Museum Talk

Because the Creation Museum has become well-known globally because of countless articles appearing in the international media (recent visits by correspondents from Brazil and Denmark attest to this, and there was even a writer here on Friday who has authored articles for the well-known Rolling Stone magazine), it’s not surprising that columnists, bloggers, web commentators, and others are trying to counter the generally positive museum reports with attacks on the Creation Museum. On one hand it can be discouraging to read/hear so many mocking misrepresentation and fabrications about the museum,* yet on the other, even negative comments help get out the word about the museum and its message. As a result, many skeptics and atheists eventually visit the museum out of curiosity. Sadly, we are discovering that some Christians also engage in attacks on the museum’s message that the book of Genesis can be taken as straightforward history.

Mark Looy of our staff, who’s often combing news reports, websites, blogs, etc. to find out what people are saying about the museum and Answers in Genesis (and sometimes he responds himself), sent me this eye-opening report:

Ken: Here are just a few examples of what secularists are saying about the museum. They are followed by a comment from a Christian who wrote a negative review of one of your videos and does not care much for our ministry, which only underscores our concern that so many Christians are compromising on the authority of the Word of God in favor of accepting the opinions of fallible men.

1. In one instance, I challenged an atheist commentator who sometimes comments on the museum and makes moral pronouncements on his website. For example, he said that we have a “nasty” message, so I responded with the following:

I wanted to ask you about your use of the word “nasty” to describe someone’s actions. You see, your belief system presupposes that we exist in a world that has resulted from chance processes over billions of years; thus there is no meaning or purpose in life. So by what standard can you make moral judgments, including declaring that something is “nasty”? In an evolutionary worldview, there is no basis for something to be morally determined to be good or bad, including something deemed as nasty. You are appealing to an arbitrary kind of authority—your opinion—to judge what is good and what is bad/nasty. Your arbitrary opinion has no moral weight in an arbitrary universe.

Your judgment is wholly inconsistent with an evolutionary worldview in which there is no logical basis for something nasty, bad, or good . . . even your use of the word “wacky” has no moral weight because, again, you have no ultimate standard to make that kind of judgment. Your own opinions create your moral standards and determine your rules for living, and then you suppose to tell others in your columns how they should lead their lives.

I am reminded of the comment that PZ Myers made several months ago, after he toured our Creation Museum with you last year and rode on top of our play dinosaur. When he was chastised for not obeying our clear museum sign that stated that only children could ride the play dinosaur, PZ rationalized his actions by stating: “Some very persnickety people have been demanding that I apologize for riding a fiberglass dinosaur at the Creation ‘Museum,’ because it had a sign saying it was intended only for those under the age of 12. I’ve thought about it. There is that sign, after all, and if I’d looked a little more carefully, I might have noticed it. But then, I realized that I still would have clambered aboard. There isn’t the slightest twinge of repentance in my heart. I’ll even encourage everyone else to jump on .”

Both of you are simply acting in accord with your worldview, in which there is no ultimate standard for morality (including a respect for the private property of others). In that light, your actions are actually quite consistent and understandable in your meaningless and purposeless universe.

If the universe is a mindless product of an accident, why does it display order, including laws of nature? These laws of science only make sense in a Christian worldview, where they are the descriptions of the consistent, logical way that a Creator holds the universe together. If there is no God, how do you account for these laws? How can you explain laws of logic, laws of mathematics, etc. in a naturalistic, materialistic universe?

A few pro-atheist comments followed my response. It was interesting to note, however, that no one yet (as I write this) has been able to give me a straight answer to the question of how an atheist can determine what is good or bad, beautiful or ugly, etc. in a purposeless universe. Instead, many of them skirted around the issue and posed their own questions, and also engaged in name calling and tried to insult our intelligence.

You might have noticed that in this report to you (which you may be posting to your blog) I did not provide a link to the blog post above. I suppose, in the atheist commentator’s arbitrary opinion, this is nasty. But I don’t wish to have you direct people to a site that includes profanity or gives more publicity than what it deserves.

2. Then there was the charge that you, Ken, are in jail. I wrote the atheist who made this false claim to clear your name since the charge was made in a public form. When my correction was posted, the blogger who made the mistake came after me with some new charges. So I responded with:

I find it ironic that as I attempted to correct a terrible mistake (i.e., pointing out that the reputation of a very public person was being harmed in a public forum by the posting of a false charge that he was in jail), you respond with comments that are prejudicial (you claim to know me and my heart) and resort to a form of name-calling. If you really knew me, you would have been aware that I used to unthinkingly follow the evolution herd, until I used my critical-thinking ability and eventually rejected molecules-to-man evolution. You also wrote that you were surprised that I did not call anyone names, but then you stated that by not responding initially, I was acting “very theist” and then you posted a mocking photo and an accompanying caption to ridicule Christians (that “thinking is hard” for us).

– Mark

3. And then, Ken, there’s something that’s been kicking around for more than a year on many websites: that we kicked a young Canadian student out of the museum during a visit by 285 atheists in August of last year. I responded on one blog that: “The young man was NOT kicked out of the museum. In the rare case when someone is asked to leave, one of our safety officers escorts the person to his/her car and that person leaves our private property. In the video, it’s clear that the young man in question is still on-site, playing the martyr. For the real account of what happened, see http://blogs.answersingenesis.org/blogs/ken-ham/2009/08/08/the-day-285-atheistsagnostics-visited-the-creation-museum/” – Mark Looy, at the Creation Museum

4. Lastly, I responded to a person (who says that he is a supporter of our ministry) who publicly endorsed a harsh review of one of your DVDs. In support of the anti-AiG review, this person wrote (in part):

Though in the past I have been a big supporter of Ken Ham and Answers in Genesis, in the last year or so I’ve begun to rethink his methods, if not his conclusions. At the very least, I’ve realized that interpretation of the biblical creation account is not as cut-and-dry as he makes it sound, and that his speaking is riddled with logical fallacies (which does not by itself mean that he’s wrong about a young Earth). The article linked is the best critical summary of Ham’s teaching methods from a Christian perspective I’ve heard, and deserves your consideration, no matter where you stand on your view of the age of the Earth.

I responded (in part) with:

Greetings. Thank you for your past support. (I could not find your name in our database, though, but maybe our record-keeping is faulty; my assistant looked for a [name withheld] in Tennessee in our records but could not find it.)

I [want to] comment on your support of a negative review of one of Ken Ham’s videos.

In a 45-minute church service, and in a sermon delivered to laypeople (not an academic setting), Ken can’t possibly cover all the views of Genesis in detail. Asking Ken to give a church message to laypeople that is of a technical nature (i.e., essentially an exegesis of Genesis) is not appropriate for that setting. And then also expecting Ken to rigorously refute all possible alternatives is just not reasonable for a Sunday sermon. Not even the most technically trained, exegetical preacher could do that in 45 minutes.

We have other DVDs, several web articles at AnswersInGenesis.org, and books that go into depth; one book is “Coming to Grips with Genesis,” produced by 14 theologically trained scholars.

Of course, when Ken does a multi-hour seminar, he (and any AiG teaching partner) will go into such matters more in depth – and that’s the case as well with some of Ken’s other DVDs.

As someone in California indicated to me last week, the video review you linked to was a “cheap shot.” Respectfully, it could not have been (as you wrote) the “best critical summary” of Ken’s teachings, for Ken could not go in-depth on what we teach.

You stated that Ken’s “speaking is riddled with logical fallacies.” You did not cite one example in your piece. Please do so, and we can address it. While you seemed sympathetic to an author who criticized Ken for not going in depth, we consider it unfortunate that you did not choose to devote even a few words in giving a specific example of where Ken may be wrong.

The internet, of course, can be a wonderful tool to proclaim our creation/gospel message. We have about a million visitors (and millions of “page views” and “hits”) per month, and so it has become a great asset to Answers in Genesis. But as the above examples show, the internet can also be used to spread misinformation and undermine the biblical authority message of the various apologetics ministries like AiG and our Creation Museum.

Footnote

*For example, while most of our opponents who tour the museum and write about it will say that the place is “packed,” you’ll find a person who will come here—perhaps on a very cold day in the middle of the week—and sees 200–300 people and declares the museum not to be a success! In other words, this person arrived at a wrong conclusion about the museum’s popularity after being here only on one day, but the museum has been open more than 1,000 days.

Also, there was the claim made by a blogger that he saw no fossil exhibits in our museum. To correct his terrible reporting, we sent him several photos of some of the world-class fossil specimens we have on display (and at the same time wondering if this person had actually toured the museum). In addition, there was someone who complained—in an apples-and-oranges comparison—that we were not as kid-friendly as a children’s museum; well, this is a science museum (yet with several child-friendly exhibits, kiosks with games, a petting zoo, hands-on children’s workshops, etc.), so to expect a natural history museum to be a children’s museum is quite unfair. And such misrepresentations go on and on . . .

Thanks for stopping by and thanks for praying,

Ken