Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Musings about the Museum

The brand new 27 million dollar Creation Museum was opened to the public last week. The 60,000 square-foot facility is located in northern Kentucky, just across the river from Cincinnati.

From what I gather, the museum is an extension of the Creation Science movement. It insists that a correct reading of the Bible, especially the Book of Genesis, leads to the conclusion that the cosmos was created in six 24-hour days, and that the earth is no more than 6,000 years old.

Creation Science also says that because most of the the scientific community has rejected God and the authority of His written Word, it has come up with an alternative that includes no god and no creative work. This has led, say the creationists, to the moral and spiritual decadence that we see in the world today; by rejecting the beginning of the Bible and its teaching about origins, modernistic science undermines all of the Bible, putting more and more distance between people and the one true God, who is the ultimate author of Scripture.

There were a few protesters at the grand opening. They argued that the sponsors and promoters of the museum begin with a narrow set of religious presuppositions. Then, in order to prop up their viewpoint, these believers abandon just about everything that astronomy, biology, geology, etc. are telling us about the age of the earth and how it came to be the way it is today.

The museum's director responded by saying that both sides of the argument begin with a set of beliefs. It's not as though the people who side with "real science" have no presuppositions about how to read the evidence. Both sides are reading the evidence, says the director. And, unabashedly, he has decided to read it through the lens of the Bible.

When I came across this story, I began to think of Christians who subscribe neither to Darwinism nor to Creation Science. I count myself one of them. Which is not to say that I reject all of mainstream science. And, of course, I don't want to deny what the Bible affirms.

In the spring of 1922, three years before the infamous "Scopes Monkey Trial," the great N. B. Hardeman spoke night after night to overflow audiences at the old Ryman Auditorium in downtown Nashville. In his address on "The Bible" he said:

"Due to a failure to understand one or both, the Bible and science have been considered by many contradictory, and the fight has been on between them. But I have an idea that in the not far distance pseudo-scientists will have reached their limits, and then real science and the Bible will set out on convergent lines that will by and by come together. Forgetting, then, the bitterness of the past in the joy of newly found truth, they will clasp hands and together cast the crowns of their triumphs--triumphs of science and Christianity--at the feet of their common Author and God shall be proclaimed Lord of all."

Of course, I don't know how many years Hardeman thought it might take to get to "the not far distance." But it's now been 85 years since he said that. For all of his wisdom and eloquence, he can't play 21st-century quarterback like I can.

Maybe he underestimated the capacity of science to be not a servant of human good, but an aspect of human power. And maybe the ways in which people read poetic texts about primordial events need to be reconsidered.

Either way, I often find myself befuddled by it all. And I always wish I knew as well as I am known. What do you think?


James said...

I may not be a full time scientist, nor a Biblical scholar, but I do find a beautiful eloquence in seeing the creative hand of God at work in the realm of science that we can understand of how this universe came into being. I find no disparity between scripture and science, except for the absence of a detailed time table in an otherwise poetic description of what science has told us the universe and our planet came into existence.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.... ;)

Arlene Kasselman said...

Last summer a few of us travelled from Amarillo to Oklahoma City to hear Rob Bell on his "everythingisspiritual" tour. I had never been to a preaching tour before and so I expected a chunk of time spent in worship and then him delivering a short lesson. Wrong! He walked out on stage and preached straight for two hours. I have since heard that he weekly teaches for about 45 minutes a time, surprising, considering the Nooma DVD's.
He preached that two hours out of the first 7 chapters of Genesis. He wove scripture, hebrew tradition and science and it was captivating.
Try googling Rob Bell and/or everythingisspiritual and perhaps that sermon is downloadable.
Highly recommend!