Oil and (holy) water

The Valley’s biggest church may soon have a new neighbor: a science museum

Mark your calendars. In February of 2009, religious people who dare explore the (missing) link between science and God will participate in a worldwide event: Evolution Weekend. Pack your crucifixes and petri dishes; the truth is out there!

Sadly, despite having the most churches per capita (an urban legend we’re promulgating with no factual background) and Area 51 (science gone mad!) in our backyard, no congregations in Nevada are among the 369 scheduled to participate in the God-sponsored International Evolution Weekend so far. But, by 2014, we’ll have the perfect site for this confluence: Henderson, Where Science and Religion Converge.


From the Archives
Henderson museum plans taking shape (Las Vegas Sun, 5/20/08)
Beyond the Weekly
Central Christian Church

There’s a 170-acre scrub of desert on the side of the U.S. 95 where city officials are planning to build a science museum in the next five years, and it happens to be adjacent to the Valley’s largest church compound, Central Christian. In fact, Central Christian has enjoyed unabated drive-by advertising from the 95 since it built its mega-sanctuary, which seats nearly 4,000, in 1999. The sign near the freeway promises passersby that at Central Christian, “it’s okay to not be okay.”

But to have been an ape?

The science-museum plan is the brainchild of Henderson councilman Jack Clark, and has, he says, “evolved over the past 14 years,” which suggests a pre-emptive answer to the burning question. However, it seems that the idea for a science museum in front of God’s spread didn’t evolve from a fish or a moth or a man named Darwin. “The idea was brought to me by a woman whose son attended the space camp in Huntsville, Alabama,” Clark says.

Central Christian leaders, missing a huge opportunity to pick a fight, declined to comment on the erection of a monument to science right next door, right between them and the path of the unwashed masses. It’s as if religion—in this time of apocalypse around every corner—isn’t interested in pointless battles. Apocalypse, indeed.

Meanwhile, the city has spent $200,000 researching its plan. National museum consulting company AMS Planning and Research is set to present its findings (do demographic studies bear out that this would this be a well-received cultural attraction?) later this fall.

Of neighborliness, says Clark, “We haven’t spoken to [Central Christian leaders] at this point.”

Obviously, a big opportunity for Vegas to be born again is at stake. As the Valley reinvents itself in the Post-New-Depression era, visionaries can surely see the potential of laying the groundwork for a religio-scientific attraction. The time is right to build hotels around it, host an annual pilgrimage and add Evolution Weekend to the list of conventions we love.

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