Monday, March 21, 2011

Thoughts from the Creation Museum

Last Thursday Lynn and I took the boys down the creation museum with one of our good friends. We had a great time - well worth the two hour drive (we had a couple of free tickets, but even if we had had to pay full price, it would have been worth it). I didn't quite know how I'd feel going into it - I come at Genesis 1 from a different angle than the creators of the museum. With the boys there, I was actually a little nervous that I'd be painted as a compromiser (spell check is telling me that's not a word, but I'm trumping spell check), someone who's set aside biblical fidelity to accommodate modernism. I don't think that is what I have done, though I may be self deceived. Here is how I understand things (a very short overview with no defense), followed by some thought on the creation museum.

Regarding evolution, I can't square any macro-evolutionary views with my understanding of God's direct creation of all that exists. I believe the Bible affirms a literal Adam and Eve, not only in the Genesis accounts, but throughout the Old and New Testaments. I do not believe, however, that the days of Genesis were meant to be taken as literal 24hr. days. Instead, I believe Genesis 1 is a highly stylized form of narrative ('exalted prose narrative' to steal Jack Collins phrase). I believe the author intended the days of Genesis 1 to form a literary framework. Day one through three God creates spaces/homes; Day four through six he fills those spaces/homes. A form-and-fill pattern is evident, so:

Day 1: God separates Day and Night -- Day 4: God fills night and day with sun & moon
Day 2: God separates sky and sea -- Day 5: God fills sky and sea with birds and fish
Day 3: God separates sea and dry land -- Day 6: God fills land with animals and man

Also important in this is the observation that Day 7 is an open day - it doesn't end with the refrain "and there was evening and morning, the __ day". The implication, I believe, is that Day 7 is ongoing. God rested from his creative activity (though not from his providential care of his creation).

Moreover, I don't think it is possible from the Biblical data to come up with a date for the beginning of the earth. I believe the Bible is silent on this.

So, now some thoughts on the museum;

1. I loved the way they told the Bible story. I mean, I really loved it. The 'Seven C's' are a great device for teaching the Grand Narrative of Scripture - Creation, Corruption (the fall), Catastrophe (flood), Confusion (Babel), Christ, Cross, and Consummation (new heavens/earth). I don't know if I'd use this all by itself - it leaves off too much (Abraham, Moses, Church) - but using this in addition to a more detailed account that uses the covenants, I'd buy. For their purposes, it was important to get flood and Babel, and they are indeed very important to the storyline of the Bible. The Garden section and the Ark section were, in my opinion, the best.

2. After the tour, I'm still not convinced that Bible binds us to a young earth or a literal six days. I'll keep my 'literary framework' understanding, and not because I'm trying to accommodate the non-creationist scientist, but because I think there is good indicators from the text that this is how it should be understood. That leads to my biggest criticism - pastors who don't hold to a literal six days and to a young earth (~6000yrs old) were held up as being 'unfaithful' and the cause of decline of the church in America. There have been many who have questioned a literal six days or a young earth and have, at the same time, stood against the tide of liberalism - just check out Machen! Warfield is another stalwart who didn't believe in a literal six days or young earth. There are legitimate alternative interpretations offered by people who are incredibly faithful.

3. Coming out of the experience, I am more convinced the scientific evidence that is offered as proof that the earth must be billions of years old isn't the slam dunk it's often made out to be. In addition, I'm convinced there is something to the evidence presented for a young earth. I realized that in my conversations with Caleb I have sometimes reverted to 'scientists say, but the Bible says'. I really need to check that - not all scientists agree that the earth is billions of years old or that man and monkeys sprang from a common ancestor. The museum did a great job of presenting 'alternative' evidence and raising questions about the 'billions and billions of years' line of argumentation.

4. The bookstore was weird. There was a ton of good books - science, creationism, theology, etc. There was also a ton of kitsch - tshirts, mugs, posters, etc. Even odder were the books in the vein of 'taking back America' and 'the global warming conspiracy' or 'social issues'. Not sure why creationism would get hitched to these wagons. Another friend suggested the knew there audience and were just catering to their buying habits. Probably so, but odd nonetheless.

In the end, I am still unconvinced the Bible demands six thousand years and six literal days. I am more convinced that the 'billions and billions of years' is postulated more out of necessity than strong, incontrovertible evidence. It was a great time with the family and a great educational experience. The truth that it is God who did it - who created everything and us in his image - was loud and clear. That's what is important for me and what I want my kids to believe. It led to some good conversations with Caleb and Jake - and I'm still loving that they ask me, "what did you think dad?" I still have clout with them!

1 comment:

MBK said...

Awesome. Doug was filling me in a bit on your trip yesterday. Thoughts in the science community are definitely more diverse than you're led to believe... even more than us within it are led to believe.