Opinion:A Godly Museum of Natural History
|This is an original work by Temlakos. Please comment only on the talk page.|
A Godly Museum of Natural History:
For centuries, no one, or at least no one in the Western world, disputed the account of Creation or the story of the global flood. Even men of science, like Johannes Kepler and Sir Isaac Newton, took full cognizance of Scripture in all that they did. But then came the movement that history mis-calls "The Enlightenment," when men like François Marie Arouet de Voltaire and Jean-Jacques Rousseau laid the foundations of philosophical atheism. They did not say anything new, and likely borrowed many concepts from Aristotle. But these two men, and others like them, weakened the foundations of faith that had sustained the Western world since more than a hundred years before the fall of the Roman Empire.
The immediate and horrifying result was the French Revolution. But even after the eventual settlement of that event, with the coming-to-power of an emperor who would re-establish relations with the Roman Catholic Church, the foundations of skepticism remained. More accurately, perhaps, Voltaire and Rousseau had laid a foundation for an uncritical rejection of God. That is how two other men, James Hutton and Sir Charles Lyell, could look at a canyon wall with its multiple layers of sediment and say, "This wall took far longer to build than a year; it took millions of years." That is how and why a man like Charles Darwin could look at finches on a remote island in the eastern Pacific Ocean, and how the beaks of those finches lengthened and shortened with different environmental conditions, and say, "On this process depends all the diversity of life." And it is why museums like the Creation Museum and Family Discovery Center are the exception, not the rule, for museums of natural history.
This creation museum is not the only one of its kind, nor even the oldest. At 70,000 square feet, it is the largest, but size alone does not make a museum special. What makes it special is whether and how well it does what a museum is supposed to do: to make its visitor think. This, after all, is how a museum gets its name. And Answers in Genesis' Creation Museum definitely makes one think--and lifts one's heart in a way that very few museums can do.
The curators know their challenge: to dispel, disprove, and disavow centuries of quaint children's tales and outright lies. And they certainly meet that challenge.
A Walk Through History
Interpreting the evidence
First and foremost, they remind the visitor that we--meaning humanity--all live on the same earth and see the same plants and animals, present and past. But how one looks at that world will shape what one sees in one's mind. Therefore, in order to interpret paleontological evidence properly, one must discard several unproved and frankly untenable assumptions, namely uniformitarianism and deep time, about the age of the earth.
Cultural rise and fallThey then show the history of men writing Scripture, defending It—and then falling away from It, and from God, and the results of that falling-away. The best demonstration is in Graffiti Alley, the entrance to which is a sign reading thus:
In case anyone cannot read the legend, it reads thus:
|“|| Today, man decides
Beyond it stands a typical home that looks deceptively peaceful, and a church under attack by a wrecking ball labeled "Millions of Years." Inside each building, scenes play out showing the home compromised by fornication, out-of-wedlock pregnancy, and abortion, and a church compromised by the substitution of human rhetoric for God's Written Word.
Creation to Flood
But the museum does not stop there. After delivering this dire message, it begins to offer a message of hope. First comes a straightforward retelling of the days of creation. Then the story of Eden, of Adam and Eve, about the fall of man, the first murder (the Cain and Abel story), and finally Noah, his Ark, his grandfather Methuselah, and the global flood.
With this last series of displays, the curators strive to dispel several cherished (and not merely erroneous but embarrassing) notions about the Flood story. These include a concept of the Ark as a bathtub-shaped vessel, and the idea that the Flood waters rose slowly and gradually. The displays clearly show that the Flood was not the equivalent of a river that never stopped rising—this was a wall of water, easily one-and-a-half to two kilometers high, that smashed everything in its way, except for one magnificent ship that Noah had built well, enabling it to ride the waters and handle safely even in the roughest seas imaginable. They also show that the Ark was, quite simply, the greatest achievement in the annals of shipbuilding. Indeed the proportions of the ark given in the Bible strike the best balance among the three competing requirements of stability, comfort, and safety. They do not pretend to have Noah's original detailed design, but they know what would have worked best of all, and they convey that Noah would have figured it out or else had God show him directly.
The Last Adam
Last of all comes the twenty-minute video presentation, The Last Adam. The producers of that feature convey the Message that everything else points to: the Gospel of Jesus Christ. To quote from the feature: while the first Adam brought sin and death, the Last Adam, Who is none other than Jesus Christ, brought redemption and life.
Your humble administrator went out to a little town in Kentucky looking for answers to some important questions, and found those answers and much more. From that museum a visitor receives an affirmation and a display of God's greatness and His mercy.
And that message is remarkably popular today. The curators expected to receive 250,000 visitors in their first year of operation. In fact, they received 300,000 visitors in their first eight months, and more than 2500 visitors in a single day in March when I was able to visit the facility and interview its staff. From them I learned of their plans to build a larger eating facility and a new, dedicated exhibit hall, two needs of which those tremendous crowds are the sole dictator. This clearly shows that the people of the world, or at least the people of the United States, are hungry for spiritual food, and know where the food is good.
Can such a museum reverse centuries of apostasy? Sadly, Luke 16:31 suggests not. Perhaps the predicted Rapture of the Church (I_Thessalonians 4:16-18 ) will one day empty the museum of all its staff and visitors on the day it occurs, and the authorities who repossess it will turn it into a "museum" showing how "deluded" people tended to think and feel. But until that day comes to pass, the Creation Museum stands as an example of how a presentation of the truth can turn many lives around, and remind everyone who visits it that God, not man, determines Truth.
- Sir Isaac, in addition to being a master of physics and mathematics, also attempted one of the first chronologies of the ancient near east.
- Geologist Charles Lyell never had anything but his skills as a lawyer, hence a rhetorician, to sell uniformitarianism to an unsuspecting scientific community in lieu of sound science.
- Recall how the authorities in the old Union of Soviet Socialist Republics transformed St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow, Russia, into a museum of a sort.