As its name suggests, the Creation Museum, located just across the Ohio River from Cincinnati, is home to a large exhibit space dedicated to the retelling of one of our planet’s many creation myths. In this case, the story presented is a literal retelling of the Christian creation myth. (Note well that despite the common roots of their religions, this museum would have nothing of relevance for Muslims or Jews.) The group Answers in Genesis created this museum in order to further their mission to spread the “absolute truth and authority” of the Bible to the whole world. Instead, they have created a shining beacon of ignorance, a Mecca to which the deniers and destroyers of knowledge could make a pilgrimage.
If one were to think that the Creation Museum might try to point out how the more reasonable Christians would be able to fit their beliefs into the overwhelming and incontrovertible scientific, historical, and archaeological evidence all around us, a single step into the main hall of the museum would dispel that misconception permanently. Rather than take this approach, Answers in Genesis puts forth an ultra-literal interpretation of the Bible from creation through the flood.
Indeed, the assault on intelligence and reason begins almost immediately as one enters the main hall and sees a display featuring two young children in a garden not ten feet away from a pair of dinosaurs that look like the velociraptors from Jurassic Park. Have no fear for these children, though, visitors will learn later on in the museum that this was taking place before the fall of man, when all animals were vegetarians. Yes, that is correct, not only did man live in a wondrous paradise with all manners of animals, including dinosaurs, but all these animals were vegetarians and lived in harmony with one another.
The utterly ridiculous nature of the beliefs promulgated by the Creation Museum is further exemplified by the display of the Garden of Eden found deeper in the bowels of this Temple to Ignorance. In one display we see Adam, in this Middle Eastern garden, with one arm around a lamb while he holds out his other hand toward a mountain lion. Behind him roam a pair of dinosaurs and to his left is a penguin. Finally, far ahead of the man, a chimpanzee sits near a pair of kangaroos. Now, read that paragraph again and try to count just how many things are just plain wrong with the picture created. And yet, this is exactly the sort of “absolute truth” that these Biblical literalists think (if they can be said to do that) should be spread around the world.
As if this assault on reason was not enough, the museum continues on to attempt to show Biblical supremacy over accepted science. Not only do their explanations make it clear that their religious views cannot possible compete with science, but they are forced to deviate from their standard of Biblical literalism to even make these points.
To demonstrate their complete inability to understand, much less topple, the supremacy of science to fable, one need only look to the false information spread about evolution. One terrible display went so far as to hinge the falsification of evolution on a complete and total lie about mutations. Claiming that evolution by natural selection depends on the creation of new genetic material, this display goes on to state that mutations, the agents of change in these theories, cannot create new genetic information. Yes, they really do suggest that a mutation, a change in a gene, cannot create new genetic material. One is left to wonder, then, what the results of these changes are.
Of course, the dishonesty, misleading, and magical hand-waving continue around these points. One sign points out that “Darwin never claimed to observe natural selection on the [Galapagos] islands.” One only needs to reflect that Darwin was (1) not on the island long enough to do so and (2) not, at that point, looking for evidence of natural selection to understand that while this is factually true, it is intentionally misleading. (Of course, one can also use this sign to point out that science, unlike religion, looks to find explanations for the observations it makes rather than trying to shoehorn facts into an increasingly ridiculous explanation.)
The most interesting part of these displays on evolution comes when one reflects that, in order to make the evidence fit the story, the Creation Museum must deviate from a literal interpretation of the Bible. In order not only to explain the alleged feasibility of the ark and the diversity of life after the flood and into the modern day, the Creation Museum belittles God’s creation of all animals and instead claims the he only created one pf each type or “kind” of animal. That is, instead of creating lions, tigers, bobcats, and jaguars, God would only have created one “cat-kind.” Instead of creating white-tail deer, reindeer, moose, and elk, God would only have created one “deer-kind.” These “kind” then diverged (but not evolved!) through means of natural selection. And since, as the displays state, the current rate of change of animals is too slow to have been accomplished in the 4000 years since the flood, God gave this divergence (but not evolution!) a boost. None of these assertions are, of course, to be found in a literal reading of the Bible, but instead they are the fanciful creations of Answers in Genesis.
In fact, this abandonment of Biblical literalism when it suits their purpose helps fuel the interpretation that Answers in Genesis, and especially its founder Ken Ham, is not actually sincere in their claims. This suspicion is furthered when one walks into the large gift shop at the museum, dominated by books and other materials created by, or at least emblazoned with credit for creation to, Ken Ham. After perusing the offerings in this gift shop, one is led to wonder whether Ham was truly inspired by the Bible or by P.T. Barnum’s “There’s a sucker born every minute” and Thomas Tusser’s “A fool and his money are soon parted.”