Oh Boy. Oh Joy. I live in Cincinnati, home of the “Creation Museum”. In case you didn’t know, it is a “museum” dedicated to a literal interpretation of the bible. Earth is only a few thousand years old. God created all life on earth as we see it today. Evolution is wrong, never happened. The earth was completely flooded, and all land life would have perished, but for Noah’s Ark.
Down the highway, a few miles past the airport. Take the Petersburg exit and you’re there. It’s a Saturday afternoon and the parking lot is full. I quickly counted vans and buses from seven Baptist churches, one Methodist, the Junction City First Christian Church, and a couple of Christian schools. The kids are filing out of the cars and church vans, eager to enter, anxious to learn.
It isn’t cheap, twenty five bucks, and I hate to pay, but I’m curious. So I’ll pay, so you don’t have to. Let’s take the tour.
The place is packed and the moving slow. There is a large group of Amish. And another group of about 50 kids with tie dye T-shirts, with big blue crosses on their backs.
One of the first exhibits shows dinosaurs walking around with people. Sort of like Jurassic Park. But this is serious, not a novel. Of course the Bible tells us that all animals were vegetarians before Adam ate the apple. So why do some snakes have venom? We are told that maybe those nasty chemicals used to do something else when the snakes ate plants. And we learn that God gave the Tyrannosaurus Rex big teeth to crack nuts with. And what ended the dinosaurs? Why don’t we still see them today? Well, read on and find out.
Of interest, we see some nice fossils in the museum. But, the museum explains that the dating methods of science are flawed, and that none are really more than a few thousand years old.
Some of the exhibits were more two-sided than you would expect. For example, one shows Human Reason on the left side, starting with the Big Bang, followed by the evolution of galaxies, and solar systems, and the earth and moon, and the continents, all taking millions and billions of years. Then on the right side there is God’s Word, quoting Genesis, describing how God created earth and life in just six days, about six thousand years ago.
A thinking person walking through the museum might conclude that God’s word isn’t always very reasonable.
I was surprised, however, to see some serious concessions to science. For example there is a small exhibit showing a copy of a book by Charles Templeton, titled “Farewell to God”, and a quote saying that it is simply not possible to believe the biblical account of creation. And in a later exhibit I was shocked to see the following statements. “Natural selection is an observable process that occurs in the present.” “Natural selection is supported biblically and scientifically.” The museum actually supports the conclusion that one species can give rise to many through natural selection. But it somehow separates this from evolution by saying that there is no evidence for more dramatic events, like lizards giving rise to birds. Pretty interesting.
We also see pictures of great canyons, like the grand canyon. While science claims that it took millions of years to carve these out, the museum clarifies that these things can happen in a much shorter time through the power of floods.
And this brings us to the great flood. The museum is actually building a full size replica of Noah’s ark. You’d think it would have to be pretty big to carry all of the species we see on the planet today. It turns out there was no room for the dinosaurs. And how on earth did Noah get the kangaroos back to Australia? Maybe the ark made an extra stop not mentioned in the bible. Or, the museum suggests that before the flood there was only one continent, which then divided into several in the past few thousand years. Wow, pretty fast.
And what about those fresh water fish? If the oceans rose up to swallow the continent(s) then all of the lakes and rivers must have disappeared. And anyone with an aquarium knows that you can’t put fresh water fish in salt water. They die. So I think that maybe another lost section of the bible described how one floor of the ark was dedicated to fresh water aquaria to save the fish. I’m personally especially glad that Noah was able to save the Rocky Mountain trout.
The bible is quite a nice book. It sold a lot more copies than any of mine. There is some interesting history in there, and many fascinating stories. Maybe you like the God thing that it pushes, or maybe you don’t. But whatever your religious view, please, oh please, one thing that we can all be sure of, you should not take everything in the bible for literal truth.
About the Author: Steve Potter, PhD, is a Professor of Pediatrics, in the Division of Developmental Biology, at Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Cincinnati. He has authored Designer Genes: A New Era in the Evolution of Man, published by Random House 2010. In addition he has written over one hundred science papers, and co-authored the third edition of the medical school textbook, Larsen’s Human Embryology.