What’s Happening at the Creation Museum
Ken Ham, founder of the Creation Museum and visionary behind the Ark Encounter, a full-size replica of Noah's Ark, talks about growing up in Australia with parents who loved God's Word and His people. Ham describes how his father's love for God motivated all he did and influenced his decision to share God's truth with others.
About the Guest
Creation Museum, and visionary behind a popular, full-size Noah’s Ark, Ken Ham is one of the most in-demand Christian speakers in North America. Ken is the author of many books on Genesis, including the eye-opening book Already Gone, coauthored by re...more
Ken Ham talks about growing up in Australia with parents who loved God’s Word and His people. Ham describes how his father’s love for God motivated all he did.
What’s Happening at the Creation Museum
Bob: There is a principle of Bible interpretation that has guided Ken Ham’s life and ministry.
Ken: You know, when something looks like it contradicts the Bible, do two things. One, go to the Bible—make sure you are taking it according to the type of literature as written and so on. If you’re sure that is what it is teaching, and there is still a contradiction here, then, we need to look for the answers; but you don’t change God’s Word just because you don’t have those answers. You don’t change God’s Word to fit in the fallible ideas of man.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Thursday, September 28th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine. We’ll talk today about how you use principles of biblical interpretation when you come to the Book of Genesis. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. The bus company called and said they have the 25-seater available.
That’s for you and Barbara and all the grandkids; right? They want to know if you have your—
Dennis: I’m not sure we’re going to take all the grandkids.
Bob: —wanted to know if you had your chauffer’s license. Are you certified to drive this?
Dennis: You know, if I’m taking that many of my grandkids—let’s say I take 17 or 18 grandkids—
Dennis: —I’m going to have a driver, because I’m going to be in the back. I’m going to be in the back with the kids, having fun. [Laughter] I don’t think I want to be—have windshield time.
Bob: You did a road trip with how many of your grandkids a few years ago?
Dennis: Six of them.
Bob: And that was back when you only had, like maybe—
Dennis: Well, we only had a certain number—
Bob: —13/14/15; right?
Dennis: —above the age of ten.
Bob: Yes; right.
Dennis: So, we took a number of them to the Creation Museum, just south of Cincinnati, and had a chance to have dinner with its creator, Dr. Ken Ham.
He joins us today on the broadcast. Ken is the cofounder of Answers in Genesis, which he started in 1987 after coming from Australia.
He and his wife Mally have been married for the same number of years Barbara and I have been married—1972 was a great year.
Ken: Seems like millions of years.
Dennis: Millions. [Laughter] Are those literal years? No; don’t get off on that.
Ken: No; actually, it only seems like yesterday, really.
Dennis: There you go!
Ken: When you are really in love, it only seems like yesterday.
Dennis: Yes; that’s true. He has five adult children and sixteen grandchildren. They have a lot of spiritual children as a result of the ministry that is occurring at the Creation Museum and, now, at the Ark.
I want to go back to your upbringing. You said your father milked cows and had a milking stool that he used as an illustration for marriage—success in marriage.
Ken: Well, my father was actually a teacher; but he lived in areas where they had dairy farms and helped people milk cows. My mother used to milk cows when she was growing up.
In Australia, the milking stool—the little wooden milking stool—had three legs.
My father loved doing Bible studies and teaching people God’s Word, and he would often be talking about the importance of marriage and the importance of having the Lord as the third partner in marriage—he was teaching on that a lot. He would use a milking stool to do that—he would say: “Look, the milking stool has three legs; and it won’t hold up without those three. It won’t hold up with two; you’ve got to have those three. So, you’ve got to have three partners in marriage—it’s the husband and the wife and the Lord.” I’ve never forgotten that.
You know, it’s interesting—how, when your parents teach you certain things—that you never forget them.
Dennis: You’ve written a new book called A Special Door, and it’s a children’s book. What age would you say—
Ken: Well, you know, it’s really aimed to kindergarten, preschool, Grade 1/2—that sort of age.
Dennis: I think it’ll work for kids in elementary school, because it’s really built around the concept of a door. Behind each door is really a Scripture that talks about the condition of the human heart and how, ultimately, Jesus Christ paid the price for our sin to get us into the door to go to heaven.
Ken: Well, you know, the cross is the greatest symbol of the message of salvation; but other than the cross, I always tell people: “I believe Noah’s ark is the greatest symbol of the message of salvation because Noah and his family had to go through a door to be saved.” God instructed them, “Put one door in the side of the ark.” Remember—Jesus said, “I am the door.” God’s Son stepped into history to be Jesus Christ / the God Man to be our Savior. He said: “I am the door. By me, if any man enters in, he’ll be saved.”
That’s why, even at our Ark exhibit—the life-sized Noah’s ark—the door is one of the favorite places for photos inside the ark; because people stand there with their children in front of that door, and there is a cross illuminated on top of the door to remind them that they need to go through a door to be saved.
Then, at the Ark also, we have a massive exhibit that presents the gospel in a very, very clear way—it’s a graphic novel approach.
As part of that exhibit, we present the doors of Scripture. For instance, there is a door to the sheepfold. There’s a door to the tomb—you feel the stone that was rolled away. There’s the door that the Israelites painted the blood on the doorposts. Then, there’s Jesus Christ, who said, “I am the door.” Then, there’s the door to the ark and the door to, even, the Temple.
I mean, you can look at all of these, and you see pictures in regard to Christ. So, we do that, actually, at one of the exhibits at the Ark. I do this in this children’s book too—just to take children through various doors. It’s a rhyme book to teach them the truths of God’s Word—to connect God’s Word to the real world but, most of all, to present the gospel. I say to people: “There is no point in trying to convince people just to believe in Noah’s flood or just to believe in creation unless we’re leading them to the Savior, because that’s what it is all about.”
Dennis: It is, and I just want to take you back to what got you off into creation as a major message for your life.
I mean, I look at your life—and you have defined your work / your mission around the creation story, back in Genesis, Chapter 1 and 2 and 3.
Ken: It really goes back to being brought up in a home in Australia, where I had parents who loved the Word of God / who taught the Word of God, who were very evangelistic / who were very missionary-minded. In fact, when my father died, one of my brothers was with him in the hospital while he was dying and asked him the question, “Why did you love God’s Word so much?” He said, because his father died when he was 16 years old—so, he said—he didn’t have an earthly father then. So, he turned to the words of his Heavenly Father and read them over and over and over and over again. My father saturated himself in the Word of God.
Now, he was a teacher. My parents were transferred every three years, because my father was always very good at what he did. He believed that: “Whatever you do, you do as unto the Lord,”—that was one of his favorite verses of Scripture.
So, you always do your best; and my mother was like that too. My parents were transferred from town to town.
In the state of Queensland, Australia—I mean, Australia probably has less than one percent born-again Christians—so, it is a very pagan country. I know, over here, in America, people pride themselves in the fact your founding fathers had great convictions. I tell people, “Our founding fathers, in Australia, had great convictions too.” [Laughter] If you understand Australian history, it started as a convict settlement; but it inherited the British system; you know? Because it inherited the British system, the Bible was actually read in public schools. Students grew up hearing about the Bible, but most of them didn’t go to church.
But when my parents got transferred to some these country towns—where there might only be one church / maybe two—there were places where—it was in the country—there were no Sunday schools / they would start Sunday schools. They always had this heart to reach kids for the Lord. They would bring in an evangelist from the Open Air Campaigners. I don’t know if you’ve heard of them—they started in Australia. They used to ask them to come into an area, because they wanted to reach kids with the gospel.
I grew up with parents, who had this missionary emphasis; and they were very sacrificial. I remember once—you know, these things are indelibly impressed in my mind—when the missionary didn’t have any money to get to the next town. They [his parents] looked at what they had and they gave him the last of what they had, because it was so important for them to see others hear the gospel.
My parents would never sell a piece of furniture if they were getting something to replace it—they would give it away. To this day, I can’t have a garage sale just because I would feel like I’m turning my back on my heritage, or something like that, if I had such a thing—[Laughter]—just because of the way I was brought up in this sort of home.
It was one of those programs—you know, when I was ten years old—that they brought in a missionary from the Open Air Campaigners. He challenged us—those who wanted to be a missionary for the Lord—to: “Go wherever the Lord would lead you. Do whatever He wanted you to do, if you’re prepared to do that.” You know, I went forward at that meeting when I was ten years old:
“Yes; what my parents had taught me. Yes; that’s what I believe. Yes; I want to be a missionary for the Lord, and I’m prepared to go where He wants me to go and do what He wants me to do.”
I found out, many years later—you know, I didn’t even really find this out until years after we were married—and my wife was talking to me and explaining that, when she was a little girl—she didn’t grow up in a Christian home like I did—but her parents sent her to Sunday school—her mother particularly wanted her to go to Sunday school. When she was about eight years old—and that was about the same time I made that commitment—there was a Sunday school teacher that challenged them. She said she prayed: “Lord, if You did that for me, if You died on the cross for me, I’m willing to go wherever You want me to go. I’m willing to do whatever You want me to do.” She committed her life to the Lord.
And you know, then, the Lord brought us together. The first time I saw her—when she was about 17 years old—and walked up the steps of church—and she was handing out the hymn books—and my story is: “It was love at first sight. She ran after me, caught me, and that’s how I got married.” [Laughter]
She’ll tell a slightly different story, of course.
But, you know, I’m saying this because God put a fire in my bones that I can’t even explain. As I was growing up, going to school—went to high school / was taught evolution—I realized it conflicted with what the Bible taught / went home to my parents: “What do I do with that?” We didn’t have The Genesis Flood by Morris and Whitcomb—we didn’t have any of those books in those days. We didn’t have a Creation Museum / we didn’t have an Ark.
I remember my father telling me: “You know, if you don’t believe Genesis, how can you believe the rest of the Bible? You can’t just believe some of the Bible and not the rest, and you can’t change what God’s Word has said. We might not have all the answers, but that just means we don’t know the answers because we know nothing compared to what God knows,”—he instilled that into me.
You know, when something looks like it contradicts the Bible, do two things. One, go to the Bible—make sure you are taking it according to the type of literature as written and so on.
If you’re sure that’s what it’s teaching—and there’s still a contradiction here—then, we need to look for the answers; but you don’t change God’s Word just because you don’t have those answers. You don’t change God’s Word to fit in the fallible ideas of man.
I mean, he even drummed into me thing like: “Here’s a study Bible. I love study Bibles—see the notes—but always remember / always remember, son, the notes are not inspired like the text. The text is the commentary on the notes. Always judge what man says by what God says—not the other way around.” I think—I think a lot affected me, Bob. [Laughter]
Bob: It sounds like it! I’m sitting, here, listening to your story. I’m thinking one of the passions you have, right now, is the number of young people who are reaching the teen years, or their early 20s, and they are leaving the church / they are abandoning their faith. Did you ever have a lapse season when you were growing up?
Ken: You know, I didn’t. I really believe that’s because my parents loved each other / were devoted to each other; but more than that, though, they were devoted to the Lord.
I just grew up seeing that. Also, my father taught us apologetics.
Here is the interesting thing—in many of the churches that they went to / like in some areas, there were only one or two churches—so my father would always choose the one that he thought was standing on the Bible the most. I remember, for instance, one church in a country town—sometimes, there was a Methodist; sometimes, a Baptist; sometimes, a Presbyterian. So, I was brought up in different denominations in that sense, just because that’s all you had.
Ken: I remember, once, when a pastor was teaching at the front, I was sitting there in the pew. He said: “A little boy pulled out his loaves and fishes. So, what a great example; and everybody else did the same.” It was a great example, and that’s all it was—it wasn’t a miracle. My father, after the service, would go up—firmly but gently—and say to the pastor: “’Thus says the Lord,’ it is written. Look what it says here. This was a miracle of the Lord.”
My father was, all the time, researching what the liberal critics were saying to make sure he had answers to make sure we wouldn’t have doubts.
Really, he was teaching apologetics—he didn’t use that term—but looking back on it, that’s what it was. It was really apologetics. So, I saw my father teaching Bible studies; I saw him equipping people—I saw his heart for the Lord.
I remember, once, when we were in North Queensland, and we visited our grandparents’ home. They were on a farm. I remember just one time my mother, as we were going down this country road—she said: “Oh, the two girls who used to live there when I was a kid—they didn’t have a way getting to Sunday school. I really wanted them to go to Sunday school. So, I worked out a way to get my father’s bike. I would ride down there—ride a mile-and-a-half—and pick them up. Then, we’d all three ride three miles to Sunday school and then ride them home again.” She did that for months and months and months. I just remember her talking about that—she only said that once.
A couple of years ago, when I was in Australia, I did something that I wish I had done with my father—it’s something I would encourage people to do.
I took one of our video team with us. I got him to video my mother and [me], and I just interviewed my mother for a couple of hours. One of my brothers was there with me. I just interviewed about her life: “I want to know about your life, because you were brought up as a Christian.” I asked her about that: “I remember that time that you rode that bicycle. Tell me more about it.” She talked about it—she talked about the fact that she met those ladies, as elderly ladies, just a couple of years before I interviewed her. She said: “And one of them told me that she’s really going on for the Lord. The other one said she’s drifted away, but she’s coming back.” They point to those years, when she took them to Sunday school.
It was interesting how that had such an impact on me because I—ever since she told us that story as a kid, I kept thinking to myself: “My mother was prepared to do that. My mother was prepared to take those kids to Sunday school on a bike like that. Wow! She was prepared to that!”
It was interesting—I didn’t know this—
—but as I was interviewing her, my brother was sitting with me. He told me—in fact, he only told me this a few weeks ago before this interview—he said to me, “You know, as you sat there and interviewed Mum”—because I don’t think he was even born when that happened—he said to me: “I was impacted by that, just hearing her tell us about that in her later years. It made me think: ‘Wow! My mother did that.’” See the influence fathers/mothers can have on their children?
And because my father—he hated compromise. He would never knowingly compromise the Word of God—he hated compromise. He had answers for what he believed. He taught the Word of God. They had such a heart for reaching people with the gospel. It had an incredible influence on me. So, when those attacks came on God’s Word through the textbooks at school—to me, it was: “What does my father say?” and “I’m going to wait for answers.” I had that burden; and all through university, I had to deal with this issue.
I know the Lord just enabled me to ask certain questions and realize: “Wait a minute. Evolution? That’s not fact.” I would ask my professors questions and realize, “They don’t have the answers.”
In my fourth year of university, there was a man in the church who was a president—actually the head of a teachers’ college—and he knew that I was so interested in this topic of origins. I know the Lord just gave that burden to me. He said to me, “You know, I’ve heard there’s a book from America about the flood of Noah’s day.” He said, “It’s called The Genesis Flood or something.” He said, “Maybe, you want to try and find that.”
So, I went into the local Christian bookstore. There was only one of them there in Brisbane—you know, a little, dusty attic—because there’s not that many Christians in Australia. I walked up there, and I saw a gentleman there—I said, “There is a book from America about the Flood.” He said, “Oh, yes; I have a copy.” I bought a copy of The Genesis Flood by Whitcomb and Morris; right?
That gave me a lot of answers. But here’s an interesting thing—years later, I was visiting a park in Australia—one of those animal parks—and there was a very elderly lady there. She recognized me, and she came up to me. When she told me who she was, I realized that [she] and her husband were the ones that owned and ran that Christian bookstore.
Dennis: Oh my!
Ken: Her husband had gone to be with the Lord, and she was—and she’s gone to be with the Lord now—but when I was talking to her, and I told her about that book, she said to me, “You know”—she said—“my husband had told me he had a burden to have that book in the bookstore.” She said: “Wow; to think that you were the one that he had that book there for and now look at the ministry of Answers in Genesis, the Creation Museum, and now the Ark, of course.” It’s all a part of what the Lord did to get me involved in this.
Then, the year after I obtained that book, was my first year of school teaching—1975.
In one of the first science classes I taught, students said to me: “Sir, how can you believe the Bible? We heard you are a Christian. You’re running the Christian group in the school.” I said, “Yes.” “Well, you can’t be a Christian.” “Why not?” “The Bible’s not true.” “Well, why isn’t it true?” And they opened up their textbooks to the section on evolution and millions of years. That burdened intensified—it became a fire in my bones. So, I started to teach those students about what science is and what it isn’t; and they started to ask lots of questions.
Then, one day, I was even talking to them about the Tower of Babel and the different people groups. The Australian Aboriginal kids came up to me after class, and they said, “Sir, can you tell us more?” It really hit me because, in Darwin’s book, The Descent of Man, they’re really the missing links. They were considered the missing links in evolutionary history, and they are closer to the apelike creatures. There were scientists from Germany and England, who sent people to Australia with the instructions on how to kill the Aborigines / skin them to get specimens. And here I am—telling them: “You’re my family. We’re all part of the human family. You’re my relative. You’re related to me. We all go back to Noah / we all go back to Adam.
“There is only one race.” The Lord used all those influences.
In 1975, I got my very first talk in a church on the creation/evolution issue. People came up afterwards—this is a conservative Baptist church—they came up and said, “We didn’t know you could believe Genesis like that.” So, the Lord started to intensify that burden more and more. I started to be asked to speak in churches and so on.
In 1977, I and another school teacher ran the first-ever creation/apologetics conference in Australia, in Brisbane. I had, by then, collected a lot of books from different authors around the world. I displayed them; and people came up to me and said: “Can we get those books? How do we get those books?”
And there is a man in Scripture that really reminds me of my father—and my mother too—but Nehemiah. You know how Nehemiah—it says—became angry / it’s a righteous anger: “Somebody needs to rebuild this wall. Wait a minute. Look at these injustices. Somebody needs to deal with them.”
My father was like that: “Why isn’t somebody doing something about this?” “Wow; look at the compromise in this devotional, where it’s compromising God’s Word.” “That church shouldn’t be handing that out.” “Somebody should be doing something about that.” I call that the Nehemiah anger that I believe we all need.
For me, it was: “Why doesn’t somebody do something about this?!” So, my wife and I agreed that we would start a bookshop at our house and start importing materials. That’s why we’ve always had such a big emphasis, at Answers in Genesis, on resources—getting resources into people’s hands.
Bob: You know, hearing you tell those stories—it’s just a reminder to me, Dennis, of how—whether it’s parents or bookstore owners / whoever it is—the seeds that we plant—
Bob: —we have no idea what those seeds are going to grow into; do we?
Dennis: Exactly. And I was, sitting here, thinking the same thing, Bob—everybody just needs to play their part—
Dennis: —do their assignment that God has given them.
I also was smiling—and there is probably some arrogance in this, Ken, which you’ll have to forgive me, as an American to say to an Australian—
—but the irony of you becoming a missionary to America. The reason I say that is—America, historically, has been a phenomenal mission-sending country. Yet, God in His ingenuity, took a young man from Australia, with a burden, as you’ve explained it; and He was equipping you to be able to come to America for such a time as this; because this is the time that America needs to hear about the authority of God’s Word, the love of God that’s in His Word, and the Savior that God sent.
Bob: Well, there aren’t many missionaries today who have a half million people a year coming to them to ask them questions about the Bible—now, a million people a year coming to see the Ark Encounter as well. That’s what’s happening at the Creation Museum and the Ark Encounter.
If our listeners are interested, they can get more information about how they can visit both locations. They can go to FamilyLifeToday.com, and we’ve got a link there that will get them the information they need about the Ark Encounter and the Creation Museum.
And for listeners who can’t make the trip, but would still love to see what you’ve got in the Creation Museum and in the Ark Encounter, Answers in Genesis has put together two books that take you on a journey through the museum and through the Ark Encounter. It’s the next best thing to a visit. We’ve got copies of both books in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center. These are books you may want to give to your children or grandchildren at Christmastime or go through together with them and help them see that God’s Word is trustworthy and that there are answers to the questions people have about the Book of Genesis.
Again, find out more about the journey through the Ark Encounter or the journey through the Creation Museum when you go to FamilyLifeToday.com; or call if you have questions about the books.
Our number is 1-800-FL-TODAY—1-800-358-6329. That’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”
Speaking of great books, Dennis Rainey has just finished a new book called Choosing a Life That Matters that talks about the spiritual foundation that needs to be in place in all of our lives in order for our relationships to work as God designed them to work / in order for our lives to be all God has designed them to be. And we’re excited about this book. In fact, we’d love for every one of our listeners to get a copy. That’s why, this month, we want to make the book available to you if you can help with a donation of any amount to support the work of FamilyLife Today.
This radio program is listener-supported. As you help provide the funds necessary, we’re able to reach more people more regularly thanks to the ministry of FamilyLife Today.
You can donate, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com; or you can call 1-800-FL-TODAY to donate; or you can mail your donation to us at FamilyLife Today at PO Box 7111, Little Rock, AR; and our zip code is 72223.
Now, tomorrow, we’re going to hear more from Ken Ham. We’ll find out more about the newly-opened Ark Encounter and about the Creation Museum. I hope you can tune in and be with us tomorrow.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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