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Creation Museum
9 years ago

It's bad enough that people who don't know better are sucked into visiting the Creation Museum near Cincinnati. But, when members of the 9th North American Paleontological Convention visit, it is something else. Jason Rosenhouse of the Evolutionblog says he has been there several times, most recently with other members of the 2009 NAPC last week (he doesn't say how many but, it appear there were a few). Jason says, "I had told one of the reporters that the specific scientific claims made by the museum's supporters always had to be taken with a huge grian [sic] of salt. They were, virtually without exception, grossly simplistic if not outright false. He had asked me for an example, but I did not have a good one to offer that was specific to the museum's exhibits." As a person who has not been there before, I know they have an exhibit showing a saddle on a dinosaur and say that dinosaurs existed alongside man. Jason, who says he has been there "several times" couldn't cite this as an example? Very disappointing. He does say that later in the tour he pointed out to the same reporter an example but it is a bit late by then.

I think what bothers me most is that people who know better are paying $21.95 to see something that is pure BS just out of some demented curiosity factor and that the money is going to the continued support of that BS. I find that public school kids are going to this "museum" as an "educational experience" even more disturbing.

9 years ago

Know thy enemy?

I had a friend go the museum with another friend.  Other friend drove as my friend had a darwin fish on her car.  They were just curious. 

In the parking lot was another car with a Darwin fish!  Notes were left about this.  Yet noone touched the car.

Know thy enemy?
9 years ago

Yeah, I get the point of "know thy enemy". I know the enemy and didn't have to spend $21.95 which goes to support the enemy's ideas. There are plenty of internet articles about the museum not to mention the museum's own website.

Nancy says, "In the parking lot was another car with a Darwin fish!  Notes were left about this.  Yet noone touched the car."

And your point is what? Good christians won't vandalize your car but will leave trash on your windshield? I see creationist bumper stickers at my local natural history museum that educates people about evolution but I don't see evolutionists leaving notes on those cars.

re: Check this out, Roger
9 years ago

Excellent review of the museum. I see prices have increased about $2 per ticket in the 2 years since that was written and I'm sure they've added more exhibits. It certainly emphasizes my point. Having supposed scientists visit there after reviews like that only gives it a credence (and free advertising) that it doesn't deserve. Do animal rights activists who have seen a bullfight several times tell a reporter that goes with them next time that they can't cite a single example of why this is wrong? That is essentially what the Jason I wrote about did. He says he had visited the museum "several times" and yet didn't "know thy enemy" well enough to give the reporter a single example of the museum's mistakes? What the h-e-double-hockey-sticks did he do at his previous visits? Walk through blindfolded with cotton in his ears? I can only imagine what the reporter made of that. I wonder what the reporter wrote after this visit. Since we don't know who this person was or who they wrote for, I guess we'll never know.

Now that I reread Jason's statement, he didn't actually refer to the museum itself but to "scientific claims made by the museum's supporters". That makes his inability to cite a single example of creationist stupidity even more disappointing.

Paleontology and Creationism Meet but Don’t Mesh
9 years ago

Published: June 29, 2009

PETERSBURG, Ky. — Tamaki Sato was confused by the dinosaur exhibit. The placards described the various dinosaurs as originating from different geological periods — the stegosaurus from the Upper Jurassic, the heterodontosaurus from the Lower Jurassic, the velociraptor from the Upper Cretaceous — yet in each case, the date of demise was the same: around 2348 B.C.

“I was just curious why,” said Dr. Sato, a professor of geology from Tokyo Gakugei University in Japan.

For paleontologists like Dr. Sato, layers of bedrock represent an accumulation over hundreds of millions of years, and the Lower Jurassic is much older than the Upper Cretaceous.

But here in the Creation Museum in northern Kentucky, Earth and the universe are just over 6,000 years old, created in six days by God. The museum preaches, “Same facts, different conclusions” and is unequivocal in viewing paleontological and geological data in light of a literal reading of the Bible.

In the creationist interpretation, the layers were laid down in one event — the worldwide flood when God wiped the land clean except for the creatures on Noah’s ark — and these dinosaurs died in 2348 B.C., the year of the flood.

“That’s one thing I learned,” Dr. Sato said.

The worlds of academic paleontology and creationism rarely collide, but the former paid a visit to the latter last Wednesday. The University of Cincinnati was hosting the North American Paleontological Convention, where scientists presented their latest research at the frontiers of the ancient past. In a break from the lectures, about 70 of the attendees boarded school buses for a field trip to the Creation Museum, on the other side of the Ohio River.

“I’m very curious and fascinated,” Stefan Bengtson, a professor of paleozoology at the Swedish Museum of Natural History, said before the visit, “because we have little of that kind of thing in Sweden.”

Arnold I. Miller, a professor of geology at the University of Cincinnati and head of the meeting’s organizing committee, suggested the trip. “Too often, academics tend to ignore what’s going on around them,” Dr. Miller said. “I feel at least it would be valuable for my colleagues to become aware not only of how creationists are portraying their own message, but how they’re portraying the paleontological message and the evolutionary message.”

Since the museum opened two years ago, 750,000 people have passed through its doors, but this was the first large group of paleontologists to drop by. The museum welcomed the atypical guests with the typical hospitality. “Praise God, we’re excited to have you here,” said Bonnie Mills, a guest service employee.

The scientists received the group admission rate, which included lunch.

Terry Mortenson, a lecturer and researcher for Answers in Genesis, the ministry that built and runs the Creation Museum, said he did not expect the visit to change many minds. “I’m sure for the most part they’ll be of a different view from what’s presented here,” Dr. Mortenson said. “We’ll just give the freedom to see what they want to see.”

Near the entrance to the exhibits is an animatronic display that includes a girl feeding a carrot to a squirrel as two dinosaurs stand nearby, a stark departure from natural history museums that say the first humans lived 65 million years after the last dinosaurs.

“I’m speechless,” said Derek E.G. Briggs, director of the Peabody Museum of Natural History at Yale, who walked around with crossed arms and a grimace. “It’s rather scary.”

Dr. Mortenson and others at the museum say they look at the same rocks and fossils as the visiting scientists, but because of different starting assumptions they arrive at different answers. For example, they say the biblical flood set off huge turmoil inside the Earth that broke apart the continents and pushed them to their current locations, not that the continents have moved over a few billion years.

“Everyone has presuppositions what they will consider, what questions they will ask,” said Dr. Mortenson, who holds a doctorate in the history of geology from Coventry University in England. “The very first two rooms of our museum talk about this issue of starting points and assumptions. We will very strongly contest an evolutionist position that they are letting facts speak for themselves.”

New Jason Article
9 years ago

I see Jason has a new post about the visit to the creation museum. It cites a NY Times article about it. “I hate that it exists,” said Jason D. Rosenhouse, a mathematician at James Madison University in Virginia and a blogger on evolution issues, “but given that it exists, you can have a good time here. They put on a very good show if you can handle the suspension of disbelief.”

Oh, so, as long as you only go there for its entertainment value, it's OK. Frankly I'd rather rent a DVD of "Journey to the Center of the Earth". It's just as entertaining and believable and costs a lot less.

Part 2
9 years ago

The museum’s presentation appeals to visitors like Steven Leinberger and his wife, Deborah, who came with a group from the Church of the Lutheran Confession in Eau Claire, Wis. “This is what should be taught even in science,” Mr. Leinberger said.

The museum founders placed it in the Cincinnati area because it is within a day’s drive of two-thirds of the United States population. The area has also long attracted paleontologists with some of the most fossil-laden rocks in North America, where it is easy along some roadsides to pick up fossils dated to be hundreds of millions of years old. The rocks are so well known that they are called the Cincinnatian Series, representing the stretch of time from 451 million to 443 million years ago.

Many of the paleontologists thought the museum misrepresented and ridiculed them and their work and unfairly blamed them for the ills of society.

“I think they should rename the museum — not the Creation Museum, but the Confusion Museum,” said Lisa E. Park, a professor of paleontology at the University of Akron.

“Unfortunately, they do it knowingly,” Dr. Park said. “I was dismayed. As a Christian, I was dismayed.”

Dr. Bengtson noted that to explain how the few species aboard the ark could have diversified to the multitude of animals alive today in only a few thousand years, the museum said simply, “God provided organisms with special tools to change rapidly.”

“Thus in one sentence they admit that evolution is real,” Dr. Bengtson said, “and that they have to invoke magic to explain how it works.”

But even some who disagree with the information and message concede that the museum has an obvious appeal. “I hate that it exists,” said Jason D. Rosenhouse, a mathematician at James Madison University in Virginia and a blogger on evolution issues, “but given that it exists, you can have a good time here. They put on a very good show if you can handle the suspension of disbelief.”

By the end of the visit, among the dinosaurs, Dr. Briggs seemed amused. “I like the fact the dinosaurs were in the ark,” he said. (About 50 kinds of dinosaurs were aboard Noah’s ark, the museum explains, but later went extinct for unknown reasons.)

The museum, he realized, probably changes few beliefs. “But you worry about the youngsters,” he said.

Dr. Sato likened the museum to an amusement park. “I enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed Disneyland,” she said.

Did she enjoy Disneyland?

“Not very much,” she said.

The BIG LIE of the Creation Museum
9 years ago

It contrasts "Man's reason" (leading to belief in evolution)  vs. "God's Word" (which teaches creationism). The problem is that we do NOT know what God's Word is. Is it the Bible? Other scriptures can be referred to just as easily as God's Word. And since God supposedly gave us brains to reason with, can't man's reason also be part of God's revelation?

re: New Jason Article
9 years ago

I see that as I was writing about the new Jason post, that Dale gave us the entire NY Times article it referred to. So, about 70 attendees of the North American Paleontological Convention went. $21.95 X 70 = $1536.50, good haul for the YEC.

9 years ago

I didn't word it well up above. 

The "darwinians left notes to each other- like glad to see someone else like you here.

Then when I said noone touched the car- nobody vandalized it.  And yes this does happen.  And yes by 'good christians".

Creation Museum: Is This How World Began?
9 years ago

300 Skeptics Converge on Christian Museum in Kentucky

A group of scientists, students and secularists -- 304 in all -- visited Petersburg, Kentucky on Friday to tour exhibits on display at the Creation Museum.

The visitors are in town attending a conference of the Secular Student Alliance, a group formed "to organize, unite, educate and serve students and student communities that promote the ideals of scientific and critical inquiry, democracy, secularism, and human based ethics."

Exhibits in the Creation Museum, which cost $27 million to build and opened in May, 2007, present a history of the world based on literal interpretations of the Book of Genesis. Adam and Eve share the Garden of Eden with dinosaurs; the beaks of Darwin's finches are explained by God's will, not evolution; and mankind spread from continent to continent by walking across the floating trunks of trees knocked down during the Biblical Flood. The museum has made a specific effort to reach out to students and families.

"We want to learn more about what evidence is being used to justify these beliefs, how some people are claiming to use to science to justify them," said Seanna Watson, an engineer from Ottawa, Canada.

William Watkin, a chemist living in Indiana, challenged one exhibit's suggestion that the Grand Canyon could have been carved in hours by a process similar to how volcanic mudslides can rapidly create canyons in softer rocks. "Everything they said about sediment deposition, about Mount St. Helens … anyone in first year geology would say 'wrong from top to bottom,'" said Watkin.

The field trip featured PZ Myers, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Minnesota, Morris. He writes the blog Pharyngula, one of the most popular science blogs on the Internet, with over a million readers each month.

Tensions mounted shortly before the group's planned museum visit, when, noting raucous comments on the blog, the Creation Museum sent a letter to Myers warning that "loud, disrespectful, destructive, obscene, or abusive behavior will not be tolerated, and may result in your removal from the premises."

"The Creation Museum welcomes anyone to tour our family attraction," said a statement released by Mark Looy, co-founder and chief communications officer for the museum. "[W]e trust that such skeptics will open to reassessing their dogmatically held view as they tour the Creation Museum."

Following a suggestion from Myers, the group mostly kept to themselves, taking photographs and critiquing the lack of scientific content of the exhibits.

In the singular moment of noticeable conflict, Derek Rogers, a computer science major at Dalhouise University in Nova Scotia, Canada, was detained by guards for wearing a shirt with a slogan recently plastered on buses by activist groups that read "there's probably no God, so get over it." He was escorted to the bathroom and ordered to flip the shirt inside-out.

"One family of religious people told me that I had ruined their trip, and they drove all the way from Virginia," said Rogers.

But at least one conversation between religious believers and members of the group found common ground. Beneath a poster that presented the creationist interpretation of fossils, two students from North Carolina and a man who became religious after being diagnosed with cancer engaged in a polite dialogue about helping others and tolerating differences that drew a crowd.

"Regardless of religion, we both live our lives for the same reasons," said one of the students. "The big thing we have a problem with here is the faulty science."

The Creation “Museum”
9 years ago

Category: Creationism

Posted on: August 10, 2009 2:08 PM, by PZ Myers

We visited the Creation "Museum" last Friday.

I'm careful to put the title in quotes, because it is not a museum in any respectable sense of the word. I knew this ahead of time; I had no expectation of any kind of credible presentation in this place, but what impressed me most is how far it failed to meet even my low hopes. They clearly want to ape a real museum, but they can't — their mission is the antithesis of open inquiry.

The guards are a clear example. Real museums have guards, of course: they're there to protect valuable exhibits from theft and vandalism. But real museums want their guards to be discreet and not interfere with the attendees appreciation of the exhibits. At the Creation "Museum", one of the jobs of the guards is to suppress criticism. They hover about in rather conspicuous uniforms, armed with tasers, and some use police dogs to check out the visitors. They don't want dissent expressed in their building, and they admit it themselves.

There was a lot of mocking inside the museum Friday (and to a lesser extent during Dr. Jason Lisle's noon lecture) by dozens of the 285 in the SSA group, and some of the mocking could be clearly heard by many of our guests (especially in our Noah's Flood rooms, but also in the Garden of Eden exhibit when words like "garbage" were uttered, etc.). Several times during the day we had to ask mockers to keep their voices down (I did it five times myself), but generally, it was more peaceful than what we expected (many blog comments from those who were coming were promising some very aggressive actions).

Think about the genuine museums you might have visited. Can you imagine the curators at the American Museum of Natural History being concerned that someone might openly disagree with an exhibit? Do you think Niles Eldredge bustles about the museum, shushing anyone who questions the displays? Would they turn away a visitor wearing a Jesus shirt, or one that baldly declared evolution is false? At real museums, the attitude would range from indifference to active encouragement of discussion. The Creation "Museum" cannot tolerate that.

We were asked to sign a document before we entered that required us to be "respectful" of their facilities, which apparently meant more than simply appropriately regarding their building as private property. One of our atheists was in an entirely friendly conversation about evolution with a creationist visitor, when one of the guards came up and asked them to stop, saying that we had signed an agreement not to even discuss anything in the building where others could hear. (To his credit, the creationist said that he welcomed the discussion the guards wanted to silence, and they continued outside.) They knew we disagreed with them, and they were clearly on edge…and they knew that their beliefs could not stand up in the face of free speech.

There were other differences with real museums once we got inside. Think about the layout of serious museums, like the AMNH or the Smithsonian or our local Bell Museum: you enter, there are various rooms and areas organized by subject matter, but you're free to explore. In fact, that word, "explore", is a central theme of most museums. Maybe it's unfair to compare a small potatoes, non-science affair like Ken Ham's building to major scientific institutions; it's more of a place for family entertainment. So compare it to the Pacific Science Center, or OMSI, or the Franklin museum or the Science Museum of Minnesota— places where kids come on field trips and families show up with 5-year-olds, and entertainment is a major function. Exploration is still the byword, and they also emphasize interactivity.

Part 2
9 years ago

Ken Ham's Creation "Museum" does none of that. They have a script you're supposed to follow. There is a single route that snakes through the building with a series of exhibits with a linear agenda. You are supposed to get their Sunday School lesson plan of the 7 C's (creation, corruption, catastrophe, confusion, Christ, cross, and consummation). Exploration is not an option. You will follow their track. There is no interactivity, either — it's a chain of displays, dioramas, and little scenes, supplemented with frequent videos that tell you what to think.

This was not a museum: it is a haunted house. It is a carnival ride. It shows throughout in the layout — the rubes are supposed to be shuttled through efficiently, get their little thrills, and exit so the next group can make the trip. If they'd had a few million more, I imagine they would have invested in tracks and little cars and turned it into the Creation Ride. The creators of this place wouldn't recognize a museum if they woke up in the middle of the Smithsonian on a bed of museum maps with a giant sign saying "MUSEUM" in front of their faces and an army of docents shouting directions at them. They seem to have gotten all their information about how a museum works by visiting Disneyland.

What about the scientific content? They must have made some kind of argument, right? Wrong. They didn't even try.


This is their core premise. They claim that scientists and creationists are all working from exactly the same set of facts, and the only difference is in how we interpret them…and that they have an extra source of information that scientists reject, the Bible.

Their first big exhibit is a perfect example of the principle in action. It's a model of a dinosaur dig, with two men working away at excavating the bones. There is a video accompanying it in which the two views are presented. The younger Asian fellow in front says, and I paraphrase, "This animal died about a hundred million years ago. Its body dried in the sun for several days before being slowly buried under layers of sediment in a local flood." Then the avuncular creationist says, "I see the same bones, but I believe this dinosaur was killed suddenly about 4400 years ago in a huge global flood, which buried it deeply all at once." And then he goes on to explain that see, they have the very same evidence, but he understands it in the light of God's word.

It is a profoundly dishonest display. No, they are not using the same evidence: the creationist is ignoring all but the most superficial appearances. The scientist says a few details about this particular dinosaur, but what Ken Ham hides is that every statement would have a large body of evidence in its support. This isn't two guys stating their mere beliefs in a field…it's one guy, the creationist, closing his eyes to the evidence and spouting Biblical gibberish, and one scientist stating the conclusions of substantial investigations.

The scientist does not say a particular fossil is 125 million years old simply because he feels like it. It's a conclusion built on careful observation of the geology — if you read a paleontology paper, you'll often find a substantial discussion of the details of the rocks surrounding the specimen — and by the morphology of the rocks, the history of the area, the physics of the radioisotopes present, the other animal and plant fossils found in the same plane (which, in turn, had their ages evaluated). It is the product of an impressive consilience of evidence, all of which the creationist is rejecting, or more likely, of which he is utterly ignorant.

It's part of our problem in getting the message of science out. In this video, the white-bearded creationist speaks calmly, acts like a pleasant and reasonable fellow, and appears capable of tying his own shoes. But if you know even a scrap of the actual science being misrepresented, you know that he's an ignorant fool who is telling lies to children, and he transforms instantly from Santa Claus to predatory propagandist. I think that's what they actually mean by "same facts, two views".

It's an ongoing theme throughout the "museum" that there are these two views in opposition, and it's often stated quite unashamedly that the conflict is between God's word and…human reason. It's also quite clear that human reason is the enemy to Ken Ham and his crew.

This display is a beautiful example of their tactics, though. I had come to this place expecting a Gish Gallop of misdirection, in which they'd hurl a barrage of half-truths, out-of-context information, and outright lies about the science at the viewer, which usually puts the informed critic in the position of having to struggle with correcting point after point, each one requiring more time to address than the creationist spent asserting it. This place is very different. Instead, we get a Ham Hightail, in which he hurtles along heedlessly pretending that the evidence simply doesn't exist, so he doesn't need to argue against it, and it's enough to back up his claims by quoting Bible verses.

Part 3
9 years ago

I suppose it works well for the gullible attendees, but for those of us looking for some ideas with which to wrestle, the impression left is one of credulous vacuity. It's an empty "museum", with no real ideas, no evidence, just a collection of props to illustrate an unquestioned myth.

When they do make plain statements that contradict the science, they don't bother to provide a reason to accept their view over the scientific one — reason is the enemy, you may recall. It's enough to simply declare that this is GOD'S WORD, therefore it is true. Never mind that it is only one narrow interpretation of their god's awesomely vague words, that many of their fellow Christians can interpret it differently, or that the evidence of nature (which, presumably, is their god's creation) says something completely different. It is simply no problem to declare that human affinities to other animals are not real, we are unique and unchanging, and that divergence (of a very limited sort) only happens to animals. It is a simple-minded absolutism that relies on ignorance.

The "museum" actually spends more time condemning heretics than it does science, which, as I said, is mostly ignored. I was rather amused to discover several prominent exhibits frothing madly over Charles Templeton — I almost felt some sympathy for his foundation, since they get hammered from all sides. Almost. (Never mind, wrong Templeton. The exhibits do no refer to the founder of the Templeton Foundation, but to a apostate Canadian author and cartoonist…not to say anything against the fellow, but it's even weirder that he was given such prominence here.)

One mantra was repeated over and over: "millions of years". This is also the enemy, an idea whose sole purpose is to undermine their literalist interpretation of scripture. In several places there are little tirades against the whole concept that the world could be more than 6,000 years old — it's bad, not because there are problems in the evidence supporting an old earth, but simply because it would have the unfortunate consequence of opening the Bible up to interpretations other than their rigid formulation. They had a lovely symbolic representation of this idea with a wrecking ball labeled "MILLIONS OF YEARS" demolishing a church.

Reason is an enemy, millions of years is an enemy, let's add another: reality is their enemy. No wonder they're so paranoid!

Much of the museum consists of little more than pretty affirmations. The various exhibits that have gotten a fair amount of press, such as the models of Adam and Eve, the construction of the Ark, the consequences of the Fall, etc., etc., etc., just sit there. There isn't any evidence for them, other than a few sentences in an old book, so the construction crews in Kentucky just let their imaginations run loose and built improbably scenes out of the fabric of quaint myths. But there they are, solid and visible, and that's their sole purpose — to solidify Bible scenes in the minds of the faithful. This stuff has all the verisimilitude and significance of a wax museum exhibit of Britney Spears, Queen Elizabeth, and Liberace…more emptiness, with much money spent to make it a pretty void. There is a great deal of useless noise in this theme park…well, useless in making a defensible argument, at any rate. This is all eye candy for the believers.

There are some jarring moments. A lot of effort is spent discussing how horrible the consequences of the "millions of years" worldview are, yet they rather blithely skip over the horrible consequences of their imaginary god's actions. The space dedicated to Noah's Ark and the flood is very large — it might be the largest section of the "museum" — and the grim horror of that story is treated callously. A diorama contains, rendered in loving detail, a few rocks in a rising sea covered with desperate people struggling and frantically waving to the Ark serenely gliding by. Ah, yes, a little hint of the joys of heaven, when the saved will be able to smugly watch the suffering of sinners in hell.

There is an appalling video recreation of the flood which shows children playing and villagers going about their business in a small ancient town, when suddenly an immense wall of water rises on the horizon, and then…the roar of the tidal wave and the screams of the doomed. Charming.

I do not think I like these people.

Part 4
9 years ago

I was also a bit aghast at this display.

With complete seriousness and no awareness of the historical abuses to which this idea has been put, they were promoting the Hamite theory of racial origins, that ugly idea that all races stemmed from the children of Noah, and that black people in particular were the cursed offspring of Ham. If they are going to reject science because of its abuses, such as eugenics, they should at least be conscious of the evils perpetrated in the name of their strange cultish doctrines, I should think.

Again, though, there's absolutely no science in any of this — every conclusion is built exclusively on an idiosyncratic interpretation of the Bible. There is nothing at all for a scientist anywhere in this entire edifice. There is nothing for anyone other than a fundamentalist Christian who has bought into a great deal of presuppositionalist nonsense, either.

One last example of this irrational absurdity. This is a strange thing: they seem to take pride in their boldness of stating this idea, making comics about it and even selling t-shirts in their store that declare it. They have an answer for where the sons of Adam and Eve got their wives, and they are quite definite about it. They married their sisters. And that was all right.

I think they might be disappointed to know that I find nothing shocking about their conclusion. What I find terrible is their rationale, which they explain at some length in this ugly wall of text.

Again, no science anywhere in there, just reasoning after the fact from a pre-determined conclusion. Everything written in the Bible must be literally true, so since 1 Corinthians and Genesis teaches that Eve was the mother of all people, no other interpretation is possible but that Cain had to marry another child of his mother and father.

The rest is excuses, claiming that since they were genetically perfect, inbreeding wouldn't have been a problem, and most amusingly, it was OK because God said so. Anything god says is good.

Since God is the One who defined marriage in the first place, God's Word is the only standard for defining proper marriage. People who do not accept the Bible as their absolute authority have no basis for condemning someone like Cain marrying his sister.

There is no rational argument that can address the claims of a group of people who claim absolute authority from an invisible man whose voice is heard only in their heads. We cannot change their minds with science; if you think you can sit down with a genetics text and a paleontology text and a geology text and run through the evidence and expose the foundations of the Creation "Museum" as false, you're doomed — there is no rebuttal to the illusion of an omniscient authority.

You will also not make headway by coddling religious belief or respecting their delusions. I recalled this quote while I was there:

The American scientific community gains nothing from the condescending rhetoric of the New Atheists--and neither does the stature of science in our culture. We should instead adopt a stance of respect towards those who would hold their faith dear, and a sense of humility based on the knowledge that although science can explain a great deal about the way our world functions, the question of God's existence lies outside its expertise.

Mooney and Kirshenbaum, Unscientific America, 2009

This is precisely what Ken Ham wants. He demands that you respect his ideas, and he certainly does hold his faith dear. His whole premise in his theme park is to amplify uncertainty about science, to insist that scientists must be more humble, while asserting absolute certainty about the existence of his god, and that his belief is the sole explanation for all natural phenomena.

Don't give it to him. All his carnival act deserves is profound disrespect and ridicule. Go to his "museum" as you would to a cheap freak show, and laugh, laugh, laugh…and go home to publicly mock and heap scorn upon it.

Irreverence is our answer, not dumb humble deference.

Tales of the 300 … more accounts of the Creation “Museum”
9 years ago CreationismWeblogs
Posted on: August 10, 2009 5:27 PM, by PZ Myers

You know, it wasn't just me at the horrible little creationist theme park — there were over 300 of us! In this blog entry, I intend to collect your stories about the zerg in Kentucky. E-mail links to me and I'll add them to this list. Or, if you'd rather, just leave links in the comments here and I'll promote them up top as I find the time.

I want more! Send them in to me soon.


We were the top story on the ABC News site for a while.


Tell us your side of the story!

No Guy in the Sky has some overall thoughts and thinks the Creation "Museum" is KY Jelly to Christians.

The Empirical Infidel rebuts Pastor Tom, flashes a nice t-shirt (I remember that one!) and gives a quick impression.

Le Café Witteveen confirms what I've said about it: no biology, and well-behaved atheists. He also has a photo collection.

Cincinnati Man also took lots of pictures.

Jen has two summaries up already. She also has a store — buy swag with PZ vs. Ham art!

A Christian minister has several comments — he's critical of the "museum", but he's also critical of the atheists (in which he is wrong — Sean Faircloth's talk at the SSA meeting was superb.)


Have you turned something from the visit into art? I'll put it here. (My pose atop the dino seems to have caught a little attention here.)




Lots of people had lots of cameras, and the images are being dumped onto Flickr right now.






People and their new-fangled video cameras…

9 years ago

"He says he had visited the museum "several times" and yet didn't "know thy enemy" well enough to give the reporter a single example of the museum's mistakes?"

No. He said : "I did not have a good one to offer that was specific to the museum's exhibits". That's not the same as not having any example altogether.

"As a person who has not been there before, I know they have an exhibit showing a saddle on a dinosaur and say that dinosaurs existed alongside man."

The saddled-dino is far from being a good example. Even though it's true they think they existed alongside man and some of them may think they even rode them, the fact that there is something like this aimed at kids doesn't mean much. You can ride a butterfly in pretty much the same way in any mall. And I wouldn't oppose it in a natural history museum neither.

"I think what bothers me most is that people who know better are paying $21.95 to see something that is pure BS"

I mostly agree with you but let's remind that the whole thing cost maybe 2000$ while the "museum"'s annual budget is over 7 millions $ and they receive more than 300 000 visitors a year. While I'm not fond of giving them my money, it's not like it makes that much of a difference. Atheists and scientists are not suddenly flocking to the building.

"I know the enemy and didn't have to spend $21.95 which goes to support the enemy's ideas. There are plenty of internet articles about the museum not to mention the museum's own website."

You're absolutely right. But the thing is : most of those who went with the NAP convention are not aware of the level of insanity going on, threatening the very basis of scientific inquiry. Most people have heard one way or another about creationists' junk but they don't really get interested into the specifics and don't realize they're strong enough to build a 27 millions $ "museum". Getting the scientists over there is a quick and efficient way to get them to open their eyes... in bafflement...

Creation Museum Part 1, section 1
9 years ago

Posted by Dan on Sep 2, 2009 in Creation Museum

On August 28th, Craig and I took an early flight (way too early) to the Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky airport to visit the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky, about 7 miles from the airport. Having heard quite a bit about the museum, we were anxious to learn more about it in a way that only a first-hand visit could provide.

Petersburg, Kentucky

The result was an oddly enjoyable combination of admiration, amazement, bewilderment, amusement, aggravation, and sadness.

I can’t speak for Craig, but when the cab driver dropped us off in front of the museum and drove away, I felt just a twinge of intimidation. The guards in the parking lot were dressed like state troopers, complete with official-looking arm patches and even more official looking firearms. I didn’t remember seeing armed guards when I visited the Philadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences. I felt somewhat like an interloper, or, if I wanted to add a more masculine adventure flair to my description, a spy.

Museum Parking Lot EntranceWe had decided that we were going to remain “undercover,” so to speak… at least for the first day, in order to avoid any out-of-the-ordinary treatment. I gave a big smile to the guard and commented on the beautiful weather. He responded in kind, and seemed very friendly. We found that to be the case throughout the museum. The staff was very pleasant and helpful (with only a few un-noteworthy exceptions) and were quick to return my smiles and engage in light chit-chat.

Posted on the front door was a notice stating that the Creation Museum was private property, a Christian environment, and an outreach of Answers in Genesis, Ken Ham’s ministry that teaches a literal interpretation of the bible, including a six 24-hour day creation and a 6,000 year old Earth. The notice was fairly worded and I didn’t find it offensive or inappropriate, even for a secular museum (other than the first sentence, of course). Be nice, be polite, etc. Good advice in a museum.

So far, so good. We got in line to get our tickets and purchased a two-day pass along with a few special tickets for the Planetarium shows and a presentation called “Microscarium” which was to show all the life that can be in a single drop of water (more on those shows in later posts). The two-day pass was only about $7.00 more than a single day pass, so we opted for that so we could come back and get any pictures or video footage that we missed on our first day.

Finally we got to the lobby and our first real taste of the kind of quality production values that were consistent throughout the entire museum. Every display, structure, statue, and facility was top-notch. To quote John Hammond, they “spared no expense” when they built this place… and it showed. Had I not known what the museum contained, I would have been filled with admiration and excitement rather than a sense of dread.

Walking past the mammoth skeleton in the front of the lobby, we got our first glimpse of where we were truly headed. A young girl and boy played in a stream while a pair of raptors (no, not the birds… the dinosaurs) stood together behind them. It was like The Flintstones, only presented with animatronic realism… and presented as actual history.

The idea of dinosaurs living at the same time as humans is presented, even emphasized, throughout the museum’s exhibits. A literal reading of Genesis demands it and the Creation Museum revels in it, as Craig and I were about to find out.

Creation Museum, Part 1, section 2
9 years ago

We wandered around the lobby for a bit to take a look at the exhibits outside the main “Walk Through History” exhibit. There was plenty to see and we checked it out before heading into the staff-recommended Men in White video presentation in the special effects theater. We got a bit more of a taste of what we would be seeing later that day when we ventured deeper into the museum, including the Seven C’s in God’s Eternal Plan (the overarching theme throughout the museum) and an anti-scientific declaration mixed with worship.

7 C's in God's Eternal Plan Our Back Yard - So Much Difference

The Men in White video, like the rest of the museum, had extremely high production values and was very entertaining, though riddled with long-debunked creationist propaganda and absurdly caricaturized science teachers. It was easy to see how viewers who are not well-versed in basic science would be pulled into the descriptions and then walk out of the theater thinking that maybe there was something to the whole “6,000 year old Earth” thing. It was like listening to a fast-talking carnie who was also good-looking, charming, and gave you free candy… so you wouldn’t notice that the live, two-headed snake woman was neither alive nor two-headed.

Creationist Paleontologist We then headed into the “Walk Through History” exhibit, which was designed to guide the viewer along the biblical explanation for life on earth. It starts with the paleontologist room. Two men are digging up a dinosaur fossil. The television screens in the room explain that the two men are finding the same fossils, but they come up with different views depending upon their starting point.

What do we know about Dinosaurs? This is another key point that is hammered into the viewer repeatedly throughout the museum. A dichotomy is set up between “Human Reason” and “God’s Word” (with “God’s Word” portrayed as the ultimate truth, of course).

“Dinosaur fossils don’t come with tags on them telling us how old they are,” the sign proclaims. “We have to figure that out from a few clues we find.” That’s true, of course, but what the museum consistently ignores throughout its halls is that we have an overwhelming number of “clues” from numerous branches of science… and they all tell us that dinosaur fossils are millions of years old. Different Views... Different Starting Points It’s not a matter of interpreting the clues differently. It’s a matter of creationists ignoring clues that don’t meet their biblical requirements.

It’s the same with the “different starting points” claim, except this claim is more accurate, though probably not in the way the museum means it to be. Scientists do have a different starting point than creationists. Scientists start with the evidence and examine it to see where it leads. Creationists start with the bible and examine it to see how they can make the evidence fit. Scientists will change their ideas and theories based on new evidence. Creationists will never change their theories in the face of new evidence because, in their view, the bible trumps all evidence.

Same Facts, but Different Views… Why?


Why, indeed.

Creation Museum Part 2, section 1
9 years ago

After passing through the Paleontologist room where the idea of “Same Facts – Different Views” was introduced, the Museum creators felt the need to dwell on the point for a bit. The next room contained a series of large wall plaques that portrayed the differences between “Human Reason” and “God’s Word” for a few different subjects.

The creation of the universe, the evolution of life, and the evolution of humans were among those subjects.

Same Universe Same Plants and Animals Same Apes and Humans

Up to this point, no reason is really given why we should trust God’s word more than human reason. I’m fairly sure that this display room was set up just to hammer home the notion that there can be different views because of different starting points, not to proclaim which starting point constituted the “correct” view.

We were led down the comparison path just a bit more with a summary of two perspectives on history.

The present is the key to the past God's Word is the key to... everything

If you enlarge the first picture (that’d be the “Human Reason” one), you’ll notice a fairly standard timeline of time and space, starting with the Big Bang and progressing through the evolution of humans. Very sensible. That, of course, is contrasted with a history timeline based on a literal reading of the book of Genesis… a full 6,000 years since the creation of the universe. It lists the “Seven C’s of History” with a brief description of each.

09a_ShowMeMore From what I’d seen so far, I came down pretty firmly on the side of human reason. But we were approaching the area that began the explanation of why God’s Word was clearly superior to human reason.

The kids pointed the way…

Oh… Billy, there’s a darn good reason why you never heard this before in school… especially in a science class.

(Hint: because it’s not science.)

The next section begins with the posing of a simple question. Why start with God’s Word? It seems an innocuous enough question, doesn’t it? I wondered how they were going to answer that question.

Here’s how… “God’s Word is True.” Ta-dah.

The justifications for this claim are as follows (from the plaque):

  • 40 authors, writing over 2,000 years, spoke the SAME MESSAGE.
  • Scrolls, discovered in the last century, confirm that the ORIGINAL WORDS have been preserved.
  • Archaeology has repeatedly confirmed that the Bible’s HISTORICAL DETAILS are accurate.
  • Hundreds of BIBLE PROPHECIES have been fulfilled, and none has failed.

With the liberal use of bold and ALL CAPS, I found myself thinking that maybe I’d stumbled upon an internet message board.

Creation Museum, Part 2, section 2
9 years ago

Though I would refute all four points above in varying degrees, they are all secondary to the main reason why God’s Word is true… at least according to the Creation Museum creators.

09_GodsWordIsTrueIf you haven’t read it already, the main reason why we should trust God’s Word is that “ABOVE ALL, the GOD of TRUTH, the CREATOR of heaven and earth, inspired the men who penned the words.”

That’s it. We got four easily refutable bullet points and a statement based on circular reasoning (the bible is the inspired word of God because it says so). Even I was a little disappointed in that. There was one additional plaque that made the claim that the church has survived every attack ever made on it (evolution, The DaVinci Code, etc), but it wasn’t so much an argument for why we should trust God’s Word so much as a self-serving resume of dubious achievements.

The next room was a smaller room that showed stages of biblical history from a people perspective. The prophets (Isaiah, Moses, and King David) were followed by the empty tomb of Jesus and the apostles. The only apostle they showed was Paul, who looked suspiciously like Ray Comfort.

The Prophets of the Old Testament Where's Jesus? The Apostle Paul... or Ray Comfort?

At this point, I was still incredibly impressed with the physical quality of all the exhibits, but found the substance of the arguments lacking… which really wasn’t surprising. There isn’t really an argument of any substance for a creationist viewpoint. I had just expected a little more creativity.

As it turns out, we just hadn’t gotten to the “good stuff” yet. That came after the story of Noah. But first we got to go through the story of Adam and Eve, the Garden of Eden, the Fall, and Noah’s Flood… all of which had some special gems.

I’ll cover those in the next posts.

Creation Museum Part 3, Section 1
9 years ago

Modern World Abandons the BibleBefore we got to head into the Garden of Eden to see the biblical creation story played out, we first needed to see (evidently) what the consequences are for  failing to agree with biblical teachings. If I recall correctly, the next section was called “Graffiti Alley.” The intent, I’m assuming, is to show how degraded society can (and has) become when the scripture is abandoned.

Today Man Decides... WhateverNews clippings, graffiti, and very clever video all gave examples of societal decline. The video was shown as looking through a window and listening to conversations of teens on the phone or talking to their friends. One moodily-lit wall portrayed various news clippings in a collage.

News Clippings

Along with some walls of graffiti, there were a number of signs declaring what happens when scripture is abandoned or compromised.

“Scripture abandoned in the culture leads to… relative morality, hopelessness, and meaninglessness.”

“Scripture abandoned in the home leads to… a generation no different than the world.”

“Scripture compromised in the church leads to… scripture abandoned in the home.”

Scripture Abandoned in the CultureScripture Abandoned in the Home Scripture Compromised in the Church

There’s no reason or evidence given for these conclusions, however, and the notion that abandoning scripture in the culture leads to hopelessness and meaninglessness is just patently absurd. My life is filled with hope and meaning and none of it has anything to do with religious doctrines.

No more church in 40 years?! They do have a sign posted that is probably meant to shock, but had the opposite effect on both Craig and me. If something in this museum was a cause for hope, this sign was it. Somehow, I doubt that the prediction will come true, however… but it’s not a bad thought.

Creation Museum Part 3, section 2
9 years ago

The world's not safe anymore.Graffiti Alley was lit in a dark, sinister way in stark contrast to the rest of the museum, presumably to help set the mood of hopelessness and despair. The decor is that of a city’s back alley with crumbling brickwork and broken windows to complement the graffiti and proclamations of societal decay due to the abandonment of scriptures.

It is in this alley that we were introduced to the idea that one of the greatest secular threats to a biblical worldview is the idea that the world is millions of years old (Curse you, science!)… vividly portrayed by a giant wrecking ball which has smashed into the side of a church.

Millions of Years Wrecking Ball From that point on in the museum, the idea that the universe is more than 6,000 years old is bad… and wrong… and unbiblical. They, of course, even go so far as to say that it is unscientific (see the idea of “Different views because of different starting points” in part 1). It’s patently absurd, of course, to say that the universe is only 6,000 years old, but that doesn’t stop the museum creators from doing everything they can to justify their position, no matter how ludicrous it is.

Undermining biblical doctrine But a television monitor in the next room showed just why they have to do it. I caught it at just the right time to snap this picture.

“‘Millions of Years’ undermines every major doctrine of the bible,” it says. The caption reads “Long ages would undermine the basic teachings of Christianity.”

I, along with millions of other folks, including Christians, don’t think so. It may undermine the literal reading of Genesis, but there are plenty of Christian teachings that don’t rely on a timeline at all. Love thy neighbor, do unto others, etc… I don’t think there’s any shortage of beneficial advice in the bible that is free from the restrictions of such a timeline. But perhaps the folks at the Creation Museum don’t consider them to be “major” doctrines.

10_ThereIsStillHopeSo after the “horrors” of the scripturally bankrupt Graffiti Alley showing how society is in a horrible state, we were shown that there was still hope… and the place to find that hope is at the beginning… a mere 6,000 years ago.

11_EternalPlan Here’s “The Creator’s Eternal Plan” as stated by the Creation Museum…

The six days of creation set the stage for the fulfillment of God’s great eternal plan. He created humans in His likeness, desiring to dwell with them for eternity. Knowing they would rebel, God, in eternity, had already planned for the Son of God to step into history to provide the  free gift of salvation.

I pondered this statement for a bit. It says that God created humans because he wanted to hang out with them. That seems a bit un-godlike… to attribute a simple emotion like loneliness to God. Why else would he want to dwell with humans? That aside, he created them knowing they would rebel. Why do that? Why not make humans that wouldn’t rebel?

That hardly seems like a perfect creation, especially when it states that he knew beforehand that they would rebel! That’s intentionally creating a failure. But before he even created them, he planned to fix them by sending the “Son of God” into history (that’s himself, by the way) to give the “free gift of salvation”… to the humans that he created in such a way that they would screw things up and need salvation. It’s hardly a “free” gift, anyway, now is it?

Creation Museum Part 3, section 3
9 years ago

It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever, and the only way that it can possibly be explained is with the cop-out answer of “The Lord works in mysterious ways.”

I had hoped to get to the Garden of Eden in this post, but I forgot about Graffiti Alley. Coming up next, though are the Garden of Eden and the Fall.

…with dinosaurs.

Creation Museum Part 4, section 1
9 years ago

God Plants a GardenAfter the despair of Graffiti Alley, we headed into the Garden of Eden and the biblical creation story. It’s worth noting here that the Garden of Eden room was absolutely incredible from a quality standpoint. Like much of the rest of the museum, the craftsmanship that went into these displays was tremendous.

The path winds through the garden and touches upon different aspects of the creation story… Adam and Eve, Adam naming the animals, the serpent watching them bathe, etc. There are actual waterfalls, amazingly realistic plants, a “Tree of Life” that had spectacular detail, and (of course) dinosaurs. Before we get to those, however, let’s take a look at the displays and the accompanying plaques that explain them.

Adam and Eve hanging out in the Garden of EdenGod didn’t want Adam to be alone, evidently, because “It is not good for the man to be alone.” It seems his desire to “dwell with humans for eternity” (see Part 3) didn’t include keeping Adam company himself. He needed to do that by proxy.

This is where the bible starts off with sexism, which it continues to promote with abandon in both the old and new testaments, not the least of which in 1 Timothy. Adam was created from dust, according to Genesis, but Eve was made from one of Adam’s ribs… as a helper.

Here are the plaques pertaining to Adam and Eve at the museum.

God Forms Eve From Adam's Side Male and Female One Flesh - Doctrine of Marriage

This is also where the the arguments for “traditional” marriage come from… not from any sense of logic or reason, but directly from the bible. It’s the only basis for denying marriage rights to homosexuals, which is sad. And it’s sad that this notion of using the bible as a guide to morality continues to be perpetuated in our society. To anyone who’s actually read the bible, it should seem an absurdity of the highest order. Two thousand year old dogma does not make for a genuinely enlightened society.

Adam names the animals The tour continues with a scene portraying Adam naming the animals. According to one of the plaques (not pictured), Adam only named “birds, cattle, and beasts of the field – probably only animals closely associated with man [...]” It seems “beasts of the earth” and “creeping things” were not included (based on the scene at the museum, however, Adam did name penguins… go figure).

Then the plaque’s text starts in with pretending to be scientific with this statement.

If the created kinds correspond to modern families, as many creation biologists believe, then Adam named fewer than two hundred animals. Naming all these animals would require only a few hours, at most.

This argument of “kinds” is used throughout the “Noah’s Ark” displays as well, in an attempt to argue that all the animal “kinds” could easily have fit on the ark. I’ll get to that later, but this is where the museum first brings it up, if I recall correctly.

Creation Museum, Part 4, section 2
9 years ago

02a_NoCarnivoresOf course, Adam would be naming goats and sheep and other common herbivores. Perhaps he would name common carnivores as well, but that posed no danger to him, since before the Fall, all the animals, including the dinosaurs, were vegetarians. The idea that, before the Fall, there was no death, doesn’t seem to apply to plant life. Across the path from Adam naming the animals, we get our glimpse of one of the vegetarian dinosaurs in the Garden of Eden who seems to have a fondness for pineapples. In the background, the gentle, herbivorous brachiosaurus is seen as well. Another dinosaur in the Garden is shown to have a greater fondness for apples.

Strangely enough, there are no examples shown of tyrannosaurus rexes or velociraptors in the Garden.

Pineapple Dinosaur and Brachiosaurs Apple-loving Dinosaur

There are plenty of examples further along the tour that show before-and-after consequences of the Fall, such as poison, venom, scavengers, etc… but I’m getting ahead of myself. At this point, the Garden of Eden is all pure and death-free (except for plants).

Adam and Eve bathing while the serpent spies on them

Here is the first hint in the display that things are about to go horribly, horribly wrong. This scene was pretty spectacular, with real waterfalls and extremely detailed rocks, trees, and plants. Adam and Eve are innocently hanging out in a pool while the decidedly sinister-looking serpent rests coiled in the tree above… plotting his evil deeds, no doubt.

There’s no mention of how the serpent got into God’s perfect garden in the first place… or why he chose to manifest himself as a serpent instead of something more innocuous… like a vegetarian kitten or something.

Here are some close-ups of the scene with the accompanying plaque.

Bath time for Adam and Eve No Knowledge for you! The Serpent

If you enlarge the photos, you can easily see the amount of work that was put into these displays to get the terrific level of detail. Regardless of whether you buy into the story or not, the displays were sincerely impressive.

The plaque in the middle is a good example of a problem with a literal interpretation of Genesis. The Creation Museum (and its parent, Answers in Genesis), is very clear about its literal interpretation of the bible. Yet the verse depicted here makes the statement that, if you eat the fruit of this one tree, you will surely die… that day. But that didn’t happen. Apologists will try to say that the verse means that Adam and Eve will die “spiritually,” not physically (and some later translations removed the temporal restriction)… but that’s not what the verse says. This is a common tactic among people who claim a literal reading. It’s literal when it suits them, but metaphorical when it doesn’t.

Creation Museum, Part 4, section 3
9 years ago
We are so screwedThe serpent lures Eve into chomping on the knowledgey fruit (by telling her the truth, by the way), and she gets Adam to do the same (yet another biblical reason for sexism… it was all Eve’s fault)… and that’s where things go all to Hell… so to speak.

God’s gloriously perfect creation (except for the deliberate setup for failure and the presence of a supposedly evil serpent) was all wrecked because Adam chose to disobey God, choosing instead to listen to his only companion in the world and eat a bit of fruit.

Cosmic Pain! This led to a whole host of consequences. As the Creation Museum puts it in the sign to the right…

With Adam’s sin, death and suffering entered the creation for the first time. Disease and natural catastrophes also began at this time. The creation is no longer perfect, as God originally designed it, because in Adam, we committed high treason against the God of creation.

Whoa there! WE committed high treason? I think not. I also think that in this story, the creation was extremely far from perfect. And if this biblical god decided that, because Adam ate some fruit that he wasn’t supposed to eat, an appropriate punishment was to create disease, natural catastrophes, suffering, and all kinds of other nastiness… pretty much forever… then I think that this story is about as far as you can get from an acceptable moral teaching. It’s reprehensible.

After the Fall, all kinds of “bad” things supposedly happened. The first blood sacrifices happened (pictured below), carnivores and death appeared (pictured below… but now with velociraptors which were noticeably absent from the Garden of Eden), and (gasp!) hard work appeared!

We're having beef AGAIN?! Carniverous Velociraptor Why did I eat the damned fruit!?

There is an entire section of plaques explaining things that happened after the Fall. I mentioned them earlier; venom, death, disease, carnivores, “Red Tooth and Claw,” scavengers, cosmic aging (seriously), conflict, poisons, weeds, burdensome work, etc. Here are a few examples of the plaques:

Carnivores Scavengers Weeds

The plaque on carnivores states, “We do not know how meat eating first entered the world” but it’s possible that “the diet of some animals merely changed.” Actually, we do have a pretty good idea of how meat eating first entered the world. It’s pretty well explained by evolutionary theory. The plaque is absurd. The plaque on scavengers says pretty much the same thing, thereby descending to the same level of absurdity.

Creation Museum, Part 4, section 4
9 years ago

The plaque on weeds is the funniest, however. It basically says that, because God screwed up the original design, allowing things to get out of hand, he had to then step in and introduce the “overproduction of plants” to compensate for all the extra animals that would be around eating them. So plants had to “struggle against other plants for survival” (OMG natural selection!) and they grew where they weren’t wanted, hence becoming weeds.


The fact that some people can actually believe this story and these explanations are factual just boggles my mind. When read as an allegory, it works just fine, much like Aesop’s Fables. But nobody seriously believes that a talking fox tried to get some grapes, failed, and then walked away, muttering that the grapes were probably sour. It’s a story. That’s all.

That’s what the biblical creation story is, but the Creation Museum is alarmingly deceitful in its attempt to portray the entire story as true and scientifically accurate. More worrisome is the fact that many people agree with the museum’s viewpoint… and those people are indoctrinating their children to believe the same anti-intellectual nonsense that they themselves believe. It’s a recipe for societal disaster. When ignorance is promulgated as a virtue, as it is within the walls of this museum, civilization is harmed in an insidious way. When we stop seeking answers about our world, instead relying solely on ancient religious dogma, we take a grand step backward on the evolutionary ladder.

…and that is a bigger fall than the biblical authors could ever have imagined.

Creation Museum Part 5, section 1
9 years ago

Ark SectionTo clean up the shenanigans that occurred after God screwed things up in the Garden of Eden, the story says that God decided to wipe the Earth clean except for Noah, his wife, his sons, and their wives… and of course two (or seven) of every “kind” of animal (not counting sea animals).

The Creation Museum has quite a bit about the ark and there’s a definite dividing line that separates the two main parts. The first part shows how the ark could have been created and has incredibly detailed dioramas of different stages of the ark’s progress. The second part contains all the tortured, pseudo-scientific rationale for the flood’s being real. The first part was fun (if unbelievable). The second part was painful.

Scale of the ark room The room pictured above showed animatronic workers helping build the ark… and complaining about all the hard work. The plaque on the scaffolding explains that this section represents only about one percent of the size of the “actual” ark. The design of the ark is explained in one of the Creation Museum videos and is definitely not the stereotypical “box” form that is frequently shown.

22_HowToBuildAnArk Another sign explains how the ark is a technological marvel, the building of which was completely independent of any financial concerns… and the hull could have been made “incredibly strong using ordinary wood and simple tools.”

23_ArkSectionModel A smaller model shows another cross-sectioned segment of the ark, clearly showing multiple decks. It’s actually a little bigger than what God commanded Noah to build, but it’s an impressive model nonetheless. Great pains are taken to explain how the ark could have been built large enough to hold all the animals, sturdy enough to withstand all the raging floodwaters, and technologically advanced enough that it wouldn’t fall apart or tip over after floating aimlessly on the water for about a year… even though it was built by folks who weren’t shipwrights.

In the bible, God tells Noah to build the ark and about that, it only says, “And Noah did according unto all that the LORD commanded him.” The Creation Museum takes a few liberties with the details, since they’re not spelled out in the bible.

Noah may have had help? The World-Famous Ark!

The first plaque explains how, though it’s perfectly reasonable to think that Noah and his family built the ark by themselves (!), because he lived righteously for centuries (!), he may have been wealthy enough to hire shipbuilders… which evidently would have been cool, because then Noah could preach to them about the coming judgment (or so the plaque says).

The second plaque says that, because the ark was built far inland (where there probably weren’t many shipbuilders) and was of such a massive scale, it “would likely have been known the world over.” Somehow, I tend to doubt that the Chinese folks knew of it.

Creation Museum, Part 5, section 2
9 years ago
Loading the ArkThe ark dioramas were one of my favorite sections of the museum because they were spectacular. The ark in the first diorama was probably close to four feet long and the level of detail (in all of them) was just astounding. In fact, the Creation Museum DVD about the ark uses close-ups of these dioramas in their footage and it looks real… like full-sized real. It’s very impressive.

Loading the Ark - Detail If you look closely in the picture to the right, which is just a close-up of the loading ramp, you’ll notice something interesting following just behind the giraffes. Dinosaurs! The Creation Museum makes it very clear that Noah took dinosaurs onto the ark. They’re very clear that dinosaurs lived with humans. They’re very clear that they really have no concept whatsoever of science… or reality. They are, however, exquisite craftsmen who make awesome dioramas.

Dinosaurs and young adults A plaque explains about the animals that were loaded onto the ark. They included, of course, dinosaurs, but most of the animals were likely young adults because “Being smaller, they would also be easier to care for.” That would only apply briefly because, since the ark was to be afloat for about a year, most animals would have matured to full size during that time. That bit isn’t mentioned, though.

The next diorama showed the ark seaborne as the water rose higher and people were desperate to get on board. Again, the detail was extraordinary… and somewhat disturbing. In the third picture, you can see some competition going on for the top spot (the man holding the rock over his head) and another guy who looks like he’s become the target of a bear’s attention.

Screw you, sinners! Screw you, sinners! Screw you, sinners!

After that, however, once all the sinners drowned, things must have gotten somewhat more peaceful.

Dinner time Noah and his family (a total of eight) got to hang out in the ark, seemingly in a bit of luxury with fine clothes and plenty of food. It must have been a pleasant cruise from the looks of it. Never mind that eight people had to care for (according to Answers in Genesis, the Creation Museum’s parent company) about 16,000 animals. Never mind that they had to deal with (again, according to AiG) about 12 tons of animal waste each day. Never mind that the ammonia from the rabbit urine alone would be enough to choke a rhino.

Creation Museum, Part 5, section 3
9 years ago

The thing is, if you explain the whole ark story by claiming supernatural intervention by God, then there’s really no arguing (other than the whole “God” thing). However, the Creation Museum doesn’t make that claim.

From the AiG page linked above:

While it is possible that God made miraculous provisions for the daily care of these animals, it is not necessary—or required by Scripture—to appeal to miracles.

They try to show how it’s entirely possible that the flood story was literally true without any significant divine intervention. It’s an absurdist notion.

The ark comes to rest Finally, the ark came to rest and the floodwaters began to drain away to… somewhere. This was the final diorama in the ark room, showing the happy ending for Noah and his family. All they had to do from this point is to wait for things to dry out and then go repopulate the planet. Piece of cake.

This is also the demarcation point I mentioned at the beginning. The museum was done with the story of the flood and now turned its focus to the aftereffects of the flood. This is where the pseudo-scientific hogwash really takes wing.

God's Word is the key to post-flood catastrophes Here’s the sign that sets the stage for what’s to come. The flood caused natural catastrophes like erosion and earthquakes… perhaps the greatest earthquake ever known (sorry… Land of the Lost grabbed hold of me there). They make it clear again that God’s Word, not the past, is the key to everything. Then they go on, ad nauseum, with a vain and scientifically ludicrous attempt to prove their case.

Plate tectonics in three easy steps Starting with the laughable idea that the world’s continents changed from Rodinia to Pangea to their current form in about a year, they show case after case of scientific ignorance. Just for the record, Rodinia is thought to have existed 1,100 and 750 million years ago. Pangea is thought to have existed roughly 300 million years ago. Not so for the Creation Museum. Their claim is that the global flood caused well over 500 million years of plate tectonic shift in about a year… and they’re just getting started.

They try to show how receding floodwaters account for the different geological layers, the corresponding fossil layers, coal deposits, canyons, deserts, mountains, and various other geological features. They fail.

Creation Museum, Part 5, section 4
9 years ago

33_FloatingForests 34_HotWaterReefs 35_TheFloodRecedes

36_FloodBuriesLife 37_CanyonsErode 38_TheWorldDries

Ark Equid?After showing geological features, they make an attempt to explain how biological development took place. From the evolution of animals (within their “kind,” of course) to the distribution of the animals across all the continents of the world (since Rodinia and Pangea were broken up underwater into separate continents), the explanations are far-fetched at times and hysterically childish at others. Marsupials what?Starting with the development of the horse, implying that the “horse” on the ark was just a little guy, it continues with a completely incomprehensible claim about marsupials.

There are a  number of other claims as well, including that Noah only had to have one pair of dogs on board the ark which would have then evolved into all the different canids that we have today, including foxes, wolves, and domestic dogs. That’s a pretty big stretch for a museum that claims to refute the notion of Darwinian Evolution, especially considering that foxes and wolves are completely different species, sharing only a distant common ancestor (as do we all).

One has to wonder, however, how all these different animals spread across the globe so rapidly, especially considering there were so few of them and they supposedly landed high on Mount Ararat. No worries. The Creation Museum folks have got that all figured out, too.

Creation Museum, Part 5, section 5
9 years ago

Rafting... be amazed.

Their explanation is called “rafting.” Here’s the description.

When the flood destroyed the world’s forests, it must have left billions of trees floating for centuries on the ocean. These log mats served as ready-made rafts for animals to cross oceans. The paths of ocean currents, carrying these rafts, would explain: similar animals and plants on opposite sides of the oceans, places of high diversity (probably landing sites), and the distribution of Geochelone tortoises.

Rafting... are you serious?I can’t make that kind of stuff up, but evidently someone has a vivid enough imagination and a low enough self-respect to offer that up as a legitimate hypothesis for the distribution of land animals.

You can read it yourself by enlarging this image to the left.

There’s also a mention of a post-flood ice age, ice cores, the thickening of the Earth’s crust, super volcanoes, super quakes (see! I knew Land of the Lost would factor in here!) and super rapid fossilization due to all the flood-induced catastrophes. It’s worded to sound very science-like, but to anyone with a decent high school education in science, it’s pretty delusional.

God's World and God's Word Agree... ? After showing all this “evidence” about the post-flood world, this sign makes the claim that everything is in agreement with the bible. “The more we learn about the Flood and its place in earth history, the more we understand God’s world.” The claim is that the flood explains fossils, rocks, and the “ pattern of life.”

No. No. No.

It explains none of these things. Every single one of those things is actually a stunning refutation of a biblical global flood. Everything we know about fossils, everything we know about geology, everything we know about the evolution of life… it all shows that our Earth is billions of years old. It does not show, by any rational argument, that the biblical story of Genesis is anything more than a fanciful tale written 2,000 years ago by primitive, tribal humans.

Willfully ignorant? I would say so. The next sign, I found to be somewhat ironic. It’s a bible verse from 2 Peter claiming that, in the last days, there will be scoffers. It calls them “willingly ignorant.” If ever there was a better fitting label for creationists in general, and this Creation Museum in particular, I have not heard it. The whole museum screams of willful ignorance… from simple scientific principles to common sense history.

This post was modified from its original form on 12 Sep, 11:45
Creation Museum, Part 5, section 6
9 years ago

Human Religions In the next (and last) section, we got to the fourth “C” of “Confusion” which goes into Babel and the splitting of human languages and related issues. I was far too weary at that point to deal with it. At the end, however, it showed a sign telling how human religion came to be when people starting “worshipping the creation rather than the Creator… blah, blah, blah.”

For people who believe all this, the end of the tour probably leaves them feeling inspired and feeling as though their faith has been strengthened. For me, since I have enough science knowledge to know that it’s all bunk, it left me feeling tired… battered… assaulted… profaned… contaminated… and sad.

It’s sad that so many people maintain that incredibly high level of willful ignorance. It’s sad that they let their lives be governed by ancient folklore. It’s very sad that they indoctrinate their children with the same baseless beliefs… and the same horribly detrimental misunderstanding of basic science and our world.

The final three “C’s” were jammed together at the end with a video titled The Last Adam… about Jesus and his death on the cross and resurrection. It was a somewhat bloody video and, like the rest of the museum videos, was of an extremely high production value. Also like the rest of the museum, it put in the information that supported its case and left out the information that didn’t.

Christ Cross Consummation

I omitted a special exhibit in an earlier post that I’ll touch on in the next post. It was titled “Natural Selection is Not Evolution” and was packed full of creationist claims that have been debunked and disproven for years and years… just more intellectual dishonesty.

But that, it seems, is what the Creation Museum is all about.

Creation Museum, Part 6, section 1
9 years ago

Natural Selection is Not Evolution Tucked away inside the post-flood pseudo-science was a small room containing information about natural selection and evolution. As promising as that sounds (out of context), it fit snugly alongside all the other ignorance-perpetuating exhibits at the museum. Just the title of exhibit hinted at what was to come… “Natural Selection is Not Evolution.” No, of course it isn’t. It’s the primary method by which evolution occurs, but the Creation Museum draws a false distinction between the two in its sad attempt to discredit evolutionary theory.

What Is Natural Selection?

The first plaque gives an accurate description at the beginning, but speaks of natural selection dismissively and then starts the real silliness in the last sentence. Here’s the beginning part (emphasis mine to highlight the dismissive tone).

Natural selection is the name Charles Darwin gave to an observable process, which results in small changes in the plant and animal world, such as fur color or plant height.

A common perception popularized by many scientists is that natural selection is a primary mechanism for evolution. [...]

That last sentence would be more accurate if it stated, “Scientists agree that natural selection is the primary mechanism for evolution.” It’s not so much a “common perception” as it is a concept confirmed by an overwhelming body of evidence… an inextricable part of evolutionary theory.

Natural Selection and Evolution Then we get to the last bit (see the image to the left) where they start with the bizarre distinction between the two terms. Saying that natural selection and evolution are different concepts is like saying that wheels and bicycles are two separate concepts. They also claim that “many mistakenly interchange the two.” I don’t know where they get that notion, but anyone who has even a small amount of knowledge about evolution would not interchange the two. Perhaps it’s the creationists who make the mistake?

What's the difference between natural selection and evolution?The “What is” plaque is the first time they bring up the phrase “molecules-to-man evolution,” which they use throughout the exhibit. In the “What’s the difference?” plaque, they use the term and then lay down the foundation for their future deceit with the description of evolution.

Inherent in this process is the requirement for the origination of new genetic information as organisms evolve from simple to complex.

This is classic creationist text. It sounds scientific, but is nonsense. There is plenty of evidence, conveniently ignored by creationists, showing that “information” can increase during the evolutionary process. Some examples and explanations can be found here, here, and here.

Creation Museum, Part 6, section 2
9 years ago

How does natural selection work? The next plaque was, perhaps, the one I found most amusing. Not because of horribly botched science, but because of its accuracy. The first two paragraphs give an accurate, coherent summary of the role natural selection plays in the evolutionary process. Why my amusement, then?

It seems they felt the need to add the last sentence because it was improper to have a plaque that had nothing but valid scientific information. The last sentence reads…

Although natural selection results in the death of some organisms, it exhibits the care of God for His creation through a mechanism that preserves populations of organisms in a sin-cursed, post-Fall world.

It’s inaccurate (natural selection doesn’t result in death… just the opposite) and it tacks on a bit of woo-based silliness to an otherwise accurate plaque.

Common Misconceptions About Natural Selection Moving on, we find the “Common Misconceptions About Natural Selection” plaque, which returns us to scientific-sounding malarkey. The term “molecules-to-man” is brought up again in the claim that evolution is directional… which is blatantly false and evolutionary theory says no such thing. The claim is again made that natural selection causes a decrease in genetic information… it doesn’t (see links above). The bottom of the plaque shows “Evolution’s Tree” and the “Creation Orchard” again as well, which was shown way back at the beginning of the tour (see Creation Museum Part 2) when the dichotomy was being set up between human reason and “God’s Word.”

Further “misconceptions” are brought up on a plaque showing the variations in canidae family… wolves, foxes, jackals, coyotes, etc. The first claim is that speciation has never occurred with a follow-up statement that speciation has occurred (go figure). The second basically claiming that all canids are the same species and also brings up the “molecules-to-man” term again.

Common Misconceptions - No speciation Common Misconceptions - All canids are the same species

In the first case, the word “species” is a man-made term. So is every other word in every spoken language in the world. It’s farcical to put it in quotes as if it’s an irrelevant or incorrect term. Next, speciation definitely has occurred, both unobserved and observed. One species has definitely evolved into another, innumerable times, in Earth’s history… and a perfect example is reptiles to birds, which they try to use as a refutation. Then the plaque says that speciation probably did occur after the flood. This is either a case of incoherent babbling (likely) or a complete misuse of the word speciation (also likely).

Creation Museum, Part 6, Section 3
9 years ago

The second plaque about dogs is just as disingenuous. Wolves and foxes, for instance, are completely separate species… as are Chihuahuas and jackals. Yes, they are all members of the order Carnivora in the exact same way that apes and humans are members of the order Primate… but it’s doubtful that you’ll hear a creationist agreeing that humans and apes are the same species. Their plaque is blatantly misleading.

Antibiotic Resistance An exhibit on antibiotic resistance is another futile attempt to show that mutations always cause a loss of information and are harmful. Then they again make the point of explaining how natural selection is not evolution.

Antibiotic Resistance - Detail This entire display refutes their own previous points about natural selection occurring and making species more fit for their environments. In one case, natural selection acts on beneficial mutations, but in this case, the claim is that mutations are harmful. Depending upon their examples, they waffle back and forth between the two points.

Blind Cavefish Two other mini-exhibits demonstrate the waffling. The Blind Cavefish exhibit explains how natural selection produced sightless fish for living in caves with no light. The claim is that natural selection resulted in a “decrease in genetic information (loss of eyes and pigmentation) not an increase as required for molecules-to-man evolution.”

It’s an absurd statement. The mutations didn’t cause a loss of information. They caused a change. Whenever natural selection acts in a way that’s acceptable to creationists, it is acting on “existing genetic information.” When they want to refute something, however, they say the mutation causes a loss of genetic information. It’s the exact same process, but they twist the words in a despicable attempt to support their ludicrous positions.

Three Blind Mice The “Three Blind Mice” mini-exhibit is another perfect example. The claim is that “mutations = loss of information.” However, for an ancient canid to turn into a fox, it’s simply natural selection acting on existing genetic information. The inconsistency is mind-boggling, but the sad part is that it’s couched in scientific-sounding language, so the average Creation Museum patron is going to swallow it hook, line, and sinker… and will walk away feeling proud of their new “knowledge.”

That’s how this entire museum works. It presents fallacious information in authoritative terms. Visitors who are already believers have their “faith strengthened,” but visitors who are curious and want to know about the science behind the exhibits are spoon-fed intellectually vapid garbage… with panache. The incredibly high visual quality of all these displays could easily make someone think, “If they went to all this trouble, it must be true!” …but it’s not. It’s false. It’s horribly false.

Conclusion Then to hammer home all the scientific-sounding hogwash, they conclude with this plaque. It asks, “Do we view natural selection using God’s Word or man’s opinion as our foundation?” Man’s opinion? Not only do they twist natural selection to fit varying bogus claims, but now they twist the idea of science when it suits their purposes.

Creation Museum, Part 6, Section 4
9 years ago

So how do we view natural selection? That depends entirely on whether you want the truth… and the truth doesn’t come from a 2,000 year old book written by sheep herders. It comes from the scientific study of the evidence. It doesn’t come from the distortion of the evidence… or the cherry-picking of the evidence… or the ignorance of the evidence… or the denial of the evidence. Creationists do all of that. The Creation Museum does it with style.

The entire “Walk Through History” was a treat for the eyes and a violent assault on the mind. I was constantly moving from a sense of admiration for the craftsmanship and a sense of disgust at the content. At times, there was sadness, especially when I’d see a family coming through the exhibits with children. The idea that those kids were going to be indoctrinated into this scientifically inept, anti-intellectual world where ignorance and faith are glorified was and is sickening and horribly, horribly sad.

I have some hope that those kids, at least some of them, will escape that world and step into the light. Perhaps they’ll see a real science program that will start the wheels of intellectual curiosity rolling away from their fundamentalist holding pens and allow them to see the true wonder of our world and all its glorious, intricate workings. Perhaps a doubting friend will ask the right questions to dislodge the petrified accumulations of so many dogmatically uncompromising sermons and let them see how life is lighter and more beautiful without the chains of religion.

But perhaps not. Some of those kids will be stuck in that world for their entire lives. They’ll be raised that way and protected from any alternate viewpoints or ideas. They’ll be shuttered away from any kind of real, intellectually challenging science. They’ll be constantly given misleading or incorrect information about our world. Their parents will steep them in dogma, ritual, and ancient scripture for as long as they can manage… and the Creation Museum will be right there to back them up with pretty lights, bells, and whistles.

The museum is loathsome and its creators should be very, very ashamed.

A related thread
9 years ago

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