Seminary Student Claims Creation Museum Has “Bad Exegesis”

A few weeks ago I came across a blog post written by “Ben,” a seminary student at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS) in Louisville, Kentucky. I greatly respect the president of SBTS, Dr. Albert Mohler, who has spoken at one of our conferences and written several articles for Answers magazine. (His wife Mary has also spoken several times at our Answers for Women conferences, and we have many friends on the SBTS faculty.) It is sad to see the claims this student makes against our Creation Museum which are clearly contrary to the teachings of Dr. Mohler. But as the saying goes, “you can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make it drink.” Every educator strives to teach his or her students the truth, but it is ultimately the decision of the student as to whether or not to accept that truth.

I wanted to respond to just a few things that really stood out to me as I read Ben’s post. AiG typically does not comment on a post by a student. However, bloggers and websites are linking to his anti-museum commentary, and people are now asking us to comment because of the claims made against our apologetics ministry.

Presuppositions About Dragon Legends

Ben has a lengthy rebuttal as to how the museum presents dinosaurs and dragons. In the new Dragon Legends exhibit, we share how many of the so-called dragon legends from multiple cultures around the world are likely based on real-life experiences that people had with dinosaurs and other reptiles thought by old-earthers to have perished millions of years ago (i.e., those extinct reptiles of the sea and of the air). The Bible states that land animals (which would include dinosaurs) were created on Day Six, the same day as Adam (Genesis 1:24–27, 31). Therefore, man and dinosaurs co-existed since almost the beginning of time. Evidence from petroglyphs and other places that we describe in our exhibit indicate people had knowledge of dinosaurs throughout history, with dinosaurs possibly only becoming extinct in the recent past. But Ben offers an alternate view:

Adrienne Mayor from Stanford wrote a famous dissertation in which she pinpointed the geographic origins of dragons and other popular myths and found that those locations overlapped heavily with known ancient fossil beds. . . . In many cases it is certain that ancient people were offering extinct animal fossils as the origin of mythological creatures. . . . This is the mainstream view of modern anthropology. . . . It’s an extremely powerful and convincing thesis.

Notice the phrases, “it is certain,” “mainstream view,” and “extremely powerful and convincing.” But Mayor’s views are based on her ideas about the past (she wasn’t there) and she does not presuppose the Bible as truth. She interprets the evidence of fossil beds and dragon legends in light of her presupposition that man’s ideas about the past—including evolution and millions of years—are true and God’s Word is not. I would like to ask Ben what happens when he takes the mainstream view of science that virgins don’t give birth and dead people don’t resurrect, and applies it to Scripture? He would need to give up the very fundamentals of the Christian faith in order to be consistent with his idea that man’s ideas are more authoritative than God’s Word.

Absolutely “In the beginning”

Ben also has a problem with the way that the creators of the museum interpret Genesis 1:1, basically stating that “In the beginning” is not necessarily an absolute beginning (i.e., the beginning of time). I asked AiG colleague Dr. Terry Mortenson (MDiv and PhD, history of geology) to comment on this claim by Ben. Dr. Mortenson provides this critique:

This seminary student with no advanced training in astrophysics condemns the programs in the Creation Museum planetarium, which were written by Dr. Jason Lisle who earned his PhD in astrophysics from a major secular university. This student also must think that the hundreds of secular scientists from over 50 countries that have signed the document “An Open Letter to the Scientific Community” don’t know what they are talking about either. He then expects us to reject the work of all the orthodox Christian scholars who have had an excellent knowledge of Hebrew and have translated Genesis 1:1 as an absolute beginning. In the vast majority of translations not only in English but other languages, and in numerous commentaries and marginal notes in study Bibles, have given their informed reasons for rejecting alternative translations that deny an absolute beginning.

Instead he wants us to accept Robert Holmstedt’s arrogant view on the matter, even though Holmstedt got his undergraduate Bible training at Wheaton College (where it is almost certain that he had no Bible teacher who took Genesis as literal history, which is the exegetically sound and historically orthodox Christian understanding—see Coming to Grips with Genesis) and did his graduate and PhD studies at secular or Jewish schools, where he also likely had no Bible-believing, orthodox Christian professors, and he now teaches at a secular university.

Sorry, neither Dr. Holmstedt nor Dr. Michael Heiser will be the Hebrew “authorities” that we bow the knee to. We’re sticking with the exegetically sound, orthodox Christian (and orthodox Jewish) translation and interpretation of Genesis 1:1. But, it should also be pointed out that neither Ken Ham nor any other creationist we know would ever say that we can “date the universe [only] with Genesis 1:1.” It is Genesis 1:1–2:3, Genesis 5 and 11, Exodus 20:8–11, and many other relevant verses that lead to the conclusion of a 6,000-year-old universe. But I guess this seminary student and his Hebrew authorities aren’t too interested in reading young-earth creationist literature carefully.

Does Genesis 1 Contradict Genesis 2?

At the conclusion of the blog, Ben poses the question, “Does Genesis 1–2 actually teach all humans came from Adam and Eve?” He doesn’t go into much explanation of this himself, but instead links to an article where that author asserts that Genesis 1–2 are two different creation accounts and builds the rest of his ideas from there. Good exegesis, however, shows that Genesis 1 and 2 are not different creation accounts; rather Genesis 2 gives us more detail regarding Day Six of creation. I encourage Ben and others to read this article “Feedback: Do Genesis 1 and 2 Contradict Each Other?” for further explanation. In addition, genetic evidence is consistent with the human population being young and the human race originating from two people. More information on this topic can be found in How Do We Know the Bible is True (vol. 2) in my chapter entitled “Were Adam and Eve Real People?”

A Question of Credentials

Ben asks the question, “Does it not bother anyone that Ken Ham has NO formal Biblical or language training? (All he has earned academically is a bachelor in science. That’s a scary testament to the modern evangelical mind.)” (emphases in original) This is a common claim against Answers in Genesis: that we do not have people with expertise to teach and research in the areas of theology, biology, geology, astronomy, etc. However, AiG employs several full-time speakers and researchers with graduate degrees in the fields of theology, geology, astronomy, and biology. Ken often consults with these experts, like myself, to assist in developing material for articles and presentations. Also, Ken’s terminal degree is not a bachelor’s. He has a diploma from an Australian school, roughly equivalent to a master’s.

Let’s Trust God’s Word

I hope that Ben will take the time to review some of the resources mentioned in this post. The problem is not that the creators of the Creation Museum have done bad exegesis, but rather that Ben has done eisegesis. That is, he started with the presupposition that man’s ideas about the past are correct and as a result he incorrectly interprets Scripture—making the Bible appear errant and fallible. Let’s remember and echo David’s words in Psalm 19, that the law of the Lord is perfect, sure, right, pure, true, and righteous altogether.

Keep fighting the good fight of the faith!