BELIZE — On Sunday night, my husband and I were hiking the Cockscomb Basin, a jaguar preserve. Julian, our Mayan guide, a man who grew up in this jungle and knows every tree, led the way through the dark. Above our heads, two male black howler monkeys (who can only be described as badass) shrieked, growled and grunted at each other. Julian pointed out a jaguar paw print — sadly no jaguar. Leaf cutter ants marched back and forth lugging bits of green on immaculately cleared trails reaching into the jungle farther than the beam of our flashlight. Never have I been so surrounded by such rich primitive fecund life. It is intoxicating and disorienting.
From the sky came an incredible BOOM. “What was that?” Julian said slowly, as if we would have any clue. The sound continued to reverberate through the mountains. Meteorite? Bomb? End of the world? We were freaked out. No television, cell phone, internet service. There was no way to find out what happened.
Later that night, in the Mayan village, the men gathered outside our hut, talking about it in hushed voices. Lacking any better answers, my husband offered the theory that perhaps it was from aliens.
We learned the source of the explosion the next morning. At 8:59, the space shuttle, taking a detour due to bad weather, passed over Belize on the way to Kennedy Space Center. By the time the sonic boom reached our ears four minutes later, the shuttle was two minutes from landing.
This must be what it feels like to be a creationist. Science continues to race ahead, making strides in mapping the history of our origins and outlining the myriad ways we are connected to all life. Meanwhile, creationists stand there lost in the dark, mouths hanging open, unable to comprehend what’s taking place far over their heads.
Alas, this in-the-dark ignorance is now being paraded before the rest of the world in Vancouver. Ken Ham’s apologetics organization Answers in Genesis is holding what it calls its “Olympic Outreach.” AiG is the organization behind the Kentucky-based Creation Museum, which claims that the Book of Genesis is not only literally true, but that they have the science to prove it. The museum features Disney World-like robot dinosaurs, a replica of Noah’s Ark built to scale and plenty of scripture, but is actually quite short on scientific claims to back up its assertions beyond “God did it because the Bible told me so.”
For the past year, AiG has been soliciting volunteers to pay their own way to Vancouver, so they can serve as missionaries, accosting athletes and tourists, handing out anti-evolution pamphlets and telling them that dinosaurs and man co-existed, that Jonah really did spend three days in the belly of a fish and making the United States look stupid before the international media. AiG does this every four years and claims that it saved 250 souls at the Athens Olympics. Since in most countries, people accept the reality of evolution, the rest of the western world, except for Turkey, will laugh at us.