Professional paleontologists from around the world are concerned about the misrepresentation of science at the newly opened Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky. The Creation Museum has been marketed to the public as a “reasoned, logical defence” for young-earth creationism by Ken Ham, the President and CEO of Answers in Genesis, which runs the Creation Museum. The Society of Vertebrate Paleontology, a world-wide scientific and educational organization concerned with vertebrate paleontology, contends that the museum presents visitors with a view of earth history that has been scientifically disproven for over a century. Unlike typical museums and science centers, the Creation Museum leaves out data that are critical to a modern perspective on the history of the earth and its inhabitants.
The following assertions from the Creation Museum’s exhibits highlight the contrast between the themes presented there and the scientific record.
The Earth’s sediments were deposited by a single biblical Flood. False. In fact, the sediments in the vicinity of the Creation Museum alone are more than 2,200 meters (7,200 feet) thick, which would have required flood waters at least 100 kilometers (62 miles) deep, churning at maximum turbidity. To provide a sense of scale, 75% of the mass of the Earth’s atmosphere is within 11 km (4 miles) of its surface and many satellites orbit at 150 kilometers (92 miles). Furthermore, sedimentary rocks form in a variety of original settings, including lakes, streams, tidal flats, and coral reefs in addition to flood deposits. Some sediments preserve footprints and other structures that can only have formed on land, not beneath swirling flood waters. The Earth’s sedimentary record could not have come from a single global flood.
Scientific evidence is compatible with dinosaurs and other long-extinct animals living side-by-side with people until they perished in Noah’s great Flood.
False. The paleontological evidence, including tens of thousands of human fossils and hundreds of thousands of dinosaur fossils, is not compatible with the two groups coexisting. Dinosaurs are never found in the same layers as human fossils, even though more recent extinct animals, such as mammoths and saber-toothed cats, are found with humans. The evidence overwhelmingly demonstrates that large dinosaurs, such as Tyrannosaurus, became extinct millions of years before humans appeared.
The earth isn’t as old as paleontologists say.
False. The Creation Museum asserts that the earth is much younger than scientists claim, and that radiometric dating is an unreliable technique used by paleontologists. However, radiometric dating uses the same physics that underlies x-rays, CT scans, and nuclear energy. If radiometric dating does not work, neither should CT scanners or nuclear power plants. Radiometric dates indicate that the Earth is more than 4 billion years old. They also show that T. rex lived around 67 million years ago, and that modern human remains only exist in rocks that are younger than 200 thousand years old.
Intermediate fossils between groups of plants and animals are missing from the fossil record.
False. Over the past 150 years, paleontologists have discovered a tremendous number of fossil animals and plants that show characteristics intermediate between “major” groups – including between dinosaurs and today's birds, between the first land animals and their aquatic ancestors, and between humans and earlier apes. Whale and manatee fossils document the transition from land-living creatures with front and hind-legs to water-living creatures with fins. Fossil snakes with legs have been discovered. Dinosaurs with feathers are now well documented. The first backboned animals have been discovered where scientists predicted they would be found based on our understanding of the history of the earth.
According to the Creation Museum, the history of life is short, sin-ridden, and laden with moral imperatives. In contrast, the paleontologist’s account is long, full of curious episodes, and laden with discoveries of new kinds of animals, plants, and environments. The fossil record invites people to use their unusual minds to question, to reason, and to wonder at life’s remarkable variety.