A couple of years back, I toured the Creation Museum and interviewed two of their scientists as part of my sabbatical project. I have also read some of their literature including books and watched DVDs they produce.
Ham stayed close to the Museum’s position, deviating only slightly when he admitted that some of the Bible might not be literal but “poetic.” In my interview with Jason Lisle, their astrophysicist who earned his PhD from the University of Colorado at Boulder, he said the Museum’s focus was on Genesis because if people did not take Genesis literally they would question other parts of the Bible.
Other parts of Ham’s presentation were consistent with what I heard in the interviews and read in their literature. For example, they insist the universe was created in six 24-hour days. And while somewhat glossed over, they explain this by claiming God used supernatural powers during those six days. Without saying this specifically, Ham did allude to it in two ways. First was his invention of “historic” verses “observable” science. His argument is that we just cannot know for sure what happened before 6,000 years ago. Unlike Dr. Lisle, Ham was reluctant to evoke the idea of supernatural powers sticking with questioning the validity of dating methods.
Second, was Ham’s criticism about the definition of science. He is upset that the definition of science allows only “naturalistic” causal explanations. His position and one place they agree with the Intelligent Design folks is that science should allow “supernatural” explanations. I noted the agreement with Intelligent Design because I asked Dr. Lisle about their relationship to ID. He was not favorable noting that they did not believe in the six 24-hour days and they were wobbly on evolution.
However, the Creationists have themselves gone soft on evolution, admitting it happens within “kinds” which is close to family groups. When I toured the museum and interviewed the two scientists that surprised me until I saw why they were forced to go that way. They could not explain how Noah could put two of every species on the ark so they reduced the number by arguing that Noah took only two of each “kind.” And after the flood, each kind was given a super power to evolve quckly. They use the example of dinosaurs. I think they claim something like 7 kinds and those on the ark were small and infants. After the flood they exploded into many larger species. They have a large poster of Darwin's finches (Ham showed in his presentation) and the horse evolution chronology in the Smithsonian. Horses, like dinosaurs, started out small and got larger only after the flood.
So why don’t we see this evolution today? They explained that the super power has dissipated so evolution within “kinds” is no longer noticeable.
The other scientist I interviewed was Georgia Purdom. She earned her degree in molecular genetics from Ohio State. Dr. Purdom’s research question is evolutionary. She wants to understand how bacteria and viruses turned from good to bad after the flood. If you watched the debate, you noticed that Mr. Ham claimed all species were good and even vegetarians before the flood. The vegetarian claim helps explain why lions and tigers (or cat kinds) didn't try to eat other species on the ark.
Unfortunately, the Museum has not provided Dr. Purdom with a microscope or Dr. Lisle with a powerful telescope. Thus neither can do active research. As they explained, their work is theoretical.
You probably noticed that Mr. Ham frequently tried to shift the conversation from whether or not creationism was scientifically viable to the Bible and morals. That is because science is not their key objective. When I first requested a visit and interviews, I mistakenly refereed to their museum as the Creation Science Museum and was corrected that “Science” was not in their name. Dr. Lisle explained to me that their primary goal is not science per se. As Lisle commented, “We are a ministry.” Their primary mission is to save souls.