Posted by jlwile on July 16, 2012
Last week, I posted an article about three different things that have recently upset some atheists. It seems that in writing that article, I upset a creationist. Ken Ham, the president and CEO of Answers in Genesis, took offense at the article, claiming that it took “a slap” at Answers in Genesis and the Creation Museum. Before I respond to his unfounded claims, I do want to make it very clear that I am a big fan of the Creation Museum, as anyone who has seriously read my materials should know. For example, back when the Creation Museum celebrated its one millionth visitor, I wrote:
As anyone who reads this blog regularly knows, I have some problems with the Answers in Genesis ministry. At the same time, however, Jesus tells us that we must judge a tree by its fruit (Luke 6:43-45), and the fruits of the Answers in Genesis ministry show that it is a very good tree.
One of those fruits is the wonderful Creation Museum, which just recently welcomed its one millionth guest. This is a remarkable achievement, given the fact that the museum has been around for less than three years.
What makes the museum so popular? Well, unlike many museums, it actually makes its visitors THINK. Rather than just mindlessly repeating the dogma of the day regarding origins, it actually shows how strongly a person’s preconceived notions can affect the conclusions that he or she draws from the scientific data. It also has a lot of world-class displays, including one of the famous fish eating another fish fossils and an amazing discussion of the construction processes that could have been used by Noah to build the ark.
There are some things I don’t like about the museum, but they pale in comparison to the things I like about it. I know most evolutionists are furious about the Creation Museum, and it’s easy to understand why. The more people think, the less they will believe in evolution!
In addition, when atheist blogger Dr. PZ Myers visited the museum, I complimented the security staff, discussed how excellent one of the exhibits is, and mentioned that Ken Ham’s behavior towards those with whom he disagrees is significantly better than that of Dr. Myers. Even in the article that offended Mr. Ham, I indicate that the Creation Museum is significantly more scientifically accurate than most museums, including the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History! In the end, there is just no way to make the case that I am anything but a huge fan of the Creation Museum.
With that out of the way, let me respond to three things that Mr. Ham brings up in his article.
First, Mr. Ham says that I missed the point of the exhibit that has the “millions of years” wrecking ball bashed into the side of the church. Specifically, he says:
Actually, he has missed the whole context of the wrecking ball knocking against the church and the message the room is presenting. My guess is that Wile breezed through without watching the exhibit’s videos and getting the full, real message there.
Of course, that’s not at all true. First, I have visited the Museum a total of five times. The first time, I was given a detailed behind-the-scenes tour shortly before the museum was open to the public. Since then, I have led two student groups through the museum, I have led an individual student through the museum, and finally, I visited the museum with friends. In none of these visits did I “breeze through” the exhibits.
The message of the wrecking ball exhibit is quite clear: the concept of millions of years has destroyed the church. Each of the student groups I led through the museum got that exact message, with no prodding from me. In addition, Answers in Genesis makes this statement over and over again. You can go to their website and listen to an audio entitled, “An evangelist….Destroyed by Millions of Years.” One of the things they sell in their online store is described as follows:
In this short booklet, we want to introduce you to some of the reasons Christians cannot accept millions of years, without doing great damage to the church and her witness in the world.
In addition, you can read an article by Mr. Ham himself, which says:
Bottom line—evolution is really not the problem as much as the age of the earth. Millions of years is the problem in today’s world that has resulted in a loss of biblical authority in the church and culture and has led to an increasing loss of generations from the church.
Whether we are talking about the materials from Answers in Genesis or that particular exhibit in the museum, the message is crystal clear: the concept of millions of years has destroyed the church. I strongly disagree with that message.
Second, Mr. Ham claims that my article might keep people from coming to the Creation Museum. He even suggests that my answer to a commenter’s question will probably put a damper on her visit to the museum. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth! As Mr. Ham quotes in his article, I tell the commenter that I would be very interested in hearing what she thinks is good and bad about the museum after her visit. In my mind, that should make her visit more interesting. After all, when someone asks me to report on an experience, I always pay more attention, because I want to make my report as accurate as possible.
In addition, Mr. Ham obviously ignored an answer I gave to another commenter. When one commenter said that she and her family were headed down to the Creation Museum for the nativity, I replied:
That sounds great, Teej. I have never been down there for the nativity.
This hardly seems like the response of someone who wants to keep people from coming to the Museum or put a damper on their visit!
Third, I am rather mystified by Mr. Ham’s assertion that by stating I strongly disagree with some things in the museum, I am somehow taking a slap at Answers in Genesis and the Creation Museum itself. In order to be a supporter of Answers in Genesis, must I agree with everything it states? Must I wholeheartedly agree with 100% of a museum’s content to be a supporter of the museum? Of course not!
I disagree with many people whose work I strongly support and appreciate. For example, my favorite author right now is Dr. David Berlinski. He is a secular Jew, so I obviously disagree with him on all sorts of issues. However, I strongly encourage people to read his work, because most of what he writes is truly excellent. I even disagree with some of the things my pastor believes! Nevertheless, I am a big fan of my pastor and the church I attend! There is even a commenter on this blog with whom I disagree on many issues. However, I have stated before that I am truly happy that he comments, because his thoughts add to the discussion, even when I disagree with him. In the end, disagreement does not mean condemnation! It simply means that two parties don’t see eye-to-eye on every issue.
Mr. Ham ends his article this way:
By the way, AiG extended very gracious hospitality to Dr. Wile when he visited us several months ago. We get enough criticism from those who oppose the Creation Museum—which we expect—but it’s sad when it comes publicly from those who should be our friends in defending the Bible’s accuracy.
The first part of that statement is very true. I met with Mr. Ham several months ago, and he took time out of his busy schedule to show me the facilities where work is being done on the exciting Ark Encounter that is being planned. In addition, he showed me the museum’s impressive collections that are not on display. That gave me a chance to examine specimens I hadn’t even been able to find in books! I have talked about that experience with many people, including many of my fellow scientists who are skeptical about the Creation Museum.
I am truly grateful for the hospitality that Answers in Genesis extended towards me, and I am obviously a big fan of the Creation Museum. I was not publicly criticizing the Creation Museum or Answers in Genesis in any way. I was simply outlining the areas in which I disagree with them. I am sorry if my comments even implied otherwise.