John Scalzi made a great photographic document of his trip to the museum a while ago. This
is my favorite bit. As one of the commenters said, my first thought was, "Surpriz buttsechs!"
Seems as if most people on this board are European, so I'll offer a piece of insight from a native American (in more ways than one). In the early years of immigration from the Old World to the New, a sizeable portion of those coming here did so because their religious beliefs were too flat-out crazy to be accepted in Europe. They found it was much easier to believe these things in the wilderness, and eventually convert people whose weaponry was comparatively puny compared to the one-two punch of steel and smallpox. These people's descendants live here today, and many of them hold high office. The highest offices, in fact.
While always firm in their beliefs of American exceptionalism due to preferential treatment from the deity, this opinion grew to astronomical levels after World War II reduced the rest of the world to ash while our nation thrived. I cannot find a record of anyone at the time making the argument that geography rather than Jesus was the driving force in our ascension to world power status, and that makes sense, because such thinking would be out of character for the body politic.
For the next half-century and beyond, as our percentage of the world's wealth dwindled from 50% to less than a quarter, Americans have consistently plugged their fingers in their ears and sang The Old Rugged Cross
at high volume in the face of growing evidence that the United States, in a very short time, will no longer be the dominant nation in anything but the number of functioning nuclear weapons. This seems to suit many of our citizens just fine, as the End Times will be here soon, and every fire needs a match to get it going.
Take the natural human inclination to prefer the simple over the complex (fundamentalism is on the rise globally, after all), add in several generations of unquestioned prosperity, and voila, you get a giant building full of people being told things they want to hear in complete opposition to the party poopers wielding clipboards who have the gall to suggest that maybe, just maybe, we aren't as special as we've always thought.
Thank you for your time, now I'm off to bang my head against the wall...