Critics of the Creation Museum say that it presents a “pseudoscientific” young earth creationist view of the origins of the earth and universe “even though scientific evidence shows the Earth is about 4.5 billion years old and the Universe about 13.8 billion years old.” I hate taking a side in this fight. My argument is that the age of the earth is one of the least important details one can hope to glean from a study of scripture (and in point of fact the Bible does not say how old the earth is).
I can empathize with Ken Ham’s motives for organizing Answers in Genesis and desiring to build a Creation Museum. As a science teacher in the 1970’s, Ham would take his students on field trips to places like museums of natural history. While there is much to learn about archeology and anthropology from such a museum visit, evolutionary processes and geologic time scales are accepted as fact without question. Ham moved from Australia to the United States where the population of conservative Christians is much higher and began Answers in Genesis in a small storefront office. The idea of a creationist museum was in the back of his mind for a long time.
In September I visited the Creation Museum one afternoon and the Ark Encounter the next day. I am not a vocal proponent of Young Earth Creationism. Nor am I willing to concede the earth is 4.5 billion years old. Whatever you believe about science, no matter where you fall on the political spectrum or anything else, the first verse of scripture in Genesis 1:1 says that “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” There is a lot up for debate and I believe the simple truth is that the Bible doesn’t tell us everything we would like to know. There are some things, and I can point to verses that say as much, that remain a mystery to us. The Bible has a particular story to tell and I want us to read it and see what it says without making any additional demands. To the point, the story begins with a simple statement of fact: God created. According to the scientific principles as we understand them, creation is not reasonable. It is also unreasonable to believe the Jesus was dead and on the third day rose again. “I have authority to lay it [my life] down, and I have authority to take it up again.” he said before the crucifixion. (John 10:18) “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26)
Whether you believe the earth is 6,000 years old, 4.5 billion years old, or none of the above, I hope we can come together at “God created.” If we can agree on that point, the conversation can move forward. If you believe in intelligent design and evolutionary processes, if you also believe that in our natural state we all need Jesus, that he died and rose again and without him we cannot see God, then you and I have common ground on which we can meet. There is an atheist church pastor story making the rounds at the this time. While it’s not my place to judge I would argue that person is a not a Christian. “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6)
Whether you send your kids to public school or homeschool each one, I’m glad the Creation Museum exists to offer an alternative to what our kids will be told is established fact. (My own background is rather sordid. I attended public school from kindergarten through high school. At a private Christian college I was certified to teach public school grades 6 – 12 but then spent nine years teaching at a private Christian boarding school.) The widely accepted age of the earth draws some conclusions based on scientific principles but there is no way to independently confirm the results. The secular scientific community makes fun of Christians who dispute the theory of evolution which, by definition, is theoretical. Normally scientific results are validated by reproducing those results. We cannot reproduce the origin of life on earth and the theory of evolution will remain just that, regardless of what the “evolution is a proven fact” people tell you.
I hate having this conversation. Young earth creationists and other biblical literalists are turned off by my willingness to consider other possibilities. Which is ironically what they want proponents of evolution to do. Adherents of the traditional natural sciences, some Christians among them, are turned off by my belief that “God created” and that he could create man and woman in his image the way Genesis describes. Some will accuse me of feeling strongly both ways. My answer to how old the earth is don’t know, don’t care. More importantly it does not matter in the spread of the Gospel message to which I am called. The debate may actually hinder those that would hear the Gospel otherwise.
I visited the Creation Museum and Ark Encounter. I am going out on a limb and suggesting you do the same. Draw your own conclusions and don’t let me or anyone else tell you what you should think. I would not have devoted years of my life to making those things a reality. I am, however, glad that someone did.
Here is a link to my Creation Museum album on Facebook (which you can view without joining Facebook).
Here is a link to my Ark Encounter album. Scroll through and look at each image individually; some have their own description.
Comments are open. Play nice like. Peace and God bless.