May
29
2007

Creation Museum opens without indifference

Creating controversy?: This week's opening of a new museum near Cincinnati has generated new discussions on the origins of the world. Visitors at the museum are first greeted by this giant sauropod dinosaur. (Photo from Creation Museum)
Creating controversy?: This week's opening of a new museum near Cincinnati has generated new discussions on the origins of the world. Visitors at the museum are first greeted by this giant sauropod dinosaur. (Photo from Creation Museum)
The Memorial Day weekend is pretty predictable in the news cycle. Lots of attention, and rightfully so, is provided about the military men and women who’ve given their lives for our country. Then there are the usual stories about the start of summer. And don’t forget the travel delays and stories on high gas prices.

But coming from out of right field this year was Monday’s opening of the new Creation Museum near Cincinnati, Ohio. The $27-million facility had 4,000 visitors on its opening day. Its state-of-the-art animatronics were designed by a former Universal Studios exhibit director. It shows dinosaurs co-existing with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and also riding aboard Noah’s Ark.

With this museum opening, I’ve been amused reading letters to the editor on both sides of the world debate in the local newspapers, particularly in the deep passion expressed by all writers.

My question: is there room at the table for having a museum dedicated to presenting the creationism viewpoint?

Regardless of my personal opinion on the origins of life, I have to give credit to the creationists for putting their money where their mouth is in finding a popular way to express their view. And we all have the option on spending our money and time visiting such a place.

Professionally, I work at the Science Museum of Minnesota which hosts this website. It’s only fair that I let you know where I’m coming from on this. Here’s a link to this museum’s official position on the origins of life.

As a person of faith who does believe our Earth’s origins came several billion years ago, it amazes me that most people find this issue as a non-compromiser. Creationists have an absolute trust in the science they interpret from the Bible, even though through history, Biblical interpretations on things like the shape of the Earth (flat) and it’s position in our solar system (the center) have been proven wrong. Conversely, science does an excellent job of explaining how things work, like the biology of human bodies. But it does a miserable job of explaining how and why we interact with each other: our emotions and feelings.

So let’s have a discussion here on if it’s possible to have intersections between the trajectories of faith and science. Be forewarned, moderators of this blog will not permit long diatribes on one particular point of view. Stick to the topic and your viewpoint will be heard. Let’s explore where there might be common ground between science and faith.

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

James Satter's picture

Thor wrote: My question: is there room at the table for having a museum dedicated to presenting the creationism viewpoint?

If that's the question at hand, then my response is that yes, there is room for such a museum. Why? Because the Creation Museum's content falls within the First Amendment protection of the freedoms of expression, religion, and assembly.

Although ceationism is not scientifically sound, individuals do have the right to promote and maintain that position, if they so choose.

posted on Wed, 05/30/2007 - 6:10pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Many Christians reject biological evolution because they believe that Satan wants them to believe in it. Satan also appears in an exhibit at the Creation Museum as the Serpent that tempts Adam and Eve as mentioned in Genesis. It is important that you describe who Satan is according to Judeo-Christian belief, so that people will learn more about Satan. I also suggest that you discuss Intelligent Design, Creationism, and evolution to give visitors an understanding of each concept.
You also have to understand a lot about why many Christians reject biological evolution. You should respect their beliefs regarding Creationism and Intelligent Design. They should also respect your beliefs regarding biological evolution. I also suggest that you create a visitor's guideline as well as a staff guideline regarding behavior expectations. Good luck with this museum.

posted on Tue, 06/12/2007 - 10:02pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I personally don't see what the big deal about the Creation Museum opening up is. Although many evolutionary scientists may question it's crediability, the museum has as much as right to be here as any museum be it natural history, scienece, or art. What are the puropses of museums? To make us think and analyze things of the natural world. The Creation Museum just gives another view point about the orgin of the Earth. Hey everybody is entitled to their own beliefs be it scientific or not. So why can't a museum be around that presents a totally different line of thinking? People can visit both museums and make up their own minds which one they believe more.

posted on Thu, 05/31/2007 - 9:04am
sk's picture
sk says:

I understand that this is protected speech, and of course it's obvious that you can believe in religion and evolution at the same time. But I can't support a "live and let live" approach to this museum. From my perspective, they are lying, and I have to believe that any person behind this museum with any shred of critical thinking knows it, or at least must suspect. It's lies made to look like science, and taking people's money for it is fraud. I came across a good article on this topic:

http://news.enquirer.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070519/EDIT02/705190341/1090/

posted on Thu, 05/31/2007 - 6:22pm
JGordon's picture
JGordon says:

I agree with the previous posters for the most part, but I'm not sure this issue is as simple as different groups being allowed to express different perspectives.
Whether or not science and religion can be friends, the sort of discourse presented here often makes a point of the other side being not just different, but wrong, or even morally wrong. Which isn't great.

Let's say I owned and operated a museum about apples. We'll call it the Apple Museum, and our motto would be "Apples are great!"
And let's say that my neighbor operates a museum about oranges. It'll be called the Orange Museum, and their motto is "Oranges are great!"
And this is all great. Except, what if the Orange Museum's motto was "Oranges are great! And apples give you cancer!" ? Then the whole situation wouldn't be as straightforward as two fruit museums expressing what they believe.

As I understand it, the creation museum includes displays about young people looking at pornography and considering abortion (the morality of each being up for debate, I suppose, just not here), and essentially states that the reason for these things has to do with people believing that the world is "millions of years" old. (Maybe this isn't a fair description, but I'm basing it on articles like this one: http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/visual_arts/article1848419.ece )

It seems like the creation museum might be an institution that serves to further divide people of differing opinions, as opposed to a place that would allow a dialogue on how they might coexist (if not actually intersect).

Still, perhaps the same statement could be leveled at science museums.

posted on Thu, 05/31/2007 - 7:37pm
bjr's picture
bjr says:

The people behind the creation museum are also scientists. They simply have a different starting point, compared to "secular" scientists. The creation scientists believe in the bible and the absolute authority of it, not only where it talks about Jesus but also where it talks about creation and the flood. That is their starting point. Those who do not believe in the bible start with man's ideas (evolution, billions of years, etc).

So the creation scientists have faith in God and the bible. Other scientists may have faith in God or may not, but obviously do not trust the bible because you can't get Evolution or millions of years from the bible if you read it as written.

I'm glad the museum is there and plan to visit soon. It lines up with my views more than Evolution and millions or even billions of years.

posted on Fri, 06/01/2007 - 10:33am
SheBelievesInHim's picture
SheBelievesInHim says:

I agree with the Freedom of Speech/Free Country. There's going to be some that don't simply because it flies in the face of God created the Earth...
Now, if these same "do-gooders" would only apply those same efforts to some REAL issues affecting suffering humans & animals in the world - probably in their very own neighborhoods...

posted on Sun, 06/03/2007 - 4:34pm
Pichi's picture
Pichi says:

I for one have very little use for religious interpretations, but still believe that museums such as the one in discussion are necessary. We humans for the most part still need to some extent validate our existence and at the same time find a way to extinguish our anxieties of being mortal. For some people the thought of not existing anymore is overwhelming.

If this museum somehow brings internal peace to those that truly struggle with those issues, then be it. It's like if you have a child and they are learning to ride a bike with training wheels on, would you remove those training wheels before the child was ready?

Let people find there own way in a world where complexity and diversity causes confusion.

Like I said...I have no use for creationism or religions but that is MY way.

posted on Tue, 06/05/2007 - 11:03am
BThomas's picture
BThomas says:

...and I believe in Santa Clause, and the Easter Bunny. Oh wait, the Tooth Fairy will be jealous that she does not have her own museum in Kentucky, too! The creation museum is a joke, and these people are deluding themselves. Most of all, I feel sorry for their kids.

posted on Tue, 06/05/2007 - 11:00pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I really loved reading your material and I think that all kids will enjoy it as much as I did!

posted on Wed, 06/06/2007 - 10:45am
koldodi's picture
koldodi says:

As a child I was always encouraged to learn more in the area of science. The findings in Biology, Astronomy, Physics, and Chemistry has always fascinated me. Equally I have been encouraged to search out what the authors of the Scriptures (both Hebrew and Greek) are really saying. I have found many faulty interpretations of both the Scriptures and scientific data. Honestly typing the last sentence seems strange because I use the scientific method to test knowledge. I also know that history can not be repeated in a laboratory so proving all things consistently is impossible. What I can say is that the two faulty interpretations of Scripture were just that and the Scriptures no where indicate the earth to be flat nor to be the center of our solar system. Brilliant scientists have come from Jewish and Christian backgrounds and even supported a creationist theory of origin. Why shouldn't there be a place to preserve their guesses too? Why throw stones at another museum that has a different view of origin?

posted on Tue, 07/10/2007 - 4:44pm
Joe's picture
Joe says:

I don't have any problems with a museum like this - like James said, they have every right to do whatever they please. I would even visit it, just to see what it was like.

This sort of discussion makes me think of the film, "A Flock of Dodos." If you have not seen it and you have the opportunity, it's a great film with a really honest and interesting look at the evolution/intelligent design debate.

posted on Tue, 07/17/2007 - 9:28am
Tori.j's picture
Tori.j says:

i think that the creation museum is a good idea. And i don't understand why it's such a big deal.
All though i believe in God i don't really see how the adam and eve story fits into history. I mean in the Bible it doesn't say a single thing about dinousors. i still beleve that God created earth and all maters but i think his children missunderstood how he did it.

posted on Wed, 10/17/2007 - 12:27pm
Max Gross's picture
Max Gross says:

Sure, let's have a museum dedicated to the existence of the Easter Bunny and Godzilla too. I have seen ACTUAL film footage of Godzilla and the Easter Bunny brought me chocolate eggs when I was a kid, so they must be true!

posted on Tue, 02/24/2009 - 8:17pm

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