Ok, so the reason we were in Kentucky over the past weekend was that we took our kids on a vacation/field trip to the Creation Museum. If you don’t know what that is, let me run over the background real quick. The Creation Museum is the brainchild of the Answers in Genesis ministry headed up by Ken Ham. You’ve probably heard Ken before. He’s been doing little “slice” episodes on Christian radio for years and years talking about science and how it fits in with the book of Genesis. The museum opened in 2007 and sits on about 50 acres in Petersburg, KY, right in the tri-state area of Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana. It’s about a 20 minute drive from Cincinnati. Ken Ham used to be a fellow at the Institute for Creation Research(ICR), before commiting himself fully to AIG in the mid-90’s.
First off, my impressions of the museum itself. The building was a little smaller than I expected. I don’t think that had any impact on the amount of exhibits, but it did feel a little cramped with all the people. If you go, and I suggest you do, take my advice and go on a weekday. It’ll be a lot less crowded. There is a very large outdoor area with a lush park and walking trails and picnic areas. That was really nice to be able to get away from the crowds for lunch. There is also a small petting zoo attached to the backside of the park. Everything was very well organized. When going through the museum tour itself, you tended to get bogged down with all the people at key bottlekneck points so we ended up taking a bypass route and just going straight to the main hall area. Other than the actual tour, everything else was spaced out well so that you felt plenty of freedom to go see whatever you wanted to. When it comes to lunch though, if you go on Saturday you should really pack your own lunch. The lines were horrendous. It took us about an hour and a half just to get some food. There were just too many folks.
As far as the overall ideas presented I would say it was a mix of presuppositionalism and science. I wasn’t surprised by that really. I was familiar with AIG enough to know what to expect. I’ve also read enough blog posts by annoyingly smug athiests to know that there was going to be plenty of stuff there to mock. That’s not what this post is going to be like. I’m going to do something different for a change and actually analyze their arguments, instead of just hurling one-liners. I laugh out loud at some of the nonsense I hear David Attenborough spout about evolution. So what. How about we try and be productive here and actually look at their arguments. I’m going to try and boil it all down to a list of main points they were making as best I can remember. If you think I’ve missed something major or misrepresented something then email me and let me know. This is from memory so it would be simple oversight on my part. Here’s what I think were their main points:
- Observation of nature either reveals the Genesis account or an old-earth, evolutionary account depending on the biases you bring to the observation.
- Creation was by God and took place in literal 6 24-hour periods.
- The “big bang” did not happen since it isn’t found in the Genesis account.
- Before the fall there were no carnivorous activities. All creatures were herbivores.
- The original, created “kinds” were the starting point for all the species we see today. “Descent with modification” was the mechanism for today’s observed variance of species.
- Physical adaptibility in the created “kinds” were built-in to our DNA by God.
- Post-fall, this adaptability allowed some animals to become carnivorous.
- The global flood of Noah is responsible for the large geological phenomenon we see in nature, such as the Grand Canyon and mountain ranges.
I put these in order only for easy referencing, not based on importance or order presented.
I think this is going to be a good starting point for a series of posts on these topics. I’ll start with the first one here, that observation of nature either reveals the Genesis account or an old-earth, evolutionary account depending on the biases you bring to the observation. This is the first thing you’re going to be told as you begin the tour, and of course they are right. Presuppositions are always going to have a large effect on the way you interperet data. It’s logical to do that. What’s not logical is to keep clinging to that presupposition when it becomes more and more and more evident that you’re going to have to make up stories out of whole cloth to sustain it. At that point you should begin looking for a different interperetation that fits more easily with what you see. If you listened to the Greg Koukl interview with Dr. Meyer that I posted a few days ago, you’ll know that many biologists have done just that. They’ve been forced by logic to look elsewhere than evolution for an explanation of what they see at the cellular level.
Answers in Genesis, and by extension the Creation Museum, has always been heavily pre-suppositional in their approach. This isn’t necessarily bad, as long as they don’t let it dominate to the point that some other apologists do. Pre-suppositionalism can lead some Christian thinkers into a very defensive stance. I’ve heard a lot of guys that just brush off all militant non-believers as unreachable, using an acknowledgement of their built in biases as the reason. But, surely this can’t be right. Antony Flew is a tremendous example of a staunch, militant atheist scientist that has now been convinced of intelligent design by the evidence itself. A classical apologetic approach is not anathema. It’s absolutely necessary to win the mind along with the heart.
All in all, I think that they set the stage very nicely with that type of introduction though. That’s one part of the museum that I’ve never heard the atheists mock. Probably because it’s very fair to the atheist side. It simply lays out different pieces of evidence and says ok, if you’re an atheist, you’ll interperet it this way. If you’re a Christian you will interperet it this other way. That’s a very fair assessment of what actually takes place in research rooms around the world every day. A better use of our time would be to analyze these presuppositions and determine if they are in fact legitimate. Too many atheists and Christians take far too much for granted about what they know. When seeing a new piece of evidence, it’s generally a good idea not to just make a quick judgement about whether “this is stupid”, or “that’s spot on”, but to ask “what do I believe about this?” Also, “how did I come to believe that?” “Does it fit well into my worldview, or am I having to make large leaps of faith to make it work?” These are good questions, and bear out the legitimacy of the Creation Museum’s focus on it.