Creation Museum Established May 28, 2007 by Answers in Genesis Location Petersburg, Kentucky, United States Type Christian apologetics ministry Website creationmuseum.org
The Creation Museum is a museum near Petersburg, Kentucky that presents an account of the origins of the universe, life, mankind, and man's early history according to a literal reading of the Book of Genesis. The museum has been criticized by scientific and academic communities as promoting "fallacy over fact" and attempting to advance the tenets of a particular religious view while rejecting, overlooking and misconstruing scientific knowledge. Its exhibits reject universal common descent and biological evolution, and assert that the Earth and all of its life forms were created 6,000 years ago over a six-day period. In contrast to the scientific consensus, exhibits promote young earth creationist claims, including the idea that humans and dinosaurs once coexisted, and that dinosaurs were on Noah's Ark. The scientific consensus is that the earth is approximately 4.5 billion years old, and that the dinosaurs became extinct 65.5 million years before human beings arose.
The museum has received criticism by the scientific community, several groups of educators, Christian groups opposed to young earth creationism, and in the press. The museum, which is said to have cost $27 million, is privately funded through donations to the apologetics ministry Answers in Genesis and opened its doors to the public on May 28, 2007. Based on projections, the museum anticipated 250,000 paying visitors in its first year of operation. According to AiG, within its first two months attendance surpassed 100,000 visitors by July 21, 2007 and 200,000 visitors on September 20, 2007. They claim that visitor attendance exceeded first year expectations only 5 months and 5 days after opening, with a total of 250,000 visitors on November 2, 2007, and the half-million visitor mark was reached just under 9 months later. The one-millionth visitor was announced on April 26, 2010, just over a month away from the museum's three-year anniversary.
The museum was originally marketed as the Creation Museum and Family Discovery Center. It opened in late Spring of 2007 as the "Creation Museum". The museum is located north-northeast of Petersburg, Kentucky, roughly 12 miles (19 km) from the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport on 49 acres (20 ha) of land; the Answers in Genesis main offices are attached to the museum. The facility's stated mission is to "exalt Jesus Christ as Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer", to "equip Christians to better evangelize the lost", and to "challenge visitors to receive Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord".
According to founder of Answers in Genesis Ken Ham: "One of the main reasons we moved there was because we are within one hour's flight of 69 percent of America's population." Ham also explains how the idea of the museum originated: "Australia's not really the place to build such a facility if you're going to reach the world. Really, America is." Previously Ham worked for the Institute for Creation Research, which once ran a creationist museum in Santee, California, with free admission.
The museum's official groundbreaking ceremony was March 17, 2001, but plans for the museum had been in the works since the mid-1990s. A significant reason for the time span between planning and execution related to zoning battles which saw the museum's original location turned down. The zoning issues continued to its present location, with the final legal victory for Answers in Genesis becoming official in March 2000.
For most of its time in construction, the cost of building the museum was set at US$25 million. However, in response to studies and media reports that suggested an even larger number of visitors estimated annually than previously expected, the museum's cost increased to US$27 million as expansion to the front of the building, the parking lot, and the cafe were incorporated. Mark Looy, Chief Communications Officer for Answers in Genesis, said in the article that around 75% of the contributions averaged around US$100 per gift.
The museum opened to the public on May 28, 2007, although about 5000 charter members received advance tours in the days before that. Among those getting an early preview was local Congressman Geoff Davis and his family, who have been supporters of the project. Ken Ham called the grand opening "not just a historic event in America, but a historic event in Christendom". In addition to elected officials at the county and state levels and representatives from the state and federal governments, over 130 credentialed reporters covered the ribbon-cutting ceremony on May 26, 2007. The Chronicle of Higher Education gave the museum an extensive pre-opening review.[more detail]
Displays and exhibits
Kurt Wise was hired as scientific consultant for the project and played a major role in designing the exhibits, which are intended to be state-of-the-art, and include 52 professionally-made videos. In addition to large movie screens showing a young-Earth history of the world, the museum also features a 78-seat planetarium depicting creationist cosmologies and a 200-seat special-effects theater with seats that vibrate and jets that can spray the audience with mist. Many of the displays were designed by Patrick Marsh, who had formerly worked for Universal Studios designing attractions such as Jaws and King Kong before becoming a born-again Christian and young Earth creationist.
Among its exhibits, the museum features life-size dinosaur models, over 80 of them animatronic (animated and motion-sensitive). Model dinosaurs are depicted in the Garden of Eden, many of them side-by-side with human figures. In one exhibit, a Triceratops and a Stegosaurus are shown aboard a scale model of Noah's Ark.
A major portion of the displays relates to the Great Flood as described in Genesis 6-9. The message is that the world prior to the flood was significantly and fundamentally different from the world we know today. The Flood is presented as literally real, a global catastrophe which fundamentally altered the landscape of the Earth, and was the event that produced most of the geologic features (fossils, sedimentary strata, canyons, continents) we observe today.
The museum is critical of evolutionary theory that links dinosaurs with the origins of birds. The second room of the creation museum for example displays a model prehistoric raptor, stating that the species was featherless and had no connection to birds; this is a reference to Genesis 1, which states that birds were created before the advent of land animals. Biologists and paleontologists, however, point out that the recent discovery of a Velociraptor forearm bearing quill knobs, distinct structural parts of bones into which feathers are anchored, provides further evidence that the species did indeed have feathers.
Other rooms on the tour depict Old Testament prophets, Martin Luther stressing the importance of using faith as a tool against contrary evidence, and a video presentation on the Scopes Monkey Trial of 1925. Some of the rooms on the tour show modern times and espouse the view that families and society are hurt by a world view which is not Biblically based. In one video, a male teenager is shown sitting at a computer looking at internet pornography and a female teenager speaks with Planned Parenthood about having an abortion; both acts are portrayed as the result of a world view which is not Biblically based. The belief that the Earth is "millions of years" old also derives from a non-Biblical starting point. The climax of the tour is the life of Jesus Christ, with a three screen depiction of the crucifixion. The exhibits have been called "painstakingly detailed" and even critics have agreed that "Answers in Genesis has gone to great lengths to make their new museum a place that has quality displays". The museum also includes a restaurant, outdoor walking trails, and a medieval-themed gift shop.
In 2009, the Creation Museum added a one room display devoted to Charles Darwin. The display "argues that natural selection—Darwin's explanation how new species develop because of new traits or new environments—can coexist with the creationist assertion that all living things were created by God just a few thousand years ago."
The museum is planning on building a full-size replica of Noah's Ark, which will be called the Ark Encounter. The Ark will cost $24.5 million to build and is expected to be completed in 2014.
The creation museum employs about 160 people with another 140 working at the attached Answers in Genesis headquarters. To help the museum's mission to evangelize, a chaplain is on staff for visitors in need of spiritual guidance. Each permanent employee must sign a statement of faith indicating that he or she believes in young Earth creationism and the other teachings of Answers in Genesis. These include "Scripture teaches a recent origin for man and the whole creation", "the only legitimate marriage is the joining of one man and one woman", "the great Flood of Genesis was an actual historic event" and "no apparent, perceived or claimed evidence in any field, including history and chronology, can be valid if it contradicts the Scriptural record." When applying for work a written statement of one's beliefs is required along with résumé and references.
Controversy and criticism
The Creation Museum has been the subject of controversy ever since it was proposed, because the exhibits are based on a young Earth creationist view of the origins of the universe and life. Local opposition caused the construction approval process to take several years. During construction Professor Lord Robert Winston visited the site of the museum during the filming of his documentary "The Story of God" and remarked,
"I admit I was dismayed by what I saw at the Ken Ham museum. It was alarming to see so much time, money and effort being spent on making a mockery of hard won scientific knowledge. And the fact that it was being done with such obvious sincerity, somehow made it all the worse."
Educators criticizing the museum include the National Center for Science Education. The NCSE collected over 800 signatures from scientists in the three states closest to the museum (Kentucky, Indiana, and Ohio) on the following statement:
"We, the undersigned scientists at universities and colleges in Kentucky, Ohio, and Indiana, are concerned about scientifically inaccurate materials at the Answers in Genesis museum. Students who accept this material as scientifically valid are unlikely to succeed in science courses at the college level. These students will need remedial instruction in the nature of science, as well as in the specific areas of science misrepresented by Answers in Genesis."
NCSE director Eugenie Scott characterized the Creation Museum as "the Creationist Disneyland." The Guardian called the facility "quite possibly ... one of the weirdest museums in the world." Physicist Lawrence Krauss has called on media, educators, and government officials to shun the museum and says that its view is based on falsehoods. Krauss said that the facility is "as much a disservice to religion as it is to science."
The introduction to a May 2007 Good Morning America report on the museum stated that according to an ABC news poll, 60% of Americans believe that "God created the world in six days." The report stated that the Creation Museum was aimed at convincing visitors that evolution is wrong, and that the Biblical story of life on earth from Adam and Eve to Noah's ark is scientifically verifiable. In a March 2007 Newsweek poll conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International, 48% of respondents agreed with the statement "God created humans pretty much in the present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so."
The museum has also been criticized by Christians who are not young Earth creationists. Notable among them is geologist Greg Neyman of Answers in Creation, an old earth creationism ministry. Neyman released a press kit dealing with the museum's grand opening in which he said:
"Those who will benefit least from the museum are the non-Christians, who are firmly grounded in their belief through modern science that the Earth is billions of years old. They will see the museum, and recognize its faulty science, and will be turned away from the church. This will increase the already widening gap between the unchurched and the churched. This gap is the direct result of young Earth creationism."
Neyman adds that "today, the church is comprised of many individuals who accept an old Earth" and "is already moving away from young Earth creationism." The Rev. Mendle Adams, pastor of St. Peter's United Church of Christ in Cincinnati, Ohio, joined others, both secularists and Christians, at protests at the museum's opening. He said "my brothers and sisters in the faith who embrace [the creationist] understanding call into question the whole Christian concept" and "make us a laughing stock." Roman Catholic theologian John Haught sees little merit in the museum, saying it will cause an "impoverishment" of religion. He concluded "It's hard for me to come up with a single reason why we should be doing this. ... It's theologically problematic to me, as well as scientifically problematic." Michael Patrick Leahy, editor of the magazine Christian Faith and Reason, says that by replacing the scientific method with biblical literalism, the museum undermines the credibility of all Christians and makes it easy to represent Christians as irrational.
Lisa Park, a professor of paleontology at University of Akron who is also an Elder in the Presbyterian Church was particularly disturbed by the museum's depiction that war, famine and natural disasters are the result of a belief in evolution. She stated:
"I think it's very bad science and even worse theology... and the theology is far more offensive to me. I think there's a lot of focus on fear, and I don't think that's a very Christian message... I find it a malicious manipulation of the public."
Edwin Kagin, Kentucky State Director for American Atheists, organized a “Rally for Reason” outside the gates of the Creation Museum its opening day, May 28, 2007. Kagin, a long time activist against creationism, was joined in this effort by the organization known as the "Campaign to Defend the Constitution" and many other groups and individuals according to the organizer's website. Depending on the media source, it was reported that anywhere from 50 to 200 people attended the rally. The demonstrators displayed protest signs, an airplane trailing a banner flew overhead and speeches were made. As reported by Deb Silverman of WCPO, "There was a long wait to be one of the first inside the Creation Museum but you couldn't get inside the $27 million building created by the group called 'Answers in Genesis Creation' [sic] without passing by a long line of protesters."
In July 2007, the UC Davis science radio show This Week in Science published a website parodying the Creation Museum. Based on Christian belief in literal biblical truth, the Unicorn Museum presents a case for Christian belief in unicorns.
In August 2007, the Northern Kentucky Convention & Visitors Bureau was criticized by scientists for describing the Creation Museum as a "'walk through history' museum" that "will counter evolutionary natural history museums that turn countless minds against Christ and Scripture". Daniel Phelps, the president of Kentucky Paleontological Society said that as a tax-supported institution, the use of the language was particularly problematic since many religious people accept evolution. The Bureau initially defended its use of the language saying that they used whatever language was supplied by each attraction, but then decided to change the description.
On his visit to the museum, Phelps noted that several of the dinosaur reconstructions were poorly reconstructed or outdated in depiction. A Tyrannosaurus outside the museum grounds for example, is shown standing in an outdated tail dragging "tripod" stance, an Iguanodon is shown bearing a skin texture completely different from what is known from fossilised skin impressions of the species and a Utahraptor is shown to be without feathers, despite recent discoveries of the opposite, as well as sporting anatomically incorrect forearms. Phelps also leveled criticism at the reconstructions of Mesozoic flora, one example being a cycad plant reconstructed as little more than a giant pineapple. The museum has also been accused of using "outdated 19th Century quack anthropology", since refuted, to promote the idea that different human races (Homo erectus, Neanderthal, and Cro-Magnon) came from Noah's descendants, dispersing after the Confusion of Tongues at the Tower of Babel.
In 2007 Bill Maher "evaded" Creation Museum security and toured the location and interviewed Ken Ham. The footage appeared in the October 2008 film Religulous. In a press release by AiG critical of the movie, it called Maher "dishonest" in gaining access to the Creation Museum and Ken Ham.
In August 2009, more than 300 people part of the Secular Student Alliance took a tour of the venue, along with PZ Myers, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Minnesota, Morris. Scientists in the group, such as chemist William Watkin, commented about how scientifically wrong the displays are. Myers posted an account of the tour on his blog, including condemning the venue for "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." This led to post exchanges between Ken Ham and Myers.
In 2010, A. A. Gill reported it is "a breathtakingly literal march through Genesis, without any hint of soul." "This place doesn't just take on evolution—it squares off with geology, anthropology, paleontology, history, chemistry, astronomy, zoology, biology, and good taste. It directly and boldly contradicts most -onomies and all -ologies, including most theology."
On February 11, 2011, a heterosexual Louisville man attempted to enter the museum with his male friend as part of the museum's "date night" event, but was denied entry, as the security guard thought the heterosexual man was gay. Mark Looy, the museum's Communications Director, later said that everyone is welcome at the museum. The group that the two men were part of sought refunds for the $71 total admission fee for the unused tickets—the museum refused to refund them the money, but they invite the group to come back, as long as they do not make a scene.
Ken Ham promoted the museum in the hope that people from all over the United States and the world would visit the museum. Groups from churches and Christian schools are also anticipated. During the week the museum opened Answers in Genesis began running a 30-second television commercial promoting the museum in six metropolitan areas, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Columbus, Dayton, Lexington, and Louisville.
Ham has said the museum is not attempting to attract groups from public schools, saying "I suspect by intimidation and threats of lawsuits, I doubt whether public school students, as an official tour, would come." Steve Rissing, a biologist and board member of Ohio Citizens for Science, said that a lawsuit over separation of church and state would be likely if public schools send students to the museum using public tax money.
In 2008 the Louisville Courier-Journal reported, "Cincinnati Zoo and the Creation Museum launched a joint promotional deal last week to draw attention to their holiday attractions." But following an outcry of criticism, the zoo ended the relationship after two days.
- Creation-evolution controversy
- Creation Evidence Museum - similar museum in Texas
- Creation Research Museum
- Creationist perspectives on dinosaurs
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- Press kit critical of the museum from Answers in Creation, a Christian site disputing young Earth creationism
- Reactions to creation "museum" from National Center for Science Education
- Pharyngula: The Creation Museum, a compilation of blog reactions to the museum
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