A museum that advocates creationism unveiled an exhibit in March that affirms Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection, even as it rejects his teachings on evolution.
“All we’re doing is helping people to understand that natural selection is not evolution, [even though] it’s portrayed that way in public schools,” said Ken Ham, founder of the Christian ministry Answers in Genesis, which operates the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Ky., near the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport.
Natural selection was Darwin's explanation for how organisms gain new traits over time. Ham said the exhibit was added to the museum to show that creationists can believe in natural selection without having to embrace evolution.
The exhibit, titled “Natural Selection Is Not Evolution,” features a cave-like aquarium with Mexican tetras. The Mexican tetra is normally sighted in its surface-dwelling form; however, in the total darkness of caves, the same species of fish has lost what it does not need—its eyes. The exhibit shows how organisms possess traits specific to their environment. It also features a “Creation Orchard” that shows the family tree of each original kind of created plant or animal described in Genesis.
Ham believes creatures can gain new traits to fit their surroundings within their own families. He asserts, however, that changing from one organism to another, such as an ape evolving into a human, does not occur.
“Darwin was right about natural selection, right about different species forming and species changing, but wrong that such changes are a mechanism to change one kind of animal into a totally different kind,” Ham said.
Eugenie Scott, executive director of the National Center for Science Education, said natural selection can be decoupled from evolution in a sense and was not surprised by the Creation Museum’s new exhibit.
“They have long recognized that natural selection works. They just don’t think that it can do anything important,” Scott said.
The $27 million museum has drawn international attention and an estimated 650,000 visitors since its opening in 2007, according to the Associated Press.