CREATION EVIDENCE MUSEUM
CREATION EVIDENCE MUSEUM TIMELINE
1936 (October 21): Carl Edward Baugh was born in Kennedy, Texas.
1955: Baugh graduated from Abilene, Texas High School.
1959: Baugh graduated from Baptist Bible College.
1968: Baugh founded Calvary Heights Baptist Church in East St. Louis, Illinois.
1984: Baugh founded the Creation Evidence Museum in Glen Rose, Texas.
1996 (February): Baugh’s creationist views were broadcast in a one-hour NBC television special, “The Mysterious Origins of Man.”
2009: The Creation Evidence Museum moved into a new building in its current location.
The longstanding tensions between the scientific and biblical narratives have flared historically whenever advances in various scientific disciplines have raised questions about the empirical validity of biblical accounts of creation. For example, around the beginning of the nineteenth century, the development of Geology as a discipline, with its findings that the Earth was far more ancient than suggested by the account in Genesis, led to increased support for Gap Theory and Day-Age Theory as alternative theories for the discrepancy between geological and biblical accounts. Gap Theory posits that there was a long time-gap between the first two days of creation as chronicled in Genesis while Day-Age Theory proposes that the days of creation listed in Genesis were themselves long periods of time (thousands or even millions of years). Most recently, evolutionary creationism, which postulates that God created life and humankind while evolution constitutes an explanation for how life developed (Saletan 2014).
Beginning in the 1960s, conservative Christian groups of various kinds have mounted active opposition to evolutionary theory with creationism, in part due to the struggles over a variety of issues (e.g., science education, sex education, prayer in schools) in the public school system. One outgrowth of these struggles has been the formation of a variety of museums, research institutes, and foundations defending the biblical creation narrative (Numbers 2006; Duncan 2009). Creationist museums are found primarily in the United States, but there is a sprinkling of such museums around the world ( Simitopoulou and Xirotitis 2010). One of the more significant creationist museums in the U.S. is the Creationist Evidence Museum.
Carl Baugh, the founder of the Creation Evidence Museum, was born in Kennedy, Texas in 1936. He graduated from high school in Abilene, Texas in 1955 and then attended Baptist Bible College in Springfield, Missouri where he earned a three year Graduate of Theology degree. Following graduation, Baugh was ordained as a minister in the conservative Baptist Bible Fellowship denomination. In 1968, he founded Calvary Heights Baptist Church in East St. Louis, Illinois and then during the 1970s founded International Baptist College there (Henry 1996).
Baugh recalls having a longstanding interest in the origins of life: “”I have always been interested in answering the questions…of life origins,” Baugh says “I wanted to know who I really was. And after a period of decades of looking into this, I found that I specifically needed to know what was in the fossil record, so I came to Glen Rose” (Henry 1996). Baugh acted on this interest in 1982 when he moved to Glen Rose Texas, which is about fifty miles from Ft. Worth and near the Dinosaur Valley State Park. The park has become a tourist attraction that features dinosaur tracks in the stream bed of the Paluxy River estimated to be 113 million years old (Beets 2005). Footprints from the Paluxy site have been featured in books written from a creationist since at least the 1960s (Morris and Whitcomb 1961; Wilder-Smith 1965; Moore 2009). Baugh began his explorations around the Paluxy River in March, 1982 and within a few days reported findings of “unparalleled historic significance.” He went on to found the Creation Evidence Museum there in Glen Rose in 1984.
Contemporary creationists can be divided into “old earthers” and “young earthers.” The former postulate that science-based dating of the evolutionary process is correct but that the process itself was initiated by a Creator. The latter, the strong creationists, attempt to validate biblical dating and the biblical creation narrative. By his own account, Baugh has come to his strong creationist position gradually. He initially held both biblical and “atheistic” (evolutionist) views simultaneously. He initially was a “theistic evolutionist.” He believed that there was a God of creation who Himself created the lowest life forms and then put in place the process of evolution: “It means that there is a God superintending all the universe, but he developed man through the lower life systems in a progressive, evolutionary epoch” (Henry 1996). It was his experience excavating limestone formations along the Paluxy River that converted him into a strong creationist. In the course of his excavations, he discovered in the context of what was an ancient limestone formation (in situ) containing what he believed to be a perfect human footprint. He recalled that “It blew my mind. My explanation for my origins had been blown. If man and dinosaur had existed contemporaneously in the fossil record, that meant that the whole fossil record had to be recent in origin,” he says. “I had to examine my own philosophical posture. That was traumatic. It was exhilarating, but traumatic” (Henry 1996). Baugh subsequently authored a book, Dinosaur: Scientific Evidence that Dinosaurs and Men Walked Together in which he presented the evidence produced from his excavations (Baugh 1987).
The Creation Evidence Museum also takes on other problematic biblical accounts, such as the claim that biblical figures lived for hundreds of years and acts of divine origin (Duncan 2009:25-31). Baugh argues that before the Great Flood, Earth had a smaller and denser atmosphere, which had higher concentrations or oxygen and carbon dioxide. The electromagnetic field surrounding Earth was stronger, operating as a filter to eliminate impurities. The atmosphere was a magenta-colored protective canopy. Together these features prolonged lifespan and permitted the development of larger life-forms, both animal and human. Baugh also offers an explanation for biblical passages referring to God causing the Earth to tremble. By his account, God created “gravity waves” that stretched the “space fabric” to such an extent that distant stars exploded, sending shock waves back to Earth (Beets 2005). This same stretching of the space fabric also is used to reconcile scientific and biblical universe origin narratives in a way that resembles Gap Theory and Day-Age Theory. In this account, what occurred in deep space through space fabric stretching could have occurred over millions of years and had little to do with events on Earth.
The Creation Evidence Museum reflects the vision and personal mission of its founder, Carl Baugh. The museum itself has evolved over time. It originated in a small, one hundred year-old log cabin (in 1984) and then moved to a double-wide trailer (in 1993) and, most recently, to its own building (1993). The museum space remains too limited to adequately display range of artifacts necessary to support its basic premise. Baugh claims to have located and excavated 475 dinosaur footprints along with 86 human footprints. The museum features exhibits such as a painting of a baby playing alongside, a painting of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, a videotaped lecture titled “Creation in Symphony,” the fossil collection gathered from the Glen Rose area, and, somewhat inexplicably, a statue of legendary Dallas football coach Tom Landry.
Outside of the museum, Baugh is erecting a “hyperbaric biosphere” that is intended to replicate the pre-Flood atmosphere of Earth (strong electromagnetic field, oxygen-rich and carbon dioxide-rich atmosphere, and protective canopy) that Baugh claims permitted the growth of large life-forms within the creationist timeframe (Duncan 2009:31-35). Baugh claims to have already extended the lifespans of fruit flies three-fold and detoxified copperheads in the biosphere. The museum also sponsors research trips to Papua New Guinea in search of living pterodactyls. Baugh reports that five colleagues have spotted the flying dinosaurs, “but all the sightings were made after dark, and we were not able to capture the creatures” (Powers 2005; Moore 2009).
The nonprofit museum has struggled with financial support issues through its history. Baugh has at times drawn on family members to staff the operation, and admission rates have remained modest (Henry 1996). The museum has received support from the conservative Christian Father House Foundation, and Baugh has generated funds through speaking engagements (Father House Foundation n.d.).
In addition to the museum, Baugh has pursued his mission through personal appearances. For a time he hosted a creationism program, Creation in the 21st Century on the Trinity Broadcasting Network. During the 1990s, he also appeared on televangelist Kenneth Copeland’s television program in a series, Evidences of Creation, which featured some of Baugh’s most extreme claims and explanations ( Scaramanga 2012). In 1996, NBC broadcasted a one-hour special program, hosted by actor Charlton Heston ,”The Mysterious Origins of Man,” that featured Baugh’s claims. The NBC program drew intense opposition from mainstream scientists and skeptics. One review concluded that “Rather than being an objective documentary on human origins, or legitimate scientific debate about the subject, the show promoted many unfounded and pseudoscientific claims, presented a very misleading picture of the way science works, and largely ignored what mainstream scientists have to say on these subjects (Kuban 1996; see also Thomas 1996).
The Creationist Evidence Museum, like counterparts, such as The Creationist Museum in Kentucky, has generated considerable controversy. Some major sources of controversy in the Creationist Evidence Museum case have been Baugh’s educational claims and credentials and the validity of the artifacts presented to support the creationist case.
Carl Baugh’s educational credentials have been repeatedly questioned as the degrees that he claims and the institutions from which they were obtained ( California Graduate School of Theology in Los Angeles, Pacific College of Graduate Studies , College of Advanced Education) are defunct or of dubious legitimacy in the academic community. For example, the College of Advanced Education is a unit within the International Baptist College; Baugh is president of International Baptist College (Duncan 2009:44-45; Vickers 2002; Henry 1996).
Baugh has promoted his Paluxy findings as a direct challenge to evolutionist claims: “Leading evolutionary scholars have admitted that if we could prove that man and dinosaur existed contemporaneously, that would destroy the entire theory of evolution,” Baugh explains. “I have that evidence” (Henry 1996). However, the evidence presented has been contested, not only by mainstream scientists and skeptics but also by other creationists. There are a number of artifacts offered in support of creationism at the Creationist Evidence Museum, but independent investigations have rejected all of the creationist interpretations (Hastings 1988; Neyman 2014). There is a hammer of recent origin that was discovered in a limestone formation (“London Artifact”); it appears that limestone simply formed around the contemporary hammer, There is a footprint (“Burdick Print”) that appears to have been carved into the artifact. What is presented as a fossilized finger is simply an “interestingly shaped rock.”
Baugh’s most direct challenge to evolutionary theory is contemporaneous dinosaur and human footprints. In a thorough assessment of the mantracks debate, Hastings asserted: “ To conclude that there are no mantracks in Cretaceous limestone along the Paluxy River in Texas is to take no necessary ideological stand; it merely is stating matter-of-factly the results of an evidence-based scientific position. From a variety of viewpoints among the careful and probing mantrack investigators came our common scientific conclusions. That variety includes both conservative and liberal Christianity, atheistic humanism, and agnostic skepticism. Though we differed on some details of interpretation, we have come to the same or very similar overall conclusions concerning creationist mantrack claims along the Paluxy. The absence of mantracks is not necessarily a pro-evolutionary statement, although none of the research in pursuit of them does harm to modern evolutionary conclusions. Nor is it anti-creationist for the myriad of philosophical and theological positions embodying the concept of a Creator. It is, however, a devastating indictment against scientifically irresponsible claims fueled by an anti-evolutionary zeal notable among many fundamentalist Christian believers – a zeal sufficient to obscure or diminish sensitivity to the scientific irresponsibility of the claims” (Hastings 1988; see also Kuban 2010). It is also worth noting that the expansive Dinosaur Valley State Park, which is just a short distance from the Creationist Evidence Museum, has yielded thousands of dinosaur tracks along the Paluxy, but no contemporaneous human footprints ( Henry 1996; Moore 2009). It does not help Baugh’s case that there have been some admissions of deliberate fabrication of artifacts (Kennedy 2008).
Just as significantly, stiff challenges to Creation Evidence Museum claims have been mounted by other creationists. Henry (1996) summarizes their position as follows: “Baugh has misinterpreted his evidence, they say–and is, in fact, a myth himself. They say he’s fabricated his own credentials, horribly botched a major dinosaur dig, and claimed credit for archaeological discoveries he did not make. He has stretched the “evidence” to perpetuate his own version of the truth, much to the chagrin of fellow creationists.” Greg Neyman, founder of Old Earth Ministries (formerly, Answers in Creation), harshly assessed Creation Evidence Museum displays: “Creation Evidence Museum is a collection of fabricated, faked items. Items which cannot be verified, such as the iron pot, leave us with no choice but to assume these also are faked. When presenting evidence, it is the burden of the creation science advocate to provide evidence to corroborate the authenticity of the item. Baugh and CEM provide none whatsoever. When considering any evidence from young earth creationist Carl Baugh, one should immediately suspect deception and deceit” (Neyman 2014).
For his part, Baugh, now at an advanced age, continues his mission and vision, undeterred by critiques and disconfirmations from a variety of sources. His mission continues to be to attempt to provide scientific legitimation for the biblical account of creation. As Duncan (2009:27) has summarized the matter, Baugh’s model “was very clearly developed from the pages of the Bible. Uniquely, however, this model is not an attempt to make the biblical account of creation “fit” with more broadly accepted scientific thought about the universe; it is, rather, an attempt to take the biblical account of creationism and adorn it with scientific-sounding rhetoric.”
Baugh, Carl. 1987. Dinosaur: Scientific Evidence that Dinosaurs and Men Walked Together. Columbia, TN: Promise Publishing.
Beets, Greg. 2005. “Creationism Alive and Kicking in Glen Rose.” Austin Chronicle , August 5. Accessed from http://www.austinchronicle.com/news/2005-08-05/283058/ on 24 December 2014.
“Creation Evidence Museum.” RoadsideAmerica.com. Accessed from http://www.roadsideamerica.com/story/8196 on 24 December 2014 .
Duncan, Julie A. 2009. Faith Displayed as Science: The Role of the Creation Museum in the Modern Creationist Movement. Honors Thesis, Department of the History of Science. Cambridge: Harvard University.
Father House Foundation. n.d. Accessed from
http://fathershousefoundation.com/pages/creation-evidence-museum.php#sthash.Gh6Oi0TS.dpuf on 28 December 2014.
Hastings, Ronnie. 1988. “ The Rise and Fall of the Paluxy Mantracks.” Accessed from
http://www.asa3.org/ASA/PSCF/1988/PSCF9-88Hastings.html on 24 December 2014 .
Henry, Kaylois. 1996. “Footprints of Fantasy.” Dallas Observer, December 12. Accessed from
Kennedy, Bud. 2008. “Human Footprints along with Dinosaur Tracks?” Fort Worth Star-Telegram, August 10.
Kuban, Glen. 2010. “ Man Tracks? A Summary of the Paluxy “Man Track” Controversy.” Accessed from http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/paluxy/mantrack.html on 24 December 2014.
Kuban, Glen. 1996. “ A Review of NBC’s “The Mysterious Origins of Man” Accessed from http://paleo.cc/paluxy/nbc.htm on 28 December 2014.
Moore, Randy. 2009. “Reports of the National Center for Science Education: Creation Evidence Museum.” 29:34–35. Accessed from http://ncse.com/rncse/29/5/creation-evidence-museum on 27 December 2014.
Neyman, Greg. 2014. “Creation Science Rebuttals: Creation Evidence Museum Lacks Evidence!” Old Earth Ministries . Accessed from http://www.oldearth.org/rebuttal/cem/cem.htm on 24 December 2014.
Numbers, Ronald. 2006. The Creationists: From Scientific Creationism to Intelligent Design. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Powers, Ashley. 2005. “Adam, Eve and T. Rex.” Los Angeles Times, August 27. Accessed from http://articles.latimes.com/2005/aug/27/local/me-dinosaurs27 on 24 December 2014.
Saletan, William. 2014. “Creativity for Creationists.” Accessed from http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/human_nature/2014/12/evolutionary_creationism_jeff_hardin_reconciles_evangelical_christianity.html on 28 December 2014.
Scaramanga, Jonny. 2012. “Five Most Epic Creationist Fails.” Accessed from http://www.patheos.com/blogs/leavingfundamentalism/2012/07/25/five-most-epic-creationist-fails/#ixzz3NCPb3MMM on 28 December 2014.
Simitopoulou, Kally and Nikolaos Xirotitis. 2010. “ The Revival of Creationism in Cntemporary Societies: A Short Survey.” Bulletin der Schweizerischen Gesellschaft für Anthropologie 16:79–86.
Thomas, Dave. 1996. “ NBC’s Origins Show.” Skeptical Inquirer. Accessed from
http://www.csicop.org/sb/show/nbcs_origins_show/ on 28 December 2014.
Vickers, Brett. 2002. Some Questionable Creationist Credentials.” The TalkOrigins Archive. Accessed from http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/credentials.html on 24 December 2014 .
Whitcomb, John C., Jr., and Henry M. Morris. 1961. The Genesis Flood. Philadelphia: Presbyterian and Reformed.
Wilder-Smith, Arthur Ernest. 1965. Man’s Origin/Man’s Destiny: A Critical Survey of the Principles of Evolution and Christianity. Chicago: Harold Shaw.
David G. Bromley
30 December 2014