Take the Creation Museum Challenge

We can gnash our teeth.  We can pull our hair.  But no matter what we do, the Creation Museum of Answers In Genesis has pulled it off.  With its new $1.5 million dinosaur exhibit, the flagship museum of young-earth creationism has successfully mimicked the outward appearance of mainstream scientific museums.

Big Valley Creation Science Museum

Big Valley Creation Science Museum

It used to be easy.  Creationist museums used to be only sad little affairs.  They used to look like this one from Alberta, Canada.  The Big Valley Creation Science Museum, pictured here, may do a great job in spreading the creationism gospel.  But no idle tourist would be likely to confuse it with mainstream museums such as the Smithsonian’s Museum of Natural History or Boston’s Museum of Science.

It used to be easy for outsiders like me to mock the lame pretensions of the many creation museums that dotted our great land.  And Canada.  As one angry visitor noted, even the bigger creation museums used to have strange, sad displays like this one from San Diego’s Creation and Earth History Museum.

Not a Lot of Big Bang for your Buck

Not a Lot of Big Bang for your Buck

But here’s the new challenge: Can you tell which of the three pictures below comes from Kentucky’s Creation Museum display and which come from the Smithsonian and Boston’s Museum of Science?  As arch-creationist Ken Ham explained gleefully recently, this new display of a million-dollar Allosaurus fossil puts Ham’s Creation Museum in the same league as those mainstream museums.  As Ham put it,

For decades I’ve walked through many leading secular museums, like the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., and have seen their impressive dinosaur skeletons. But they were used for evolution. Now we have one of that class, and it will help us defend the book of Genesis and expose the scientific problems with evolution.

So take the Creation-Museum challenge.  Just by looking, can you tell which of these images comes from a young-earth creationist museum and which come from mainstream ones?  (Don’t cheat.  But once you’ve given it a try, you can click on each image to see its provenance.)

Is this "real" science?"

Is This “Real” Science?”

Or Is It This One?

Or Is It This One?

Millions of Years?  Or Millions of Dollars?

Millions of Years? Or Millions of Dollars?

This successful mimicry is important.  In creationism’s twentieth-century struggle to establish alternative educational institutions to rival those of mainstream science, young-earth creationists often wrestled with significant disadvantages.  Not least of these were questions of funding, as historian Ron Numbers described in his must-read book The Creationists and I detailed in my 1920s book.  In the case of this priceless fossil, rich creationists Michael and Stephen Peroutka donated it to help the Creation Museum with its work.

It would be nice to think that America’s public would make its decisions about the age of the earth and the origins of humanity by weighing evidence and considering counter-claims.  To people like me, the Creation Museum’s claim that this well-preserved fossil serves as proof of a worldwide flood 4,300 years ago seems absurd.

But I don’t think we need to be very cynical to guess that appearance matters.  As Dan Kahan argues, what people believe about creation and evolution usually has more to do with their cultural identity than it does with scientific evidence.  If Answers In Genesis can make their museum LOOK like the Smithsonian, many visitors will assume it is just as good.  And if Answers In Genesis can crank out peer-reviewed science publications that attest to the scientific veracity of their claims, many readers will assume their science is just as good.

So take the Creation Museum challenge.  If you can’t tell the difference, how can you expect anyone else to?


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  1. I am not surprised that creation science museums are evolving to look like plain vanilla science museums, since the principle of descent with variation applies to ideas as well as genomes. That is how we went from creationism to creation science to ID.

  2. Huw Rees

     /  May 27, 2014

    Lol, I find it hilarious that atheists would devote such time to dissing something that, according to their belief, does not make one iota of difference to anyone’s ultimate destiny.

    Also, your website name is hilarious. I think you need to rename it “iloveyoubutyouregoingtohell…sothatswhyimtellingyouaboutjesus”. Get it through your heads – if we didn’t tell people about how they can avoid hell, that would make us the most evil people ever, so take it easy on us, k? We genuinely do love you.

    Oh, and btw, evolution is a failing theory, and you know it. You know in your heart that nothing so complex can arise from chaos, and speaking purely mathematically. Unless someone manages to ‘spontaneously’ create a fully-functioning, self-replicating cell out of amino acids, it will always be a (rubbish) theory.

    Don’t hold your breath…

    Huw Rees, Science Teacher

    • Love this response. And I love how you said something most people don’t. Why does creation bother evolutionists?? To us it’s about eternal salvation… To them it’s 80 years to permanent death.. Why would getting their ‘truth’ out there even matter. If I said we were all cats and we were created from play dough…. Why would they care to argue… To what end? What’s the point. Christians on the other hand have a truth and a purpose to tell that truth.

      • I may die in 80 years (or even less). But hopefully the rest of humanity will live on for a long time. Denying the reality of science could put us behind economically, technologically, and socially. If people do not understand the normative concepts of science they won’t be out making discoveries that could benefit humanity and our planet. As long as we are here on this Earth, I’d like us to have the best life possible. I believe that real science can contribute.

      • Lysenko was one of the chief scientists in the USSR and effectively outlawed Darwinian thought in favour of his own brand of neo-Lamarkism. It’s often said that Russian biology is still recovering from this setback. Agricultural sciences in particular were adversely affected, given the important of artificial selection to the improvement of domesticates. Meanwhile Norman Borlaug was using genetics and evolutionary principles to develop new strains of crops that are credited with saving over 1 billion lives.

    • Warren Johnson

       /  May 27, 2014

      To Huw Rees, Science Teacher

      I too am a science teacher and physicist (40 years in the professions), and I find it very surprising that a fellow science teacher would be so dismissive of evolution. I have often encountered people who are strenuously dismissive of relativity (and Einstein), since my research is in experimental relativity. Without exception, no matter how reasonable they sound to a layman, I know they are deeply irrational.

      From my experience, reading the anti-Darwin and anti-evolution literature, this movement is indistinguishable from the doubters of relativity.

      You mention ‘complexity arising from chaos’. You should read a recent popular science book that explains recent research into “how molecular machines extract order from chaos”, which is the subtitle of the book “Life’s Ratchet”, by Peter M. Hoffman. I hope it convinces you that research is uncovering the natural processes that can answer your challenge.

      Another thing you might want to do is take a poll of the biologists at your closest university. How many of them think evolution is rubbish? I did this locally, and absolutely none of the 25 biology professors to my email query were anti-evolution. I talked to some directly, and I concluded they regard critics of evolution as throwbacks to medieval times.

      I will bet that it can be shown that less than 1 in 100 respectable and knowledgable scientists think that evolution is a “failing theory”. Would you propose a test of this hypothesis?

      Sincerely, Warren Johnson, Professor of Physics and Astronomy, Louisiana State University

      • Who are the doubters of relativity? I’ve never heard of this. Is it an organized network of people with publications of some sort?

        Old comment, I know, but this piqued my curiosity.

  3. As I said here last time this came up; a potential problem is that data from this fossil will not be added to the scientific literature, preventing it from being incorporated into future research by others (an issue that may become especially problematic if AiG limits access to the fossil by researchers from secular institutions). With this new flurry of news on the fossil this issue has become more apparent, as it appears this fossil is exceptionally complete and so very important to palaeontology (AiG brags that only one other fossil is comparable to this one).

    That said; they wrote that “Dr. Snelling soon will oversee CT scans of these bones to facilitate further study of them. He has already started a site study in Colorado, in collaboration with Dr. John Whitmore, geology professor at Cedarville University, to discover more about the animal’s demise. Their research will be published in AiG’s peer-reviewed Answers Research Journal.”

    Perhaps there is hope after all; although I am a wee bit concerned that everyone involved appears to be a creationist and going into the study convinced that it most likely died in the flood. What happens if they don’t find evidence of that? Will they publish anyway? Will the file draw effect take hold? Lie? And could others get access to vindicate their results or not?

    Don’t get me wrong. The fact they’ve come out and explicitly committed to doing research on the fossil is good news and may alleviate the concerns of palaeontologists over this. But we’re not out of the unscientific woods yet.

  4. Dan Perkins

     /  May 27, 2014

    Karl Marx wrote that religion is the opium of the people. I would argue that fictional evolution is the opiate. It is the pill that secularists swallow to hide the pain. The pain being the truth of God. The fact that they can’t look out the window without knowing that the earth around them and all the plants and animals did NOT come from nothing. Even Darwin admitted to holding his magical theory for many years because he felt that releasing it was akin to admitting to a murder. A murder of who?

    • Beauty. Their fear from investigating real truth/science comes from their fear of being faced with the real truth of God. Being faced with a defined morality. Being faced with “created for a purpose” Scary business to those on the outside. Amazing for those who have found that truth.

  5. Kanbei85

     /  May 27, 2014

    It’s about time the quality of the real science museums caught up with that of the propaganda mills.

  6. There’s more counter arguments our there then you’re aware if. Ignorance is no excuse for not knowing the truth.


    • ChristyJ

       /  September 16, 2014

      For the record, I am an Evangelical. I have no beef with people who love the Bible, But, I also like science and I have scientists as family members. One time for kicks, my husband went through the list of signatories of the dissent from Darwinism using the info on Rational Wiki. http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/A_Scientific_Dissent_From_Darwinism

      Guess how many scientists in a truly related field who had published research in the last two decades were on that list? I think he said the number was three. One of the signatories had a PhD in pharmacy management, and there were a bunch more like him. There were also people who believe HIV does not cause AIDS, abortions lead to breast cancer, and plenty of climate change deniers.

      If you want to read Christian scientists who are experts in genetics, geology, microbiology, astro-physics and other fields that depend on the evolutionary model and who actually engage questions of faith in tension with known scientific facts, go over to http://www.biologos.org or http://network.asa3.org/

      • Non-Darwin

         /  May 24, 2016

        Correction. ..you are (clearly) not an evengelical. But hey keep searching for truth and Jesus . If you seek him you will find him.

      • I guess unless we are named Darwin, we are all Non-Darwin. Also good to know that someone can tell who is a true evangelical and who is not. I would like to know where the border is drawn to determine who is in and who is out.

      • I left Christianity after about 50 years (starting at age 8 when I embraced Christianity “for myself”, having been terrified by the prospect of hell). This “No True Scotsman” issue plagues Christianity to this day. The question is not who is evangelical, but which evangelical has the correct view of Christian doctrine. Thus, you see hard-core fundamentalists who say any rejection of Biblical inerrancy leads to the collapse of Christianity. You have more moderate Christians who accept evolution, but still believe in salvation to avoid hell. You have Progressive Christians who are fine with science & promote equality for all, & deny hell. Which one is the correct view? Who knows? It’s why I left the faith. Too much cognitive dissonance.

  7. Wow. Just, wow. My third choice is Ham’s. Hmmm…you are on to something here.

    • You’re not alone. Ken Ham mentioned this post on Facebook, so it received thousands of views. It’s hard to tell what people are thinking when they click on images, but most viewers clicked on the image from the Museum of Science in Boston. My hunch was that most viewers guessed that the MOS image was the Creation Museum one. The real Creation Museum received only about one-third as many clicks.

  8. ChristyJ

     /  September 16, 2014

    I think more Evangelical Christians, (no matter what silly beliefs they think the Bible requires about pre-Fall vegetarian carnivores and Noah’s dinosaurs), should be calling out Ken Ham for teaming up with a professing racist just because he donated a dinosaur. He is set to headline an event for Michael Peroutka, who happens to be a former League of the South board member and certified Neo-Confederate nut-job. Last time I checked, Jesus was against racism.


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