Creation Evidence Museum
Glen Rose, Texas
The unprepared are unaware that they are approaching the Creation Evidence Museum. There are no brochures for it in the local motel racks, no signs along Highway 67. The only advertisement for the place is a small, homemade billboard in front of its property, faded and peeling since the last time we passed this way, 17 years ago.
But the people who care to know, the people who arrive in vans with "church" stenciled on their sides, are very much aware of the CEM. It obviously has its own advertising network. The place is packed -- literally, to bursting -- when we visit. Granted, the CEM isn't very big -- just a small room stuffed with exhibits inside a building the size of a mobile home -- but, still, at least two dozen people are crammed inside, and more are arriving as we make our gift shop purchases and squeeze out the door.
The CEM, opened in 1984, proudly bills itself as a "scientifically chartered museum." Its founder and director, Carl Baugh, Ph.D., sees it as a natural extension of his life's work -- to topple Darwin's theory of evolution by proving that people and dinosaurs lived together.
Dr. Baugh (whose doctorate, it should be noted, is in Philosophy and is from a correspondence college in Australia) is a Baptist minister, born in 1936, who -- miraculously, perhaps -- still has a full head of thick, brown hair. He is an inescapable presence at the CEM, the Mr. Rogers of Creationism. His cardigan-clad image hosts a 40-minute video tour in which he explains every single item on display in the Museum. The video is run several times daily, on three big monitors, simultaneously, in the tiny room. Like it or not, you will get Dr. Baugh's message at the CEM.
Most of the evidence at the Creation Evidence Museum is in what Dr. Baugh claims are fossilized human footprints, found in what we've been "educated" to believe is 113-million-year-old limestone, right along the banks of the Pauluxy River, literally in the back yard of the museum. Dinosaurs left fossil tracks here, too, and Dr. Baugh claims to have excavated 475 dinosaur footprints and 86 human footprints. If that ratio is correct, then there must be a HUGE cover-up underway by the folks down the road at Dinosaur Valley State Park, which shares the same limestone bed as the Creation Evidence Museum, has found thousands of dinosaur tracks, and hasn't found a human footprint yet.
Yet how can one deny the evidence of one's own eyes? On display next to the cash register in the CEM is a slab of rock with what appears to be a footlike impression -- 16 inches long, three inches wide, but it does kind of look like a human footprint, sort of.
Another rock slab hangs on a wall, the famous "Burdick Track," with a 14-inch-long footprint that looks like it was made by Fred Flintstone. Dr. Baugh's sweater-clad video voice reassures us that the fat footprint "is not inconsistent in size with those individuals who habitually go barefoot." He doesn't mention that Clifford Burdick, the supposed discoverer of the footprint, was also a founder of the Deluge Society, one of America's first creationist groups.
The Deluge is important to the Creation Evidence Museum, because, despite its attempts to cite really big men with really big feet who have lived in our lifetimes -- Shaquille O'Neal and an eight-foot-tall guy wearing "a suit we made for him" are mentioned -- Dr. Baugh's main justification for his giant human footprints is that every human who lived before the biblical flood was a giant. To prove this, the museum is building a suitably titanic "hyperbaric biosphere," in which it hopes to reproduce "Earth's original pre-Flood environment" -- lots of oxygen, lots of atmospheric pressure -- and grow dinosaurs.
A test-model hyperbaric biosphere, the size of 55-gallon oil drum, sits next to the biggest video monitor in the museum, an oscilloscope perched on top, its screen displaying a monotonous flat line. Either there's nothing inside, or whatever's in there is dead (This is apparently the hyperbaric biosphere in which Bayou Bob's rattlesnakes had their venom made "symmetrical.").
Outside, however, the mighty full-size biosphere is nearing completion. It's enclosed within a huge greenhouse, is the size of two buses parked end-to-end, and looks like it belongs in the engine room of the Starship Enterprise. This biosphere has to be big because, well, the CEM plans to grow big things in it, antediluvian beasts that haven't been seen since the Cretaceous Period -- which, according to Dr. Baugh, was only 3500 years ago. A large American flag hangs over it; patriotism and fundamentalist Christianity, on the same team.
Not only will the pre-Flood environment of the hyperbaric biosphere make creatures larger, insists Dr. Baugh, it will make them smarter and nicer. The smarter hypothesis has yet to be proven -- after all, if the pre-Flood giant people were so smart, why did they all drown? -- but the museum does offer a couple of exhibits to prove its nicer theory. One is a fish tank in which swim two very large "vegetarian piranhas" -- proof, notes Dr. Baugh, that large versions of vicious creatures are docile -- the other is an oil painting of pre-Flood children frolicking with a baby brontosaur.
After loading up on unique souvenirs, including replicas of a fossilized human finger, we drive a mile down Rte 205 to Dinosaur Valley State Park. Some of the people who watched Dr. Baugh's video are there, too. One little girl points to the Tyrannosaurus Rex statue and asks, "Mommy, why does he have such big teeth?" Mom replies, "So he could eat people." Dr. Baugh's message -- part of it, anyway -- is getting through.