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Region won’t benefit from new museum




Every culture has its creation stories.

The ancient Greeks believed the Earth and sky were formed from Chaos, a dark abyss, and that subsequent events on the planet were shaped by Zeus and a cast of other gods.

Some Australian Aborigines viewed creation as the work of the Father of All Spirits and a Sun Mother who answered to him.

A Norse creation story holds that the Earth was formed by the sons of a god named Bor.

For much of the Western world, the foundational creation story is told in Genesis, the first book of the Bible, which in the King James version opens with elegant simplicity: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.”

Genesis, of course, goes on to teach that God formed Adam in his own likeness and Eve from one of Adam’s ribs, that God placed them in a Garden of Eden and that sin appeared on Earth only after they ate of the forbidden fruit. The Bible also teaches that God, unhappy about the world’s sinfulness, later destroyed nearly all his creation in a great flood, sparing only Noah, his family and the creatures aboard the Ark.

Most of the world’s creation stories may be fairly characterized as an attempt to explain the origins of the world as it was known at the time. That the Genesis account has survived for more than 2,000 years, in the face of repeated advances in our scientific understanding of the universe, is a testament not only to enduring faith in the Bible but also to the fact that many religions have interpreted Genesis as a metaphorical account of how the Earth and mankind came into being.

Many people of faith find Genesis to be compatible with the conclusions of astrophysicists who believe the universe was formed more than 12 billion years ago from a cataclysmic explosion known as the Big Bang, that our planet is a speck in the cosmos, deriving its energy from a nearby star that will someday burn out. Many Western religions have also reached an accommodation with the overwhelming scientific evidence that man and other life forms evolved through a process popularly known as natural selection.

In May, a ministry known as Answers in Genesis opened a spectacular, $27 million museum in northern Kentucky that challenges such conclusions. Answers in Genesis promotes a literal reading of the Bible, from the first page to the last.

The organization teaches that the Earth was created in six 24- hour days about 6,000 years ago, not several billion years ago as the mainstream of modern science currently agrees. The ministry believes that many of Earth’s physical features were caused by a flood about 4,000 years ago, not, as modern geology shows, through processes that played out over millions of years. It holds that man and all life forms on the Earth today were created at the same time by God’s hand, not, as nearly all serious biologists believe, through evolutionary processes operating over millions of years.

In short, Answers in Genesis is attempting to make science conform to religious belief.

The Boone County museum’s opening is making news around the world. (The New York Times, for example, described it in a headline as “Adam and Eve in the Land of the Dinosaurs.”)

The national press wouldn’t be here if this were a wacky little group opening a three-room cinderblock museum for fundamentalist tourists. Make no mistake. Answers in Genesis is a sophisticated operation, and it has built a state-of-the-art museum complete with animated dinosaurs, the latest in video technology, handsomely landscaped grounds and a large paid staff.

Frankly, we wish the Genesis Museum had been built somewhere else. We wish that this amount of money and energy had been lavished upon nearby Big Bone Lick State Park, the site of pioneering archaeological discoveries that have contributed to our understanding of evolution and natural selection. We wish the 250,000 men, women and especially children expected to visit the Genesis museum this year were getting a view of science that comports with what science really knows about the world.

Why? Because Greater Cincinnati is trying so hard to market it- self, nationally and internationally, as a hospitable home for a knowledge economy. Because our companies and educational institutions have invested so heavily in scientific research, trying, for example, to understand the genetic symphonies at work in the human body and how to manipulate them to cure disease. Because efforts to recruit top research talent and venture capital to Cincinnati will be undercut by the perception that this is a place where the Scopes trial of 1925 is still undecided in the court of public opinion.

The fact is, Answers in Genesis came to the Greater Cincinnati area – by way of Australia and then San Diego – for the same reason so many companies have located here: proximity to a terrific international airport and two-thirds of the American population.

Those of us who live here understand that this region is large enough, intellectually and spiritually, to make room for all manner of religious beliefs, even those at odds with modern science. We just hope the rest of the world understands that too.

– The Kentucky Post


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