- With its towering dinosaurs and a model of the Grand
Canyon, America's newest tourist attraction might look like the ideal destination
for fans of the film Jurassic Park.
- The new multi-million-dollar Museum of Creation, which
will open this spring in Kentucky, will, however, be aimed not at film
buffs, but at the growing ranks of fundamentalist Christians in the United
- It aims to promote the view that man was created in his
present shape by God, as the Bible states, rather than by a Darwinian process
of evolution, as scientists insist.
- The centrepiece of the museum is a series of huge model
dinosaurs, built by the former head of design at Universal Studios, which
are portrayed as existing alongside man, contrary to received scientific
opinion that they lived millions of years apart.
- Other exhibits include images of Adam and Eve, a model
of Noah's Ark and a planetarium demonstrating how God made the Earth in
- The museum, which has cost a mighty $25 million (£13
million) will be the world's first significant natural history collection
devoted to creationist theory. It has been set up by Ken Ham, an Australian
evangelist, who runs Answers in Genesis, one of America's most prominent
creationist organisations. He said that his aim was to use tourism, and
the theme park's striking exhibits, to convert more people to the view
that the world and its creatures, including dinosaurs, were created by
God 6,000 years ago.
- "We want people to be confronted by the dinosaurs,"
said Mr Ham. "It's going to be a first class experience. Visitors
are going to be hit by the professionalism of this place. It is not going
to be done in an amateurish way. We are making a statement."
- The museum's main building was completed recently, and
work on the entrance exhibit starts this week. The first phase of the museum,
which lies on a 47-acre site 10 miles from Cincinatti on the border of
Kentucky and Ohio, will open in the spring.
- Market research companies hired by the museum are predicting
at least 300,000 visitors in the first year, who will pay $10 (£5.80)
- Among the projects still to be finished is a reconstruction
of the Grand Canyon, purportedly formed by the swirling waters of the Great
Flood ñ where visitors will "gape" at the bones of dinosaurs
that "hint of a terrible catastrophe", according to the museum's
- Mr Ham is particularly proud of a planned reconstruction
of the interior of Noah's Ark. "You will hear the water lapping, feel
the Ark rocking and perhaps even hear people outside screaming," he
- More controversial exhibits deal with diseases and famine,
which are portrayed not as random disasters, but as the result of mankind's
sin. Mr Ham's Answers in Genesis movement blames the 1999 massacre at Columbine
High School in Colorado, in which two teenagers killed 12 classmates and
a teacher before killing themselves, on evolutionist teaching, claiming
that the perpetrators believed in Darwin's survival of the fittest.
- Other exhibits in the museum will blame homosexuals for
Aids. In a "Bible Authority Room" visitors are warned: "Everyone
who rejects his history ñ including six-day creation and Noah's
flood ñ is `wilfully' ignorant.''
- Elsewhere, animated figures will be used to recreate
the Garden of Eden, while in another room, visitors will see a tyrannosaurus
rex pursuing Adam and Eve after their fall from grace. "That's the
real terror that Adam's sin unleashed," visitors will be warned.
- A display showing ancient Babylon will deal with the
Tower of Babel and "unravel the origin of so-called races'', while
the final section will show the life of Christ, as an animated angel proclaims
the coming of the Saviour and a 3D depiction of the crucifixion.
- In keeping with modern museum trends, there will also
be a cafe with a terrace to "breathe in the fresh air of God's creation'',
and a shop "crammed'' with creationist souvenirs, including T-shirts
and books such as A is for Adam and Dinky Dinosaur: Creation Days.
- The museum's opening will reinforce the burgeoning creationist
movement and evangelical Christianity in the US, which gained further strength
with the re-election of President Bush in November.
- Followers of creationism have been pushing for their
theories to be reintegrated into American schoolroom teaching ever since
the celebrated 1925 "Scopes Monkey Trial", when US courts upheld
the right of a teacher to use textbooks that included evolutionary theory.
- In 1987, the US Supreme Court reinforced that position
by banning the teaching of creationism in public schools on the grounds
of laws that separate state and Church.
- Since then, however, many schools ñ particularly
in America's religious Deep South ñ have got around the ban by teaching
the theory of "intelligent design", which claims that evolutionary
ideas alone still leave large gaps in understanding.
- "Since President Bush's re-election we have been
getting more membership applications than we can handle,'' said Mr Ham,
who expects not just the devout, but also the curious, to flock through
the turnstiles. "The evolutionary elite will be getting a wake-up
- © Copyright of Telegraph Group Limited 2005.