I recently blogged on a visit to the creation science museum, located not far from my home in Cincinnati, Ohio. It is a creationist alternative to natural history museums. The creation museum attempts to provide scientific authenticity and respectability to the creationist view that the bible is literally true in every detail. That is, God created all life on earth a few thousand years ago. And, at least at first, we lived in happy vegetarian harmony alongside lions, tigers, and of course the Tyrannosaurus rex. Indeed, one of the first exhibits shows people mingling with the dinosaurs.
The previous blog stirred a hornet’s nest of comments and I thought it would be useful to summarize some of the most interesting points, and to raise a few new ones. For the moment let us focus on Noah’s ark and the flood. One of the largest exhibits in the Creation Museum is dedicated to the flood, and the owners are now building a life size replica of the ark. Creationists clearly do not back away from a literal interpretation of the biblical flood.
First, where did all the water come from? The water levels of the oceans had to rise many thousands of feet to cover all of the mountains. And rain just recycles water. Water that evaporated from one place is dropped at another place. Rain can cause local floods, but not global ones. Creationists counter that water also squirted from the ground (“fountains of the deep”). Let me say, that is a lot of squirting.
Second, how did all of those animals make it to the ark? Polar bears, kangaroos, Galapagos finches, rocky mountain lions, and so on. The Creation Museum explains that a few thousand years ago there might have been only one continent, which then split into the several that we see today. Well, we do know that continents drift, but their movements are measured in inches per year, not the miles per year that this explanation would require.
And why didn’t any of the dinosaurs make it to the ark? I thought the bible said that two of every kind were included on the ark. And if dinosaurs cohabited the planet with people in pre-flood times why don’t we read in early bible passages of the occasional T. rex ravaging of villages?
One reader also pointed out that all of the land plants would have been wiped out by the flood, which lasted about a year according to the Creation Museum, and biblical scholars http://www.amazines.com/Christianity/article_detail.cfm/990696?articleid=990696. Does this mean that Noah also carried seeds for all of the plants of the planet on the ark? And how were they collected?
Then there is this funny business of creationists believing in microevolution, but not macroevolution. The creation museum clearly states that one species can indeed evolve into multiple closely related species. This is required for the ark hypothesis to have a chance. The ark just didn’t have room for every single species of the planet to fit. So it is argued that the limited number of species that were saved by the ark then split into the incredible number of species that we see on the planet today. Unfortunately, for creationists, evolution is not that fast. A few thousand years is not even close to enough time to account for such diversification. Only in rare cases, where the driving force is human selection instead of natural selection, can speciation occur so rapidly. See my blog “Dogs prove evolution”.
And finally, and most importantly, there is the incredible moral dilemma of the flood. God knowingly, and with clear intent, killed every person on the planet, save a few. This must have included thousands of women with unborn babies in their bellies. God killed them. And think of the innocent children. It wasn’t their fault that things were going badly. They were just kids, having fun, playing their games, spending time with their friends, loving their parents. But God killed them. And think of all of the mothers of the planet, caring for their children, hoping for a brighter future, wanting the best for their kids. God killed them too.
God gave Moses the Ten Commandments to provide a moral compass. These were the essential rules to live by. To live a good life one should obey these commandments.
Thou shall not kill.
If the flood story is true then it would seem to represent a rather embarrassing inconsistency.
About the Author: Steve Potter, PhD, is a Professor of Pediatrics, in the Division of Developmental Biology, at Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Cincinnati. He has authored Designer Genes: A New Era in the Evolution of Man, published by Random House 2010 http://www.amazon.com/Designer-Genes-New-Era-Evolution/dp/140006905X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1310842010&sr=1-1. In addition he has written over one hundred science papers, and co-authored the third edition of the medical school textbook, Larsen’s Human Embryology.