The Creation Museum 3: General Overview

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 out like a long, twisting path. Visitors are moved through various sections, organized around the “Seven C's” of history. Those would be Creation, Corruption, Catastrophe, Confusion, Christ, Cross and Consummation. To which I add an eighth C: Clever!

Two things struck me soon after entering. The first is that this is not really a museum at all. In a museum you expect to find tangible artifacts of some kind, typically with just enough commentary provided to tell you what you are looking at. Real museums exist, among other reasons, to provide a safe place for housing important historical objects that everyone ought to be able to see and enjoy.

Not so with the creation museum. This is really just a straightforward attempt at evangelism. None of the displays and exhibits present anything that you can't also find in any of a dozen different creationist books. With a real natural history museum you might say, “It is one thing to read about evolution in books. It is quite another to be able to see the fossils for yourself.” But with the creation museum there is really no distinction between the creationist literature and what the museum presents. You can read the propaganda in book form, or you can walk through the museum and read the same material presented on colorful placards.

The second was the generally good appearance of the displays. This is not some fly-by-night operation cranked out in some guy's basement. The placards and sets look as good as what I have seen in many real museums. The announced price tag for the museum was twenty-seven million dollars, and it is not hard to see where all that money went.

I was next struck by the reliance on videos. At times it felt like they were just plunking me down in front of the television. One whole section of the museum is nothing more than a series of “fifteen amazing science videos.” The topics: Common designer, The Language of DNA, Eyes, Flight, Kinds, Communities, Dominion, Made in God's Image, Stars, Solar Systems, Sun, Plants, Habitable Planet, Building Blocks, Natural Laws.

The museum opens with some generic material about the tenets of creationism. The first main section bears the slogan “Same facts, different worldviews.” We are constantly reminded that “The facts are in the present, but the events are in the past.” Creationists do not ignore the facts, you see. They merely interpret the facts differently because they come at them from a Biblical starting point, unlike the secular scientists who prefer an evolutionary interpretation.

This is standard creationist fare, of course, but it is a useful reminder of how these folks manage to get everything backward. On scientific questions the creationists are relativists. You interpret the evidence your way, I'll interpret it my way. Po-TAY-to, Po-TAH-to. But on moral questions they are absolutists. Their interpretation of the Bible is right and everything else is wrong.

Actually, these are two sides of the same coin. Creationists are not big on debate. They have no interest in considering arguments for or against various propositions, or weighing evidence as part of a search for truth. On moral issues, where your starting point and prior assumptions really do matter a great deal, they want to be able to make assertions and have that be the end of it. God says gay marriage and abortion are wrong. It is sheer perversity that any further justification is necessary. On scientific questions, where you can talk about universally accepted standards of evidence, they see that the facts are going against them at every turn. So they have to try to discredit science in any way they can.

Section Two: Why start with God's word? Mostly standard material about the importance of the Bible generally, and Genesis in particular. Section Three: Scripture abandoned in the culture. Here we are treated to a collage of newspaper headlines, Time magazine covers and so on, all bearing alarming headlines. Stories about school shootings and random violence are interpsersed with stories about acceptance of homosexuals.

Section four begins by passing through a tunnel through time; by which I mean a dark corridor that leads to a small theater. A friendly museum employee informs us that we have just gone back in time six thousand years to the dawn of creation. We are about to be made to watch a four minute dramatic reading of Genesis One. The business about the tunnel through time is another example of the efforts the museum makes to appeal to little kids.

Section five is the aforementioned wall of videos. I didn't have the patience for this, and proceded quickly to section six. This is where God finally creates the freakin' world. We are treated to displays of a contented Adam going about the tedious business of naming all the animals. The ubiquitous dinosaurs were back on display, as were various other four-legged mammals. As we walk through this section we are told that Eve was created from one of Adam's ribs. We conclude this section with Adam and Eve in a Blue Lagoon style embrace in a lake.

Alas, this all ends with section seven. Adam and Eve have now sinned, and all manner of unpleasantness begins. Whereas section six was brightly lit and featured pleasant animal noises, section seven is much darker, and features a somber, downbeat soundtrack. Section eight, The Wages of Sin, is closely related. This is where the specific badnesses introduced into the world as a result of Adam and Eve's disobedience are listed for us, in all their horrible glory.

Section nine: Noah's flood. Visitors are able to walk through a large wooden structure said to be a replica of the ark, while displays along the walls discuss the technical details involved in building such a structure. We are treated to placards discussing the location of the door on the ark, and to speculations about the possible use of metal fasteners to hold the thing together. My personal favorite is the one that suggests that Noah may have had some hired help to aid with the construction. Somehow I don't think Noah told them what the ark was for.

Section ten discusses the flood, while section eleven moves on to the aftereffects of that very flood. Section twelve recounts the story of the Tower of Babel. This represents the “Confusion” stage of the seven C's.

And just like that, we have reached the end of the museum. All that remains is one final movie, The Last Adam, in which the last three C's are all rolled up into one. Upon leaving the museum proper you are in a basement area that possesses a small refreshment stand and one further theater. In this one you can watch a short movie about dinosaurs and dragons. It was a weird film indeed, but we will save that for a future post.

Then its up a flight of stairs into the bookstore. After that all that remains is the planetarium show. It will be interesting to see how well the museum does long term. It's brand new right now, and is no doubt attracting a lot of morbidly curious folks. But it's hard to believe it will attract a lot of repeat business. The whole point, after all, is that God's word is unchanging. It's not like a real musuem where they constantly have new shows and new displays to see.

Coming Up: The origin of snake venom?

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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…
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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…
This Memorial Day will be truly memorial for those who believe the universe is only 6,000 years old. The Creation Museum opens Monday in Petersburg, Ky. A creation of the creationists responsible for the Answers in Genesis "resource," primarily Ken Ham, B.Sc., the designers of the new museum have…

My personal favorite is the one that suggests that Noah may have had some hired help to aid with the construction. Somehow I don't think Noah told them what the ark was for.

This reminds me of that bit by Bill Cosby about Noah and his next-door neighbor:

Neighbor: "Hey! Yo, up there."

Noah: "What do you want?"

Neighbor: "What IS this?"

Noah: "It's an ark."

Neighbor: "Uh-HUH. You wanna get it out of my driveway?
I've got to get to work! Listen, what's this thing for,
anyway?"

Noah: "I can't tell you. Ha, ha, ha, ha."

Neighbor: "Well, can't you just give me a little hint?"

Noah: "You want a hint?"

Neighbor: "Yes, please."

Noah: "How long can you tread water? Ha, ha, ha, ha."

~David D.G.

By David D.G. (not verified) on 25 Jun 2007 #permalink

Drat! I was going to mention Bill Cosby in my next post. Now you beat me to it.

The first is that this is not really a museum at all. In a museum you expect to find tangible artifacts of some kind, typically with just enough commentary provided to tell you what you are looking at. Real museums exist, among other reasons, to provide a safe place for housing important historical objects that everyone ought to be able to see and enjoy.

It's interesting that they have no fossils or other artifacts of their own to show. Are there any creationist paleontologists? I doubt they would advance much in this career. They want to destroy the basis of biology, astronomy, geology, but have nothing to substitute it. I'd like to know how a geologist is supposed to work based on this "flood model."

By Carolina F Silva (not verified) on 25 Jun 2007 #permalink

Oh, sorry to steal your thunder, Jason! Please feel free to go ahead and make the reference anyway; I, for one, can never get too much of that particular routine.

~David D.G.

By David D.G. (not verified) on 25 Jun 2007 #permalink

Some natural history museums include displays of working paleontologists--you can watch real people preparing specimens and such. Maybe the Creation Museum can come up with the same kind of thing, only it would be Creationists doing Creationism research. They might even set it up so that kiddies could help do the research.

This is not a natural history museum. This is a science fiction museum. That is why everything comes from Hollywood.

Actually, there are real fossils and artifacts in the Creation Museum, as well as casts of many fossils. Yes, there are creationist paleontologists, even with PhD's from Harvard - Kurt Wise, for example. And the museum consulted with many PhD scientists from biology, geology, astronomy, etc. While these scientists do hold to a biblical framework for interpreting the "facts," they also do "real" science - the operational, empirical kind.

GMV-

I'm afraid I must have missed the exhibits you mentioned. They certainly comprise a vanishingly small percentage of the museum.

Actually, though, you're right about some YEC's doing actual research, after a fashion. In this they differ from ID folks, who focus almost exclusively on politics and education.

You think your museum was bad? I was just at the Big Valley creation science museum (http://www.bvcsm.com/) and it was basically the same deal, only smaller, and worse. What a letdown, two hours of driving for something I could have found on any creationist website.

the red states have higher divorce rates, higher child abuse, and higher spousal abuse. That is proof that ignorance is the root of all evil, so how can a creation museum not be evil.

By richCares (not verified) on 25 Jun 2007 #permalink

Considering the investment dollars that will wilt and fall to the ground, the grandiose expectations of the creators of this testament to credulity that will not be fulfilled, I feel a sense of deep disappointment on behalf of those investors. Empathy; godlessly identifying with my brother. Heh, heh, hee!

Considering how interested and educated people must feel taken, even made fools of, as they walk out of this place, I feel displaced. Like the feeling one sometimes has upon awakening to a scenario much different from the one just before sleep.

I predict, based upon secret knowledge given me by virtue of my unholy allegiance to the Dark Side, that this "museum" will be like unto the rose:

In its bud, promising and filled with expectation.
Upon blossoming, cherished, and inhaled deeply;
Expectancy flourishes and miracles are afoot.

Maturity and the business of the bees
That visit with magic burdens
Change the focus.
And luckily for it,
The rose goes to seed.

Then fruiting and lusting for good earth.
How many seeds show
How good the chance
That this certain one will dance. On.

If not, the stink
Will make you think.
You wonder, what happened,
That that one, it just died.

And so it goes . . . Kinda sad, eh?

By Crudely Wrott (not verified) on 25 Jun 2007 #permalink

While these scientists do hold to a biblical framework for interpreting the "facts," they also do "real" science

Though obviously not both at the same time.

While these scientists do hold to a biblical framework for interpreting the "facts," they also do "real" science - the operational, empirical kind.

A creationsit website mentioned the following article as a breakthrough for creation science, as the Loma Linda geologists are creationists:

logy 32(February 2004)165168; DOI 10.1130/G20079.
Fossil whale preservation implies high diatom accumulation rate in the MiocenePliocene Pisco Formation of Peru
Leonard R. Brand* Department of Natural Sciences, Loma Linda University, Loma Linda, California 92350, USA
Rau´ l Esperante Geoscience Research Institute, Loma Linda, California 92350, USA
Arthur V. Chadwick Biology Department, Southwestern Adventist University, Keene, Texas 76059, USA
Orlando Poma Porras, Merling Alomı, Universidad Peruana Unio´n, Carretera Central, km. 19, N ana, Lima, Peru

When you read this, you'll not notice anything creationist about it.

Perhaps there needs to be a truth-in-labeling standard applied to things that call themselves "museums" just as there is for things that call themselves "drugs." Using the standard by which the Creation "Museum" applies the word, it would appear that the Haunted House at Disneyland also qualifies as a museum. It offers evidence for life after death that is every bit as weighty as the Creation Museum offers for special creation.

Maybe a good rule of thumb for application of :museum" could be that the materials housed could not be entirely manufactured by the people running the institution. In other words, something consisting entirely of videos and animatronics wouldn't be able to call itself a "museum" unless it was billing itself as "The Museum of Animatronics and Videos."

I was next struck by the reliance on videos. At times it felt like they were just plunking me down in front of the television.

It was really a subliminal association with The Flintstones.

It's brand new right now, and is no doubt attracting a lot of morbidly curious folks. But it's hard to believe it will attract a lot of repeat business.

Given the surprisingly high salaries of Ham and the "museum's" directors and the exorbitant start-up resources, it will be interesting to see if the boys will drain the treasury before the theme park goes under.

I realize that some, if not all, the information at the Creation Museum seems kooky to you all. But after you are finished laughing at it, realize some of us do not see enough evidence for evolution to allow ourselves to believe Einstein is a decendent of a monkey type animal. That is also laughable.

But after you are finished laughing at it, realize some of us do not see enough evidence for evolution to allow ourselves to believe Einstein is a decendent of a monkey type animal.

Of course we realize that. It doesn't make you any less wrong.

I'm now imagining a chimpanzee looking at a picture of Einstein and saying "You can't tell me we share an ancestor with THAT? It can't even groom properly!"

Honestly this sounds like it's out of a South Park or Simpsons episode. My thoughts (bear with me please, I am unfamiliar with how quoting is usually achieved):

... this is not really a museum at all. In a museum you expect to find tangible artifacts of some kind, typically with just enough commentary provided to tell you what you are looking at. Real museums exist, among other reasons, to provide a safe place for housing important historical objects that everyone ought to be able to see and enjoy.

It is certainly a museum, or rather, a meta-museum. The museum itself is a cultural artifact. It behooves us, as intellectuals, to preserve it, as if it were an old palace or cathedral, for five hundred years, then unleash the wonders of twenty-first century religious extremism.

By Patrick M. (not verified) on 26 Jun 2007 #permalink

Jason,
You say above "We are treated to displays of a contented Adam going about the tedious business of naming all the animals. The ubiquitous dinosaurs were back on display, as were various other four-legged mammals."
I'm curious as to what Adam actually called the dinosaurs, given that the word dinosaur was created by Owen in the mid-Did they say what name he gave them, and why nobody uses it now?
Nice series of posts, by the way - and entirely effective. If I ever return to the USA you can be assured I'll go nowhere near that place.
(And should you want to hear the whole tedious story again, listen to Haydn's Creation instead: you get the same rubbish science through some sublime music. Even though Haydn doesn't introduce dinosaurs, the rascal.)

By Alan Bird (not verified) on 27 Jun 2007 #permalink

Sorry - should read "Created by Owen in the mid-19th century." Damn those dancing fingers.

By Alan Bird (not verified) on 27 Jun 2007 #permalink

I love the idea of Adam naming the animals in a YEC perspective. I have this image of around 11:30 on day 6, Adam is taking his time contemplating what to call a duck billed platypus, and God is looking at his watch thinking, "I wish he'd hurry up, I still have to make Eve before midnight."

By contrast we OECs are soooo boring.

Yeah, but since all Adam had to do was name the "kinds" and then creationist micro evolution takes over post ark.

*micro-evolution here meaning what normal people would call macro-evolution: evolution of different species.

hey, ape people. how about an anticreationist museum for atheists and other rational people, with animatronic dinosaurs tearing to pieces, little children ,who get too close. ps thanks for the lovely work

By eric swan (not verified) on 28 Jun 2007 #permalink

"I realize that some, if not all, the information at the Creation Museum seems kooky to you all. But after you are finished laughing at it, realize some of us do not see enough evidence for evolution to allow ourselves to believe Einstein is a decendent of a monkey type animal. That is also laughable."

If you'd just open your eyes, you'd see so much freakin' evidence you couldn't catalog it all in your lifetime. The argument that believers "do not see enough evidence for evolution" is one of the most insipid they make. Talk about blinders. Sheesh.

... Section four begins by passing through a tunnel through time; by which I mean a dark corridor that leads to a small theater. A friendly museum employee informs us that we have just gone back in time six thousand years to the dawn of creation. ...

And if you'd kept walking all the way to Los Angeles, you'd go back 5 billion years to the formation of Earth.

(Wink and nod to Richard Dawkins)

-- CV

By CortxVortx (not verified) on 03 Jul 2007 #permalink

Some natural history museums include displays of working paleontologists--you can watch real people preparing specimens and such. Maybe the Creation Museum can come up with the same kind of thing, only it would be Creationists doing Creationism research. They might even set it up so that kiddies could help do the research.

Inasmuch as "creationism research" consists of poring through science publications to exise phrases and then misrepresent them to mean the exact opposite of what was actually written, I don't think the kiddies have sufficient dishonesty to participate effectively.

-- CV

By CortxVortx (not verified) on 03 Jul 2007 #permalink

I can't believe that there is so much anger towards people who are trying to save your souls from eternal damnation. Unbelievable. I'm not saying that I believe that dinosaurs are still around but there is definately evidence that they were here at some point. I actually think that I could find a better way to spend my life rather than trying to combat people that are trying to help you. Some "radical religious folks" are pushy and yes they set a bad example for the rest of the Christain community but I'm not here to apologize for them. The fact of the matter is, if you are not right with God when your time comes...it will be too late; and they are trying to get that idea through your head (I hope). They might be going about it the wrong way or perhaps this rediculous argument has been continuing on so long they probably lost sight of the original goal. Be tolarent of others at least hear their side, but question their intentions. I'm not trying to sway your belief, believe what you want but don't be angry or degrade us because we believe something different. I do enjoy your site, seeing the opposite end of the spectrum is quite enjoyable and keeps me learning. Thanks

-SS Out

Saint said: I can't believe that there is so much anger towards people who are trying to save your souls from eternal damnation. Unbelievable.

No sir, what is unbelievable is the idea that Ken Ham is trying to help people. Ken Ham has been shown over and over again that the claptrap he is pushing is wrong, yet he does it anyway. He is trying to is trying to make a buck, and little else.

Now the Mormons that show up at my door, THEY are trying to help me. And while I disagree with them, I respect that they have the courage of their convictions and sincerity to walk the walk. Snake oil salesmen like Ham are not worthy of being placed in the same category.

I'm not saying that I believe that dinosaurs are still around but there is definately evidence that they were here at some point.

You don't say! Do you also know that people like Ken Ham denied that reality for a long time until the evidence was so overwhelming they had to yield?

I actually think that I could find a better way to spend my life rather than trying to combat people that are trying to help you.

And what about combatting people that are trying to poison children's minds with prehistoric claptrap, while denying them the benefits of a modern education? See, that's what Ham is really doing.

The fact of the matter is, if you are not right with God...

Stop right there. That's not a fact, that's a conjecture. Learn the difference. More importantly, the issue here is not the gods, but science.

Be tolarent of others at least hear their side, but question their intentions. I'm not trying to sway your belief, believe what you want but don't be angry or degrade us because we believe something different.

You make it sound like its a scientifically controversial subject where differing opinions abound. It isn't. The only people denying evolution are the ignorant, the dishonest, the insane, and the wicked. True, if one is ignorant one shouldn't be degraded for it. But once the evidence has been laid out, ignorance can no longer be used as an excuse, and the other three categories deserve ridicule.