PETERSBURG, Ky. – At the Creation Museum, a fanciful Eden rises from the void. Adam appears, bearded and handsome, if slightly waxen. Eve emerges from his rib with luxuriant hair and a kindly expression. Trees blossom and creatures frolic, evidence that all started well in God’s perfect world.
Elsewhere, as the story develops, Cain stands over his slain brother, Abel; life-size workmen build a replica of Noah’s ark, and Methuselah intones, “With each passing day, judgment draws nearer … I can tell you, whatever God says is true.”
Despite the showmanship behind the $27 million museum opening here Monday, the evangelists who put it together contend that none of the gleaming exhibits are allegorical. God did create the universe in six days, they say, and the Earth is about 6,000 years old.
Biblical scenes are hardly a fresh phenomenon, either as expressions of faith or as missionary props. What separates the Creation Museum from its Bible-boosting brethren is the promoters’ assertion that they can prove through science that the book of Genesis is true. All of it.
But in this latest demonization of Darwinian evolution, there is a sticking point: For the biblical account to be accurate and the world to be so young, several hundred years of research in geology, physics, biology, paleontology, and astronomy would need to be very, very wrong.
“This may be fascinating, but this is nonsense,” said Lawrence Krauss, a theoretical physicist at Case Western Reserve University and a vocal defender of evolutionary science. “It’s fine for people to believe whatever they want. What’s inappropriate is to then essentially lie and say science supports these notions.”
Eugenie Scott, director of the National Center for Science Education, calls the sparkling facility “the creationist Disneyland.”
Come Monday, when the museum opens for business not far from Cincinnati, protesters plan to gather at the gates for a “Rally for Reason.”
Museum exhibits suggesting that man coexisted with dinosaurs – which fossils show became extinct millions of years before humans existed – rely on the notion that the evidence is simply open to interpretation. One sign sets “Human Reason” against “God’s Word.” The backers of the concept of intelligent design, which posits that living beings are too complex to have evolved from a primordial soup, take a similar approach, widely discredited by scientists.
The Creation Museum is located for easy access near an interstate and an airport on 49 acres of rolling hills where woolly mammoth roamed until about 10,000 years ago. Designed to inspire Christian belief, the facility was largely built with contributions of $100 or less, although three families gave at least $1 million each, said Mark Looy, an Answers in Genesis co-founder.
According to Ken Ham, an Australian-born evangelist and former high school science teacher who works at the museum, the overriding goal is to persuade visitors that the Book of Genesis is scientifically defensible, for if Christians lose faith in the literal truth of Genesis, doubts about such matters as the virgin birth and Christ’s resurrection, for example, will follow.
“You’re then telling the next generation they can reinterpret the Bible. Then what we’ve lost is Christian morality. If there is no absolute authority and we’re just animals, why not do what you want to do?” asked Ham, whose books include “Why Won’t They Listen? The Powers of Creation Evangelism.”