Given the reputation bestowed on me as a longtime Godblogger known for trenchant commentary on Evangelical excess, it would seem obvious to write about the Creation Museum. That I live an hour from the museum only ratchets up the obviousness another notch.
But I had not been to the museum since its opening in 2007. Honestly, I wasn’t sure of my need to go, even if nearly every Christian I know in the Greater Cincinnati area had been at least once.
After receiving tickets as a gift (thank you!), my family and I ventured just west of the city airport on a dreary, late December day.
My first thought on entering wasn’t what I thought it would be: Man, what’s with all the Mennonites? I think half the women visitors were in bonnets. And if I didn’t know better, I’d say a few full-fledged Amish were there. Definitely not was I was expecting.
The museum itself is the quintessential example of a postmodern stone and wood design, built with the hope to look natural. It succeeded.
In fact, most everything at the museum succeeded. The displays were informative (albeit sometimes repetitive), the models/figures top notch, the employees friendly, and the general atmosphere of the entire place was…well, nice. In fact, nice pretty much summed up the entire visit.
A few things stood out for good or ill to me:
The displays went to the Mount St. Helens well a bit too often. By that I mean that the destruction caused by that volcano and the subsequent amazing recovery around that area were used repeatedly as an example of catastrophic processes that mirrored the biblical flood, especially as a way to explain rapid canyonization. While I can appreciate that explanation, seeing it time and again didn’t boost the argument.
The quality of the museum met or exceeded that of other museums. Despite already hosting a few million visitors, the museum looked as if it opened yesterday. The staff must also take “cleanliness is next to godliness” literally, because I’m not sure that even a speck of dust escapes purging. Cleanest public place I’ve ever been in.
Dinosaurs on Noah’s ark? Well, I have a hard time accepting that. The museum didn’t come off explaining that one too convincingly, either. And lifesize models of humans cavorting with playful velociraptors felt jarring to me.
Theories about ark construction techniques proved fascinating, and the ark-building display was impressive.
Displays, while first class, were a bit less interactive than some other museums, and I didn’t see that they catered to a wide range of learning types. Text dominated, but all the visuals were well done too.
All models of Eve had the prerequisite long, flowing locks that perfectly covered all her “naughty” bits. (As if there were any other possible display option.)
Scripture quotations were solid. I thought the museum used Scripture correctly and compellingly. Nothing seemed forced. Big thumbs up from me.
The museum definitely put Christianity front and center. This was Christian Apologetics 101 through 612. The walkthrough concluded with a low-key, evangelistic film presentation of Jesus as the Christ.
What wasn’t front and center was a little bothersome to me: theories countering radioactive dating and decay measurements. For some reason, the museum buried its relatively few counterarguments to radioactive dating behind one of the theaters and near their administrative offices. I would think that this critical counterargument data would be in a more prominent place, but it wasn’t. Nor was there much to counter the starlight argument. I expected better.
The museum built its display walkthrough around seven Cs: creation, corruption, catastrophe, confusion, Christ, cross, and culmination. That worked well and proved memorable.
The bookstore was packed with resources containing everything a visitor would need to know about young-Earth creationism. Really, if you can’t find it there, it ain’t made.
While I expected to be gouged at the two dining areas, the prices and food quality were on par with most fast food restaurants. Think Chipotle and Chick-fil-A meet Skyline Chili.
The museum advertises itself as a full-day event, but we cruised through in three hours, including our meal. I’m sure if we’d read every single display in full, it would’ve been a couple hours longer, but we had an eager 10-year-old in tow. I suspect for most families, our time is a decent predictor.
And that brings me to my biggest critique.
In truth, I can’t say anything bad about the museum’s content. You may or may not agree with the basic premise of a young-Earth creation in six, 24-hour days, but the museum makes its case and it is exactly what it bills itself. Some may say that the Creation Museum epitomizes Evangelical excess and a “please like us” mentality, but you know, I won’t go there. If anything, my willingness to want to offer trenchant commentary about those issues became a nonissue.
Where I struggle is the cost. An adult admission runs $25, with kids $22. The planetarium, which I would have liked to have visited, was another $8 per person. The museum shows creationist movies, but some were an additional cost of $3, if I remember correctly.
All that adds up—quickly. Given that I have no compelling reason to return to the museum anytime soon, I wonder how viable it is for the long run. In addition, I noticed that our tickets, received in August, were $3 less than current admission prices. I’m guessing the average family of four could easily drop $175 for the afternoon for all activities and a meal, and that’s without buying anything from the bookstore.
I realize that quality usually costs money. While I admire the Creation Museum’s commitment to quality, boy, that’s a lot of money for a family to spend for what amounts to an afternoon Sunday School lesson.
28 thoughts on “My Visit to the Creation Museum”
Wow that is a lot of money and maybe not an amount I would be willing to spend to see a young earth persepective.
My first reaction is one of disappointment. Given your last post about evangelism I think this could be a tool in that direction. I worry that things like these profit from the gospel/bible story. Although I wish they could be offered for free given their possible evangelistic potential, I know this is not possible given the fact that things cost money. But that price seems a bit overbearing.
Perhaps they charge that price with the marketing thought that: if we price it on par with other quality museums people will be impressed to believe in the authenticity of both our creationist perspective and intstitution itself.
The whole place sounds rather dreadful. I agree with your last sentence.
I hope my post did not paint the Creation Museum as dreadful. It was, in fact, anything but. Whether it was the happening place for the new breed of “hipster Christians,” well…highly unlikely.
I dunno, I guess young earth creationism isn’t a passion of mine. I believe that God created the earth — somehow — and that’s enough for me. Whether it was a literal six days or a figurative six days, well, my faith doesn’t stand or fall on that. But for some people it feels like young-earth creationism is a lynchpin of the Christian faith.
The major emphasis of the Creation Museum rests on the infallibility and authority of the Bible. At conflict here are Darwinistic science and biblical science. They want to show that the Bible is right and Darwin is wrong, because doing so proves the Bible to be exactly what it claims to be. And if it is what it claims to be, then Mankind is without excuse.
Thanks Dan, you wrote what seems to be a fair assessment of the museum. I personally appreciate AIG’s ministry and feel like it’s important. There needs to be a counter to what is presented in the public education arena. Thanks for the clip as well. Good stuff.
I hope I was fair. In all honesty, I didn’t have a good attitude toward the museum before I went. I considered it to be one of those cases where Christians were yet again turning theology into an amusement park in order to prove its legitimacy in the public arena.
But after seeing the museum, I’m not going to go down that path. I appreciate AIG’s ministry, too, and I don’t want to denigrate what they’ve attempted. Yes, I’m not entirely comfortable with everything, but I’m just going to have to make peace with that. Do I think that their next project of soliciting funds to build a lifesize Noah’s ark outside the museum (something I did not mention in the post) is the best way to spend Kingdom money? No, but I need to focus on my own deficiencies in that regard, so I’ll stay mum.
This was very helpful, Dan. As a homeschooler it’s nice to see reviews that talk about places that I may be planning to visit. I’m not a YEC, but I thought it would be nice to visit the museum to at least present those things at a high level. The cost sounds rough to me though.
I have not been to the creation museum but I have been to the Smithsonian who also makes strong attempts to promulgate their beliefs.
The Smithsonian has physical evidence on display – does the Creation Museum?
I believe Darwinian Evolution and the origins of species as nothing more than bad science and spontaneous generation. But they still present and search for something tangible.
Does the creation museum and research staff do the same?
BTW, I wouldn’t pay such high prices to affirm what I pretty much believe in.
I am surprised, Dan, you haven’t said anything about the Delia Knox story. I would thought that by now you would have heard about it?
As for the museum you mentioned, well, Darwin gets to have ten thousand museums dedicated to extolling the glories of his “Upward Climb from the Primordial Slime.” Is it asking too much that the LORD gets one or two museums?
I know about Knox. I’m just not sure what to think at this point.
As for the Lord getting a few museums, I’m not sure if His intent was to build houses of brick and stone to draw glory to Himself. I thought He did that through vessels not made by human hands. 😉
Not meaning any contentiousness here, but I still wonder about the audience for the Creation Museum. How much do Christians need to be convinced? And do non-Christians go for any other reason than to scoff? It would be interesting to hear feedback from a wide sampling of Creation Museum visitors who self-label and non-Christians. Really, I’d find those comments fascinating.
Quote: “…I still wonder about the audience for the Creation Museum.”
I think it still holds true that “if they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.” Therefore a couple of museums won’t make any difference one way or another. But I guess what I am saying is that a museum for me is a big non-issue
Quote: “I know about Knox. I’m just not sure what to think at this point.”
I sense here that in the back of your mind there’s that little voice saying “maybe somehow it’s all an elaborate hoax, and if I accept it as being real, I’ll get burned. Therefore I had better not stick my neck out.” I understand those voices very well, and faith requires fighting them every single minute of your life. But in the Knox case, it seems to me that she and her family are simply too well known by too many people to suppose that an elaborate hoaxed can be pulled off for any length of time. The beans are bound to spill somehow or another. But it does look like she got the feeling back in her legs, and over several months, recovered the strength to walk on her own (after long years of non-use). What’s a little odd is that the story has hardly been mentioned anywhere in the American press. But it has turned up much more in the news media overseas.
But some of the comments I’ve read, here and there, seem to fall into specific grooves. For example, one of them really amounts to saying “I won’t believe that God can do A unless he first does B.” Besides being a non-sequitur, the real issue in this argument is one of attitude, that even if B were to happen, they still will find an excuse not to believe B, let alone A.
Quote: I’m not sure if His intent was to build houses…
I know you’re kidding here. But I will miss, for starters, some beautiful cathedrals if people had taken you too seriously on this point; and gone also would have been all that artwork and music. 🙂
I hesitate on the Knox healing because the entire stream of conversation about it has become polluted. I’ve read things saying that she always had some mobility or that she still uses her wheelchair to get around when not in public. True? Untrue?
What you have here is a media phenomenon. And the only thing that survives a media phenomenon is time. I would like to look at this after it becomes a normal, everyday life for her. When the spotlight is off. Maybe January 2012.
I’m just too far removed. I do want it to be true. Problem is, I can’t trust the reporting. And honestly, I haven’t heard anything from God about it. Apologies if it’s not on the radar screen, but it hasn’t been.
Dan: “…the entire stream of conversation about it has become polluted.
Then what in your view would constitute an un-polluted stream of conversation?
On the other hand, your objection about “polluted streams” of conversation sounds to me like another variation of the argument that I mentioned earlier where the skeptic says “I won’t believe that God has done A until He does B first.” More precisely, “B” in this case would equal “reports back on the matter in the precise way that I expect.”
If the report had come from overseas, such as China for example, would you be more inclined to believe that the lady had receive a miracle? It seems to me that the only time I ever hear preachers tout some miracle it’s always something that has occured in some other faraway country. But what did we expect to see if it were to happen in this country? I guess what happens the most is a lot of cynicism and skepticism.
I routinely interact with missionaries sponsored by our church in several large countries around the world that tell of vital, growing churches. They also tell of miracles. These folks have a solid track record, and in many cases are family members of people in our church. I have no reason to doubt their testimonies regarding miracles. They are telling me these things face to face.
In the Knox case, all I have are third-hand reports. I’ve read some sources that say that she was never fully paralyzed. I’ve read some sources that say that she still uses her wheelchair. Are those sources true? False? Are people who want it to be a false healing (when it may be true) publishing garbage about the healing just to confuse people? How can I be sure unless I know Knox or know others who know her well?
Contrast this with the brother of my pastor, who comes to our church regularly to tell what God is doing in the region he’s in. His is far more sure of a report, isn’t it? If I say his report is good and represents something I can endorse, isn’t that the wiser report for me to trumpet?
And the Smithsonian is not only well-done…it is free.
Of course the Smithsonian is “free.” After all, my federal tax dollars go to supplement its operation expenses and upkeep, along with the “funds from its endowment, contributions, and profits from its retail operations, concessions, licensing activities and magazines.”
No interest whatsoever in going there. My belief in the truth of scripture does not rest on whether or not the earth was really created in a certain time period or how it happened. I think creation is a curtain too many hide behind.
At it’s foundation, the issue is infallibility and authority of Scripture. It we believe God’s Word to be inerrant in it’s entirety, then the six-day creation as presented in Scripture is also true. If we hold to the truths of Scripture as it pertains to sin, redemption, salvation through the shed blood of Christ, we can’t then move to a position of declaring another portion of Scripture less important or irrelevant.
We still have to make science and the Bible fit.
If the Bible says one thing on the surface and science says another, it does not mean that one or the other is wrong. There may be other ways to understand the science. And there may be other ways to understand the Bible. Neither understanding MUST negate one or the other.
The perfect “for instance” is the coming of Jesus. All the Jewish scholars missed the reality of his coming and its circumstances. They had the Scriptures right there yet did not predict Jesus as He was.
This may very well be true for some ways that we interpret the Creation narrative in Genesis. Same holds true for the science, as our interpretation of the results may need rethinking.
Still, if we know that certain radioactive isotopes and chemicals decay or fluctuate at a steady rate, and that steady rate shows an earth far older than 6,000 years, then we need to understand that “fact” and deal with it. If we want to surmise that perhaps those processes do NOT occur at a steady rate, then we need to be able to prove our case. If we can’t, then we have a problem.
We also have a problem if to fit our theories we start conjecturing in areas where the Bible is mostly silent. All the many species of dinosaurs on the ark? I can’t see it, can you? And what happened to them post-Flood? How come they are not around at all? Why would God elect to save them from the Flood only to have them all die post-Flood? Doesn’t make sense. I can much more believe they all perished in the Flood, but where does that leave us with two of every kind of unclean animal (which I’m sure the dinos would have been classified)? Perhaps Noah only collected those creatures that lived in his immediate area, and that didn’t include 110-foot-long sauropods.
If I have questions about supersaurus’s inclusion on the ark, does that make me any less an inerrantist?
I’m afraid that as a Christian and as a professional life scientist I consider much of AiG’s output as junk science. It just doesn’t stand up to rigorous analysis, whatever Ken Ham and colleagues may say. The acceptance of evolution as the best explanation of the data we have is not based on any bias against the Christian worldview, but on facts and data. The dating thing is a case in point; the AiG stuff is simply wrong and it always intrigues me to see AiG people criticising dating methods, but happy to accept e.g. medical treatment that is partly based on the same principles of physics. Of course the Coynes and Dawkins of this world mix in ant-religious bile to the science as well, but there is a large body of properly trained scientists out there who find the data supporting evolution at present to be convincing… and some of them are committed Christians.
Because we are all human (scientists included), we all bring our preconceptions to the table when we examine facts. Scientists are NOT immune to this. As a result, interpretations of facts are often subject to the examiner’s worldview.
Even the most basic of facts undergoes an enormity of alterations when underlying preconceptions change. Just witness the entirety of the history of science to see how this works. A simple thing like the structure of the atom starts blurring when we throw in ideas of quantum mechanics. The science then begins to fill with religious overtones. Einstein himself was troubled by the presumptions of fellow physicists when he noted their easy exclusion of God from the picture, but now we see scientists, especially in the quantum mechanics field, who are reverting to God to explain it all.
I don’t find that AiG’s science is any more “junk science” than the average scientific paper out there. The only thing that distinguishes one from the other is that one wears its worldview on its sleeve, while the other (typically) buries its worldview under a self-constructed facade. Worst of all, in the latter case, the denial of partiality from worldview “taint” is so extreme that it forever ruins genuine science. Nor does “accepted science” always stand up to rigorous analysis either. (I mean, how stupid is the “science” behind panspermia in explaining life? Yet for some scientists, that’s their worldview basis.) And let’s not get into how money pollutes science either.
So we’ll have to agree to disagree. Science is not as rigid or untainted as the sellers of its purity would have us believe.
A few points from real life to add:
Scientist were convinced that the area around Mt. St. Helens would remain a wasteland for decades, if not centuries. Didn’t happen. In fact, the area has replenished itself in record time.
Scientists said the hurricane season following the one that spawned Katrina would be apocalyptic, yet it was one of the most mild on record, and we’ve continued to see a lightened season since.
Scientists were convinced the BP oil spill would destroy the Gulf ecosystem. We’re not even a year out from that, and yet all the signs say that the scientists were grossly wrong.
The science they used to make those predictions, was it junk science because it was so wildly off?
If we’re not demanding the degrees of those wrong scientists be retracted and their jobs taken away, why are we so harsh on AiG?
The current cosmic model agreed-upon by most “genuine” scientists envisions reality to exist in 11 or 12 dimensions. How crazy is that, right? When scientists of 40-50 years ago proposed that model, they were laughed at and were in threat of being banished from all the “serious” associations, conferences, and so on. What happened to that “junk science” that it is now the prevailing model?
There’s nothing wrong with being wrong in science. And “junk science” is often in the eye of the beholder.
When you say “scientists” who exactly do you mean? Perhaps some scientists said Mt. St. Helens’ area would not come back, but I don’t think all. As far as the Gulf and the BP spill, many of the dire predictions, I believe, would have played out had the gusher not been stopped. I don’t think the Gensis story was ever meant to be a scientific treatise on how the world began.
While Genesis may not be a vast scientific treatise on the creation, it certainly isn’t “just a story” either. We have to approach what is there with the utmost caution, lest we make too much of the science of it or not enough.
Thankyou for your thoughtful reply. I didn’t claim that science is never wrong, or isn’t open to political/worldview pressures, or that it doesn’t get modified, sometimes radically, in response to new evidence. A good case in point is anthropomorphic global warming – at present much of the AGW science is distorted by the liberal worlview of many of the scientists and media involved in this issue, and the fact that there are research funds available to research that area. However,little by little, other voices in science are being heard and there is more and more questioning of the “accepted” science on AGW, which I predict will in time become unaccepted science! In general science corrects itself following the publication of contrary data which can be repeated and substantiated. Indeed, if such evidence is found with regard to evolution, then many scientists will look at it seriously, and if corroborated by rigorous analysis, science in general will accept it, even if Dawkins and Coyne etc don’t. Such an approach is unlikely to be the case for AiG, where the science has to fit the scipture. I don’t think that AiG has rigorous scientists to present the evidence, and those often touted as trained and experienced scientists are not.
For those Christians who accept evolution as the best explanation of the data at present, there are different and equally difficult issues – such as the identity of the first Adam, the Fall etc. Groups such as Biologos are thinking about these issues, but there is no easy way through all this whether you accept YEC or theistic evolution or something inbetween.
However, if as I expect, we both accept that the world was created by God, and that Jesus died and rose from the dead to reconcile us to the Father, then that seems to be no bad thing to agree on.
While I agree that we need to be most concerned about the essentials, those items deemed less essential are only so because we assign a value to them. The problem is, did we check with God to see if our standard of what is or isn’t essential is the same as His?
Personally, I think origins theories matter. They inform our entire worldview. There’s a powerful implication in macro-evolution that can’t be ignored: There’s nothing special about Mankind. That the Bible speaks to the contrary DEMANDS reconciliation of the conflict. If Man is just the endpoint of a process, that has implications for everything I think and do. I can’t say that it isn’t essential then.
My first thought on entering wasn’t what I thought it would be: Man, what’s with all the Mennonites? I think half the women visitors were in bonnets. And if I didn’t know better, I’d say a few full-fledged Amish were there.
Kind of like stepping into the Christian Fiction section at a bookstore and taking a look at all the front covers?