Episode 22 Converting Belief at a Creationist Theme Park with Dr. James Bielo

Dr. James Bielo (Photo courtesy of Dr. Bielo)

The Ark Encounter creationist theme park in Kentucky was developed with one purpose in mind, to convince visitors of the truth of Creationism, the evangelical Christian history of the origins of life on earth. To do that, anthropologist Dr. James Bielo explains, Ark Encounter deploys strategies to entertain and evoke emotional reactions in order to legitimate and give authority to its message. Dr. Bielo researched the backstage creative labor of the design team who led the conceptualization and choreographing of the theme park, which is designed not simply to entertain but to transform the minds of attendees.

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For more information on Dr. Bielo and Ark Encounter:

Dr. Bielo’s professional webpage: https://www.jamesbielo.com/

Dr. Bielo’s book Ark Encounter: The Making of a Creationist Theme Park: https://www.materializingthebible.com/re-creations.html

Dr. Bielo’s article discussing the Creationism/Evolution debate between Ken Ham and Bill Nye: “Particles-to-People…Molecules-to-Man”: Creationist Poetics in Public Debates

Other works by Dr. Bielo:

Anthropology of Religion: The Basics

Words upon the Word: An Ethnography of Evangelical Group Bible Study (Qualitative Studies in Religion)

The Social Life of Scriptures: Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Biblicism (Signifying on Scriptures)

Emerging Evangelicals: Faith, Modernity, and the Desire for Authenticity

More information on the material discussed in this episode:

Christopher Toumey, God’s Own Scientists: Creationists in a Secular World

Susan Harding, The Book of Jerry Falwell: Fundamentalist Language and Politics

Christian Smith, Christian America? What Evangelicals Really Want

Simon Coleman and Leslie Carlin, eds, The Cultures of Creationism: Anti-Evolutionism in English-Speaking Countries

NPR article on the Creationism/Evolution debate between Ken Ham and Bill Nye


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