I recently spent about seven hours at the Creation Museum run by the young-Earth creationist (YEC) organization Answers in Genesis in northern Kentucky (I visited the museum, not the new Ark Encounter). As I anticipated, the exhibits at the museum are all of the highest quality. Whether the displays were animatronic dinosaurs, dioramas of the garden of Eden; fossils, mounted insects, or reconstructions of hominids, they were at the same level of quality one would expect to find in the Smithsonian Institution.
One thing that surprised me was how crowded the museum was. I was there on a Saturday, which is probably the museum’s busiest day of the week. Because of the crowds, I moved through the first parts of the “Walk Through History”—the main exhibits portion of the museum—at a snail’s pace. That so many people would spend $30 per adult to visit the Creation Museum speaks of the enormous influence young-Earth creationism has on the general Evangelical culture in America.
Much of the museum’s “Walk Through History” is arranged around the “7 C’s” of salvation. My young-Earth siblings in Christ and I have the gospel in common , with some secondary areas of disagreement:
- Creation — As an old-Earth Christian, I believe in creation from nothing by the triune God of the Bible. I don’t believe that the Bible requires a young Earth.
- Corruption — I believe in a real Adam who committed a real sin that has ramifications for each one of us today. The extent of that corruption is not clearly outlined in the Bible. For example, the Bible nowhere ties animal death to Adam’s sin.
- Catastrophe — Noah’s flood was certainly catastrophic for Noah’s contemporaries, and was universal from Noah’s point of view. But the Bible does not say that Noah’s flood created the bulk of the features of Earth’s crust, and the catastrophism of young-Earth creationism simply does not work as an explanation for Earth’s history.
- Confusion — As with the initial creation and Noah’s flood, young-Earth creationists read much more into the account of the Tower of Babel than what the Bible itself teaches. The nations in the “table of nations” in Genesis 10 are probably all located in the Eastern Mediterranean and ancient Near East, which implies that the story of Babel in Genesis 11 isn’t about the origin of Australian Aborigines or African Zulus.
- Christ — I am in complete agreement with the Creation Museum’s presentation. Jesus Christ is God in the flesh. “In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God.” (John 1:1 NIV).
- Cross — Again, I am in complete agreement with the Creation Museum’s presentation. Jesus Christ is God’s solution for the corruption of sin introduced in Genesis 3. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16 NIV)
- Consummation — Christ will come again as king over all creation. The effects of Adam’s sin will be completely undone.
If the YECs get the gospel right, why do I write against them? There are certainly thousands of people who claim they came to faith—or have had their faith strengthened—through young-Earth creationism, and I rejoice when people come to faith in Christ (Phil 1:18). But countless others have been turned away from Christianity because of the really bad science presented at places like the Creation Museum. Many of these are young people who grew up in the church on a steady diet of YEC teachings in Sunday school, youth groups, and Christian schools. Once they grew up and figured out that YEC does not work in the real world, they discarded their Christianity along with their AiG or Dr. Dino videos. After all, they had had “If the Earth is millions of years old, the Bible isn’t true” drilled into their heads by well-meaning YEC advocates.
In addition to driving youth out of the church, YEC teachings close the door for fruitful evangelism to many outside the church, adding fuel to the fire of those who find Christianity unreasonable. In a society that is increasingly hostile to Christianity, we should not be surprised that many find Christianity to be foolish. But let it be the foolishness of the cross (1 Cor 1:17-2:5) that drives people away from Christ, not the foolishness of bad YEC science.
Grace and Peace
I have the unexpected opportunity to visit the Answers in Genesis Creation Museum in Kentucky in a few days.
- High quality — Skeptics and AiG fans alike acknowledge that the museum experience is at a high level. The displays and presentations are all professionally done. This isn’t a mom and pop roadside museum. The museum staff will be courteous and helpful.
- Beautiful grounds — I am looking forward to a stroll through the gardens.
- Commitment to the authority of the Scriptures — A committment that I share.
- Clear presentation of the gospel of Jesus — We are all sinners deserving God’s wrath, but the good news is that Jesus died on the cross to take God’s wrath and rose from the dead.
Expectations of disagreement
- Questionable Biblical interpretation — I don’t think “literal six days of creation only 6000 years ago” is the only way, and probably not the best way, to understand the text of Genesis 1-2.
- Bad science — Lots of bad science, especially when it comes to historical geology. Bad science is bad apologetics that drives people away from the gospel.
A Geology Presentation
I hope to be able to sit in on this talk by Dr. Andrew Snelling, the Answers in Genesis staff geologist. It is one thing for a large, deep magma chamber to crystallize rapidly (by rapidly, I mean over a period of decades or centuries), it is another thing to fit the emplacement of a complex batholith into Earth’s crust (complete with multiple injections of magma) in just a few day’s time and then have it exhumed by uplift and erosion a very short time later so it can be eroded and incorporated into sediments of the same or next geologic period. The problems abound.
What will the museum staff think about my t-shirt?
Here’s my custom t-shirt for my day at the museum:
Some have warned me, “They won’t let you wear that.”
The museum “Attraction Rules” say, “We reserve the right to deny admission to or remove any person wearing attire that we consider inappropriate, or attire that could be considered offensive, disrespectful, or inappropriate to others.”
I have a hard time seeing them justifying banning my shirt for a direct quote from Charles Spurgeon, but it is their museum, and Spurgeon was, after all, a dangerous compromiser.
I’ll bring another shirt with me just in case.
Grace and Peace
Here’s a listing from an internet classified ad site:
Seeking Board Members for Group (Advocates for Creation Science)
A newly formed organization is seeking those who would serve on the board of directors. This organization, “Advocates of Creation Science” or “ACS” is the dream of Michael Douthat, a retired engineer. His ultimate desire is to see a “Creation Science Museum” here in St Louis. Before that can happen we must start small by promoting books and videos about the “other” theory of how life began. The religion of Darwinism has overtaken our schools and teaches our children that life came about by chance and then evolved over millions of years. Christians need to counteract the theory (“religion”) of evolution with a more logical and proven theory of Creation.
We need some conservative Christians who are willing to give a few hours of their time each month to meet and learn what we can do to change the hearts and minds of children (and others) concerning how the world came about and how science and creation are NOT in conflict. If interested, please send an email as seen above. Please pray and ask God if you should get involved!
These creation museums seem to be fruitful and multiplying, which is a trend that I don’t think is good for the church or for evangelism. People do come to Christ through these places, and I am thankful for that, just as Paul was thankful for those who preached Christ even with questionable motives (Phil 1:15-18). However, I am not sure that the end of evangelism and discipleship justifies the means of using questionable arguments in defense of the Bible.
On a related topic, I do want to make the trip to the creation museum in Kentucky some time while I live in Missouri.
Grace and Peace
If you are a regular reader of The GeoChristian, you know that
- I believe that the Bible is the Word of God.
- I don’t believe much of what Answers in Genesis has to say about Earth history.
These dinosaur eggs are another reason why I don’t think Answers in Genesis has the answers. Think about it, depending on which young-Earth creationist one listens to, these dinosaur nests were deposited either in the middle or towards the end of the flood. This is what would have had to have happened:
- The flood covers the entire Earth, eroding vast amounts the planet’s crust.
- These sediments then start to deposit: Cambrian, Ordovician, Silurian, Devonian, etc… (not all geologic periods in all places, but always in the same order).
- When it is time for the Cretaceous sediments to be deposited, there are still a bunch of (pregnant) dinosaurs swimming around.
- The dinosaurs find places on dry ground to make nests, and there is time for the embryos to develop within the nests, and even to hatch.
- Then there is time for more dinosaurs to make nests and their babies to hatch, because there are a number of localities where the dinosaur nests occur in multiple layers, sometimes separated by soil horizons.
- Then there was more flooding and deposition to form the rest of the Cretaceous rocks, and perhaps Cenozoic rocks as well (again, depending on which young-Earth creationist you talk to).
Young-Earth alternatives are:
- The dinosaurs laid their eggs underwater.
- The nests were somehow transported all together by the flood, and then deposited.
- The nests were formed after the flood.
I don’t think any of these alternatives work any better.
Another alternative is that the Bible isn’t attempting to describe geologic history in Genesis 6-8. The Bible doesn’t say anything about dinosaurs (let’s save discussions about behemoth and leviathan for another time), and it doesn’t say that the sedimentary rock record was deposited in the flood.
So what are professional paleontologists to think of Christianity and the Bible when they tour the Creation Museum? Will they be drawn to Christ?
Seventy attendees of last week’s North American Paleontological Convention toured the Creation Museum last week. These professionals can see all the problems with the dinosaur egg display, and a host of other problem exhibits. The intention of the Creation Museum is to defend the truthfulness of the Bible and to point people to Christ. I suspect that many of these paleontologists were more likely to walk out of the museum with their minds hardened against Christianity, thinking that they would have to turn off their brains to become Christians. Will it be because of their atheistic, anti-Christian world views (not all paleontologists are atheists, nor are they all hostile to Christianity), or because the museum presents something that just isn’t true (not required by the Bible, not scientifically accurate) as apologetics?
New York Times: Paleontology and Creationism Meet but Don’t Mesh
With a love for the body of Christ, and for scientists who are turned away from Jesus Christ by bad apologetics.
Grace and Peace