Lining the walkway that leads visitors to the building housing the Creation Evidence Museum are various fossils. The fossils, mostly petrified wood, outline the sidewalk while several nautilus shells lie embedded in the concrete. No information accompanies the neatly laid out artifacts, so what knowledge is being conveyed or what message is being sent? Beats me. I suppose that the unmarked exhibits guiding you to the front door may telegraph what any critical thinker will learn from a visit to this museum: that pseudo-science is alive and well.
Walk up the handicap-accessible ramp and you will see a sign above a large, deformed petrified tree. The sign explains that the only way that a tree could be compressed in to its current oval shape is to have sediments suddenly be deposited on top so as to compress the wood. And, of course, only a Biblical flood could accomplish this. Maybe so, but couldn’t the curators offer an alternative view as to how this formed? Of course not. Not when the curators of this museum look to be intent on working backwards from their predetermined conclusion.
Founded by young-earth creationist Carl Baugh in 1984, and located in Glen Rose, TX, the Creation Evidence Museum flagrantly contends that the Earth is six thousand years old, that human beings lived at the same time in geologic history as dinosaurs, and that a flood once covered 100 percent of the earth. All this despite the general agreement among scientists that the Earth is 4.54 billion years old (give or take 50 million years), that dinosaurs died out about 65 million years ago, that the first bipedal hominids first appeared in the fossil record four to six million years ago, and that there is no scientific evidence of a worldwide deluge.
It is unclear exactly what Baugh’s educational credentials are, but from what I have been able to unearth, Baugh may have received one of his alleged PhDs from Pacific International University in Springfield, MO. At one time, he was also the unaccredited, and now defunct, university’s president. His dissertation is entitled Academic Justification for Voluntary Inclusion of Scientific Creation in Public Classroom Curricula, Supported by Evidence that Man and dinosaurs were Contemporary.
Credible credentials? Not in my mind, so I am disinclined to refer to him as “Dr.” Baugh, nor am I comfortable placing the abbreviation, PhD, after his name–I consider my credibility to be important too.
I began my tour on the second floor, really just a sort of mezzanine overlooking the main floor. Turning to the right at the top of the stairs, I was greeted by a larger-than-life statue of legendary Dallas Cowboys coach, Tom Landry. What relevance Landry’s image has to the creation versus evolution controversy is a mystery to me. To his right is a much smaller statue of a Plains Indian. Why? I don’t know the point of this one either.
At the top of the stairs to my left is amateurishly displayed on an open plywood case a copy of The Timechart History of Jewish Civilization. The book, cut up and tacked onto the slanted case, may be one of the only factually supported exhibits in the entire museum. But, once again, I have no idea why the history of Jewish Civilization has anything to do with falsifying evolution or supporting creationism.
One mastodon and two dinosaur heads adorn the back wall (I did not see an explanation or point about these either). They seem to stand guard over the entire museum as well as the model of Noah’s ark that is to their left.
I’ll give them an A for effort here. The unfinished replica is spectacular. It’s as if an engineer and an artist combined their skills to reproduce an ancient watercraft. This beautiful work-in-progress ostensibly shows us how all the world’s living creatures survived a “Flood of Biblical proportions.”
Is there really enough room on an ark made to the dimensions described in the Book of Genesis to hold all of the world’s living creatures? Nope. But why bore us with reality when, instead, just hang a sign above the model that sardonically says, “[a]mateurs built the Ark, [p]rofessionals built the Titanic.” Arrogant? Yes. Pointless? That too.
Among all of the artifacts in the museum that are the most convincing of course are the human footprints. Some show that giants once walked the earth and another shows a dinosaur footprint perpendicular to and slightly overlying a human footprint.
Is a cartoon like The Flintstones a realistic representation of the prehistoric world? According to the evidence presented by this museum, Hanna and Barbera may have a point. Stop laughing. None of these footprint fossils have ever been subjected to peer-reviewed scrutiny, and I doubt they ever will.
Funny, just down the road is Dinosaur Valley State Park, an area where many dinosaur footprints have been discovered in the same bedrock as those on display, but none of those prints even resemble that of a human. So what gives?
Perhaps the museum prints are fakes. It is plausible as a man once lived in the area who crafted fake human and dinosaur footprints. He did so back in the 1930s and put them up for sale to the public.
Perhaps they really are human footprints, but I seriously doubt it. We all know that “[e]xtraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”* And a few unexamined footprints in the hands of one museum hardly refute some of the most well supported theories in all of science. So, why not put the prints up to peer-reviewed scrutiny? Why not put all of this museum’s so-called evidence up to peer-reviewed scrutiny? I suspect it is because Carl Baugh and others of his ilk won’t like what scientists with accredited degrees will say.
Most tourists probably learn about this museum while on their way to Dinosaur Valley State Park. For me it was just the opposite, and had I had the time to see the park, I would have. A presentation of science in the form of a state park lies just a short distance down the road. Much of my education is science based, so I appreciate what the park is about. Can a state park be considered a museum? I suppose it can, but the real question is whether or not the Creation Evidence Museum can be considered a museum?
Hardly. Why? Because it’s not a museum, it is an assertion. An assertion that is not supported by any peer-reviewed, scientific evidence. Believers may leave influenced, impressed or both (who knows?), but skeptics will walk away unpersuaded, while some may even seek a refund of their admission cost. Those skeptics who don’t may consider it an entertainment expense (hey, it was good for a laugh). It’s that bad.
*Carl Sagan from Cosmos, episode 12, “Encyclopaedia Galactica.”