The Creation & Earth History Museum

The Museum of Creation and Earth History, in 2005Answers in Genesis have a Creation Museum – indeed, they’re famous for it. The ICR used to have one of their very own, but they sold it in 2008. In a thinly-disguised advertisement for the still-in-operation museum, an article in the latest edition of Acts & Facts catches up with how things are going back in Santee, California.

The Institute for Creation Research launched the Creation & Earth History Museum in Santee, California, in 1992. For 16 years, ICR developed and grew the exhibits with a mission to equip believers with evidence of the Bible’s accuracy and authority through scientific research, educational programs, and media presentations, all conducted within a thoroughly biblical framework. When ICR moved to Texas in 2008, the entire museum and its contents were sold to Scantibodies Laboratory, Inc.

The museum is now being run by Tom Cantor, who owns the Scantibodies company. He has made a few changes, which the article advertises. These include the “new 2,400-square-foot Human Anatomy Exhibit”; the “Tabernacle Theatre”; and the “Age of the Earth Mineral Cave.” The article concludes:

Admission is free to the Creation & Earth History Museum, located at 10946 Woodside Ave. N, Santee, California. To plan your visit, call 619.599.1104 or go to www.creationsd.org.

But you don’t have to go there yourself, for from that link I see that they have a virtual tour!

The ‘tour’ consists of a number (specifically, six) of panoramas in various rooms within the building, along with some photos. The first room is the entrance. Looking out the windows in the front you can see a sign advertising something an event on Good Friday, April 6, which is to include Steve Austin as a guest speaker – that dates this particular set of photos to earlier this year. Given that the Tabernacle and the Cave – two of the other stops in the tour – were both opened only in September, it would seem that not all photographs were taken at the same time.

The entrance doubles as a bookshop – they have to make money somehow – and on some shelving marked “free literature” some copies of Acts & Facts are visible, among other things. The shop itself contains a predictable collection of pamphlets and larger books with titles like Answers to Evolution and The Genesis Record. Standing out amongst the handful of items not too blurry to read are what appear to be three bumper stickers. The legible text on them say “Global warming,” “God recycles,” and “going green?” Given the target audience it’s quite possible that the stickers are of the Tui billboard variety, which is to say that the global warming sticker may well continue “…yeah right!” But if so they would make some really crappy bumper stickers, because the readable portion of the message is quite the opposite. It’s a curiosity, but not one that I have any way of explaining.

The second panorama is set in the “Day 5 & 6 Animal Room.” A screen offers information on “incredible creatures that defy evolution,” but naturally the picture quality is insufficient for it to be read. Some displays next to it seem to be entirely filled with pinned butterflies. Whether or not the birds in another display are alive or stuffed is a matter for the SPCA, and the same goes for the turtle (or possibly tortoise) in a third. If all these wonders tire you out there is a nice bench on one side of the room, but you might have to get out of the way of people leaning over to read a series of panels on subjects ranging from the significance of the week to the first law of thermodynamics. There may also be a brochure.

The third room we stop at is supposed to be about the Grand Canyon, but there are a few other exhibits competing for space. A model dinosaur is the most obvious of these, and it is surrounded by information about behemoth and dragons. Close enough to be partially read are a few panels with information about fossils. The first says the following:

Darwin himself acknowledged that the fossil record troubled him. This was because the fossil record does not support his theory because the fossil record does not show intermediate life forms.

It then continues with a quote from On the Origin of Species, which I have copied below. The bold is the part which they actually reproduced, while the rest gives some context from the original text:

But just in proportion as this process of extermination has acted on an enormous scale, so must the number of intermediate varieties, which have formerly existed on the earth, be truly enormous. Why then is not every geological formation and every stratum full of such intermediate links? Geology assuredly does not reveal any such finely graduated organic chain; and this, perhaps, is the most obvious and gravest objection which can be urged against my theory. The explanation lies, as I believe, in the extreme imperfection of the geological record.

This quote, of course, comes from a part of his book where Darwin takes potential criticisms to his theory of evolution and shows why they are wrong. But before you go so far as to accuse the operators of the museum of lying and quote mining Darwin for their own ends, they pass the buck and cite their quote to the infamous textbook Of Pandas and People. So that’s alright then.

The next panel is titled “how do fossils form?”

In order for an organism to be preserved as a fossil the body has to be preserved from destruction by predators, scavengers, and decomposers. To avoid predators and scavengers, the body has to be buried rapidly. To avoid decomposers, it also must be buried deeply. The abundance of fossils is thus best explained by very rapid sedimentation, as in a great flood.

I thought we were just talking about the lack of fossils?

If the picture of fossilisation provided by the museum were true, then why do we dig up so few dinosaurs with intact tails? If fossils were deposited rapidly and deeply as they claim then even the great sauropods should be completely preserved, but instead even with much smaller dinosaurs many bones (especially in the tail) are lost due to scavengers and other processes. Creationist conceptions of fossilisation processes that produce large numbers of perfect skeletons are simply inaccurate.

Another two panels are about the Wollemi Pine, “a living fossil and evolutionary enigma.” I can’t read this panel but it’s likely standard living fossil stuff.

The final panel in this collection is titled “how to determine the geological ‘age’ of a fossil”:

  1. Do not use the depth where it is found (many “old” formations lie on the surface, and others are known to lie above “young” formations).
  2. Do not use the type of rock in which it is found (rocks and minerals and structures of all types are found in every “age”).
  3. Do not use a radiometric date (these are practical only in non-fossil-bearing igneous rocks, and often disagree with each other).
  4. Do not use the “stage of evolution” of the fossil (this would be circular reasoning, for the age-sequence of fossils is the main “proof” of evolution).
  5. Do use the Word of God (the Bible indicates that most of the fossils must have been buried in one year – the year of the Flood)!

An amusing list, full of problems. The first is correct, but not quite for the reasons stated. The absolute depth of a rock is indeed irrelevant, but if you account for the occasional place where the rock layers have been flipped you can say with confidence that the higher layers are younger (to some degree) than the lower ones. This is a basic principle of geology with which even the creationists have to agree, and the relative age dates built up from this can be used to check any absolute dates calculated via other methods.

Number two is right, so far as I know. The third is obviously wrong, as even if you can only date igneous layers (e.g. volcanic ash) you can usually find the nearest such layer above and below it to determine the approximate age of the fossil. I would be interested to see what evidence of disagreement in dates they have on hand. This is, by the way, the most positive description of the process I have seen from a YEC – for them to concede that it is ever ‘practical’ is quite something.

The fourth is… complicated. If you have a rock that contains a fossil from a certain species of organism that you know from dates from elsewhere only lived in a very short space of time, then it’s odds on that this new rock will also date from that period. I don’t think you should have to be completely relying on that these days, however, so there may be something to #4. And as for the fifth, the bible isn’t actually all that helpful here. I don’t think it even mentions the concept of a ‘fossil.’

Some other nearby panels address topics such as the order of the fossils and the geologic column, so it’s a pity they can’t be read.

The Grand Canyon stuff in the room is actually too far away to be easily read, so lets move on to the Human anatomy exhibit before the soundtrack drives me nuts.

The visible parts of what is a much larger exhibit aren’t actually all that interesting – even the “fun facts.” Some information panels can be read here, but they’re not actually about creationism. The ICR article promises material on “the stages of human life beginning with conception,” but I can’t see it so you’ll have to go look for yourself.

Room number five is the new Age of the Earth cave. Not a lot here can be read beyond some titles. One is “the young sea: not enough mud on the ocean flood; not enough sodium in the sea.” Information on the mud can be found here, and the salt here. Another one talks about both Earth’s allegedly decaying magnetic field, and soft tissues. A third appears to discuss the anomalous dating of Mt St Helens lava flows. The last two panels that I can read well enough are on the subjects of zircons and radiohaloes.

Also visible from this perspective seems to be some stuff about petroglyphs of dinosaurs and the like. Moving on to the final room we find ourselves in the Tabernacle. In a still picture – panorama or not – this is the most boring part of the museum due to the fact that nothing is happening. On one side of the room are a large number of chairs, arranged to watch whatever is happening on the stage on the other side. This is supposed to be a 45 minute presentation by Tom Cantor, but as I said the place is deserted. The stage is done up in gold paint to presumably look like a Jewish temple or similar. Captioned pictures are available of such objects as the Ark of the Covenant and the Table of Showbread.

So there you have it: The Creation & Earth History Museum as run by Tom and Cheryl Cantor. If you intend to have a look for yourself I recommend you bring along a recording device and access to talk.origins. Don’t go deny everyone else a slice of the fun!


If you’re wondering why I haven’t been putting ‘museum’ in scare-quotes, it’s because it really wouldn’t stop there. I would have to do the same to ‘exhibit’ and ‘information’ and a whole host of other words that would just confuse you.

The museum also has a wordpress blog (that they haven’t posted in for months). If you know of any good resources about the place – visitor accounts and the like – don’t forget to share them. My curiosity is piqued.

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5 thoughts on “The Creation & Earth History Museum

  1. I visited the ICR’s Young-Earth Creation “Museum” in 2005 when in San Diego for an army reunion; taking the virtual tour just now I can see that today it is MUCH expanded and more impressive than it was 7 years ago — though it is still a mere tip o’ the Grand Scale exhibition that constitutes the Answers in Genesis YEC “Museum,” a veritable Park that embarrasses my Home State of Kentucky. But both of them have ample razzle-dazzle for seducing and comforting the adoring masses of willfully ignorant citizens and their trusting children who pass through them; both “museums” can bring a grown rationalist to tears (tears of mirth and tears of sadness).

  2. “I would be interested to see what evidence of disagreement in dates they have on hand.”

    Are you really sure that you do? They have hundreds of them, there are 350 mined from the literature by Jan Peczkis (under the name John Woodmorappe), there are some measurements on samples from the Mt. St. Helens lava dome collected by Steve Austin, there is also the ICR RATE project.

    All have been thoroughly debunked over the years, but still they keep repeating them.

  3. —“And as for the fifth, the bible isn’t actually all that helpful here. I don’t think it even mentions the concept of a ‘fossil.’”

    Right, something that YECs often overplay is the “Bible is on my side” argument. For example, get out the Bible and read the text of Genesis 1-3. Tell me, where does it give a reference for an absolute dating method of creation? Nowhere! Yet YECs will say “The Bible says Earth was created x years ago.” Weird. Furthermore, to say that the Bible says fossils were all layered within the year of the flood is more than a stretch, it is breaking the text.

    —“The legible text on them say “Global warming,” “God recycles,” and “going green?” Given the target audience it’s quite possible that the stickers are of the Tui billboard variety, which is to say that the global warming sticker may well continue “…yeah right!” But if so they would make some really crappy bumper stickers, because the readable portion of the message is quite the opposite. It’s a curiosity, but not one that I have any way of explaining.”

    I know this was just an aside for you, but I also found it diverting. I just don’t understand the reasoning so many conservatives and/or evangelicals have for rejecting global warming and recycling and ‘going green.’ It’s just crazy to me. Perhaps that’s not what these bumper stickers were about, as you note, but I think it probably is. I don’t know if you saw my post on this topic, but you may find it interesting to look at. I’d love to have your thoughts: http://jwwartick.com/2012/12/03/caring-for-creatio/

    • Evangelicals in your country seem to be politically conservative and, along with the purely political conservatives have a deep and often violent antipathy to anything that might interfere with their pursuit of personal wealth. Recycling, going green and remitting the effects of man made global warming all involve a re-examination of individual life styles usually advocating reduced consumption and potentially reduced profits for business. It makes no difference whether such restraint is voluntary or legally enforced as long as it interferes with their ‘freedom’ it is a bad thing.and God must be against it.

    • I find it really unfortunate that I think your analysis has so much merit to it. Of course, I am an evangelical and fairly politically conservative, but also think it just makes sense to recycle and reduce consumption, etc. Oh well, I am just stuck in the middle, I guess. Thanks for your response.

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