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Righting America at the Creation Museum

On May 28, 2007, the Creation Museum opened in Petersburg, Kentucky. Aimed at scientifically demonstrating that the universe was created less than ten thousand years ago by a Judeo-Christian god, the museum is hugely popular, attracting millions of visitors over the past eight years. Surrounded by themed topiary gardens and a petting zoo with camel rides, the site conjures up images of a religious Disneyland. Inside, visitors are met by dinosaurs at every turn and by a replica of the Garden of Eden that features the Tree of Life, the serpent, and Adam and Eve.

In Righting America at the Creation Museum, Susan L. Trollinger and William Vance Trollinger, Jr., take readers on a fascinating tour of the museum. The Trollingers vividly describe and analyze its vast array of exhibits, placards, dioramas, and videos, from the Culture in Crisis Room, where videos depict sinful characters watching pornography or considering abortion, to the Natural Selection Room, where placards argue that natural selection doesn’t lead to evolution. The book also traces the rise of creationism and the history of fundamentalism in America.

This compelling book reveals that the Creation Museum is a remarkably complex phenomenon, at once a "natural history" museum at odds with contemporary science, an extended brief for the Bible as the literally true and errorless word of God, and a powerful and unflinching argument on behalf of the Christian right.

About the Authors

Susan L. Trollinger is an associate professor of English at the University of Dayton. She is the author of Selling the Amish: The Tourism of Nostalgia. William Vance Trollinger, Jr., is a professor of history at the University of Dayton. He is the author of God’s Empire: William Bell Riley and Midwestern Fundamentalism.

Reviews

The material unfolds engagingly because the Trollingers confront and rebut pseudoscientific zealotry...so readers emerge from our deep exposure to this culture feeling triumphant, sane, as we align with the authors in the camp of science and reason.

- Times Higher Education

[T]he most compelling elements of the book focus on the history, evolution and construction of the museum as a cultural space and then explore how the Creation Museum fits into that history. …As the Trollingers show repeatedly, Creationism has evolved a posture that steadfastly sidesteps any kind of serious debate. …The book is at its best when it situates the Creation Museum within the longer history of how we present objects and organize knowledge.

- Los Angeles Times

More than a tour, Righting America at the Creation Museum is about as thorough and detailed a text-based analysis of the Creation Museum as anyone could want. This book is a perceptive critical analysis of the museum’s purposes, methods, and potential impact.

- Free Inquiry

Endorsements

A multidimensional approach to the topic of the Creation Museum, this superb book combines ethnography with discursive forays into history and theory in an attempt to understand an important cultural phenomenon. The authors deftly move from description to historical vignettes to theory as they seek to explain the museum.

- Randall Balmer, Dartmouth College, author of Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory: A Journey into the Evangelical Subculture in America

This carefully researched, engagingly written book takes readers on a virtual tour of the Creation Museum, the first of its kind. This book is, to my knowledge, also the first of its kind. No one else has devoted such meticulous attention to the messages of the museum or done so in such a lucid, even-handed manner.

- Ronald L. Numbers, University of Wisconsin–Madison, author of The Creationists: From Scientific Creationism to Intelligent Design
Johns Hopkins University Press
Medicine, Science, and Religion in Historical Context
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