Creation Museum and the Ark Encounter!

I’ve never been to the Creation Museum, sponsored by Answers in Genesis, but it looks absolutely fascinating.  
According to the museum website: “The state-of-the-art 70,000 square foot museum brings the pages of the Bible to life, casting its characters and animals in dynamic form and placing them in familiar settings. Adam and Eve live in the Garden of Eden. Children play and dinosaurs roam near Eden’s Rivers. The serpent coils cunningly in the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Majestic murals, great masterpieces brimming with pulsating colors and details, provide a backdrop for many of the settings.”
Answers in Genesis believes in a young earth, which you can read more about here.  Young earth creationism is a literal interpretation of Genesis wherein the earth was created in 6 days as we know them to be now, comprised of 24 hours.
The museum, located near Cincinnati, looks like a fascinating field trip.  What caught my eye about this museum recently was an article in Homeschool Enrichment about the new Ark Encounter.  
Ark Encounter is an enormous exhibit planned to be complete in 2014 in northern Kentucky, about 40 miles from the Creation Museum.  The centerpiece is to be a life-sized replica of the ark!  (My husband’s immediate comment to this was: “Do they know something we don’t?”) 
It looks like they will have some amusement park-type activities and will be an amazing place to come visit with the kids.  Come to learn how the ark and the flood were pieces of actual history.  
Head over to the website, if you feel inclined, they are accepting donations. 
Has anyone ever been to the Creation Museum?  Leave a comment and tell me about it!

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Studying the Dinosaurs from a Creation Viewpoint

“T-Rex! (ROAR!) I’m a tyrannosaurus… I’m the biggest carnivore in the Cretaceous Forest!”
- Buddy, PBS Kids’ Dinosaur Train
No subject of the past is more interesting to young students than the topic of dinosaurs.  For thousands of years, humans have known about bones which were obviously from animals unlike anything they had ever seen before. In the last century and a half, dinosaur hunters have been scouring the land for more bones and other evidence of these reptiles. In fact bone rushes have pitted scientist against scientist in the race to identify more and bigger dinosaurs. Movies like the Jurassic Park series have struck terror into the hearts of thousands of young people worldwide. As well, the same movies have warned us of the growing abilities of geneticists to clone living animals, and perhaps in the future, those animals which are not.
Other controversies rage within the ranks of those who study dinosaurs.  The differences between evolution and creation exist not only with respect to time to accomplish the formation of today’s fauna. The evolutionary view of the dinosaurs and their time periods is much different from that of creationism.
An evolutionist, using the Geologic Time Chart, teaches that the dinosaurs lived during the Mesozoic Era made up of Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous Periods.
These three periods would cover the time period from 225 million years ago to 64 million years ago.  During this time, multiple swallow seas covered vast tracts of land at various intervals. Also during this time, the continents broke apart into the several continents we see today as they moved slowly away from each other. Each of these periods was characterized by fairly specific assemblages of flora and fauna, by which strata may be dated as well as identified. The end of the dinosaurs happened at the time of the K-T extinctions, perhaps caused indirectly by an astronomical event such as a meteor collision and its accompanying effects. The term K-T extinctions refers to the large-scale die off of species in the boundary between the Cenozoic Era and the Tertiary Era. So many organisms went extinct that this boundary has become legendary in the field of historical geology.
A creationist sees an entirely different picture. The foundational idea is that the dinosaurs, although created during the period of creation with the other organisms of the Earth, probably did not survive the Great Flood. This flood was no mere localized flood, but a catastrophic deluge of water accompanied by meteorological effects and vulcanism. The low number of dinosaurs which would have been saved from the deluge were perhaps not a large enough gene pool to survive the planetary recovery period. So, effectively, the flood signaled the end of the dinosaurs.  (This is just a theory, of course, no one really knows what happened to the dinosaurs.) The time of the dinosaurs coincided with the presence of humans, so that humans were probably aware of them. Secondary evidence of this occurs in the Book of Job (Job 40:15-24) as well as the anecdotal evidence of legendary monsters, like dragons and sea monsters. The separation of the continents occurred after the flood and during the time of memory of men (Genesis 10:25) and so would have affected not only the dinosaurs but the human population. The different flora and fauna assemblages recorded in the fossil record are explained by different environmental conditions and geographical isolation.
In order to provide some consistency between these views and in order that students may be able to make the conceptual leap between evolutionary and creationist views of the dinosaurs in their studies, I shall explain a way to understand these concepts. This method will not work for all geological time periods, but should work well for the Mesozoic.
Because the floral and faunal assemblages are so isolated and unique, I would like to use the period names as not only times but also ecosystems. So, Cretaceous would well describe a time period for the evolutionist, or an ecosystem containing the assemblages usually associated with the period for the creationist. While there are other very different aspects to these two views of beginnings, if we make this one adjustment, creationists can easily use resources written by and for evolutionists.
Evolutionary Framework Creationist Framework
Jurassic Period Jurassic Ecosystem
Triassic Period Triassic Ecosystem
Cretaceous Period Cretaceous Ecosystem
Note: This post is also the introduction to One Week Off unit study in Dinosaurs and Other Strange Creatures of the Past by Kathleen Julicher and Sarah Julicher, available at Castle Heights Press.
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Fossils: Stones and Bones, part 1

 

Let’s go look for fossils!  Puzzling humans for thousands of years, fossils tell us about past life, environments, and events.  They are the focus of the evolution – creation debate.  Fossils add architectural interest to marble in buildings.  Fossils are fun to find and to study.  There are many things which are curious about fossils especially when they show us an animal which no one remembers.  You can study fossils at home and outside.  Let’s begin a study of fossils and see where they lead us. 

Fossils are evidences of past life which have come to us through the earth whether they are actual remains, rocks which have replaced the organism, or tracks of animals.

Since the word “fossil” was used in the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries to refer to anything dug up, it is hardly surprising to find that the word comes from the Latin word fodere meaning “to dig”.  In the old days, people thought that all of the fossils were remnants of the Great Flood.  They were partially correct; most of them probably are, but some of them are from those years after the flood.  A good example of this are those fossils from the tar pits at La Brea in California.   Note: The word fossil has been used to mean a remnant of the past, too, for example, “fossil atmosphere” used to describe a sample of air perhaps representing the atmosphere of ages ago.  In this article, fossil is used to mean evidences of past life.

There are several different types of fossils.  Some are comprised of real, unchanged, and edible meat as was found in the mammoth frozen in Siberia.  (Which, by the way, was eaten, being too much flesh to preserve on the journey back to the western part of Russia.)  Casts or molds of shells, tracks of animals long since dead, and shells encased in concrete-like rock are all varieties of fossils.  In some fossils, all of the original material has been replaced by a mineral, sometimes a semiprecious one, turning the fossil into a jewel of remarkable beauty.

Fossils must have certain conditions in order to form.  (Exceptions to these conditions exist and puzzle fossil collectors.)  These conditions are:

  1. Rapid burial.  In this case burial is usually by sediments or by volcanic ash.  Because a dead organism is usually eaten or decayed very soon after death, in order to be fossilized, the organism must be covered by enough sediments to prevent bacteria from decaying it or scavengers from eating it.   This burial must take place soon after death, or be the cause of death.  There are many examples of fossilized clam beds all over the Earth.  The death of these clams was rapid since the clams are usually closed.  Alive, a clam is partially open so that the clam can siphon water to collect its food.  Startled, a clam will close the shells and once dead, the clam shells will be open after the adductor muscles relax.  Scavengers will be able to eat the dead organism easily.  In the fossilized clam bed, the clams are tightly closed.  This would happen if the clam were surprised by a covering of sediment which did not allow the clam to flop open after death.  Usually, the soft parts of the organism are not preserved.  In the remains of Pompeii, dogs were trapped by falling volcanic ash which preserved the shape of the dog (a cast) although not the dog itself.
  2. Possession of hard body parts. Most fossils have long lost the soft parts of the organism to decay.  The shells and bones of organisms are the parts most likely to be preserved although there have been rare cases of fossils of soft animals like jellyfish being discovered.
  3. Highly mineralized ground water.  The minerals of the ground water can fill in the spaces of the tissues of the organism, such as the pores in bone or muscle. This is called permineralization.  Petrified wood is an example of permineralization.  These same  ground water minerals can also replace the minerals of the bone after first dissolving the tissue itself.  This fossil formation process is called replacement.
  4. Unusual circumstances: In the rare instances where tar or plant resin is present, organisms can be preserved very well.  Insects found within amber are classic examples of this type of preservation.  Human remains have been found in bogs in excellent condition.
  5. Extreme weather conditions: The hard cold around glaciers or extreme dry desert provide example of weather conditions which will preserve quickly and so prevent decay.  Dry conditions in some caves will also mummify an organism through dehydration.

Isn’t it interesting how many of these conditions could occur during and immediately after the Great Flood?  Rapid and deep burial by sediment or by volcanic action, highly mineralized water, extreme meteorological conditions are all elements present during the flood time.

We can find fossils all over the world in many different types of situations.  There are probably fossils near you.  If you have no idea of where they might be found, you can try the local rock shop, university geology departments, or junior college earth science department.  Sometimes a jewelry store owner will be able to tell you some local spots for collecting.  It is a good idea to check at the state Geological Survey office, too.

Get outside and look for these evidences of past life, and stay tuned for part 2: Activities To Try at Home!

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