A science center’s not-so-scientific critique of the Creation Museum

by Mark Looy on July 30, 2007

AiG’s response to Daniel Phelps’ (president of the Kentucky Paleontological Society) review of his museum experience for the NCSE website.

Dr. Eugenie Scott, an atheist and recipient of the Isaac Asimov “Humanist of the Year” award, directs an organization called the National Center for Science Education. The NCSE, despite its noble-sounding title, is really an organization that was established to oppose the creation movement in America.

Dr. Scott visited AiG a few months ago to interview AiG-US President Ken Ham, with a British Broadcasting Corp. radio correspondent on hand to record the dialogue. After her visit, Dr. Scott was quoted as saying that AiG’s Creation Museum was “worrisome.”1

A few weeks ago, another NCSE-affiliated visitor dropped by AiG and the museum. Daniel Phelps, president of the Kentucky Paleontological Society, toured the Creation Museum and wrote a review of his museum experience for Dr. Scott’s NCSE website. The inaccuracies and lack of careful research (his obvious anti-creationist agenda aside) betray Dr. Scott’s claim that she insists on maintaining high academic standards at the NCSE.2 We were also surprised that some profanity was permitted to remain in the anti-museum article, and we note, too, that the column is peppered with nonacademic language (e.g., the museum’s content is described with words like “insane,” “quack,” and “bunk”).

We have decided to comment on the NCSE article in order to demonstrate that what appears on the NCSE site must be viewed with a high degree of suspicion, given a track record of hyperbole and, at the worst, inaccurate comments. It makes us wonder: if such a poor standard of research exists when commenting on AiG and the museum, then what does it say about NCSE’s research in geology, paleontology, biology, etc.?

Rather than offering a point-by-point rebuttal of NCSE’s lengthy piece (if you were to read the original column and a detailed rebuttal, it might take hours to read), we will instead note the following egregious problems with the critique of the museum.

There are some nit-picking things we could elaborate upon (one example would be the upcoming Bill Maher film which mentions the museum is not for HBO but for theatrical release), but we will stick to examining the more substantive problems with the review of AiG’s Creation Museum.

First, Ken Ham is not “Rev.” Ham. He is not a pastor, does not lead a church, and has never been ordained. We suppose this is an effort by the critic to show that the visionary behind the Creation Museum is not well versed in science but is really a preacher. Ken, in fact, holds a science degree and a science education qualification, and has been seen to hold his own when debating Ph.D. evolutionists (e.g., on the campus of Harvard a few years ago) on the scientific merits of molecules-to-man evolution.

AiG does not say that all modern social ills can be traced to evolution. As we have written before concerning this bogus claim that has also been made by the NCSE director, we actually say that evolution is not the cause of social ills (e.g., racism, abortion, random violence, etc.). Instead, AiG declares that as a culture rejects God’s Word as the absolute authority and accepts evolutionary ideas, then this will affect the way people think and act—and thus fuel (but not cause) social ills. (See The evolution connection.)

Also, the author has a few things wrong about the history of the Creation Museum project. For example, the first piece of property AiG was considering for the Creation Museum was not “next to” Big Bone Lick State Park here in northern Kentucky. The author is attempting to make the case that AiG wanted to be “in the face" of this park and its small museum that contains some evolutionary teaching. Actually, our intended museum would have been four miles away, not “next door.”

In addition, it is a complete misrepresentation to declare that the granting of re-zoning for a piece of property to build a Creation Museum was a church-state controversy. By that faulty reasoning, any time a church wishes to build on a private piece of property and needs rezoning permission from the local government, then the local authorities can’t get involved because of the so-called “separation of church and state.”

More preposterous, though, is the author’s liking of our K-9 (i.e., dog) unit at the museum to the images of police dogs attacking civil rights demonstrators in Selma, Alabama, decades ago (how ironic, since AiG has a strong anti-racism exhibit in the museum, and our security protocols exist to provide a safe environment for our guests). Did the author really have some apprehension about visiting the museum because he knows that security dogs are here? The NCSE might want to consider checking with other museums before visiting, for dogs are often used at these public places; further, some museums even have SWAT units on-site.

We also note the author’s fears about having possible “problems” while visiting the museum. (That’s partly because Ken Ham’s writings are supposedly “rabid,” the writer says.) This concern prompted him to bring along a colleague for support. At least we’re happy to read that when he visited, he apparently was pleasantly surprised by friendly staff and volunteers.

In another praise, he also called the museum building “beautiful.” And we are happy to see that many of the museum’s teaching points were brought out in the museum critique, including parts of the gospel message itself (e.g., the writer quotes a museum display that says, for example, that the “Bible teaches that suffering and death came as a result of Adam’s sin”).

The columnist discusses the museum’s “unverified claims” of having 250,000 guests during its first year. A curious way to put it, since we can only make a reasoned projection which can’t be “verified,” of course. We note that the museum has been open since the end of May, and over 120,000 guests have come through. We’re already well past 1/3 of the projected total for our first year!

In an apparent attempt to downplay the museum’s impact, the author guessed that only 500 guests were at the museum the day (May 31) he visited. It was actually 841 (we keep careful attendance figures), which was one of the lowest-attended days. Average attendance at the museum has been 1,860, and has been growing, which probably gives the author some consternation (especially since it is contrary to his contention that the museum “crowds have diminished”).

In fact, crowds have not been diminishing even after the initial excitement, as might have been expected based on what has been seen at other newly opened museums. The fact that a relatively low number of 840 people toured on the one day this critic visited does not a trend make. For one, schools were ending at that time of year, and it was the week of Memorial Day, and so there were distractions for many people. In contrast, both Friday and Saturday we saw around 4000 guests each. The crowds are just getting bigger (although once the summer vacation months are over, we may see a slight attendance drop, but are hopeful that tour groups this fall will help make up much of the difference).

We must make at least a passing comment about our poignant film The Last Adam, calling it some kind of “infomercial” that is akin to hawking diet pills (because we are supposedly “selling” religion). If proclaiming the gospel message through a well-done (yet non-sensationalistic) film is a sell-job—and there is nothing to purchase—what is so crass about the film?

The columnist makes the curious comment that the museum admission price must have been a hardship to the Mennonites (described by the author as mostly “hard-working farmers”) he saw at the museum. (By the way, with discount coupons, group rates, children’s discounts, etc., the average per head is just over $12.) That was perhaps a patronizing comment about this religious group, for I know that many Mennonites (and Amish) who do farm are quite prosperous. Farming does not equate to low income.

The author’s comment about our fundraising effectiveness in collecting $27 million to construct the museum building and its exhibits was not offered as a compliment but as a comment about our supposed slickness. But we will give all glory to our Creator for His blessings in this regard, for during the years of museum fundraising, we never had a full-time development (i.e., fundraising) officer on staff.

Which also brings us to a related and final observation about the NCSE column: as soon as the funds are in, there will be a children’s play area (we were criticized in the article for the absence of such a room and thus an “incomplete” museum). We have a large room already set aside for this children’s area (with private nursing rooms), but to make it first-rate, it requires an outlay of additional funds.

Because it would take pages and pages to comment fully on the author’s attempted rebuttal to what he saw at the museum, we leave it up to our web readers to utilize the search feature of this site—by typing in some of the key words found in the NCSE article—and read our in-depth articles that will counter his pro-evolution arguments.

As an example, when the author wonders about the “time dilation of light” idea presented in the museum’s planetarium (it is one model that attempts to explain how a star could be millions of light years away in a young universe), type in words like "starlight” and “time” in the search box and see what pops up (see also Get Answers: Astronomy).

Also, when the writer bizarrely claims that AiG “accepts a great deal of evolution before and immediately after the Flood,” please check out our web articles that show the difference between horizontal and vertical change in living things, and how evolutionists can be very sloppy in their definition of evolution (see our Get Answers sections on Natural Selection to get started).

Note that that some of the wording in the NCSE article is profane and/or crude if you decide to read the piece for yourself.


It can sometimes be frustrating to see our views continually misrepresented by the NCSE. (We also note that the museum critic spent just more than 3 hours here, when the average museum guest is taking about 4 ½ hours—and many visitors stay much longer—and thus we can see why there are some inaccuracies in his review.) Yet we understand that the very existence of AiG and the Creation Museum threatens the entire worldview advocated by secular humanists such as those at the NCSE, including an atheist like its director, Dr. Eugenie Scott. The creation/evolution controversy is so much more than a debate about science, but rather one over two worldviews that are in conflict: evolutionary humanism vs. biblical Christianity.

We find it ironic that the New York Times (not a friend of biblical Christianity) offered a lengthy opinion (written by its art/museum critic) that the Creation Museum was not boring, contrary to the NCSE author who wrote that “a good portion of the museum was boring.” We would submit that the average visitor—not having an agenda when visiting—would be swept along by the museum’s effective and gripping presentation. Furthermore, the NCSE-contributing columnist misses the point that the Times reporter understood: that the museum goes deeper than arm-wrestling about the “evidences” for evolution or creation; instead, it forces guests to consider the foundations of how science is done, including the biases and presuppositions all of us hold when we look at such a controversial topic in today’s culture wars.

AiG staff member Mike Matthews, who wrote much of the text for the museum (including the scripts for its 50-plus videos, remarked): “I think the real issue with critics of the museum is that the museum holds the mirror of God’s Word to people’s faces and they don’t like what they see.”


  1. Page 1, March 26, 2007, Lexington (KY) Herald-Leader (http://www.heraldleader.com/454/story/26286.html).
  2. Although read about her error-riddled speech about the Creation Museum that we critiqued at The Genesis Nemesis.


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