This is a paper I wrote for my COR 302: Science and Christianity class about the Creation Museum and its founder Ken Ham. Hope you’re not terribly offended.
Coming into this course, I didn’t know a whole lot about the ideas of Creationism and Evolution. At Gallatin County, junior high was the age in which you learned about the ideas of Darwin and how the world came to be. But it was just my luck that both my 6th grade science teacher and my 7th grade science teacher were devout Christians. Because of this, the teachers were very uneasy of the topic of evolution, due to their strong disbelief in it. And seeing as you’re not exactly allowed to teach Creationism or Intelligent Design, the entire topic was pretty well skipped. What little knowledge I knew of Evolution was very biased, consisting mostly of Christians talking about how ridiculous it is to think we had come from monkeys.
Ken Ham, founder of Answers in Genesis and the Creation Museum, starts off his book The Lie: Evolution in the introduction by saying “I was reared in a Christian home where the Bible was totally accepted as the infallible, inerrant Word of God that provided the basis for the principles to be applied in every area of life. I recognized the conflict when as a high school student I was taught the theory of evolution. If Genesis was not literally true, then what part of the Bible could I trust?” (15)
So what exactly is it that Ken Ham believes? The term that has been coined for such beliefs is a Young Earth Creationist. Francis Collins tells us that “…Young Earth Creationism (YEC) interprets the six days of creation as literal twenty-four-hour days and concludes that the earth must be less than ten thousand years old. YEC advocates also believe that all species were created by individual acts of divine creation, and that Adam and Eve were historical figures created by God from dust in the Garden of Eden, and not descended from other creatures.” (172) Their belief is that if you take the creation story in Genesis to be an allegory instead of historical fact, then they believe that it is impossible to take the Virgin Birth, the Crucifixion, and the Resurrection as historical fact as well (174).
When it comes to the relationship of Young Earth Creationism and scientific knowledge, Collins quotes Darrel Falk, biologist and author of Coming to Peace with Science, saying that “The YEC perspective is the equivalent of insisting that two plus two is really not equal to four.” (174) In order to believe what Young Earth Creationist believe, they must refute the sciences of physics, chemistry, cosmology, geology, and biology. During our class time, we discussed how the process of the theories of evolution and creation came to exist. When it comes to evolution, the data is pulled together first and then the claims of evolution is created. When we look at creation, especially the Young Earth Creationist view, they make their claims first by using Genesis 1-11 as a literal science textbook and then squeeze the data they find into their claims.
As part of the class, we took a field trip to Petersburg, Kentucky to see for ourselves what this whole Young Earth Creationism idea was all about. The main focus of the Creation Museum resided in their “Walk-Through History.” Throughout the walk, the museum focuses on “The 7 C’s”: Creation, Corruption, Catastrophe, Confusion, Christ, Cross, Consummation. These seven cornerstones are out to prove that Young Earth Creationism is the only way to properly interpret Genesis. Their solution to making you believe what they believe was fairly simple: make evolution look stupid.
On the Walk-Through History, there are numerous plaques hung on the wall each with a controversial topic where evolution and creation have different schools of thought. Each plaque holds a similar template; on the left side sits a quote of “man’s reason” and on the right sits “God’s Word.” Whether the topic is radiometric dating, the age of the earth, or macroevolution, the Creation Museum has a scripture for that.
As I slowly walked through the museum, I easily took notice of the subliminal messages that were heavily dispersed everywhere. I saw one plaque that symbolized evolution as a thin, curvy, nonsensical line while the opposite side symbolized creation as a wide, straight, logical line. Right next to this plaque were two statues of children standing with huge speech bubbles above them. I don’t remember exactly what they said, but it was something along the lines of “They don’t teach this kind of stuff at my school!” “Yeah, I wish they would tell us the Truth!” By far my favorite (not so) subliminal message was the random hallway lined with fake cement block walls and graffiti. The hallway was supposed to represent what would happen to the world if we stopped seeking the Truth and all believed in evolution. After leaving the walk-through, I took a stroll through the bookstore. By now I was extremely cynical of what the museum had to say and was just trying to find things to frustrate me even more, which didn’t take long at all. I found in the CD section of the bookstore two CDs: Godless in America, and Erosion of Christian America. What does the church and state battle have to do with Creationism? What is the real message that the Creation Museum is trying to send?
In order to answer these questions, I started to research Ken Ham’s writings and was astonished at what I found. In his book The Lie: Evolution, he talks about the evils of evolution saying “As the creation foundation is removed, we see the godly institutions also start to collapse. On the other hand, as the evolution foundation remains firm, the structures build on that foundation – lawlessness, homosexuality, abortion, etc., logically increase.” (100) In other words, if we stop taking Genesis literally, all Hell will break loose.
Never fear though, Ken Ham takes it one step even further in his book. He claims that Nazism, racism, drug abuse, abortion, and male chauvinism are all to blame on the ideals of evolution and the religion it promotes (101-111). He gives a disclaimer before stating all of this, saying “ [t]his does not mean that Darwinian evolution is the cause of these attitudes or actions but rather has been used by people as a justification to make their particular philosophy ‘respectable’ in their eyes.” (101). However, his one sentence disclaimer hardly makes up for the 10 pages he spends blaming evolution for the decay of society.
The part of the Creation Museum that stood out to me the most was the film Men In White. According to the Creation Museum website, “Wendy has questions and the Men in White have answers. Come in and experience the sights, sounds, and thrills of the Bible and science in our unforgettable Special Effects Theater. Prepare to believe.” (Creation Museum website. Theatre Presentations.) Prior to the showing of the film, a member of the staff came up and told us that this film was a “satirical film, meant to be funny.” If you take the meaning of “satirical” to mean ridiculing other people’s thoughts, they did a pretty great job of that. The entire film was making evolution and its teachers out to be extremely ignorant, uneducated and close minded. Anytime Gabe and Mike would make an argument towards creation, the teacher would simply stand there stuttering with a stupid look on his face. If anything, it made Young Earth Creationist look ignorant, uneducated and close minded.
Yet another thing that disturbed me about the museum was the over abundance of dinosaurs. We counted 31 dinosaurs, counting the fake one with a saddle. While it was important to point that their strong belief that dinosaurs and humans lived together in harmony, it was not nearly as prominent in their talks and literature as talks about radiometric dating. However, you certainly did not see an over abundance of really old rocks. Why is that? Because really old rocks don’t get kids excited to go to a museum. When you put a dinosaur on the cover of your information guide, on the cover of your website, and in every kids section of the museum, you are opening the door to bring kids in so that they can “prepare to believe.” Is it good business? As a business student, I’d be crazy to say no. It’s also good business to open up your beautiful botanical gardens for seasonal picture opportunities like wedding, portrait, and senior pictures. But is that really why the Creation Museum exist? To make money? To create revenue and meet marginal costs? To give you some small reason to come in and begin believing what they believe?
I think it’s pretty plain to see what Ken Ham, Answers in Genesis, and the Creation Museum are after: making themselves look really good and using whatever means are necessary to do so. Does God call us to defend His Word, or is it a message that can defend itself? Does God call us to ridicule our neighbors and blame them for the problems in society? In Luke 6:42, Jesus says “How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Before we can go on blaming evolution and Darwin for all the world’s problems, maybe we as Christians should look at our own actions, and make sure that we are following the greatest commandment Jesus gave us, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (NIV Matthew 23.37-40.) Even if your neighbor is Charles Darwin.
Francis Collins – “The Language of God: a Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief
Ken Ham – The Lie: Evolution
Creation Museum website – Link