Welcome to Bedrock: A Liberal Theologian Visits the Creation Museum

Document Type


Publication Date

February 2013

Publication Title

Southwest/Texas Popular Culture Association and American Culture Association Annual Meeting


The Creation Museum, established by the conservative Christian organization "Answers in Genesis," purports to offer visitors a realistic and historically and scientifically accurate representation of the origins of life on Earth according to the Book of Genesis. By employing all of the features of modern museums of science and history and elaborate cutting-edge technology and special effects, the Creation Museum intends to convince visitors of the scientific validity of a hyperliteral reading of Genesis's creation accounts and, therefore, of the truth of their particular version of Christianity. In my paper I will reflect on my visit to the Creation Museum as a liberal Protestant theologian with a very different tradition of Christianity informing my experience. I will address the museum's adoption of scientific rhetoric to undermine contemporary scientific conclusions about the origins of the universe, and I will also discuss the irony inherent in this practice through an analysis of the Creation Museum's dependence on a modernist, scientific standard of truth to make its claims for the truth of its reading of the creation accounts as literal, scientific fact. I will conclude that the Creation Museum (and by extension creationism and Christian fundamentalism as broader movements) relies on a thoroughly modernist, Enlightenment equation of truth with fact, an assumption that is largely absent from the biblical worldview and indeed from much of Christian history and that depends, not on traditional Christian notions of truth as that which discloses deeper levels of meaning and value and invites existential commitment, but on modern scientific notions of truth as that which is empirically verifiable and demands rational assent. The Creation Museum, therefore, actually abandons traditional Christian notions of truth in favor of the very secular and scientific notions of truth it purports to abhor, resulting in inevitably doomed efforts to "prove" the biblical narrative as historical, scientific fact in order to fit this particular standard of truth. Based on this conclusion I will also briefly address some of the many different ways that Christian theologians have understood the relationship between science and religion, focusing particularly on the implicit position of the Creation Museum and on the very different position of my own liberal Protestant tradition.

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