Michael Peroutka is a “proud member” of the League of the South — a man who harks back to a simpler, old-fashioned era of treason, slavery, theft, rape, torture, concubinage and the selling of human flesh.
Peroutka also dislikes evolutionary science, which he regards as immoral.
That’s why Michael Peroutka is a big supporter and contributor to Ken Ham’s Creation Museum — to which he recently donated a gorgeous, largely complete allosaur skeleton worth more than $1 million.
So, wait — how did a Neo-Confederate right-wing activist come to own a priceless dinosaur skeleton? Apparently he bought it. Never underestimate the amount of money to be made in peddling Neo-Confederate, white-supremacist, “constitutional conservative” nonsense. Oh, and Peroutka has also made a fortune in debt collection.
And it turns out he bought the dinosaur from some kind of shady expeditions-for-homeschoolers outfit connected to none other than Doug Phillips (he was the founder/CEO/pope of the fundamentalist home-school organization Vision Forum — until the details of his predatory sexual history became public).
I like to think that I would never accept any donation from anyone connected with the odious ideology of the League of the South. His willingness to associate with Peroutka would seem to undermine Ken Ham’s credibility — if he had had any to begin with.
But on the other hand, a largely complete allosaur skeleton is really, really cool. The offer of such a gift would be hard to resist — regardless of who was giving it. I might be at least a little bit tempted to plunder the Egyptians, take the bones and run — even if it meant posing for a publicity photo with someone as despicable as Michael Peroutka.
I don’t mean because of the association with Mr. League of the South Debt Collector — that won’t be a problem for most of Ham’s target demographic of white evangelicals and fundamentalists.
I mean because this spectacular, 30-foot-long, 10-foot-high specimen clearly doesn’t belong in the Creation Museum. It clashes, and people will notice that clash — that massive dissonant note in Ham’s otherwise orderly symphony of young-Earth creationist bamboozlement. The allosaur is actually awe-inspiring and wondrous. Set there amidst the rest of the Creation Museum, it can only highlight the shoddy papier-mâché propaganda of the rest of the place.
And something else sets it apart from the rest of Ham’s displays: It’s real. There it sits — tangibly, solidly, actually real. As such it can’t help but serve as a foil to emphasize the unreality of everything else in the museum.
Visitors will already have passed by Ham’s dioramas of the Garden of Eden, in which an uncanny Adam and Eve are surrounded by animals that Ham’s young-Earth creationism insists were all vegetarians before humanity sinned. Before the Fall, Ham teaches, there were no carnivores because before sin there was no death. Lions, tigers, Tyrannosaurs and sharks were all — according to Ham — vegetarians up until a literal Adam and Eve ate a literal fruit.
Ronald Osborn addresses that peculiar young-Earth creationist doctrine in his book Death Before the Fall, which RJS has been reviewing over at Jesus Creed. Osborn begins by recalling a trip to a preserve in Zimbabwe, where he watched three young lionesses devour a cape buffalo:
The idea that the lions in Eden were docile vegetarians with dagger-sharp claws originally designed by God for tearing the bark off trees appeared downright silly. Somehow those massive canine teeth and retractable claws for taking down living prey had got there. This seemingly left one possibility: God himself was responsible for the transformation of all nature in what amounted to a hostile second creation after Adam and Eve’s fall. All mortality and all predation in the animal kingdom were the result of a divine punishment or “curse.”
Visitors to the Creation Museum will have that same YEC doctrine still ringing in their ears when they arrive at the museum’s newest, most impressive display. They will look up at that allosaur skeleton and, as Osborn says, the idea that it was originally designed by God to eat vegetables will seem “downright silly.”
Ham’s teaching won’t be able to withstand the presence of one real thing, one true thing. To paraphrase Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park, I’m simply saying that truth, uh … finds a way.