On Wednesday, the popular LiveScience.com site posted a commentary that slammed the Creation Museum with blatant untruths, misinformation, and anti-Christian bigotry. The LiveScience commentary has also been picked up by such highly visited news websites like MSNBC, Yahoo News, etc. As such, it became necessary for the Creation Museum and Answers in Genesis to respond to the hit piece.
On Thursday, we posted a brief yet thorough rebuttal of the commentary's major errors (see Live(ly) Science Debate). Our article today is a point-by-point exposé of all the errors and misrepresentations made by both the senior writer of LiveScience and the college instructor, whose research about the museum formed the basis of the LiveScience commentary. Our hope is that our response will encourage editors and management at news organizations to do a better job of fact-checking. (Note: the original article is indented with a different color font; our responses are in black.)
Kentucky's Creation Museum,
Actually, it is Answers in Genesis's Creation Museum that is in Kentucky, along with other sites in the state such as Fort Knox, the Corvette Museum, the Original KFC, the Kentucky Derby, etc.
a facility devoted to the belief that Earth and the universe are only 6,000 years old,
To be precise, we are devoted to biblical authority (i.e., God is the ultimate authority, not mankind). As a corollary of this, we are convinced that the age of the universe and earth are around 6,000 years old. (Please see How old is the earth?) Dr. Lisle had previously informed this journalist that the focus of the Museum is biblical authority; it is a shame she decided to ignore this fact.
is usually viewed in one of two ways: As a fun place where fundamentalist Christians can go to reaffirm their beliefs, or as the epicenter of a worldview ripe for mockery by scientists.
Of course, mockery is no substitute for a logical argument. We have found that many secularists resort to mockery since they can find no logically legitimate basis for criticizing the Creation Museum. In fact, there are many scientists who support the museum, and the Creation Museum employs several PhD scientists. So, the author's implication that scientists mock the museum is a sweeping generalization fallacy.
Now, a new analysis argues that for people already alienated by religious fundamentalism, the museum can be a painful reminder of discrimination and isolation.
The Creation Museum welcomes all people as long as they are willing to behave themselves. We had a group of nearly 300 atheists visit last year, and a group of secular geologists also visited the Museum. They were welcomed. Many of our critics have been far more fair than this reporter; they have said that they were well-treated. Many enjoyed the beautiful exhibits. Christians have a moral obligation to treat all people with respect and dignity since all humans are made in the image of God. We honor this principle at the Creation Museum.
However, from an evolutionary perspective, why would discrimination be wrong? Do animals get in trouble and go to jail for discriminating (e.g., a crocodile that eats young wildebeests)? And what about pain? Does an animal care if it inflicts pain on the animal it is killing? Of course not. From an evolutionary perspective there is no basis for fair treatment of people. So the critic's objection (if it were true) would make no sense.
The study, presented Sunday at the American Sociological Association meeting in Atlanta, took place over three in-depth visits to the museum over a year and a half. Bernadette Barton, a professor of sociology at Morehead State University in Kentucky, toured exhibits, attended museum lectures, observed museum guests and led a student field trip to the museum.
One might expect that an avowed feminist and evolutionist with a history of being anti-Christian would arrive at conclusions—based on her worldview—that attack Christianity.
In her analysis, she argues that despite the museum's mission to reach out to believers and skeptics alike,
Which it is.
the Creation Museum can be uncomfortable for non-fundamentalist visitors. [Discussion: Does science condemn God?]
Someone reading about the history of the Native Americans and their encounters with early European settlers might be uncomfortable with what they read. But it would be ridiculous to criticize a history book for recording true events. Can you imagine reading a history book that left out anything remotely unpleasant? The Creation Museum displays the true history of the universe as recorded in God's Word, and does so in a respectful way. The truth sometimes makes people uncomfortable, particularly those people who have been living in constant rebellion against God. However, it would be dishonest and unloving to lie to people simply to make them feel more comfortable.
The Bible is like a mirror. It helps us to understand our own shortcomings in light of God's righteousness. This does make some people uncomfortable. But this is not due to any defect in the Bible. Likewise, the Creation Museum exhibits are designed to display the true history of the universe according to Scripture in a respectful and modest way. Nonetheless, some people will not be happy with anyone who disagrees with them—no matter how respectfully.
Besides, do people consider the opposing side? When creationists are forced to go to secular schools where the religion of secular humanism is forced onto unsuspecting children (and its subset of evolution)—or go to secular museums, hear secular news reports, etc.—do people not consider that we too get rather uncomfortable? For someone such as Dr. Barton to pay lip-service for equality so much in her writings, she doesn't seem to mind neglecting the equality of creationists.
A young Earth
Young Earth Creationism is the belief that everything in the Biblical book of Genesis is literally true:
Actually YEC is part of the greater belief that the Bible is true and should be taken as written (e.g., 2 Corinthians 4:2, Proverbs 8:8–9). Genesis is written as literal history and should be interpreted as such.
God created the universe in six 24-hour days 6,000 years ago; all mankind came from Adam and Eve;
This is correct and the date is arrived at via the genealogies in the Bible. It is also corroborated by considerable scientific evidence, some of which is presented in the museum.
and the Garden of Eden is a lost paradise where humans and dinosaurs co-existed peacefully.
Actually, the whole of creation was perfect and peaceful. This is what we expect from a perfect God—a perfect creation (Genesis 1:31, Deuteronomy 32:4). It was after sin that death and suffering came into the world. And yes, dinosaurs are land animals, so they would have been created the same day as man—day six. Thus, creationists can make sense of dinosaur soft-tissue, dinosaur petroglyphs, dragon legends, etc.
Young Earth Creationists reject evolution, but may embrace a sort of short-term natural selection to explain biodiversity after Noah's Flood.
Natural selection was developed in large part by a creationist (Ed Blyth) to explain variations within kinds. Darwin studied Blyth's work and thought that this process might be the mechanism for evolution. Darwin's first edition of Origin of Species heavily promoted this, but by his sixth edition, Darwin had backed off of natural selection as the only mechanism. 1 Darwin realized that natural selection was moving in the wrong direction for evolution (i.e., filtering and losing information as opposed to gaining useful information).
Of course, most evolutionists today reject Darwin's view and have natural selection plus mutations in an effort to find a mechanism for gaining information. Though, many recognize that mutations don't solve the problem either.
To clarify for the readers since a host of definitions of evolution are floating around, YECs reject molecules-to-man evolution. Anyone familiar with our ministry would know that natural selection is not evolution even though uninformed people often mistakenly equate natural selection with evolution. We fully embrace natural selection as an observable principle of science (not a "sort of short-term natural selection" as this author misleadingly states).
Creationists obviously believe animals change, but we do not believe one kind will change into another kind (e.g., dogs change into dogs with variations from poodles to wolves; cats change into cats with variations from house cats to tigers, and so on). Please note that species and kinds are not the same thing in most instances.
The Creation Museum, opened in 2007, puts its own brand of scientific explanations of creationism alongside exhibits of Adam and Eve, dinosaurs with humans, and Noah building his Ark.
It is nice to have a museum that people can go to without having the religion of secular humanism thrown at them.
One exhibit, "Graffiti Alley," purports to show what happens when mankind abandons Young Earth Creationism.
This is inaccurate. It shows what can happen in a world without biblical authority. In other words, if God is not the authority, then by default mankind becomes the authority. So, people set their own rules, and that is exactly what we see today (humanism). The rejection of God's teaching that the world is thousands of years old is simply one symptom of the larger rejection of His Word in general.
These consequences include the birth control pill,
The sign says: "Scripture abandoned in the culture leads to . . . relative morality, hopelessness, and meaninglessness".
Consequences are not even mentioned. The reporter's statement here is particularly ludicrous and irresponsible. Besides, birth control pills are not consequences.
abortion, divorce, murder and gay marriage.
These things are happening in our relativistic culture. Interestingly, we simply use secular magazines, newspapers, etc. in Graffiti Alley to illustrate this. Keep in mind that the décor comes from secular sources.
And what of divorce and marriage? In an evolutionary worldview, such things are meaningless. Marriage is a biblical institution based on a literal understanding of Genesis where God created a literal man and woman. Jesus defended this in Matthew 19:4 and Mark 10:6.
Though debates about creationism usually revolve around education,
Not really—those rare ones may be what the press focuses on. Although, we are still fascinated that the religion of secular humanism still gets free rein in the classroom. Where is the equality? If Christianity can be kicked out of the classroom then why not other religions?
Barton visited the museum as part of a larger project on fundamentalist culture. She's particularly interested in why homophobia persists in the Bible Belt.
Students of logic should recognize that the author here commits the fallacy of the question-begging epithet. In this case, the author uses the term "homophobia" to suggest (without making any argument for it whatsoever) that people reject homosexual lifestyles out of fear and/or prejudice (i.e., "phobia"). In fact, many people reject homosexuality for the same reason they reject murder, lying, rape, etc—as these things are contrary to God's law and His nature.
This area spans the southern United States and parts of the Midwest and is marked by a high proportion of evangelical Protestants. In Kentucky, where the Creation Museum is located, 62 percent of residents describe themselves as fundamentalist.
If only they were all saved. Christians are commanded to love others, including family (Ephesians 5:25), neighbors (Matthew 22:39), and even enemies (Matthew 5:44).
"I was seeking to understand the fundamentalist framework," Barton told LiveScience. "I went there seeking to understand how people adhere to [a] set of beliefs that can, in my opinion, have sometimes destructive consequences."
We must ask, "destructive by what standard?" In the evolutionary view, human beings are simply the product of nature—an assembly of chemicals. So, it makes no sense to be concerned about their well-being anymore than it does to worry about the well-being of a mud puddle. By being concerned about others, Dr. Barton shows that she really does know about God—thereby verifying the Bible (Romans 1:18–21).
If Barton really wanted to understand how we Christians see the world, she should try reading the Bible.
Barton combined hours of observation and analysis of museum materials into an ethnography, a detailed narrative about a place and its culture that is often used in sociology. Unlike other research methods, the ethnography does not strive for impartiality; rather, the researchers recognize and reflect on their own reactions to what they see.
So Dr. Barton was intentionally trying to interpret her observations in light of her religious evolutionary worldview. If this is the case, then she was not trying to "understand how people adhere to [a] set of beliefs".
On her third trip to the museum, Barton took her undergraduate students, who found the visit unsettling. Several in the group were former fundamentalists who had since rejected that worldview.
I'm glad that they recognize this is a worldview issue. Indeed, it is Christianity versus secular humanism. Now they know, in part anyway, how most Christians feel about sending their kids to secular humanist institutions. These students were likely conditioned by their professor to believe the Creation Museum would be hostile toward their views (thus, "poisoning the well") long before they set foot on the grounds.
Several others were gay. In part because of these backgrounds, Barton said, the students were on edge at the museum.
Of course, they would not like a museum where God and His Word are seen as the authority over their opinions. Recall, when people view themselves as the ultimate authority, then in essence, they are claiming to be gods. So naturally, they would not like a place that gives honor to the Creator God to whom we owe all things.
Particularly nerve-wracking were signs warning that guests could be asked to leave the premises at any time. The group's reservation confirmation also noted that museum staff reserved the right to kick the group off the property if they were not honest about the "purpose of [the] visit."
Why would an honest person be upset by the requirement to be honest? Do they get nervous about these at other places where they have the same type of signs? I guess those who do not hold to the truth of the Bible would also not be concerned with honesty either. After all, being honest comes from a biblical worldview.
Because of these messages, Barton said, the students felt they might accidentally reveal themselves as nonbelievers and be asked to leave.
This is nonsense. We have hosts of non-believers come through the museum that are perfectly respectful. Naturally, if someone becomes violent, causes a major scene that would disrupt the public, etc., then actions would be taken. This is a museum on private property, and we have the right and moral obligation to set rules for the safety and experience of the guests.
This pressure is a form of "compulsory Christianity" that is common in a region known for its fundamentalism, Barton said.
This is false. There is no compulsory Christianity here. This is a contrary to the fact fallacy (falsely claiming that one will be asked to leave if one is a non-believer, ergo compulsory Christianity).
People who don't ascribe to fundamentalism often report the need to hide their thoughts for fear of being judged or snubbed.
Actually, this happens the other way around far more often. Often in public universities and schools that claim they are not religious, Christian students (and professors) are ridiculed and chastised.
At one point, Barton reported in her paper, a guard with a dog circled a student pointedly twice without saying anything.
Actually, the dog goes throughout the museum sniffing all sorts of things. It has sniffed employees too. This dog is capable of finding children who become separated from their parents.
When he left, a museum patron approached the student and said, "The reason he did that is because of the way you're dressed. We know you're not religious; you just don't fit in." (The student was wearing leggings and a long shirt, Barton writes.)
Of course, this person has no idea what the guard or dog was thinking. Besides, there are Christians that dress like that as well. This anecdote simply reveals that this group was looking for something to criticize. Since they have already misrepresented the museum numerous times, we wonder about the authenticity of this story.
We should also point out that all people are religious—even secular humanists.
The pressures were particularly tough for gay members of the group, thanks to exhibits discussing the sinfulness of homosexuality and same-sex marriage.
Such as? I'm aware of no such exhibits.
A lesbian couple became paranoid about being near or touching one another, afraid they would be "found out," Barton writes.
Being found out? We live in a world full of homosexuality, which is inundating the culture that Christians are forced to be a part of. Why would you be worried about being "found out"? Were they ashamed that they are sinners in the presence of people who have admitted their sin and asked God to forgive their sin? Do they not realize that every Christian is a sinner (Romans 3:23)? We have all fallen short somewhere and not one of us is better than another?
This "self-policing" is a common occurrence in same-sex relationships in the Bible Belt, Barton said.
And yet, people seem unconcerned about the self-policing that Christians have to do in a secular world (i.e., when we want to speak out, but get chastised for it, and called names, such as intolerant, bigoted, and "homophobic"). Why is it okay to be so bigoted toward Christians?
The museum does use guard dogs and employs strict warnings, said Jason Lisle, a speaker and astrophysics researcher at the Creation Museum.
Actually, Dr. Lisle did not say anything about "strict warnings." Like all museums, the Creation Museum requires people to use common sense and behave themselves. But that's about it.
But, he said, the security is in response to death threats against museum organizers. The signs and warnings, he said, are because people will occasionally come to the museum to hand out anti-Creationist materials, disturbing other visitors.
Again, this isn't quite accurate. The signs that Dr. Lisle was talking about were the informational signs throughout the museum that teach people about biblical creation.
"We know that the nature of the subject is controversial," Lisle said in a telephone interview. "It's just one of the things that we have to deal with in a fallen world."
Specifically, the need for a public safety department (not security) is necessary in a fallen world. People occasionally have a health problem or some other issue, and it is helpful to have public safety officers to help out.
Lisle defended the anti-gay messages in the museum
What anti-gay messages? How could he defend such things when they are not there? Rather, Dr. Lisle simply defended the biblical worldview.
Notice also this epithet fallacy by trying to use emotive language ("anti-gay") to make people feel like they are the victim. Yet keep in mind that they came to the museum with preconceived ideas about it, and tried to find things to "attack." And yet the "best thing" they found to attack are anti-gay messages that do not exist. There is no museum signage that discusses gay marriage or homosexuality.
Perhaps this is a reference to our teaching about Adam and Eve being our common ancestors, which comes directly from the Bible and provides us with God's definition of marriage (Genesis 2:23–24 ). Since this positive teaching about marriage and its origin offends people today, it is a sign that "anti-heterosexual" ideals are infiltrating our culture.
as part of the museum's goal to stay true to Biblical teachings.
"I don't think we would kick them out for [holding hands in the museum]," he said. But, he added, he could understand why gay guests "might be uncomfortable."
This is out of context. Those who are actively rebelling against God might feel uncomfortable when they see the true history of the universe as depicted in the Creation Museum. For example, seeing the basis for marriage as one man and one woman in the Garden of Eden might make someone uncomfortable who is rebelling against God's created order and laws regarding marriage.
"I would say, don't shoot the messenger," Lisle said.
The Creation Museum attempts to depict biblical history as accurately as fallible humans can and in a respectful and first-class way. Therefore, we suggest that if someone is offended by the museum, this says far more about that person's standing before God than anything about the Museum.
Respect or repression?
Not every visitor to the museum comes away with the same feelings as Barton and her group. In 2007, University of South Dakota earth scientist Timothy Heaton visited the museum and described its portrayal of evolution as "respectful," if not accurate (though Heaton was offended by a video of angels mocking a science teacher).
For years, public schools have shown Inherit the Wind, a film that openly mocks Christians and misrepresents them. In fact, a number of secularists have been to the museum and were impressed by the quality, science, accuracy, and so on. Sadly, a few were offended at the Men in White video that was clearly meant as a satire and is introduced as such. For those who were offended, that was not the purpose, but rather for us to enjoy it together as we learn each other's positions.
Part of the reason behind the students' strong reactions may have been their close relationships with fundamentalist Christians.
This reveals something significant. This is like blaming the museum for the actions of someone else. I'll be the first to admit that I've met some pretty mean fundamentalists too! Would I blame the museum for it? No. Nor would I blame God for it. Fundamentalists can err and sin the same way anyone else can.
Think of this fallacy from a different perspective. What if I reacted harshly at the Natural History Museum in London and wrote a scathing review of it because an evolutionist I met treated me bad?
Seeing the museum's messages was a reminder of the disapproval the students felt from their own communities, Barton said.
We are still wondering what messages they are talking about.
"For my students that's like their moms and their dads and their aunts and their grandmothers and their neighbors and their church parishioners." she said.
So is it okay for people to offend "their moms and their dads and their aunts and their grandmothers and their neighbors and their church parishioners," and yet have a right to be offended when they in turn question that person's behavior?
Barton is combining the ethnography with interviews with gay and lesbian Bible Belt residents for a book to be published next year.
I suspect that there will be a "bent" to it. We creationists are used to the anti-Christian attacks and the "creationphobia" often associated with such writings. But we are "not ashamed of the gospel of Christ"—even though people often hate us for it—because "it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes" (Romans 1:16).
What a shame that this reporter was so biased and unfair in her reporting! What a shame that so many people will be misled by the article she wrote! What a shame that the article was not written by a responsible journalist who wanted to report the truth!
But consider with a soft heart what God does say about homosexuality. Keep in mind that God condemns all sin, but no matter how many sins you have committed, if you repent, God will forgive you.
Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:9–11, emphasis added)
We as Christians are no better, just forgiven. Our hope and prayer is that everyone will come to repent and learn to love God.
AiG-U.S. editorial staff
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