biblical devotion?
So I went to the website. And it is astounding.
It’s pretty much what you’d expect: A religious interpretation of science that combined both creationism and biology. The website doesn’t say everything you’ll learn at the museum — that’s why they want you to go there — but it does betray a bastardization of science that gives me chillblains. “Adam and Eve live in the Garden of Eden. Children play and dinosaurs roam near Eden’s Rivers. The serpent coils cunningly in the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.” See how effortlessly the promo materials couch an impossibility — the co-existence of Jurassic-era monsters with frolicking kids (alongside a mythical river, no less!) — between staid biblical lessons?
“This cave aquarium features live blind cavefish, showing how natural selection allows organisms to possess characteristics most favorable for a given environment,” the site explains, “but it is not an example of evolution in the molecules-to-man sense. You’ll also uncover the truth about antibiotic resistant bacteria.” What? How can it make these distinctions?
(Perhaps most disturbing to me personally: Naming their cafeteria “Noah’s Cafe.” Are we supposed to order two-by-two? Or does each order lessen the chance of reproduction just a little bit? I’ll stick with the salad.)
But while I would consider hell to be having to work at such a place, I can at least rest in the comfort that it’s hundreds of miles away from me. Which brings us back to the starting point: Why is there a billboard for this place within five miles of my house?
The answer clearly has to be: Because we thought it would be a good investment and generate business … you know, because Texans are Christians and they love dinosaurs. I guess.
It really does disturb me to think that they think anyone would be tempted to learn about dinosaurs from biblical fundamentalists. But I guess they are out there. And I guess if the billboard stays up long enough, we’ll know it’s working … and that it may really be time to think about moving.
I hear we have flights to Mars now. I bet there aren’t any Christians there.