By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
Baugh then organized an excavation party that included himself, the coach, the preacher, and two church women. A rancher who leased the land from the university tagged along. Once at the site, Baugh and the others dug up the girl's remains, destroying the cave she was buried in. The rancher was so appalled that he seized the remains from them, Hester says.
There's no proof whatsoever that Baugh had dug up a princess, he adds. The girl was 8 to 12 years old and of an undetermined tribe.
Baugh, for his part, calls Hester's version of events a "lie." He insists he did have permission to excavate, with the understanding that he would turn over whatever he found to the university. He did just that, he adds.
"I did everything under the university's auspices," Baugh says.
Another one of Baugh's finds--and arguably his most significant--was that of a near-complete Acrocanthosaurus skeleton along the Paluxy River in 1984. Yet even this discovery was fraught with controversy. Baugh, deploying a team of volunteers, many from a local Baptist church, removed the top layer of rock and sand from the bones. Baugh says that only he and another man performed the actual excavation of the skeleton, which took about five years.
But Ron Hastings of Waxahachie, who was one of the few non-creationists at the dig, says Baugh used improper techniques to excavate the dinosaur, often destroying more bones than he removed. Hastings says that what he saw sickened him. Baugh's crew were placing bones directly into plaster without any preparation, he says, and in the end, the dinosaur was encased in dozens upon dozens of "balls of plaster."
"I was sick to my stomach," Hastings says. "This was priceless property. This could have refurbished his reputation. If only he would have let professionals do it."
Baugh, of course, says he is a professional. And he did ask several Texas paleontologists to come out to the site and have a look. He says they snubbed him. Dr. Wann Langston, then head of the vertebrate paleontology laboratory at UT, refused at first to visit the site because he didn't want to be associated with creationists, according to an article in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. He did go there several months later and identified the dinosaur, he says. Even today, Langston is reluctant to talk about the dinosaur. It was Langston who first discovered Acrocanthosaurus--a bipedal, carnivorous dinosaur that looks much like Tyrannosaurus rex--in Texas, and gave it its name.
Once again, Baugh says his critics are merely engaging in professional backbiting.
While Baugh's science is arguably shoddy and his credentials suspect, he still manages to gain audiences and unquestioning media attention. There are a number of reasons why. Chief among them is the notion of Christian gentility. There exists a code--particularly among young earthers--not to criticize each other harshly in public for fear of sullying Christianity itself.
Even Kuban, one of Baugh's harshest critics, tempered his published remarks about the alleged man tracks by stating in an afterword that he was "Christian, and believe in the Creator. I chose to publish my research...not to attack creationism but to help set the record straight."
The top names among creation scientists are reluctant to talk about Baugh on the record. It is a problem to be associated with him, one says. Another refuses to be named in the same article as Baugh. People like Carl Baugh, he says, are better left alone in the hope that the public "will eventually forget about him."
Baugh says the reason there isn't much hew and cry about his findings is that they are truth. People like Kuban and Hastings have a vendetta against him, he says. But he bears no malice in his heart toward them. In time, he says, they will come to believe as he does.
It is a Wednesday at the Creation Evidences Museum, and the pilgrims are few. Those who do venture in are among the Christian faithful, men and women who've heard about Baugh's museum on Trinity Broadcasting Network's "Praise the Lord" show with TBN founders Paul and Jan Crouch.
Stella Crawford was so possessed with the need to come to the little museum that she drove 10 hours through the night from Hartman, Arkansas. She arrived at 5 a.m. and waited for the doors to open at 10 a.m.
"It's just the truth," Crawford says earnestly. "It's not big, but it's very factual."
Crawford carefully takes in the tatty trailer surroundings. She doesn't seem to notice the dingy carpet, the yellowing signs pointing out the different fossils, or the fact that the "rainforest" set up in the back of the room is an incongruous jumble of plastic plants, large dinosaur heads, tiny plastic parrots, and a patchwork taxidermy bird sporting feathers from a variety of types of fowl.
She eyes each of the objects with a certain reverence. She listens intently to Baugh and hangs on his words with an air of supplication.
"This is just so fascinating!" she says at one point to no one in particular. "I need to bring my grandchildren here. They believe in evolution."