Recently my family took a plane-train-and automobile trip from Kansas back to NJ. We saw sites in KS, MO, IL, IN, OH, and KY. In Petersberg, KY there sits a large facility filled with dioramas depicting the 6-day creation story as told in the Bible’s story, Genesis. Since we are Christians with uncertain views on evolution vs. the literal 6-day creation account interpretation of the Bible, we decided to check out the museum.
I am sorry to report that I walked away ashamed of my faith, my brothers and sisters in the faith, and my all-to-frequent judgmental behavior. I apologize for Christian’s hypocritical and narrow approach to gospel sharing, including my own. (See pictures of scenes from the museum below, each photo showing Christians narrowness regarding the gospel presentation.)
The museum advertises itself as being a Creation museum. The museum’s name leads you to believe that this will be an interactive children’s science museum. Frequently, I’m hesitant to adhere to strict, literal interpretations of Scripture that are so often intended as allegory. We weren’t there so we can’t know for sure. I was looking forward to how I might be persuaded though. Sadly, the museum was not what I anticipated.
As you wander through the exhibits, you find yourself being preached at. The Creator of the museum, Ken Ham, seems to have spent more time designing a space that espouses a politically conservative gospel address rather than presenting an empirically based proposal for a 6-day creation account. There were brief moments where the museum was good and did argue the worldview the museum advertised.
(See photo of plaque demonstrating reasonable argument points)
Most of the time, the exhibits felt judgmental and rude. I understand it is important to share the gospel and use every opportunity we have to point people to Christ. However, the museum stresses a goal about sharing evidence for a case in favor of the 6-day creation account. If an institution, corporation, business, or facility states its intent for a particular argument, it is best not to deviate from that intent. The goal of this museum, as I have understood it to be, is not to remind people the importance of repentance and God’s forgiveness but rather that 6-day creationism is the most logical deduction of God’s authority in earth’s design.
If the museum directors wanted to share the gospel, because the creators believed that as being creations of God it was necessary to have exhibits sharing the gospel, than they should have spent more time on Jesus and his work on the cross rather than the depravity of man. It seemed like there were 3 rooms dedicated to man’s sinfulness. There was only a 17 minute video speaking of God’s grace and forgiveness. I understand that in today’s society we tend to be too politically correct, too liberal in seeing God’s forgiveness as a license to do as we please, and too lenient in spiritual/physical discipline. However, in trying to combat society’s increasing comfort-ability with sin, conservative churches have become too legalistic and too focused on Satan and man, seemingly more concerned with good works like the Pharisees, rather than emphasizing God’s deed for humanity on the cross and the beautiful freedom of grace and mercy undeserved. A balance needs to be established. When you dedicate three rooms to the discussion of sin and only a wall with a video screen to God’s grace, the balance between sin and grace is skewed in favor of discussing sin.
As such, if you are in the area, whether Christian or not, I would recommend you spend your time elsewhere. Visit a cathedral built a long time ago, do a bourbon tasting, go horseback riding (think Kentucky derby), visit a local science museum, tour Underground Railroad exhibits, talk with blacks about the history of slavery and how it has shaped the execution of faith in the region, or speak with local professors regarding the evidence they have found in favor of a 6-day creation view. Basically, find other ways to experience the culture in Kentucky and a different perspective or venue which proposes the similar 6-day creation worldview that might provide a more interesting and persuasive approach than this museum has done.
My advice: be gracious to people you are trying to share the gospel with, understand how to share the gospel when you are trying to present an argument for a particular issue under a particular worldview, and stick to your point using empirical evidence and data when trying to present a case rather than thinking you must ensure everyone’s salvation. It is our job to share the gospel through the way in which we live. The Holy Spirit transforms hearts, not us. It is okay to argue a case with scientific data rather than insisting we argue issues from Scripture alone- apart from history, science, or culture. May we do our part in loving our neighbors, sharing the good news, but do so in an intelligent, God-honoring manner that leaves room for God to be divine, not man. Let us execute debates in a manner that shows Christians are thinking people, not simply drone individuals following ideals or ideologies they’ve been spoon-fed for hundreds of years.
Also, when you are creating a children’s museum, make it interactive rather than rooms filled with several plaques in which you have to read. Don’t make a dig room that has a mannequin on top of a hill with bones. Instead, put a box in the middle of the room where kids can dig themselves (if you are worried about theft, than chain the bones to the box or something).
*Sideline: When you state a statistic as being sin, it is important to denote all parties involved, not simply one participating party. Let me explain. There was mention that a percentage (I forget the amount) of women were engaging in pre-marital sex in the depravity of humanity section of the museum. I ask, “In what universe have women began to engage in pre-marital sex apart from men? Surely we aren’t all lesbians. Aren’t men called to account for their engagement in pre-marital sex as well? When will we stop pushing for patriarchy and thinking we’ve reached equality?” This was my biggest pet peeve while being in the museum. I must confess that after hearing this overhead in one of the rooms I was unable to take the museum seriously.