Sunday, November 30, 2008

My visit to the Creation Museum

So this happened quite a while ago, but I haven't gotten around to writing it up (in part because I kept putting it off until I got the pictures off my phone, and in part because I knew it would be long). I went to the Creation Museum in Northern Kentucky with the Elderberries, the 60+ crowd from VCC. The Creation Museum is an offshoot of Answers in Genesis and the work done by their founder, Ken Hamm.

It was bizarre. I felt like I was in some alternate universe. I'm a Christian, I'm kind of a big fan of the Bible, and I believe it's theologically and scientifically acceptable to read Genesis 1-11 from a "young earth" perspective (although I myself do not). I've done a TON of reading on both sides of the issue, I'm more than a little familiar with the talking points, and in a one-on-one conversation I'll tend to take the opposite side from whoever I talk to. I don't want to give my whole creation/evolution backstory here (although I may do that in another post), but I can't imagine that the Creation Museum could have a more receptive "unbeliever" (in their particular story, at least) than me. I figured that while I wouldn't agree with the AIG folks' perspective on everything, I wouldn't see anything that would surprise me.

Wow, was I wrong. The diplomatic way of describing the visit would be to say that they're good folks who love Jesus and love the Bible, and they're willing to die on some hills that I'm not willing to die on. And by "some" I mean "lots."

First, let me say good things. The facility was beautiful. And not beautiful in an ostentatious "we threw a ridiculous amount of money at this thing" way, but in a "we really thought about this and wanted to do our very best to make it a good experience" way. The people were delightful... from the security guard to the ticket lady to the tour guides to the animal handler to the dude selling ice cream. They obviously really cared about what they were doing, and it showed. Christians should be the best in customer service, and these folks were.

As soon as you start in, though, you're faced with an either/or choice that framed the rest of the visit. We were told, in big letters and repeated signs, that one could either start with "Man's Reason" or "God's Word." Man's reason would lead you to believe that the evil evolutionists were right, whereas "God's Word" would show that the earth was young (really young) and that Noah's flood took place 4,937 years ago.

This is problematic for me on several levels. First, I believe God has revealed himself to us through the 66 books of the Bible. But I also believe (and I think the Bible is pretty clear on this) that he's also revealed himself to us through the natural order. "Nature itself" teaches us about God's attributes, and the heavens themselves declare his character. So it should be possible to study nature without the Bible and learn something about God, and it shouldn't be in conflict with what God explicitly tells us.

On a more fundamental level, though, everything in the place was a testament to "Man's Reason" as we've struggled to understand what the Bible tells us. On a really fundamental level, I don't see "God's Word" and "Man's Reason" as conflicting. Rodney Stark wrote an amazing book called "The Victory of Reason" where he argued that something like the Enlightenment is only possible in a monotheistic culture where a belief in a Creator leads to a belief in a created order, which in turn leads to the possibility of an orderly set of observations about the world that we today call "Science."

So as I walked through the Creation Museum, I saw exhibit after exhibit that tried really hard to tell one side of the story, and to be honest they did a pretty fair job. But there's something deeply disconcerting about seeing an exhibit on, for example, "A Biblical Model of Coal Formation" or "Biblical Model of Tectonic Plate Activity" or whatever and seeing them labeled as "God's Word." Because when I read the Bible, I don't remember reading much about coal formation or tectonic plates or anything like that.

What they've done is decided ahead of time what the answer is, and then gone back and looked for a theory that works towards that answer. And that's actually somewhat ok... there's a time and a place for that. The difficulty is that any theory of coal formation is a theory that's built on Man's Reason, since the Bible says nothing about that topic. And so because they're committed to a super-young-earth model of Creation, the AIG folks end up dismissing a ton of actual scientific and historical evidence (like the fact that we have more than 4,937 years of after-Flood history) that's really a deal-breaker for anyone who really wants to sit down and think this through. And they get into ridiculous side-discussions (like proving Adam hung with dinosaurs) that don't really prove their point.

The point to this post (there is one, I promise) is that the real problem for me isn't their views of the Creation account. I get how you could open up the Bible at Genesis 1 and come out at Genesis 11 with something very like their understanding. And I certainly get how you could listen to the pabulum shoveled out in your average high school biology class and think "That's a load of feces, and no more reasonable (or scientific) than my beliefs." But when you make this a deal-breaker, you have a problem. When you say that if you don't buy the official AIG understanding of Genesis 1-11, that you're not a real Christian... well then we have problems. Because what happens, again and again and again, is people listen to that logic, look at both sides of the issue, and say "Well then I guess I'm not a real Christian."

And that's tragic. Because a Christian is simply a follower of Christ. And the more pieces you try to add to that simple truth, the weaker your position becomes. My engineering friends would say it has "multiple points of failure." If your Christianity is the same as your politics or your economics or your favorite music or even your theology, then you've missed the boat entirely. And that's a scary scary thing.

Ninety-Six Dollars

Here's what we bought yesterday for less than half of our monthly grocery budget. It helps to have a bunch of post-thanksgiving sales, it helps to only buy the best deals from 4 different stores, it helps to stick with the basics (no pre-packaged meals, chips, or alcohol), and it helps to have a coupon ninja for a wife. But seriously: $96.

17 lb turkey
11 lb turkey
2 boxes stuffing
2 cans sweet/condensed milk
2 cans pumpkin
5lbs potatoes
3.25 lbs dehydrated potatoes
1 gal whole milk
.5 gal soy milk
2.5 lb dried milk
1 frozen orange juice
1 bag lentils
6 lbs apples
4 lbs broccoli
5 lbs Bisquick
12 cans mushrooms
5 lbs Swiss Miss
5 instant pudding (2 choc, 2 cheesecake, 1 pumpkin spice)
tea bags
children's tylenol
allergy medicine

So much for vacation

Well, today's my last day of vacation (although tomorrow is my day off), and I'm shocked at how little I feel like I've been on vacation. I drove 14 hours, though, and took care of a sick wife and daughter. So it's not like I've been totally slacking.

But I have half a dozen blog topics I've been meaning to write up in my time off. We'll see how much I can get done tonight.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

My new counseling technique

Ha. This is awesome.

Make sure you watch it all the way to the end.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

How to scare a 'banger

So tonight I'm driving home from church and I see three guys on the side of the road. Their car has hazards on and one is starting to walk. They're probably mid-20s, all a bit rough-looking (although it's hard to look tough when you're shivering in 35-degree rain).

I pulled over and discovered they were out of gas. I offered to drive one to the nearest station and he agreed. On the way there he gets more and more nervous... first he tells me he's going to put $10 in my tank for me, which I decline. Then he says he'll just leave me the cash, which I also decline. By the time we got back to his car he'd made the offer three more times.

As we pulled up, I said to him "I'm going to be praying for you on the way home. What should I be praying for?" The dude freaked and jumped out of the car almost before I was stopped. He mumbled "safe trip" as he was going, which either meant he wanted me to pray for him to have a safe trip or he was wishing me one.

So on the way home I prayed that he'd have a safe trip home, and that God would handle the follow-up (since I'd probably never see him again). After I prayed, though, I laughed and laughed and laughed. "Free" really freaks people out. It's a scary thing to be in somebody else's debt... to have the slate wiped clean when you'd rather pay back.

Grace isn't cheap, but it's free. And fun.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Welcome, Mr. President.

My friends know (and I can't imagine anyone else is reading this blog) that I'm more than a little skeptical of Obama as president. He's promised so many contradictory things to so many people that it's more than a little hard for me to see him as an honest politician. People tell me that's how the game is played, which I can accept on one level, but if you're claiming to be the voice of change then "this is the way we've always done it" worries me.

But all that is in the past now. The man is my president, and as an American I'll support him. I watched some of his speech on Hulu, and he said the right stuff. So now it's just a matter of seeing if he can walk the walk.

Here's hoping, Mr. President.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Tomorrow it will all be over.

Or so I fervently hope.

The excellent comic is from PvP.

EDIT: Hmm, comic's too big. Click it to see the whole thing.