My family has a general rule of thumb that we try to follow whenever we consider going anywhere or driving any distance in order to see something. That rule is this: we need to be able to stay longer at the activity than it takes to drive there and back. In other words, if it takes four hours to drive to and return from an event and the event itself lasts less than that amount of time, then it probably is not worth attending that event!
A museum opened up this past May, however, that made us reconsider our rule. Answers in Genesis has been planning, designing, and building a state of the art, interactive, multimedia museum for most of the last decade. This facility finally opened its doors to the public this past Memorial Day weekend. The museum has as its goal the defense of a literal, historical interpretation of the book of Genesis “from the very first verse.” Answers in Genesis is an apologetical organization that seeks to explain to the public in general, but to church people especially, the fact that a literal understanding of the six days of creation is not just proper theology but that it is good science as well.
Answers in Genesis is led by the very gifted Ken Ham, a native of Australia, who many of our readers may know through the various church conferences that are put on all across the United States and Canada. One of Ken Ham’s dreams has been to open a museum that would not only explain the very good science that lies behind a literal six, twenty-four hour day understanding of creation week, but one where the results of such an understanding could be seen and made practical to our everyday lives. This museum turns that dream into a reality.
A variety of life-size, full scale, animatronic dinosaurs greet you when you first enter the lobby of the museum. After viewing the many displays already present in the lobby, you enter the main theater to view a film that presents the main questions that all people ask themselves at some point in their life: how did I get here? Why am I here? Why is there so much pain and hurt in this world? The rest of your walk through this museum answers these questions and many more.
The displays are designed to tell the visitor the story of Biblical revelation: from the perfection found in the Garden of Eden, to mankind’s fall into sin, to our redemption from sin through faith in Jesus Christ, to the glorification that awaits believers in the new heaven and the new earth. All of these themes are clearly set forth as you walk through the museum. The last challenge given to every visitor is to point them, by way of film, to “The Last Adam.” Jesus Christ is clearly presented as our only hope and the only answer we need to those great “Why?” questions of life.
Mixed in with these exhibits that tell the story of Holy Scripture there are not only those superbly done dinosaurs, but you will also find rare and unique fossil displays. There is a lifesize, walk through presentation of what it might have been like building Noah’s ark. There are also many smaller theaters and television screens which explain various facets and studies that are currently going on in the creation science movement.
Another very important feature of the museum is the state-of-the-art planetarium. This facility gives a fascinating display of God’s incredible universe explaining how the stars and various galaxies align with and compare to earth. While entrance into the planetarium is not included in the cost of the museum, it is worth the extra $5 charge to see the words of the Psalmist come to life over your head, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands” (Psalm 19:1).
While this museum is located just south of Cincinnati, Ohio and involved an eight hundred mile round trip from where we live, it was definitely worth the trip. We gladly set aside our “rule” for this experience! My family and I were thoroughly blessed from our visit, and our understanding of the vital importance of the first chapters of Genesis was strengthened.
I would raise only two objections or concerns for the museum; one of them is based upon a principle while the other is more practical. My concern based on principle focuses on the decision of Answers in Genesis to have its museum be open on Sunday. This organization so zealously advocates and declares to be essential the absolute literal understanding of the first six days of God’s creation week. Yet, it apparently takes much less literally the pattern of Sabbath rest established by God for the seventh day of creation week. In my view this undermines their credibility and hurts their apologetical efforts.
My practical concern involves the fact that the designers of the museum simply thought too small! The crowds have been enormous ever since its opening in May, and they have only gotten larger throughout the course of the summer. The walkways are too narrow for the numbers of people who come each day, and this makes it difficult to follow the story that is being told from exhibit to exhibit. There is an unannounced but very real “pressure” on you to keep moving, which makes it hard to take in all of the sights and to process all of the very good information that is available in the various displays.
These crowds may lessen over time. However, if you would like to take in this very valuable asset to our Christian culture, my recommendation would be that you go early in the week, arrive when the museum first opens in the morning, and plan on staying until it closes at night. Also be sure to get your planetarium tickets when you first arrive, as these limited shows regularly sell out quickly. May your faith be strengthened as you see that the truth of “In the beginning God…” can be defended scientifically even in today’s agnostic and evolutionary world.
Rev. Ed Marcusse is the pastor of the Faith United Reformed Church in Olive Center, Michigan.