Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Creation Museum

Just in case you haven't heard, the young-earth creationist organization, Answers in Genesis, is gearing up to open their multi-million dollar creation museum this next Monday. It's been all over the news. Here is a link to the article in the New York Times: Adam and Eve in the Land of the Dinosaurs

One of the more "unorthodox" claims of the museum is that humans lived at the same time as dinosaurs. Secular critics poke fun at such ideas as being sort of a real-life Flintstones.

The fossil record tells us that the dinosaurs went extinct 65 million years ago and that the first humans probably appeared between 35,000 to 50,000 years ago. Meanwhile, young-earth creationists say that the earth is only 6,000 to 10,000 years old. See the problem here? This isn't exactly a tiny difference of opinion. It is a totally different paradigm.

On what evidence do young-earth creationists make this claim? Well, here are some of their major arguments:

1. Scientists are driven by evolutionary ideas and distort their findings. They are in collusion to deceive the public about the true evidence for a young earth.

2. God created everything (and I do mean everything) in six, consecutive 24-hour days, a few thousand years ago. He created all land animals on the sixth day of creation, including the dinosaurs.

3. Dinosaurs were taken on the ark with Noah about 5,000 years ago. Many of them went extinct shortly after the flood. But some persisted living all the way up through the medieval period. The legends about dragons are proof that the dinosaurs didn't go extinct until quite recently (a few hundred years ago). (Seriously, I'm not making this up. These are the arguments.)

4. Scientists have discovered the remnants of blood in a few dinosaur bones. This blood could not have survived through billions of years of decay. Therefore, the dinosaurs must have existed very recently, in other words only thousands of years ago.

I can't even begin to go into all of the problems with these ideas. But Radio Bible Class has a good layperson's discussion of the issue. It is available for free as a downloadable PDF: Dinosaurs & The Bible: Defusing The Creation Controversy

Ralph Muncaster also has a good layperson's discussion. It is $5.00 on Amazon. Dinosaurs and The Bible

If you want to read a good discussion of the whole dinosaur blood issue, see this series of articles. Be warned, however, these articles a little bit more technical than the previous two resources. But they are still very accessible for lay-people.
- Dinosaur Blood, by Greg Moore.
- Dinosaur Blood Revisited, by Greg Moore.
- Carl Wieland's "Squishosaur", by Greg Moore.

It is being predicted that the AiG creation museum will become the number one tourist attraction in the area. Homeschoolers will be streaming there. Critics are dogpiling on the fact that thousands of children will be taken to visit this museum every year and sold this Fred and Wilma reality (and might I add that this will be done in the name of Jesus?).

I have very mixed feelings about this whole situation. On the one hand, I want to be very careful not to speak disparagingly about brothers and sisters in Christ. (It would be nice if AiG paid old-earth creationists the same respect, but that's another story entirely.) On the other hand, I do have deep, deep concerns about the potential spiritual damage that this museum could cause for Christian children.

What will happen when these children go away to college and find out that the scientific record is so much more complicated than they were taught? When they are confronted with tough questions for the first time? All too often, their faith in the historical accuracy of the Bible is severely undermined. Deep questions begin to to flood them, frequently with few answers of substance.

Then, they are left wondering, "If my parents taught me factual inaccuracies about science, why should I trust the Bible at all? Did miracles really happen? Did Jesus really rise from the dead?"

I have seen this happen time and again through the experience at my job. It's tragic to watch young, vibrant youth with so much potential to lead the church go down the tubes due to well-intentioned Christians who are spreading disproved science in the name of Jesus.

At this point, I can only pray for God to open the right doors for me to be part of the solution.

3 comments:

Dancing Boys Mom said...

So I'm guessing we're not going to do the field trip thing there. ;-)

NewiQue said...

>> The fossil record tells us that the dinosaurs went extinct 65 million years ago and that the first humans probably appeared between 35,000 to 50,000 years ago.

Wrong. The fossil record tells us nothing in direct terms. Fossils are simply facts that exist in the present. And like all facts, they mean almost nothing unless we interpret them.

Scientists interpret evidence through a set of beliefs. Example: they find a plant buried in the same rock layers as a dinosaur fossil. Because they believe the dinosaur fossil is about 65 millions years old, they then interpret the plant as also being 65 millions years old. Although this is logical (to a point), it's based on invalid precepts.

Some scientists get the idea of "65 millions years" based on their interpretation of data from dating methods. But in each of those dating methods, a lot of information is assumed. If you change the assumptions, the dating results change.

But you have to realize that facts do not speak for themselves.

Most of your disagreements with the museum's use of dinosaurs is based on your belief that the dinosaur fossils are 65 millions years old. Just for the sake of discussion, how would your belief change if the fossils were older than that? Would you accept man and dinosaurs together? If not, why?

Child of God said...

newique -

It looks like you have been reading the standard young-earth literature on this issue.

I would respond to your objection by saying that the young-earth way of looking at the fossil record is highly unsophisticated. Yes, it is true that data requires interpretation. But with all due respect, that is a junior high way of looking at the scientific method.

If paleontologists studied fossils in isolation from other scientific disciplines, then yes, I would say that their findings might be more vulnerable to interpretive problems. But that is not what is going on. Paleontology is a very complex, multi-faceted scientific discipline. Scientists determine dates and facts using many, independent methods. And all of these methods point in the same direction and paint a consistent picture:

- The dinosaurs came into existance about 200 million years ago and persisted until 65 million years ago.

- They were segmented into three different ages, each of which was marked by different species, eco-systems and climates.

What I can't understand is what is the resistance to believing in the "plain interpretation" of creation? If we have an overwhelming amount of evidence that the universe is old, then why not just believe it?

I mean these comments in the nicest way possible. I would just encourage you to do some more in depth study about how paleontology actually works, rather than second-hand descriptions from young-earth creationits. The Bible encourages us to put all truth claims to the test, even other believers' claims. What harm can there be in looking into the matter further?