Inside the UK’s Creationist museum (Part 1)

Just opposite where the Isle of Wight ferry lands, a row of old shops and pubs sits picturesquely on Portsmouth Hard, in the shadow of the magnificent Victorian battleship HMS Warrior.

Here lies the theory of evolution

One of these, the old National Provincial Bank, is now home to the museum of the UK’s Creation Science Movement. The Genesis Expo is described by the CSM as:

…12 dioramas and a clutch of real fossilised dinosaur eggs… A wide range of topics is examined and some of the displays are animated… They are all presented in an easily understood form for those with little knowledge of the enormous amount of scientific evidence that is against evolution and supports creation.

This is the UK’s largest and most popular Creationist museum. In a series of three articles on The Ranger’s Blog you will find out what happened when The Ranger and the Wildlife Gardener – both unapologetic supporters of Darwin’s theory – took a day off and visited Genesis Expo. Part one is below.

The Ranger's Blog team

The Ranger’s Blog review team assembled at Portsmouth Harbour railway station – Matt, Cat and junior rangers Bill (12) and Jack (10) coming overseas from the Isle of Wight, and Ruth plus junior Wildlife Gardeners Sophia (8) and Eleanor (5) rode down from Surrey for the day. So, a wide range of ages to test out the museum’s effectiveness. A fun morning was spent enjoying the delights of the historic naval dockyard, and a decent lunch at a nearby pub. But before the creation museum could be tackled, I asked the party two questions: ‘What are you expecting to see?’ and ‘How do you think life came about?’. Here’s some highlights from their answers:

What are you expecting to see? Eleanor: A plastic dinosaur! Sophia: They are going to say that they think Darwin is wrong about evolution. I think they’re wrong. I think Darwin will win! Jack: Lots of people with suits on screaming about God. Bill: They’ll say there’s no proof to support evolution even though there is. C@: Some stuff about how dinosaur bones were placed there by evil scientists, as kids love dinosaurs and it’s a good hook to get them thinking about creation. Ruth: Completely the opposite of what I think about evolution! Matt: some rubbishy old displays. Might be some people asking us questions. Probably a bit of a disappointment.

Genesis Expo, Portsmouth Hard
The peeling frontage of the Genesis Expo

How do you think life came about? Sophia: Everything evolved from little other things. I dunno where they came from. Jack: First there was little bugs like those really small things… bacteria, then they turn into fishes, then they turn into monkeys and then they turn into humans. Bill: It’s so long ago its going to be impossible to tell, you’ve just gotta accept it’s one of the mysteries in life. C@: Why do we need to know? I’m not sure we do. I do believe in evolution, but I guess life kind of fermented out of a primordial soup. Ruth: Give God the big bang and the rest can come down to Darwin. I don’t have any truck with creationists. Matt: There isn’t any problem with having God and evolution as far as I can see. Perhaps God intended us to explore the universe through science.

A range of viewpoints from the visitors – and it’s interesting to note that the younger children’s views were quite vague anyway, so perhaps the Expo stood a chance. But more-or-less everyone seems to have grasped the point that this could be an antagonistic debate with two opposing points of view. Now read part 2: entering the museum – what we saw and heard. And in Part 3, see how the visitors described their experience. Were we at all influenced by the museum’s message? Keep reading The Ranger’s Blog to find out.

EDIT: March 2014. Note that the Genesis Expo museum now appears to be permanently closed, although it is still there so I suppose might reopen.

6 thoughts on “Inside the UK’s Creationist museum (Part 1)”

  1. On Evolution: “Things develop from other things like the little mammals that were alive when the dinosaurs were here are now monkeys and giraffes.”
    On Creationism: “Where things just came alive, they were just put on Earth by God.”

  2. This is terrible, kids as young as 8 talking about evolution.
    Before you get angry, I’m not an ID advocate, I just think telling (yes, telling not explaining) kids that evolution is 100% right and everyone else is wrong is just as bad as what the creationists do.
    I bet if you asked one of those kids to define evolution, they wouldn’t be able to.

    The problem is that complicated scientific principles are given to the public in a simplified form which leads to misunderstanding.

    To quote “Give God the big bang and the rest can come down to Darwin” is just totally wrong! Darwin didn’t explain anything other than how life propagated, he had nothing to do with how life started or anything before that.

  3. Great idea, to test with a team covering a wide range of ages. And a great blog, too. Thanks.

    Just one small point. Please don’t call yourselves “Darwinists”, as in, The Ranger and the Wildlife Gardener – both unapologetic Darwinists.

    This plays into the hands of the creationists, justifying their attempts to make out that this is a respectable scientific controversy, ‘Darwinists’ vs Creationists.

    There is no controversy. Only religious cranks accept creationism. Don’t give them ammunition to work with.

    The Ranger responds: you are correct. I’m a neophyte to this debate and haven’t yet learnt the shibboleths. Thanks: I’ll be more precise in future.

  4. For a more realistic depiction of humankind’s early roots, rather than trek down to Portsmouth, you could simply acquire a DVD of “The Flintstones” (though the museum would probably provide more laughs).

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