Atheism at the Creation Museum

Creation Museum Entrance

From an Incognito Christian Among 300 Atheists at the Creation Museum

Scenes with animatronic dinos, wax sculptures of Adam and Eve, audio commentaries, and life-sized murals all testify to the same thing.  But the real subject may not be so obvious.  Hidden among the branches of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil along with the dragon-like serpent hides perhaps a more ravenous evil.

It has been a week since my trip to the Creation Museum where I, a Christian, wore the badge of the atheist.  I have been exposed to the evidence that  young earthcreationists champion as proof of the literal validity of the first chapters of Genesis, so I had certain expectations.  Among them was an expectation that such a facility would be intellectually stimulating, challenging, and solidly grounded.

Instead I was thoroughly embarrassed, and this time I am not talking about jeers and stares.

“The Ultimate Proof of _________”

The exhibits were not the only amminity of the facility.  “Men in White” was a multi-media event (the seats shook and sprayed water) and there were lectures, all included in the admission price.  One such lecture was titled “The Ultimate Proof of Creation” conducted by Dr. Jason Lisle who studied at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

From the very title of the lecture there were issues.  It proved not to be a talk about creation at all, but rather “proof” that anything but a firm belief in the Bible as the infallible last and first word on everything was completely erroneous.  According to Dr. Lisle the only possibility for truth was the Bible and that not only do secular scientists have nothing to stand on, they also have no basis or reason to be moral people.

As a justification, he claims to have had open dialogue with atheistic evolutionist friends.  It would seem that Dr. Lisle does not know what “open dialogue” means, because with his extremely narrow bias, his talk showed that he was not willing or able to see a different perspective on the issue.  He has obviously not considered the fact that if we are not moral people then we would have a completely barbaric state that would not be able to be contained.  He was saying these things in the presence of an audience which was mostly SSA members with only a few quiet snickers.  If these people had no morals would they have not brought bags of tomatoes?

The Hate Argument

The conclusion: if your argument is based on the defamation of the character of another group of people, how valid can the argument be?  If the argument for the validity of the Bible is that the Bible says that it is true, then the argument has a serious flaw.

Remember this post is being written by a Bible-believing Christian!

The ravenous evil here is that the lecture, from start to finish, sacrifices the Gospel of Jesus Christ in order to save the story of creation.  Ironically the whole intention for Ken Ham and his crew is that they believe that if the first chapters of Genesis cannot be proved to be literally true then it invalidates the story of Christ.

Creationism Not Christ

How can I remain a Christian when these reports are the norm?  Because I believe that a person can still follow in the footsteps of Christ by reaching out to people with love and discarding judgment.  I believe that God has made a way that does not necessarily include jumping on the bus.

I know that there are others who have shed these corrupt shackles and have put on the yoke of Christ, which is easy and light.  I am thankful to have met many kind and loving Christian people who are indeed open to dialogue.  Some of these godly Christian people were present in the Creation Museum that day (especially check out the third video)! Indeed we have a firm believe in an historical person who died in our place for the dastardly things that we have done, even things that are worse than the tresspasses of those I have critiqued in this post.  We believe that that sacrifice makes relationship with God possible.  Yet the mystery remains, yet to me the evidence does not tell me that there is no god.

Put it this way: I was not incognito when I was at the Creation Museum.

I am an atheist to their god.

I believe in the God who does not need such hateful defense.  I believe in the God who is incomprehensible and who reminds me that I am foolish to try to understand.  I believe in the God of Jesus; the God of Abraham, Jacob, and Issac.

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About Aaron Gardner

Aaron is a counselor and student of the Bible, passionate about sharing the good news of Jesus Christ. He lives in central Indiana with his wife, one-year-old son and their two dogs. View all posts by Aaron Gardner

21 responses to “Atheism at the Creation Museum

  • Sabio Lantz

    Bravo for your article again ! But to reassure your readers that you are in the tribe, you come out with theology, with a creed when you say:

    Remember this post is being written by a Bible-believing Christian!

    This affirmation seems like old habit and has nothing to do you your self-confessed focus of following “in the footsteps of Christ by reaching out to people with love an discarding judgment.”

    Congratulations on your atheism ! Smile.

  • thinkpoint

    “Nothing is universally true.”

    “All generalizations are false.”

    “No belief is true for everyone.”

    “Everything is relative.”

    “Everyone’s beliefs are true or false only relative to himself.”

    Where are my meds? My head hurts!

    SC

    I HOPE THERE IS NO GOD:
    http://thinkpoint.wordpress.com/2008/12/03/i-hope-there-is-no-god-thomas-nagel/

  • 1poorguy

    I hope you don’t mind me linking another blog. This person (also a theist) reports a similar experience to yours (no trouble from atheists, and harsh glares from Christians). Just thought I’d add it to the mix.

    http://thomas2026.wordpress.com/2009/08/07/quick-random-thoughts-on-the-creation-museum/

  • Doc Bill

    Ah, Ken Ham. I know him well, but, fortunately not in the “Biblical” sense!

    Creation “museum?” No. What you have is a Vacation Bible school diorama project. There are no artifacts in the “museum.” No explanation. Certainly, thinking is discouraged. Ham’s enterprise is an angry, fictional theme park of no educational value other than to illustrate how money trumps stupidity.

    The irony, however, is priceless! Ham claims that if scientific evidence is in opposition to scripture, then scripture is true regardless by definition. Yet, his entire facility is a result of science and engineering, from the advanced construction materials, to the electricity that powers the place, to the origin of the food served, to the computers, to every nut (pun) and bolt in the place, including Ham’s synthetic fibers in his socks. Everything, all of it, a direct result of science and technology about which he so rants.

    As a thoughtful Christian you seemed embarrassed by Ham’s production and you should be. Ham is no less a huckster than Benny Hinn, or Bakker or convicted felon Kent Hovind, all of whom use science and technology to rail against science and technology, and who feign outrage when they are mocked.

    Ken Ham has earned mocking.

  • Danny W.

    In response to the main post first, I can understand when someone else’s words are taken out of context and then commented on incorrectly but it seems rather difficult to take your own words out of context. One paragraph describing Dr. Lisle’s argument says that atheist “have no basis or reason to be moral people.” Then the responding argument is against Dr. Lisle’s claim that atheist are not moral people. There is a difference between not being something and not having a reason to be something. I’m sure if you were to ask Dr. Lisle to clarify he would make it clear that he does not argue against atheist being moral, but he would say, as was already credited to him, that they “have no basis or reason to be moral.”

    In response to Doc Bill. I do not understand what kind of artifacts you would expect to have seen at the Creation Museum. There are plenty of fossil displays and photographs of relatively current phenomena that help to show how the natural sciences fit a biblical framework better than the ever evolving uniformitarianism system.

    It seems as if you have not done any research on Ken Ham and his beliefs even though you claim to know him well. Certainly your statement about him not believing in science are incorrect since a quick search on the Answers In Genesis website would show your folly. Just type “science” in the search box and look at the second selection. His beef is not with observational science (that can be tested in a lab or controlled condition) it’s with origins science (can not be tested or observed).

    Calling someone a nut or huckster or referring to their efforts as childish or stupid is not an argument. Your claim that they “feign outrage when they are mocked” is also false. If you can present an example of an indignant response by Mr. Ham or someone at Answers in Genesis, it would be the first one I’ve heard of.

    I would hope to hear an actual argument in your next post, rather than all the name calling.

  • Pat Gunn

    You might find Jonathan Weyer’s blog interesting (http://thomas2026.wordpress.com/) – he’s a Lutheran pastor who’s into philosophy who went to the museum with us and stayed for the SSA conference. Seems like a really great guy.

  • ZackFord

    I think it’s interesting that you could deny one idea of God based on rationality, but promote another version of God without any different evidence. What I think makes it interesting, though, isn’t the shallow argument of a double standard, but the evidence against your point by the very path you chose to get to it.

    Basically, what you have said here is that you prefer a God that meets your moral standard. I have great respect for your chosen standards and what you have written about your Creation Museum experiment. BUT, it is the fact that you have such morals at your disposal and do not (or cannot?) recognize that it is the morals that get you there first.

    It is YOU who have clarified what kind of God you believe in. You are the one who is equipped with the reasoning to determine how you want to live your life. You then couch it in belief, but your reflections on this experience are in fact what demonstrate that your morals are not informed by your beliefs but your beliefs that are informed by your morals.

    Having made that point, the double standard argument is irrelevant. If all you need to do is live like you think Christ would have wanted you to, then you don’t really need Christ at all. It is your choice to couch who you already are in something outside of yourself that you cannot actually perceive that continues to confuse me.

  • Aaron

    I absolutely agree that my moral code does in fact inform my belief! It was actually a point that I have tried to make in this post, though is seems that I may have done so poorly … the assumption that Dr. Lisle makes is erroneous because of that very idea: a moral code does exist apart from the Bible and Christianity, and it is likely that moral code that informs belief, and makes belief quite difficult at times, I might add.

    As for rationality and lack of evidence, we can debate that until the cows come home. I will say this, that you are making a few undue assumptions about my position with your comment, but why shouldn’t you? An overwhelming majority of people who claim the title Christian blindly accept irrational story-telling for the truth while they dismiss more plausible stories that appear in collections by the Brothers Grimm.

    However, within the documents that make up the canon of the Bible, there are accounts retelling of a history, yet it is the authors themselves who see their world not through scientific eyes, but through the lens of their time, philosophy, and culture. For all intents and purposes science, at least modern science, did not exist so the authors had to explain these events in “superstitious” ways. I believe that as any historian does with similar accounts and documents, they can logically understand the times and places where these documents were written can in some sense demystify the irrational and unbelievable. A sort of literary archeology, if you will.

    I am not foolish enough to claim that there, then is evidence for God… but documentation from the 18th century that Napoleon crossed the Reed (Red) Sea, it suggests that perhaps a few thousand years ago another group of people may have done the same.

    Just as it is unlikely to bring forth evidence that God does not exist, it is also so with evidence that God does. How can I convince you that I am being stalked by silent, invisible unicorns?

    At times for me it comes down to my lack of faith in humanity to discover every ounce of truth, whether scientific or otherwise. There will be forever gaps in the evolutionary chain that must be left to speculation and presumption, yet can be couched in the evidence that does exist. If my belief is in an incomprehensible God, any explanation will logically fall short.

  • ZackFord

    See, and that is where I stumble. You as much, respectably so, that you cannot logically explain God. Not to sound harsh, but why then should I respect your belief in God or any of the beliefs you have about you should live that are connected?

    The argument that there is God and that there is not God are not equal, as you perhaps recognize by your unicorn example. There is burden of proof. If you have no explanation, do you actually believe anything at all?

  • Aaron

    Well, I suppose if I believe in nothing and call it God and you believe in nothing outright… well, does that not make us the same? To put it another way: we are both digging in different trenches for truth, yet neither of us expect to find conclusive evidence for God. Is that a reason for respect?

    Or could it be that my respect for your belief in no God begs some level of mutual respect?

  • ZackFord

    Ah, but you define it inaccurately. You hold a belief in something that you don’t have proof for. I hold no belief. I expect to find no evidence for God because it’s not even a testable hypothesis. I can defend my approach intellectually. The same standard applies to the decisions I make in my life.

    I personally think you are foolish to look for a God, and you might make decisions on behalf of that search, and I’d probably struggle to respect those as well. I’ve been pretty hurt by people of faith in my life, so why is that you deserve “mutual respect” as you call it?

  • Aaron

    So if a hypothesis cannot be tested then the possible conclusion must be untrue?

    What keeps you seeking scientific truth?

    Truly, I am very sorry to hear that you have been hurt by “people of faith.” The other unfortunate is that you judge me not for myself but by the company I keep. And you have no reason not to. It is painful to me to hold the beliefs I do because of that very issue. My foolishness is not only that I seek a God whose very existence cannot be empirically evidenced… but it is that I may be doing so at my own peril!

    Thank you for this conversation. If you see no basis for mutual respect, then it only means that you have shown me what I would call grace in continuing this discourse.

  • Aaron

    Danny,

    If the arguments that Dr. Lisle presented were out of context, they were reprehensibly so. He claimed that an atheist, humanist, or agnostic has nothing to stand on except Christian principles that he outright denies. that is completely ludicrious.

    It does not take much intelligence to understand that if I violate the rights of someone else, my rights are likely to be violated. And if we work together and watch out for one another we will have a more fulfilling life on earth. That is not Christian principle, that is common logic, though I wish it were common sense 😉

    But I do hope you are right, that Dr. Lisle simply did not represent himself well and those comments were not adequately contextualized.

  • Geoff Boulton

    What I cannot understand is why these people feel that a literal bible must be upheld to validate their beliefs. If there is a God then surely the universe itself is the ‘proof’ of his work. Indeed, it would be the only thing that we could, with 100% certainty, call ‘his’ work. Since a literal interpretation of the bible contradicts what we see in the universe then the only conclusion can be that the bible is not the word of God, or at least not an honest one. And who would want to worship a dishonest God?

  • Aaron

    Well said!

    Don’t know if you saw my post “Genesis and Mesopotamia,” but it is a reference to another completely different interpretation based on what appears to be sound scholarship that takes into account the writing of other groups of the same time period that most scholars date as the writing of Genesis. Very interesting!

  • Geoff Boulton

    Thanks, interesting stuff.

  • I Kissed Moralism Good-Bye « A Great Work

    […] few months ago I wrote a post in response to the lecture that I witnessed at the Creation Museum in Petersburg, KY.  The talk […]

  • MC

    “if your argument is based on the defamation of the character of another group of people, how valid can the argument be?”

    You’re obviously adding your own personal bias here, because there’s nothing in Lisle’s book that bases an argument on defamation of anyone.

    “The ravenous evil here is that the lecture, from start to finish, sacrifices the Gospel of Jesus Christ in order to save the story of creation.”

    Actually, you can’t have one without the other. If Genesis is not true, we have no reason to believe anything else in the Bible. Jesus was a young-earth Creationist.

    ” I believe in the God of Jesus; the God of Abraham, Jacob, and Issac.”

    Then why do you adamantly rail against his Word?

  • MC

    ” There are no artifacts in the “museum.””

    They have a very large fossil collection.

  • Boz

    “Actually, you can’t have one without the other. If Genesis is not true, we have no reason to believe anything else in the Bible. Jesus was a young-earth Creationist.”

    MC, given that you believe in the truth of the entire bible, do you support the death penalty for women that are not virgins on their wedding night?

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