The Talk.Origins Archive: Exploring the Creation/Evolution Controversy

A Visit to the ICR Museum
Steven Linke
[Last Update: August 28, 1992]

I visited the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) on August 27th. This institute seems to be a common topic of debate on these groups, so since I live relatively nearby and have had an interest in the discussions, I decided to pay them a visit. In addition, I was seeking original creationist papers on molecular biology (I never found any). I hope this information isn't redundant or included in the FAQs. I found it to be quite interesting.

The ICR is located in Santee, CA, a suburb on the far eastern edge of San Diego (about 20 miles from the coast and my residence in La Jolla near the University of California - San Diego campus):

Institute for Creation Research 10946 Woodside Avenue North Santee, CA 92071 (619) 448-0900

It is a relatively new (built in 1985) and attractive two-story building located in an industrial park off a frontage road of highway 67. It is located between Westmark General Contractors and a rather ugly dirt field serving as home to the Santee Swap Meet. There were about 20 spaces in the parking lot.

Much of the first floor is devoted to the "ICR Museum of Creation and Earth History." In general, the museum is visually quite impressive. They are calling it "San Diego's NEWEST Museum" and are having a Grand Opening Celebration September 18-20. A pamphlet reads: "Free guided tours! See live animals and learn about their Creator! View exhibits and videos that present the case for creation and the evidence against evolution! Enjoy Free refreshments! Special Thanks to K-PRAISE 1210 AM Radio!" The pamphlet also states: "`Home schoolers' especially invited Friday--Meet Dr. Richard Bliss, designer of the `Good Science' curriculum for home and Christian schools."

The agenda of events for the Grand Opening include 25-minute guided tours, 20-minute live animal presentations, 20 minutes of science experiments conducted by Dr. Richard Bliss, book signings (by Dr. Henry Morris, Dr. John Morris, Dr. Duane Gish, Dr. Richard Bliss, Ken Ham, and others), a "Media Tour," a video called "The Great Dinosaur Mystery," and a live broadcast by K- PRAISE 1210 AM on September 18th from 4-6 PM. In reference to the live broadcast the pamphlet says: "`The Grapevine' radio program with Michael Law will be broadcasting live on the Museum Patio in front of the ICR Museum. Come with your questions (or phone in with a question at 1 (800) 281-1210). Guests: Dr. Duane Gish and Ken Ham of ICR."

After receiving a copy of the museum pamphlet and the newest copy of the "ICR Graduate School" catalog (1990-1991), I proceeded through the museum. (By the way, the curator of the museum was listening to Rush Limbaugh at the front desk.)

I thought the museum was relatively busy (for a Thursday afternoon). Several parents brought their children through the museum to show them creationism. In fact, the ICR Graduate School Catalog states: "The Museum of Creation and Earth History is open to the public and is frequently toured by visiting classes of school children, as well as individuals." I felt this post would be of interest to relay what the ICR is showing, in their simplified layman terms, to the general public who might come to visit the museum.

The exhibits started (appropriately) with the first day of creation and continued forward in creationist time. I will describe the exhibits that I perceive to be the most hotly contested topics, but not near all of them. I spent about two hours going through and scribbling down quotations from the various exhibits, but certainly can't cover everything. There were Impact articles (ICR publications) available at various locations pertaining to the subject matter of the exhibits. I have split the museum up into ten different exhibits:

Exhibit #1: Science and Faith Various wall plaques. A few read:

Science and Religion "Religion and science are not separate spheres of study, as some say. Both involve the real world of human life and observation. If both are true, they must agree.

"In fact, true science supports the Biblical worldview. There are many facts of science revealed in the Bible and no proven scientific errors.

"However, science does not support false religions (e.g. atheism, evolutionism, pantheism, humanism, etc.)"

Importance of the Origins Issue "...The tree of evolutionism bears only corrupt fruits; Creationism bears good fruits...It is vitally important that we and our children believe and obey the Biblical teachings on Creation." [This is a repeated theme in the museum.]

The plaque then goes on to quote the National Science Foundation's resolution on the freedom of scientific inquiry, followed by their comment: "With remarkable inconsistency, however, the National Academy opposes the teaching of scientific creation!" [This, also, is a repeated theme.]

Creationist Religions The plaque states that there are only three "real" creationist religions:

  1. Orthodox Judaism
  2. Orthodox Islam
  3. Biblical Christianity
It adds: "`Liberal' branches accept `theistic evolution.'"

Evolutionary Religions Examples listed: "Atheism, Humanism, New Age-ism, Occultism, Liberalism, Marxism, Fascism." [The fact that these are "evolutionary religions" is yet another repeated theme of the museum.]

Exhibit #2: Seven Days of Creation This exhibit, among many other things, answers the question, "Which came first, the chicken or the egg?" The answer is the "chicken," of course! Just read Genesis 1:11-12. :-)

For the first days of creation (heaven, earth, etc.), the exhibit features impressive pictures of the planets and stars with dramatic lighting and backgrounds. For the creation of animals, they actually have several small live animals in cages behind glass windows. These include a bird, some fish, a tarantula, a cricket, a lizard, a rat, and a snake. There were also some empty cages. Overall, the live animal exhibits were pretty pathetic, especially the "cricket exhibit" and the empty cages.

Creation of Functional Maturity This plaque described how fruit trees were created mature and able to produce fruit (so they presumably already contained rings), and how Adam was created as a full-grown man. It concludes that, "...If one denies the true revealed history of the world, and attempts to date the object or the world, this functional maturity could be mistaken for age."

Exhibit #3: The Fall of Man Nothing I found interesting, except that supposedly no animals died until Adam sinned by eating the apple. The first animals to die were those used to make skins to cover Adam and Eve's nakedness.

Exhibit #4: 2nd Law of Thermodynamics Displayed in a glass case were several "decaying" items, including: a big rusty hook, a melted Erlenmeyer flask, a mouse skeleton, and a melted 45 rpm record ("Bad Luck" by Dale & Grace). Presumably, they show the increasing entropy of the universe. Putting that Dale & Grace record out of its misery by holding it over an open flame is one of the better things the ICR has probably done. :-)

Another display reads: "The universal Second Law is the scientific reflection of God's curse on His created world because of sin. There is no known exception. All processes (whether operating on open or closed systems) tend to go in the direction of increasing entropy (or `disorder'). This tendency can be reversed only by the application of outside, specially programmed, energy or information. This tendency directly precludes any natural evolution toward higher order.

"Entropy normally increases more rapidly in systems open to influx of external energy." At this point, there appeared a very simplistic drawing of the sun radiating energy to the earth in the form of a hug by cute, little yellow arms.

"Conditions for Increasing Complexity in Open System:

  1. Open System
  2. Available Energy

    Note: These two conditions are satisfied by all systems on earth. Therefore, though `necessary,' they are not `sufficient' conditions.

  3. Program (to `direct' the growth of complexity)
    1. `Genetic Code' in DNA of living systems.
    2. `Plans and specification' for construction of artificial system.
  4. Mechanism for storing and converting incoming energy.
    1. Photosynthesis in plants
    2. Metabolism in animals
    3. Machinery in artificial construction"

Exhibit #5: Noah's Ark You walk into a room with the "look" and "feel" of Noah's Ark. One wall contains a perspective picture of the Ark which makes the room look like it continues on into rows of animal cages. There are recorded sounds of thunder and rain and flashes of light to simulate lightning.

Several plaques describe the purported sightings of Noah's Ark on Mt. Ararat. They mention several expeditions to find the Ark, and the sketches and photos that were supposedly made. Of course, all the photos have been lost for various reasons or are being hidden by scientists (such as at the Smithsonian Institution). No real photos or sketches are in the museum.

There is also a "scale model" of the Ark and an explanation of how all the animals fit onto it. The following points were made to show which kinds were on the Ark:

  1. "Noah was told to take two of each `kind' (seven of every `clean' kind).
  2. "Biblical kind uncertain--probably linked by genetic variation.
  3. "Example: dog kind probably includes dogs, wolves, coyotes, etc.
  4. "`Kind' certainly not more narrow than biological `species.'"
The number of "kinds" on board the Ark according to the creationists: 3,700 mammals; 8,600 birds; 6,300 reptiles; and 2,500 amphibians. Animals not on board: fishes, tunicates, echinoderms, arthropods, mollusks, worms, coelenterates, sponges, and protozoans. This is 21,100 total "kinds." From this, the absolute maximum number of animals that had to be on the Ark was 50,000 ("and probably much less").

The dimensions of the Ark were listed at 450'x75'x45'. This, the plaque proclaims, results in 1,518,750 cubic feet, which is apparently the equivalent of 569 railroad stock cars. And, of course, one can fit 240 sheep in a railroad stock car. The logical conclusion here, according to the plaque, is that the 50,000 animals could have fit into only 208 stock cars (50,000/240). So, the animals only took up 36.5% of the Ark.

How did the animals survive together without eating each other? Simple, according to another plaque:

  1. "In face of danger, predators and prey mingle together and tend to enter a torpid (death-like) state."
  2. Under stress, animals go into a state of hibernation or estivation.
  3. God could have instituted a state of hibernation, estivation, or relative dormancy in the animals He sent to the Ark, so that the need for animal husbandry would be minimized. Survivors may then have passed on these abilities to their descendants."

Exhibit #6: Geology This exhibit consists mainly of fossils in display cases. They may be real, or they may be fake. The walls are a mock up of geological strata, and there is a wall-sized picture of the Grand Canyon. There is also a small separate Mt. St. Helens room in the shape of a volcano with painted lava running down the side. The main point is seemingly that the pictures show very thin strata that apparently formed during the relatively recent eruption. It also contains pictures of upright logs in Spirit Lake.

How to Determine the Geological "Age" of a Fossil

  1. "DO NOT use the depth where it is found.
  2. DO NOT use the type of rock in which it is found.
  3. DO NOT use 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 (that would be circular reasoning).
  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)!"

The Unreliability of Radiometric Dating

  1. "If God created a `very good,' functionally mature earth, it would already have possessed an array of isotopes and elements, including their `daughter' products.
  2. During the Biblical Flood especially, but even under normal circumstances, rocks would have been subjected to alteration by ground water, etc., thereby changing their isotope content.
  3. Although decay rates of major isotopes are today rather stable, it may be that they have changed over time, particularly during times of major environmental changes (e.g. the Curse, the Flood).
  4. It is known that many--probably most--radioactive age measurements give discordant or anomalous, and therefore invalid, ages.
  5. The method assumes that the Earth is at least old enough to have produced the daughter amount through radio active decay.
"Thus we see that radiometric schemes assume the concept of uniformity and deny the Biblical doctrines of Creation, Fall, Flood, and Young Earth. Little wonder the results of these methods commonly disagree with each other and with other geological and historical evidence."

Exhibit #7: The Ice Age This room has blue, contoured walls that look somewhat like a glacier. There are large sculptured icicles hanging from the ceiling. An air conditioner blowing down from the ceiling gives the physical feeling of cold as you walk through and read the seven plaques about the creationist post-Flood Ice Age.

The first four plaques discuss the causes of the ice age, the Bible's discussion of the Ice Age, high volcanism during and after the Ice Age, and the fact that there was only ONE Ice Age (not multiple ones), respectively.

Human and Animal Migration (Plaque 5) "During the `Ice Age,' so much water was frozen that sea level was lowered several hundred feet. Ice shelves covered much of the oceans poleward of 45 degrees. This made all the continents accessible, thus allowing migration to occur...Human migration was enforced by the confusion of languages at Babel. The `Table of Nations' in Genesis 10 informs us of the basic migration patterns."

At this point, a mother with her small child walked into the room, and as I copied down the above quote, I listened to her describe to her daughter how the oceans dried up allowing kangaroos to get to Australia, and how ice covered the oceans allowing all the animals to get to America.

Environmental Effects (Plaque 6) "The continual snowfall and frequent volcanism, each on a scale far beyond anything in recent history, would leave records difficult to understand today.

Since the seasons would not be as regular and predictable as today:

All are areas of current research at ICR, and are of primary importance in deciphering the past."

Effect on Human Life (Plaque 7) "Weaker, smaller, less technologically capable groups would probably reside in caves, use stone tools, and live a `hunter/gatherer' type of lifestyle."

Exhibit #8: Post Ice-Age Civilization This room had a very "Egyptian" look to it. In the center is a two-foot model of the Tower of Babel encased in glass. Track lighting in the ceiling illuminated the many wall plaques with various colors of light. There were several skulls of numerous evolutionary ancestors of humans, although they are dismissed as apes or modern humans in the museum. I don't know if they are real or just mock-ups. For each of the species, the plaques contain the "Evolutionist Interpretation" and the "Creationist Interpretation." Here are some of the Creationist interpretations:

Homo Erectus Probably true humans. Some may be extinct apes. Along with Neanderthal and Archaic Homo sapiens, they probably represent post-Flood ethnic and/or language groups, demonstrating man's diversity.

Australopithecines "An extinct ape not ancestral to humans."

Neanderthals Short, thick, muscular individuals not unlike cold-adapted modern man such as Eskimos (consistent with the Ice Age theory following the Flood and the Tower of Babel).

"Many Neanderthal features are similar to those in elderly humans today. Since humans lived to great ages in the initial generations after the Flood and Babel, perhaps the features are primarily due to advanced age...They were true human beings, descendants of Adam and Noah."

Archaic Homo Sapiens True humans of post-Flood era.

Cave Man Weaker, degenerate descendants of those migrating away from Babel.

Laetoli Footprints A mock-up of the Laetoli footprints were displayed as an evolutionary effort to make the data fit their "preconceived theory."

The Rosetta Stone A mock-up of the Rosetta Stone was also in the room. The plaque next to it read: "Rosetta stone from near Rashid (Rosetta), Delta Egypt; 196 B.C....This inscribed stone slab was discovered in 1799 by..." Nowhere did the plaque indicate that this wasn't the ACTUAL stone. In fact, from the language it seemed that I was standing before the real thing. The museum had become quite busy, and as I wrote the above quote some people walked by and marveled that the ICR museum had this artifact. I was amused, but broke their hearts when I tapped on the hollow cardboard "stone" and indicated that it was just a photograph.

Origin of Races "The separate language groups no longer could intermarry freely with the rest of mankind. As in-breeding and lack of access to the larger pool of genes occurred, ethnic characteristics developed. Furthermore, each local environment tended to favor selection of certain traits, and eliminate the others. Ethnic characteristics, such as skin color, arose from loss of genetic variability, not from origin of new genes through mutation as suggested by evolution.

"THE CONCEPT OF RACE IS AN EVOLUTIONARY IDEA. Scripture teaches that `God has made of one blood all nations,' Acts 17:26. All humans possess the same color, just different amounts of it. We are all descendant from Adam and Noah."

Dinosaurs and Dragons "Dinosaurs lived before the Flood, and most dinosaur fossils are remains of those buried in flood sediments...Representatives of the land `kinds' must have been present on the Ark, and lived for some time after the Flood."

There were many small ancient artifacts such as daggers, oil lamps, etc. in display cases. I don't know if they were legitimate. The museum seemed to praise archaeology. One exhibit quoted an archaeologist as follows:

Accuracy of Biblical Records

"`No archaeological discovery has ever controverted a Biblical reference. Scores of archaeological findings have been made which confirm in clear outline or in exact detail historical statements in the Bible' (Nelson Glueck, Dean of Palestinian Archaeologists [not a Christian] in his book Rivers in the Desert)."

Exhibit #9: Origin of Religion The origins of various religions in Europe, Asia, Africa, the Americas, Greece, etc. were described with a creationist slant, including:

Evolutionary Pantheism "Evolutionism--that is, the denial of a transcendent personal God as Creator of all things--can be traced back to ancient Sumeria, which probably means to Nimrod...This system of pantheism ("all- god") became equivalent to polytheism ("many gods"), involving astrology, spiritism, and idolatry. Atheistic evolution soon followed, and dominates much of American academia today..."

Exhibit #10: Famous Creationists and Evolutionists This final exhibit was a hallway consisting of many pictures of famous people who, at some point in their lives, supposedly made comments about evolution and/or Christianity. For example, some of the famous scientists and philosophers in the creationist hall of fame are: Boyle, Newton, Pascal, DesCartes, Linnaeus, Faraday, Babbage, Morse, Rawlinson, Pasteur, Kelvin, Maxwell, and (not a person but) the Declaration of Independence.

Evolutionists in the hall of shame included: Hitler, Lenin, Stalin, Freud, and these (with museum quotes):

William Sumner: "His Darwinist views contradicted many basic American ideals."

John Rockefeller: "A ruthless developer of one of America's largest oil empires, Rockefeller was a staunch theistic evolutionist."

Andrew Carnegie: "Carnegie is honored today for philanthropies and devotion to culture, but he was cruel and heartless in his own day to competitors and laborers alike. Regarding evolution he said: `I remember that light came in as a flood and all was clear. Not only had I got rid of theology and the supernatural but I had found the truth of evolution.'"

Friedrich Nietzche: "He was strongly influenced by Darwin's theory, especially its racist implications."

Karl Marx: "...he wanted to dedicate his book DAS KAPITAL to Charles Darwin, who had given him what he thought was the scientific foundation for Communism."

At this point, one of the museum patrons commented on the picture of Karl Marx, "Evolutionism is practically synonymous with Communism." To which his wife responded, "This museum is a good place to send school children to get good information."

Alfred Wallace: "According to his own testimony, he was given the whole theory of natural selection in two hours of a malarial `fit' in the jungle--the same theory, in detail, that Darwin had been trying to develop for 20 years in the world's chief center of scientific learning."

There were also the names of about ten other scientists from whom Darwin purportedly "stole" his theory of evolution.

Near the end of the hall of pictures were two plaques titled:

Nazism and Communism--Fruits of Evolution


Racism--The Fruit of Evolution

The hall included a picture of an astronaut (I forget his name) who proclaims his faith in God and Creation. One woman walking by commented, "He's a creationist, and he's a rocket scientist. He's a good guy. Why do they put him in with the bad guys?" [referring to the pictures of Hitler, Lenin, Stalin, Marx, etc.] Another guy remarked, "Most of the astronauts that I've heard of believe in God when they come back down." To which his friend replied, "It would be hard not to." Suddenly, another person said, "Ooooh, that evolutionist looks like Woody Allen!"

The final exhibit in the creationism vs. evolution hallway is pictures of two trees (a Creationist Tree and an Evolutionary Tree). The Creationist tree has "long roots" and "good fruits." The Evolutionary tree has "short roots" and "evil fruits."

Branches of the Creationist Tree

Genuine Christianity:    Correct Practice:
  True Christology          True Science
  True Evangelism           True History
  True Missions             True Government
  True Fellowship           True Americanism
  True Gospel               True Family Life
  True Faith                True Education
  True Morality
  True Hope

Branches of the Evolutionary Tree

Harmful Philosophies:     Evil Practices:
  Communism                   Abortion
  Nazism                      Promiscuity
  Imperialism                 Pornography
  Monopolism                  Genocide
  Humanism                    Euthanasia
  Atheism                     Infanticide
  Amoralism                   Chauvinism
  Scientism                   Bestiality
  Racism                      Homosexuality
  Pantheism                   Drug Culture
  Behaviorism                 Child Abuse
  Materialism                 Slavery
The museum exhibits end with these words:

"To those who are not yet believing Christians or whose faith has been weakened by attacks of skeptics, ICR personnel would be happy to assist you in settling these vital and eternal issues. Just ask..."

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