A new museum in Petersburg, Ky., is attempting to bring together faith and science in an interesting way. Calling their endeavor “Creation Museum,” promoters hope to use the museum to celebrate God as creator–which is a good thing.
Unfortunately, there’s a major problem with the idea. Once inside the Creation Museum patrons are told that dinosaurs and human beings lived at the same time.
Most if not all scientists assert that dinosaurs lived millions of years before humans. The way Creation Museum brings them together is by means of a literal reading of the book of Genesis.
It works like this. If the days of creation as recorded in the first book of the Bible are 24-hour days, and if the generations that are detailed in the many genealogies found in Genesis are regarded as accurate, it is possible to calculate the age of the earth as somewhere around 6,000 years old.
Furthermore, if all life on the planet was created during that six-day period, then obviously humans and dinosaurs were created on the same day and therefore existed at the same time.
Not only did they live at the same time, but also lived in relative peace. It was only after the fall of Adam that things became dangerous and violent in the world.
By the time of Noah, things had gotten really bad, so bad that God decides to destroy the planet with a great flood. Only Noah and his family are, along with an ark full of animals–including dinosaurs. The great flood, according to the Creation Museum, accounts for the many fossils and skeletal remains found in various places around the world.
Now I understand that these folks are trying to be faithful to the Scriptures. There exists a sort of mantra among many Bible believers that if even one tiny portion of the Bible is in error, then all of it is up for grabs. But that is not true. The Bible has been and continues to be the major source of inspiration and instruction for millions of Jews and Christians. But it does not have to be taken literally in order to have its authority.
The book of Genesis is a book of faith, not science. It tells us why God created the world, but not how, and certainly not how long. The writers of the ancient books had some great insights about God, but they did not know what we know about the universe.
The Bible actually provides us with some wiggle room on understanding the scope of God’s creation. “A day unto the Lord is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like a day.” This biblical insight should alert us that God does not necessarily operate on our time frame. Six days for God could easily stretch into billions of years.
Beyond that, an overly literal reading of the Bible may actually diminish God. Think about it for a moment. If the universe is 12 billion years old and continues even now to expand at the speed of light, what does that say about God’s greatness?
Because of what we know about the universe, we are in a position to have a much greater appreciation for God’s creative act than even ancient biblical writers were able to have. We can take what the psalmist wrote to a whole new level: the heavens are declaring the glory of God.
James L. Evans, a syndicated columnist, also serves as pastor of Auburn First Baptist Church in Auburn, Ala.