PETERSBURG, Ky. The $27 million Creation Museum, owned by the Christian ministry Answers in Genesis, opened to capacity crowds, a large worldwide media presence, and a small group of demonstrators May 28. Ministry founder Ken Ham welcomed visitors with a message that the museum will help Christians defend their faith in an increasingly hostile world.
The Memorial Day crowds began lining up more than an hour before the doors opened, with nearly 500 people in line by 10 a.m. At least 32 U.S. states and two Canadian provinces were represented by that time. By day's end, more than 4,000 individuals had toured the museum.
As had been threatened, two groups of protestors combined for a "Rally for Reason" outside the front gates of the museum, with about 50 participants present. The protest remained peaceful, with local church groups offering water and snacks to the protestors.
The museum opened just a week after an ABC News poll revealed that 60 percent of Americans essentially believe in the creation account.
"At the museum, we want people to understand the problems with the theory of evolution, and see how science actually supports what the Bible teaches about the origins of the universe, the global flood, and ultimately why Christ came to earth 2,000 years ago," said Mark Looy, co-founder and chief communications officer of Answers in Genesis.
The high-tech, 60,000-square-foot facility includes 55 animatronic and static figures of dinosaurs and humans, a 200-seat special-effects theater, and a 30-foot-tall depiction of a section of Noah's Ark. The museum features exhibits created by the man known for designing the "Jaws" and "King Kong" attractions at Universal Studios in Florida. Visitors can also see real dinosaur eggs and dinosaur bones, and enjoy a 78-seat planetarium.
"Just as Dayton, Tennessee, was ground zero for the defense of evolution in 1925, so Petersburg, Kentucky, will become ground zero for the defense of creation in 2007," Ham said.
Ham continued. "There are a lot of Ph.D. scientists who believe what the Bible teaches. Both creationists and evolutionists use the same science, and the same evidencethe difference is our pre-existing beliefs (about origins)."
With a strong international media turn-out to cover both the museum's opening and related events, Ham conducted numerous interviews throughout the day including BBC-TV and Swiss television, returning to the theme of the museum's place in Christendom and the defense of the Christian faith.
"The buzz is out there globally about this place," Ham said. "It is incredible that something that is Christian and built on the authority of God's Word would get such international media attention. But, you haven't seen anything yetthis museum will be a rallying point for Christians around the world.
Ham said the museum uses geology, biology, astronomy and anthropology as a backdrop to the Bible.
"Christians are tired of being beaten down and marginalized in this country," Ham said. "Many are telling us it's about time we had a place where Christians can stand up and say the Bible is true; its history is true; we can defend it; we have the answers; and we can proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ. That's what this museum is all about."
Ham went on to address the relevance of the creation/evolution topic.
"During the first Republican presidential candidate debate, three candidates indicated they don't believe in evolution," Ham added. "The mere fact it was asked demonstrates that creation/evolution is a foundational, hot button issue."
Some of the festivities included family activities throughout opening day, including concerts by singer Buddy Davis and guitarist Ray Cummins; face painting and a dragon slide for the kids; hot air balloon rides; and a grand opening fireworks celebration to cap off the day.
"We wanted to make this a special occasion for our guests, a time when families could really come out and enjoy themselves for the whole day tour the museum, take in the gardens, have a picnic and relax together as a family," Looy said. "I believe we've achieved that, and we look forward to continuing to serve the region in this way in the days ahead."
For more information, visit www.creationmuseum.org.