As evolution activists are proclaiming molecules-to-man evolution with even greater intensity and are correspondingly increasing their attacks on creationist groups, Answers in Genesis has noticed that many of these secularists seem to have employed a new, subtle tactic. In their attempt to more deeply entrench an evolutionary mindset in society, marketing-savvy evolutionists have apparently noticed that the word evolution has become such a loaded term today that it is turning off a large segment of the U.S. population who dismiss evolution outright (or have grave doubts about its scientific merits).1 Accordingly, it appears that shrewd evolutionists have been sneaking in their worldview through the back door.
The avoidance of the “e word” is even seen with Christian colleges that teach evolution as fact. If you are a Christian parent looking to send your son or daughter to a Christian college and are reading a catalog from a prospective institution, it is unlikely you will see a summary of its science curricula that will include the word evolution. The most prominent Christian colleges today either teach evolution as fact or have professors who present the handmaid of evolution—millions and billions of years of history. Those teachings in the classroom are intentionally not shared openly by most Christian colleges, for fear of turning off prospective parents or students with the use of the “e word.” Furthermore, when some of these colleges are asked if they believe in creation, the staff will answer in the affirmative and say they believe in a Creator, all the while hiding the fact that theistic evolution reigns in their classrooms.
With this article, we will present another example of how the “e word” can be assiduously avoided so that a potential market (Bible-believing Christians and others), will not be put off when considering a product or service.
It was on TV that we were first alerted to what seemed to be a major traveling exhibition on dinosaurs. In the first two seconds of the TV commercial, the words “65 million years” appeared. We knew right away that with the figure of 65 million years, which is so often associated with the end of the dinosaur period, signaled a promotion of something related to dinosaurs and the evolutionary timeline of history. Indeed, the TV ad was advertising a traveling exhibition on dinosaurs—“Discover the Dinosaurs”—that was being held about 20 miles from AiG’s Creation Museum. Our museum happens to contain several dinosaur exhibits, including some animatronic dinosaur models.
A few AiG staff members toured the exhibition last month. We estimate that perhaps two-thirds of the expo hall was actually taken up by children’s activities (offered at an extra cost to the general admission fee), not for educational exhibits on dinosaurs. It was clear that the exhibition was primarily designed to draw children, and more importantly, their parents’ dollars. The “educational” value of the dinosaur models was of secondary importance to the expensive fun things to do.
As staff members read the exhibit signs (though sometimes difficult to read given the darkened hall), they were struck by the observation that the word evolution was largely absent. At the same time, particular euphemisms were used in the place of evolution, and these replacement words were found throughout the display of 50-plus dinosaur models (with only a handful of them being animatronic). “Discover the Dinosaurs” was evolution-filled yet was presented largely without using the “e word.”
There are two major reasons to avoid “Discover the Dinosaurs”: its anti-biblical content and its generally amateurish, high-priced content.
The Exhibition’s Content
Although the word evolution is largely eschewed in the exhibition, euphemistic phrases were often used, such as “millions of years of specialization.” There is also the use of the word adaptation to describe how dinosaurs supposedly changed (read: evolution) over history. In addition, the word prehistoric is mentioned, which has evolutionary connotations—the word designates something that existed before human history. But nothing is prehistoric because the Bible is a written record of earth history from the very beginning. Furthermore, dinosaurs were created on Day Six of creation, just hours before the Creator made humans.
The most prominent mention of evolutionary ideas at “Discover the Dinosaurs” was the frequent use of the long-age evolutionary timeline of dinosaurs, which is entirely contrary to the biblical teaching of an earth about 6,000 years old. The evolutionary belief of an ancient age for the earth permeates the exhibition.
The supposed evolution of birds from dinosaurs is another evolutionary theme in “Discover the Dinosaurs.” Sometimes it can be a subtle reference; for example, in the photo below, an allusion is made to the Utahraptor having feathers, hence being an evolutionary ancestor of birds. A more blatant display of the alleged dinosaur-bird kinship appeared in the showing of a PBS TV film at the end of the exhibition. This “NOVA” program featured Microraptor and showed (using a wind tunnel) how a supposed 130-million-year-old “winged dinosaur” (the terms used) could have had the ability to fly or glide. The word evolution was uttered dozens of times in the film.
The Exhibition’s Quality
Doug Henderson, one of AiG’s talented museum designers and an expert in animatronics (he taught classes on this specialized art form in art school), toured “Discover the Dinosaurs.” He observed, “We learned what not to do with a dinosaur exhibition. Putting aside the evolution content, ‘Discover the Dinosaurs’ was lacking in quality. Some of the interactive animatronics were good, but they were surrounded by a collection of homemade-looking fiberglass dinosaur sculptures.”
Doug added: “If our museum hosted a dinosaur exhibition like this, we would be mocked by secularists and the mainstream media. ‘Discover the Dinosaurs’ can get away with it, but we can’t. AiG can’t let up on quality. We can’t let guests dismiss the message just because we present it in a sub-standard way. The message is too important—God’s Word is true and souls are at stake. Also, God deserves nothing less than our very best.”
The low quality of the exhibition was also manifest in a surprising number of poorly written, poorly composed signs, with grammatical and spelling mistakes (see photo below).
To be fair, small children (those appearing to be under 10 years old) seemed to enjoy the handful of moving dinosaurs. But parents have to pay extra for the play areas (some activities were charging about $6 per child) and could easily spend $50 (or much more) on a single child—on top of the general admission fee. “Discover the Dinosaurs” can turn out to be a very expensive outing for a family. And with content that presents an unbiblical worldview, there is an additional reason not to encourage Christians (or anyone for that matter) to visit.
Despite the claim on the exhibition’s website that “‘Discover the Dinosaurs’ is for the entire family, and especially kids, to explore the mystery of pre-historic life by creating an environment of learning, discovery, and fun,” we caution you and your children about going.
Further, the brief time it will take to see the dinosaur exhibits does not merit its $14 admission fee for teens or adults and $9 for children. People could gaze at the 50-plus static models and the few moving ones—and read the corresponding signs—in only about 30–45 minutes. A typical visitor to AiG’s Creation Museum receives much more—and far better—teaching on dinosaurs, with a wealth of other high-quality exhibits and videos to enjoy. The average guest will stay about four or five hours inside the Creation Museum, and many visitors will spend a full day or more if they read every sign, watch each one of the 55 videos, walk the beautiful grounds, take in a workshop or lecture, etc. On top of that, families will probably spend far less to visit our high-tech Creation Museum than they will to walk past the disappointingly amateurish and smallish “Discover the Dinosaurs” and take in some of the children’s extra-cost activities. And of course, the contrast in worldview content is stark.
To their credit in one sense, the organizers of “Discover the Dinosaurs” know that the “e word” can be a bad term to use at a family attraction—or in marketing one. At the Creation Museum, however, the “e word” and the idea of millions of years are found throughout the facility. Of course, they are presented in the Creation Museum in such a way that visitors are shown how they are wrong beliefs (yet evolution is treated fairly in the museum and is not bashed, which even many of our detractors have admitted).
We have included a photo (above) of one of the children’s “extras” at “Discover the Dinosaurs” because it resembles a similar item inside our Creation Museum. Both the exhibition and our Creation Museum offer a photo opportunity for children as they sit on a dinosaur model and have photos taken by their parents. However, secularists time and time again have taken the Creation Museum’s photo op out of context (even famed evolutionist Richard Dawkins, as seen at 4:25 in this YouTube video2). It is not part of any Creation Museum display, yet scoffers falsely and mockingly claim that our dinosaur model is a museum exhibit that helps “prove” that people once rode dinosaurs. Of course, when the secular world offers such a photo op as it is done with “Discover the Dinosaurs,” and children seem to have a fun time, nobody cries foul or mocks.
As we point out the millions-of-years evolutionary timeline that is so prominent in “Discover the Dinosaurs,” AiG wants to make it clear that we do not want to be seen primarily as a “young-earth creation” organization—or even known mostly as an anti-evolution group. Our emphasis first and foremost is to promote biblical authority. While we certainly hold to a young earth of approximately 6,000 years, that belief comes as a result of accepting the authority of God’s infallible Word. A straightforward reading of Genesis makes it clear that God took six normal-length days to create the heavens and the earth and that there was no death of creatures (like dinosaurs) for millions of years before sin. There is absolutely no room for an old earth inside the text of the Bible. Ultimately, the question for Christians should be: do they accept the opinions of fallible humans who declare the earth is old or embrace what the authoritative Word of God states about a young earth?
Of course, a person who believes in an old earth and an old universe can still be a Christian. After all, the apostle Paul wrote in Romans 10:9 that “
if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” Plainly, there’s no mention in this or any biblical passage that the earth’s age is related to personal salvation.
Now, does that mean the question of the age of the earth does not matter? Even though it is not an issue of salvation, there are some major problems with believing in an old earth, not the least of which accepting the ideas of fallible scientists about the antiquity of our world over what the Bible teaches in Genesis. Furthermore, if you believe in an old earth, then you must also accept that there were millions of years of animals killing each other before Adam fell into sin. If disease, suffering, and death occurred before Adam, then what did Adam’s sin do?3
Unfortunately, Christians often fear dinosaurs—not because they think they are still roaming the earth. Believers sometimes link dinosaurs with evolution and are concerned that dinosaurs somehow prove evolution. AiG encourages believers to “discover the dinosaurs” for themselves either by visiting the Creation Museum, where the true history of these remarkable creatures is presented, or by availing themselves of the several dinosaur-related articles on this website. These resources can assist adults in helping to show young people how evolutionists are pushing their worldview, including how they use substitute words for evolution. Regardless of the wording used, the evolutionists’ goal is to use dinosaurs as a propaganda tool to promote their worldview and to show that the biblical worldview can’t be trusted.
In the next issue of AiG’s Answers magazine (April), AiG President Ken Ham wrote an article that observes how the bigger challenge for AiG to meet today is to counter the heavy promotion within society of an earth that is millions of years old. It’s not just enough to counter biological evolution. The age question can be a bigger danger in turning hearts away from the Bible.
The teaching of an old earth, declares Ken Ham, is more of an attack on the authority of Scripture than perhaps evolution itself. He states that a billions-of-years-old universe has become something of a pagan religion of secularists today.
It shouldn’t be surprising, then, that at our Creation Museum the bigger shock for many visitors as they tour the facility is not so much that we have exhibits that show the problems with evolution, but it’s how our dinosaurs are depicted alongside people. The museum’s exhibits that show humans and dinosaurs co-existing (thus asserting that dinosaurs did not die out 65 million years ago) is probably the most-reported surprise of bloggers and mainstream media who visit.
Over the next few weeks, “Discover the Dinosaurs” will visit four cities that are home to thousands of AiG supporters: Greenville, South Carolina; Birmingham, Alabama; Knoxville, Tennessee; and Louisville, Kentucky. Our web readers living in those cities might want to caution friends and family about this traveling exhibition and its anti-biblical teaching before children clamor to have their parents bring them to the exhibition.
Lastly, what did a Pachycephalosaurus displayed at “Discover the Dinosaurs” think about the sign in front of him that declared he was about 138 million years old and lived during the so-called Cretaceous period of evolution? For his answer, play the short video below: