"…NOW HEAR THE WORD OF THE LORD…"
John H William
(Investigator 116, 2007 September)
As an infamous Austrian once said, if you're going to tell a lie, make it a biggie. The Answers in Genesis' (AiG) Kentucky Creation Museum is a testament to that idea: a big, very expensive lie (total cost, factoring in voluntary work, around US$100 million).
The man most responsible for this 'Museum of Misinformation' is an Australian a former high school science teacher, Dr Ken Ham. Some have called it a "creationist Disneyland" and "fascinating nonsense", while to Ham it's "Bible-fulfilling".
The chief designer is Patrick Marsh, the man who did the animatronics for Jaws and King Kong. He, like everyone else who works at the CM, must sign to say that he believes that there were 6 x 24 hour creation days, the Earth formed before the Sun, birds were created before the lizards, and those pesky dinosaur "kinds" arrived on day 6.
It'll cost you US$14.95 to go in (oddly, an 'adult' is re-defined as at least 13 years old) but you can save time, money (an extra $5 for the planetarium) and a parade of untruths by taking an Internet walk through, www.answersingenesis.org/museum/walkthrough/<>A most inauthentic graphic of a dinosaur appears in Room 3, 'found' at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, drawn as an upright lateral-view 'x-ray'. Clearly, the artist and/or the 'geologists' who directed him or her have never visited a fossil exposure!
This museum insults the intelligence of the public. It has themes such as the Tower of Babel, Noah's family of eight surviving 371 days (Room 29 explains how they and all Genesis "kinds", including, says Ham, just 50 kinds of dinosaurs survived on the briney), and The Fall. >
Apparently these kinds (Genesis 1.11) later evolved by geographical separation and natural selection but without the time, using the Young Earth Creationist time-scale, in which to do it!
How one family managed to round up pairs of Australian megafauna as well as dinosaurs requires some explanation. And, regarding Adam, why would God create him with all reproductive equipment, when originally there was no Eve, an afterthought we're told, due to Adam's 'loneliness'? But Ham and others have developed a slick grab-bag of 'stock answers', ones that satisfy the need for an answer, deflect, imply the questioner's a know-nothing, and deter further questions.
This museum aims to stupefy a visitor's critical thinking by relentless misinformation. Teachers in near-by states are going to face some students' accusations of telling lies, having visited the museum. They'll parrot the false geological analogy of the changes wrought by the 1980 Mt St Helens explosion in a matter of days and claim a similar time frame for the formation of the Grand Canyon. Impressionable minds and literalists will swallow this, but even the well educated may be taken in, since most have little understanding of geology, let alone specifics of the Grand Canyon's stratigraphy.
Wikipedia gives a useful summary: the Grand Canyon represents about two billion years of Earth history, while the gorge was cut in the last six million years, most intensively in the last two million. The 1.6km thick strata range from the lowest, the Vishnu Schist (2 billion years) to the Permian Kaibab Limestone at the top (230 million years). Thus the Mesozoic 'Age of Dinosaurs' (Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous) is not present! However, it's one of the most complete geological columns on Earth, even allowing for several unconformities (missing layers) totalling to almost 1 billion years.
Predictably, AiG has lined up tame academics to give ersatz weight to its spin. Dr Georgina Purdoe, a molecular geneticist at an Ohio university, is also, it seems, an expert on the historicity of the Bible: " If you can't believe Genesis, then why believe any other part of the Bible? You can't pick and choose, this is right, that is wrong."
A clever argument not easily countered without a long complex argument about its inconsistencies, the rewriting of history by the winners, and the promotional spin by those creating new myths out of the old. Obviously it's much simpler to give the whole Bible exactly the same 'truth rating'!
As Ham says, "God's word is true, or evolution is true (the either/or fallacy). No millions of years. There's no room for compromise." The lies must hang together or fall in this house of (marked) cards, requiring a disciplined Orwellian groupthink, all literally singing from the same hymn-book. The Creation Museum is to history what a casino is to investment, or tobacco promotion to health, or astrology to astronomy.
Highly skilled and well-practised YECs like Ham are facile at using one-liners that can 'throw' even the most articulate scientist, implying that 'origins science' outranks non-observed inferential science. While on an AiG radio station with Lord Winstone recently, I had to 'admire' Ham's "Tell me one thing you know about evolution", which left his guest understandably nonplussed. By contrast, YEC 'explanations' are unequivocal, simple and upbeat, offering the chimera of hope, and well suited to the age of the succinct sound byte!
Ham refers to two palaeontologists, each with a dramatically different interpretation of the same evidence. He argues that "we must begin with assumptions", referring to Dawkins' that there isn't a God: in science, as Dr Ham knows, an assumption is known as a hypothesis, and it's tested by the available evidence. And where is the evidence that humans coexisted with dinosaurs? AiG create their 'evidence' to deceive and confuse, when all they'll ever need do is find just one fossilized human bone in dinosaur-rich strata.
The closest they've got to this is in the Paluxy River Limestone, in which are found dinosaur tracks over 120 million years old. Some of the track marks are smaller, and they were construed as human, then a widely distributed video called Footprints in Stone showed the desired but speculative connection. Further study revealed that the footprints were weathered dinosaur toe prints, and the video was withdrawn.
We say change of mind or volte-face, while Americans prefer flip (-flop). Comparing AiG's The Answers Book (1990) with Revised and Expanded Answers (2000), we can observe the 'stock answer' technique over time: examples needn't have any scientific credibility (since few have the background to debunk), and it's a useful add-on to quote the work of 'doctors' (whether of divinity, letters or science matters little) to imply a spurious expertise and to intimidate critics.1990 Continental drift is wrong.No matter the widespread disapproval and criticism from scientists and Old Earth Creationists, Ken Ham runs a successful business employing hundreds, one that seems to exude a fast food billionaire's ethos: "Don't try and explain it – just sell it!" The Creation Museum very effectively 'sells' 'junk' YEC ideas, and Ham, a man with several honorary doctorates in Divinity and Letters (two received from the late Jerry Falwell's Liberty University), is a super-salesman for dumbed-down biblical literalism.
2000 Evidence (?) of Biblical plate tectonics during The Flood in 2348BC and beyond.
1990 The speed of light has slowed down (based on the work of SA geologist, Barry Setterfield and others).
2000 "None of the speed of light theory's defenders has been able to answer the problems raised."
1990 Loch Ness monster a plesiosaur?
2000 No mention of "Nessie" and NZ 'plesiosaur' carcasses are acknowledged as being those of basking sharks.
(Source: Institute for Biblical & Scientific Studies (OEC) site)
The question is, does he deliberately mislead his vast radio and book-reading audience on science and theology, or is he a sincere but deeply deluded fundamentalist who believes he's doing God's work? Whichever, I'm sure that the controversy over the Creation Museum will be great free publicity, and it will become a must-see magnet for tourists.
What I find most objectionable is the way that children are misinformed, misled and 'mind-washed', with the support of their parents, to believe lies their parents believe and want them to believe too, a form of child abuse, in my opinion.
Maybe I've assessed Ham harshly, because he says things like, "When you're talking about origins, you're not talking about science, you're talking about faith." Yes, but why not talk in the universal 'esperanto' of science, Ken? But he also ‘signed-off' on this: "T rex (a vegan) lived in the Garden of Eden (where nothing died) and became the terror that Adam's sin unleashed!" Hey, that sentence has one thing that actually existed, but which never peacefully grazed the grassless Upper Jurassic Park!
A FLOOD OF CREATIONIST MUSEUMS?
The Big Valley Creation Science Museum in Alberta is a new (7/7/07) Canadian version of the Creation Museum, though it's smaller and much less expensive (US$300,000). The owner, Harry Nibourg, says "evolution is a theory, as is creation: they are both based on faith. Fossils are profound evidence of Noah's flood, and dinosaurs are God's greatest creations."
AiG Answers Books (1999, 2000), K Ham, J Sarfati, C Wieland
AiG Creation Museum (opened 28/5/07) – already cited
Campaign to Defend the (American) Constitution (Defcon)
Dr Ken Ham: The Lie: Evolution (AiG)
Dr Ken Ham: Dinosaurs of Eden (AiG)
Geology of the Grand Canyon: Wikipedia
Tom Vail: Grand Canyon – A Different View, Canyon Ministries, Master Books 2003
Time Magazine (7/6/07) Faith-Based Parks?
There is a brochure with a short refutation of each Creation Museum exhibit at www.defconamerica.org/creationmuseum