Religion

Artifact: Dinosaurs vs. Darwin

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Credit: Jason Kirk, Online USA, Inc.

It was Claude Bell, the proprietor of an inn on Interstate 10, who erected the dinosaurs of Cabazon, California. First came Dinny the apatosaurus, built in the '60s and immortalized in the 1985 film Pee-Wee's Big Adventure. Then came a giant Tyrannosaurus rex, left incomplete when Bell died in 1989. Like the original dinosaurs, these beasts have evolved with the times: First they were denounced as eyesores, then they were embraced as icons, and now they've experienced a religious conversion.

The Los Angeles Times reports that creationists have been buying roadside dinosaur parks around the country and turning them into anti-evolution museums. Visit the Cabazon Dinosaurs today, and you can pick up Darwin-bashing literature at the gift shop; at similar attractions you'll see the evidence, such as it is, that dinosaurs lived in the Garden of Eden and were transformed from vegetarians to carnivores by man's original sin. "Go to Disneyland, they teach evolution," the evangelist Kent Hovind of Pensacola's Dinosaur Adventure Land complains to the Times. "It's subtle–signs that say, 'Millions of years ago.' This is a golden opportunity to get our point across."

As a card-carrying evolutionist, all I can say is this: Keep the faith, Dinny. Roadside attractions should be weird. And better a private park than a public school.