Over the past couple weeks, I have written a few posts about my visit to the Ark Encounter. This week, I hope to write a couple of posts about my visit to Ken Ham’s initial attraction: The Creation Museum. My friend Ian Panth and I spent the morning at the Ark Encounter, live-streamed various parts of our visit, and took a lot of pictures. After that, it was off to the Creation Museum, which was about a 30-minute drive from the Ark Encounter. If this post is interesting to you (or even if it isn’t!), please consider buying my new book, The Heresy of Ham: What Every Evangelical Should Know About the Creation-Evolution Controversy.
As far as specifics were concerned, I really wasn’t sure what to expect at the Creation Museum. I figured it would focus on arguing for a young earth, and giving supposed scientific evidence for those claims, but beyond that general assumption, I really wasn’t sure what I’d see.
Three weeks later, I still can’t get my mind around what I saw.
Dinosaurs! Dinosaurs! Dinosaurs! (Did I Mention Dinosaurs?)
As my friend and I made our way to the front door, we saw a statue of dinosaur on the outside, and as soon as we walked in, it became obvious by just glancing around the foyer—Ken Ham is obsessed about dinosaurs. In fact, after going through the entire Creation Museum (as well as the Ark Encounter), I’d have to say that his #1 objective is to try to convince people that dinosaurs lived only a few thousand years ago.
As soon as you walk in to the Creation Museum, you see banners and signs that all make statements like, “Dragons were dinosaurs!” “What dragons?” you might be wondering? Well, the dragons in various literatures around the world, of course! I’ll just focus on one example that was particularly disturbing to me: the display regarding the Anglo-Saxon Epic Beowulf. As you can see in the picture, after summarizing the basic storyline of Beowulf, AiG claims that “The epic contains accurate historical information…” The display then goes on to say that the dragons in Beowulf may have been based on real events…and that this would be “consistent with the Bible.”
I’m sorry…WHAT??? No! Beowulf does NOT contain accurate historical information…it is fiction! To then say, “The dragons in Beowulf could have been dinosaurs,” and then turn around and say, “This would be consistent with the Bible” is so unbelievable that even today, three weeks later, as I write this, I feel my head it going to explode. The Bible never mentions dinosaurs in the first place, and you can’t speculate “the dragons may have been dinosaurs,” and then turn around and use that baseless speculation as supposed “evidence” the Bible is true, because Beowulf doesn’t mention dinosaurs, and neither does the Bible!
Yet somehow, at the Creation Museum, AiG just has this absurd claim on display. My literary sensibilities were probably offended just as much, if not moreso, than my biblical sensibilities.
On to the Exhibits
In any case, as we made our way to the actual exhibits, I saw a giant display of AiG’s Seven C’s of God’s Eternal Plan: Creation, Corruption, Catastrophe, Confusion (that takes us up to Genesis 11), then Christ, Cross (that’s the gospels), and Consummation (that would be Revelation). I was amazed that apparently, outside of Genesis 1-11, the entire Old Testament is of little or no importance to AiG. Or to put it another way, I find it highly ironic that not only does AiG insist that Genesis 1-11 is “history” when it clearly is not, but that it turns around and dismisses out of hand the actual history that is in the Old Testament. God’s dealings with Old Testament Israel is inconsequential to them.
As we waited in line to enter the exhibits, I noticed other displays as well—they showed examples of varieties of plant and animal life. Underneath all of these (as turned out to be the case throughout the museum) were little descriptors and explanations that argued for YEC and against evolution. One of the signs said, “There is not enough time—even billions of years—to get such differences by small steps from a common ancestor. The Bible tells us where this amazing variety came from—created by an all-knowing, all-powerful, creative God.”
Now, I agree. I believe all the variety in the world, indeed in the universe, comes from God. I just don’t think He poofed it all into existence within the span of a week, a mere 6,000 years ago. But the thing that struck me was the claim that there wasn’t enough time to get all the variety we see today. It struck me because Ken Ham believes that natural selection and genetic mutations are the processes that account for the variety of species and life forms in the world. He just denies the idea of a common ancestor, and he claims even billions of years wouldn’t be enough time.
Rather, what Ken Ham believes is that all the variety of species and life forms we see today have come about within the past 4,000 years, since Noah’s flood. So if “billions of years” isn’t enough time, what are we to make of AiG’s claim that it only took 4,000 years? Sure, they say the starting point wasn’t one common ancestor, but rather 1,000 original “kinds,” but trust me, if you do that math, that still is an impossibly ridiculous claim. I’ve said it before as an example: Ham’s claim would require an original “dog kind” to procreate so much, with so much genetic mutation, to have so many generations within the span of seven years, that by that seventh year the offspring would be Siberian Huskies. And then it would have to happen again, only this time…wolves; then another seven years…poodles. This would have to happen at that rate to account for all the varieties of land species to have come about in a mere 4,000 years.
That claim has about as much historical merit as Beowulf’s killing of Grendel.
The First Main Exhibit: Dinosaurs Again…and the Battle Between Man’s Word and God’s Word
The first main exhibit focused on…you guessed it…dinosaurs. There was a life-sized display of a standard archeological dig, with two archeologists inspecting a dinosaur fossil in the rock layer. The explanation below this display said, “Dinosaurs don’t come with tags on them telling us how old they are, where they lived, what they ate, or how they died. …Because we never have all the evidence, different scientists can reach very different conclusions, depending on their starting assumptions.”
Above the display was a video screen where the two archeologists were talking about the fossil. One concluded it was millions of years old, and it died in such and such a way; the creation scientist said, “You see? He’s just interpreting this fossil based on his assumption that the earth is millions of years old. I look at this fossil and conclude that this dinosaur lived 4,000 years ago and was instantaneously buried in the waters of Noah’s flood. It’s all about starting points!”
There was also another chart on the wall, further arguing this point. This was shocking to me, because when it gets right down to it, what AiG is claiming is that scientists don’t really do science when studying the fossil record. AiG gives the impression that a “secular geologist” looks at a fossil and simply says, “Oh, it must be millions of years old, because I just assume the world is millions of years old!” And then AiG turns around as essentially says, “That’s how we come to our conclusions, only we assume the world is only a few thousand years old!”
In order to make themselves sound “scientific,” AiG resorts to redefining scientific disciplines like geology to nothing more than “labeling things according to starting assumptions.” But that’s not science, and real geologists, astronomers, and biologists don’t do that. That’s what AiG does, though, and that’s why, despite scientific-sounding jargon, they’re simply not doing science.
Along with this initial display, there were other charts involving astronomy and the variety of species, including human beings. Each one was clearly labeled with “Man’s Word” on one side, and “God’s Word” on the other, thus giving the impression that Genesis 1 was presenting accurate scientific information in the fields of astronomy and biology. I’ve written on this before—simply put, that’s not true. Insisting Genesis 1 is literal history and accurate science has about as much logic as insisting Isaiah 55:12 (“The mountains…will burst forth in song…and all the trees of the field will clap their hands”) is making the claim that mountains have voice-boxes and trees have hands.
Starting Points and Biblical Authority
From this initial display, we went on to see that AiG took this notion of “starting points” and turned a corner away from archeology and fossils to the issue of morality and human existence: “Why am I here? Am I Alone? Why do I suffer? Is there any hope? Why do we have to die?” Now, granted, these are important questions—I just was at a loss to see how they had anything to do with inspecting dinosaur fossils.
In any case, this opened the door to AiG’s other major display: Biblical authority. In the next room there were life-sized representations of various figures in the Old Testament, from Moses, to Jeremiah, Isaiah, and David, followed by an empty tomb, and then the Apostle Paul. The emphasis was clear: if you want to get answers to life’s important questions, you’ll find them in the Bible. Again, this is true—but again, I was at a loss to see how this had anything to do with dinosaur fossils and distant starlight.
Well, AiG made the connection for me, for the very next exhibit dealt with “attacks on the Bible,” namely attacks from “secularists” and “evolutionists.” The logic is like this: if you say the earth is millions of years old, you are “attacking” Genesis 1, and are therefore undermining the truthfulness of the Bible. Or in other words, If Genesis 1 isn’t scientifically reliable, then the Bible isn’t truthful, and is therefore unreliable…and any society that questions that will find itself going to hell in a handbasket.
We’ll get our handbaskets ready for the next post, in which I conclude our tour of the Creation Museum.