The Creation Museum I: Getting Our Foot in the Door

Due to some conflicts between MapQuest's directions and my map of Kentucky, I was nervous during the final leg of my drive to The Creation Museum. After all those hours of driving, the only thing that would have been worse than actually having to walk through that pathetic monument to human ignorance and credulity would have been not getting to see it at all. I needn't have worried, however. There were clear signs to the museum along I-275.

Those signs eventually led me into a field in the middle of nowhere. The entrance bore a nondescript sign in front of a large metal gate fitting for an English country manor, but out of place in a field in Northern Kentucky, It was 11:50 as I drove through the gate. The museum did not officially open for another ten minutes. Two unhappy things struck me as I found a place to park. First, at least from the outside the museum was physically attractive and professional looking. And second, there were an awful lot of cars in the parking lot.

I emerged from my car into the stifling Kentucky heat and allowed my eyes to adjust to the brightness. I had nebulous plans to meet some of my fellow Panda's Thumbers before entering the museum, but never having met most of them I was not entirely sure how I would recognize them. Once again, I needn't have worried. Off to one side of the main entrance was a group of people who looked less than thrilled to be there. Finding it unlikely that they were “of the body”, I took a chance and approached them. They were, indeed, the people I sought.

Before long the rest of the crew showed up. Having traded e-mail with these folks for several years, it was nice to confirm they were real people, and not just names that showed up periodically in my inbox from time to time. In the end I had the pleasure of meeting Thumbers Wesley Elsberry, Tara Smith, Art Hunt, Richard Hoppe and Andrea Bottaro. Also there was journalist extraordinaire Laurie Lebo, whose excellent reporting for a local newspaper during the big Dover trial was one of the few bright spots in that sadly necessary spectacle. And, of course, Professor Steve Steve was there as well.

After the requisite introductions and picture taking, we took a deep breath and entered the museum. Tara had cleverly brought with her forms that entitled us to five dollars off admission if we allowed our names to be placed on the Answers in Genesis (AiG) mailing list. Initially I was reluctant to do so. But upon further consideration it dawned on me that every penny AiG wastes on mailings to me is one penny less they have for the corruption of America's youth. Seen that way, it would have been selfish of me not to claim my five dollar discount.

We meandered slowly around the maze of line-control poles, but I was quickly beginning to despair of ever getting to the guts of the museum. Eventually a pleasant museum employee invited us to move to the “members” line. No members were there, you see, meaning they simply used that line for general admission. As things unfolded, this proved to be a trap. The members line turned out to be even slower than the one we had been on previously.

I was reminded of a lecture I heard in an undergraduate psychology course. The professor was discussing cognitive dissonance. He suggested that the point of fraternity initiations, among other examples, was that making the pledges go through some truly unpleasant experience made them all the more appreciative of their eventual membership in the frat. This must be really important, they reason, otherwise why would I be going through all this unpleasantness.

On the other hand, my time on line did give me a chance to survey the lobby. Off to my right were models of a giraffe, a triceratops (bearing a saddle, no less) and a rhinoceros. Beyond that was a line of large windows overlooking a lovely park area where people could have picnics and whatnot. There was a small lake on the grounds as well. Swimming in the lake, for some incomprehensible reason, was a model of a Loch Ness Monster. I guess the same dogmatic, closed-minded, atheistic scientific establishment that promotes evolution is also striving to keep knowledge of Nessie's existence from the general public.

After purchasing our tickets for the museum and the accompanying planetarium show, we moved into the museum's anteroom. To my left: the Dragon's Lair Bookstore, a depressing homage to countless trees who died in vain. To my right: the foul-smelling Noah's Cafe. Straight ahead, various animatronic dinosaurs, some of whom made bizarre squealing noises that I think were intended as roars.

Also present were a variety of appetizers, little vignettes of creation if you will, intended to warm us up for the main course that lay beyond. Living fossils pose a grave threat to evolution, but are easily explained under the model of Biblical creation. Evolutionists can't explain the astonishing variety of finch species, but creationists find it trivial to do so. “In the beginning of time six thousand years ago God created every kind of bird including the finch kind and gave them the ability to multiply upon the Earth.” God loves variety. No way you get such variety by small steps over millions of years. Chameleons are tripped out with a variety of complex gadgets. Must have been designed!

My favorite among these exhibits was one entitled, “Why is Creation So Deadly?” It was the lead-in to a learned discussion of South American poison dart frogs. After noting the extreme toxicity of these lovely animals, the display went on to explain the surprising benefits to be had from this venom. Hundreds of useful chemicals have been derived from it. From the phantasmal poison dart frog, for example, we can derive a painkiller far more effective than morphine, and nonaddictive to boot. It also noted that when raised in captivity these frogs do not develop their toxicity; rather, the venom appears to be the result of the frog's diet in the wild. This is unsurprising. Prior to Adam's sin, all of creation was very good. The frogs in captivity represent a throwback to this primordial state, when frogs would have had no reason for such toxicity. At least, I think that was the point. Creationist logic is sometimes unfathomable even for me.

I was visiting on a Sunday afternoon, and the place was awfully crowded. Many of the people had either come straight from church, or else routinely got dressed up for a trip to the museum. Much of the crowd was made up of little kids, I regret to say. Before entering the museum proper, visitors are invited to watch a twenty minute movie entitled Men in White. Hard to resist that! So, after walking past a further display declaring that beautiful minerals provided further evidence of God's glory, I entered the theater.

Coming Up: Flummoxing the Evolutionists; Same Facts, Different World Views..

More like this

Let us now ponder more closely a few of the specific exhibits at the big museum. One surprising item in the exhibits is the blunt contempt for human reason. We are constantly told that apostasy begins when human reason is elevated above God's word. Placards on the walls contrast the conclusions…
tags: Seattle Washington, Biology Department Greenhouse, University of Washington, poison dart frogs, Dendrobates, Dendrobatidae Captive-bred Dyeing Poison Dart frog, Dendrobates tinctorius, from the Guianas of northeastern South America. Image: GrrlScientist 29 September 2008 [larger view].…
After leaving the theater it was time to enter the museum proper. The nice fellow at the door scanned the barcode on my ticket to verify that I wasn't trying to sneak in. He advised me that I should allow at least two hours to see all the exhibits, then invited me to go on in. The museum is laid…
Shorter Ken Ham: Other museums have dinosaur models with saddles, so why does everyone pick on my "museum"?. Ham seems to have been scrambling to save face by finding a few other places that put out exhibits of dinosaurs with saddles, but he, as usual, misses the point. Yes, other places will…


I'm glad you enjoyed your visit to the museum. It seems you really paid attention and learned some things you didn't know. However, you didn't share your thoughts about "Men in White" or the planetarium show. I thought both were extremely well done and convincing. What did you think about them?

Activist - I'm going to go out on a limb here and predict that Jason was probably less convinced by the presentations than you were. Of course, perhaps I'm wrong and Jason has traded in his EAC membership card for a "Lord's Gym" t-shirt and a Jesus-fish car magnet. I guess we'll just have to wait for his next installment to find out. . .

*cue the dramatic music*


Dave's suspicion is correct, I'm afraid. I was impressed with neither Men in White nor the planetarium show. There will be quite a few blog entries in this series, and eventually I should cover just about everything. Just be patient.


Er, what's EAC?

EAC - Evil Atheist Conspiracy

By John Lynch (not verified) on 22 Jun 2007 #permalink

Having traded e-mail with these folks for several years, it was nice to confirm they were real people, and not just names that showed up periodically in my inbox from time to time.

That sure is a neat feeling! It's even weirder when you know people will be asking you later, "Does he really breathe fire and grip his coffee mug with tentacles?"

By the way, is there some place I can write to get an Evil Atheist Conspirator card? All I've got right now are my "Get Out of Hell Free" card and my membership in the American Physical Society.

Did anyone mention to these people that when poison frogs are kept in captivity, they loose their toxicity, as they no longer have access to the ants and termites that supply the bacteria that manufacture their poison for them?

If you're not a christian by the time you leave, do you get your money back?

By It's greasy so… (not verified) on 22 Jun 2007 #permalink

Evolutionists can't explain the astonishing variety of finch species, but creationists find it trivial to do so. In the beginning of time six thousand years ago God created every kind of bird including the finch kind and gave them the ability to multiply upon the Earth. God loves variety. No way you get such variety by small steps over millions of years.

This is a little surprising given that AiG do allow for natural selection and "microevolution" to create finch diversity:

I wonder the museum is aiming at an even lower common denominator than those who read the website. An audience that can not even cope with any kind of evolutionary process. Maybe we have been misreading the AiG site all these years; it's actually for the more sophisticated YEC!

Next road trip perhaps you could cleanse yourself in the midwest; say Nebraska, MIchigan, Texas, Oklahoma or Kansas. THe Explore Evolution Project'sProject Overview:

Explore Evolution is a major new partnership forged between science museums and 4-H organizations to bring current research on evolution to the public. The project features the work of scientists who are making leading discoveries about the evolution of life. From rapidly evolving HIV to whales that walked, the public is invited to explore evolution in organisms ranging from the very smallest to the largest. The University of Nebraska State Museum project was established in June 2003 with a grant from the National Science Foundation�s Informal Science Education Program. The grant supports the creation of permanent exhibit galleries at six partner museums, learning research on how visitors understand evolution, a Web site, and inquiry-based activities for middle-school children.

I very much appreciate your reportage on this abomination, Jason, as I resolve never to waste my time going through this piece of crap. My brother-in-law, who teaches at Morehead State University in Kentucky, is especially dismayed when he thinks about how much money is being wasted on this complete misdirection in science "education." "Think of all the better ways that this kind of money could be spent, especially in Kentucky," he said.

I took my kids to see this Project Evolution exhibit when it was at the Science Museum of Minnesota, and while the exhibit didn't match the whiz-bang special effects nor the propagandistic movies or animatronics of Ken Hams's big creationist circus, but it did have some good interactive exhibits. The fact that it incorporates the input of 4-H middle-school age children, it engages the kids who might otherwise be bored.

Visitors can take the opportunity to write comments on 3" x 5" cards, and the muesum photocopies the comments for review by other visitors. I read through past comments, and somehow it reminded me of the same stuff that you see while perusing the newsgroup (or any other forum with an evo-creo topic for that matter.) I was surprised at how many people were visiting the exhibit and refusing to take in any infornation. Far too many comments echoed Ken Ham's objection "Scientists weeren't there at the begining, but God was, so we can trust God's word better than scientists."

I asked my cousin, a Jehovah's Witness, what he thought about the exhibit and he said "Why should I care what some people think about evolution?" and he walked away, dismissing the entire subject withoutt looking at it. The sad part was that he had been raised by parents who had tried to inculcate an appreciation of science. He has followed Kurt Wise into denying evidence if it disfavors his religion.

Finally, a mjor aspect of the project is an exploration into how visitors' appreciation of evolution changes through participating in this exhibit. A baseline study revealed some surprises:

Two significant findings have surfaced from the Explore Evolution research. The first finding concerns visitors' overall reasoning patterns. We were able to classify visitors' responses as showing informed naturalistic reasoning, novice naturalistic reasoning, or creationist reasoning. While most visitors had a predominant reasoning pattern across all their responses, it is important to note that ALL visitors showed evidence of more than one of these reasoning patterns, depending on the organism being discussed. Even informed naturalistic reasoners, those with a reasonably sophisticated understanding of evolutionary processes, showed evidence of novice or creationist reasoning under some circumstances.

The second finding concerns how visitors' understanding and acceptance of evolution varies depending on what organism is being addressed. The finch was the most likely to elicit informed naturalistic reasoning, and the fly, ant, diatom, and virus were the most likely to elicit novice reasoning. The human/chimp was most likely to elicit creationist reasoning.

Even those of us who accept evolution have some larnin' to do. If you get the chance check out one of the museums which have made a permanent exhibit of this project. (Sadly, Minnesota's exhibit was temporary.)

Ken Ham, were you there when Richard Owen was trying to use dinosaurs as a proof of creation, yet failed?

4 Stars. Joe Bob says check it out.

"... a tricerotops wearing a saddle ..."

When you were a kid, didn't you ride a trike before graduating to a bike?

What is the admission fee (and any other fees for special exhibits)? And, thanks for reporting this, I will never go there.

Living fossils pose a grave threat to evolution, but are easily explained under the model of Biblical creation.

Actually, living fossils pose a grave threat not to our beliefs, but to our lives. Believe me, you don't want to be anywhere near when the raptor fossils come to life.

They do not know fear.

"English country manner"

While there may be such a thing among rural Brits, I believe the word you're after here is "manor."

In answer to your question, I'm gonna really go out on a limb here and say NO.

Oops, I looked back and whaddya know, there is no limb to go out on after all.

By geology77 (not verified) on 23 Jun 2007 #permalink

Activist said: I thought both ["Men in White" or the planetarium show] were extremely well done and convincing. What did you think about them?

Activist, or anyone of his stripe, I ask in all sincerity, whatever made you think this would be convincing to anyone? How are fictional stories with completely unrealistic characters who never have any support for their claims supposed to convince anyone of anything? I can make all Christians look like homicidal monsters given the same latitude with the truth the makers of "Men in White" had. Who exactly is your target conversion audience and why?

I hope you read Jason's critique and I would be most interested in hearing what you thought of it, and I'll bet I have some company.

so the god descended people have the

so, the god descended people have the ($27,ooo,ooo) courage of their convictions, but the ape descended people don't? come on evolved apes, where is your evolution meuseum?


By eric swan (not verified) on 23 Jun 2007 #permalink

eric swan,

How about the $27 million courage of their convictions spent to do actual research that supports their claims, rather than the $27 million cowardice of their convictions that causes them to build a monument to naked assertions?

Apparently they forgot to place Arthur Conan Doyle's fairies amongst the flora in the Garden.

Can I have my name placed on the mailing without going to see that monument to fops? As "Light Impressions" has demonstrated, there are many ways of misspelling my name, generating multiple mailings.

I gotta say, the food in Noah's Cafe was quite good.

By ratherGroggy (not verified) on 26 Jun 2007 #permalink

What is so wrong in believing in God. If there is a God I have not only lived a good life I will spend eternity in Heaven! But even if there is not I lived a good life with something to believe in other than i derived from monkeys. Either way it is a win win for me. However for you who does not believe it is a lose lose. You have not only lived for yourself only believing in what you think is right but you will go to hell. And what hope do you really have in this world. Other than putting another education notch on your belt saying yet again how wonderfuly smart you are and all that you have done. I however choice to live a less selfish life and it is not because I am better than anyone else but because I have the spirit of God that lives in me and I don't care what anyone says I will take that over anything else this world has to offer! I choose to believe the whole bible not just what suites my wants for life. I don't just think with my brain but what I feel in my heart. I pray that the spirit will fall on you someday!
I am mean truely what do you have to lose?


What do I have to lose? Let's see, there's time, money, intelligence, honesty, empathy, humility, reason, personal integrity.... The list can go on, but I think that's more than enough.

Your proposition of the "win/win" vs. "lose/lose" argument is hardly original. Look up "Pascal's Wager" sometime among logical fallacies. It is an empty argument, devoid of value. There's no more reason for me believing in God on that basis than there is for you to follow Linus on Halloween to wait for the Great Pumpkin.

~David D.G.

By David D.G. (not verified) on 07 Aug 2007 #permalink

Well, just from your comment it is clear that you are focusing on what this world has to offer rather than what Jesus has to offer and that is Mercy and forgiveness, hope and joy, love and kindness. I will take that over money, intelligence, but as for honesty, empathy, humility, reason, personal intergrity, I don't see how you would loose them. The bible teaches me not to lie and I strive for that everyday, I have empathy even for you and so does God that is the beauty of it. I have never heard of "pascal's Wager" I was not trying to copy anyone else's thoughts just what I feel to be true in my heart. I can not even begin to compare the Great Pumpkin to God. There is not comparison a cartoon character to the creator of the heaven and earth. I am not trying go round and round with you I just have my beliefs and I stand by them. I believe in the bible and that is not going to change.


I will take that over money, intelligence, but as for honesty, empathy, humility, reason, personal intergrity, I don't see how you would loose them. The bible teaches me not to lie and I strive for that everyday, I have empathy even for you and so does God that is the beauty of it.