Many people believe that every word in the Bible -- including the creation account presented in Genesis -- is literally true.
But those same people -- especially the children among them -- often face a tough challenge when they run smack-dab into the theory of evolution taught so rigorously in most schools these days.
But institutions are rising to fight science with science.
One major mission of the new Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky is bolstering the faith of kids who believe in creationism, but have that belief bashed by their schools and teachers.
From dinosaurs to DNA to carbon dating, kids of faith have questions these days. They're struggling to put together what their schools teach about science and what their beliefs are.
For evolution to be true, the earth must be billions of years old, with life-forms on it evolving slowly over hundreds of millions of years.
That seems to contradict the biblical version of creation, with God making the earth and its many life-forms rapidly.and probably not all that long ago.
I brought my boys Austin and Ryan -- both public school students -- to investigate these opposing viewpoints with the Creation Museum's Dr. Jason Lisle.
Upon seeing the many dinosaurs displayed in the museum, the boys asked if evolutionists are right saying the dinosaurs lived tens of millions of years ago.
Lisle answered, "They like to believe that dinosaurs are millions of years old and that the earth's billions of years old."
But Lisle pointed out material has been found in dinosaur remains that could last at the most thousands of years. "You know, we actually find dinosaur soft tissue -- things like red blood cells -- and can you imagine that lasting millions of years? It even looks fresh."
Ryan asked if creationists have a problem with fossils.
Lisle said creationists love the fossil record because it shows no evolving of species. "What we don't find is a continual sequence of one kind of organism changing into another kind.what they would call 'transitional forms.' You ought to have millions of those things if evolution were true."
Austin wondered about the evolutionists' claim that human and ape DNA are so alike, it proves man and ape evolved from a common ancestor.and thus proves evolution.
Lisle pointed out their DNA does have many similarities, but so what? "We actually have a lot of the same DNA as a banana. But that doesn't mean we evolved from a banana, does it?"
Ryan started to wonder about how the universe began, asking Lisle, "What about the Big Bang?"
Lisle answered, "The Big Bang teaches that the universe popped into existence billions of years ago."
But he went on to say, if that were true, the cosmos would look much different. "You'll see these spiral galaxies. And they'll actually twist themselves up over many billions of years. And if they were really billions of years old, they would already be twisted beyond recognition. You wouldn't see a spiral anymore. They'd be all twisted up. So that's evidence that the universe is much younger than is generally thought."
Does Evidence Prove Creation?
Then the conversation turned philosophical, with Austin saying, "My teachers say there's no scientific evidence to prove creation. Is that true?"
Lisle replied, "Science requires that there's a logical, orderly universe. And that only makes sense if there's a logical, orderly God who created that universe and maintains it in a logical, orderly fashion. You see, if the universe were just an accident, a by-product of a Big Bang, then why would it have any order at all? Why would it obey laws.like the laws of physics that you've heard of? Well, you see, that makes sense if God made the universe, if there's a mind behind it. And that's what the Bible teaches. So science actually requires the Bible to be true in order to work."
And as for evolutionists' contention that earth is billions of years old, Lisle had other interesting examples that seem to contradict that. "Ya know, salt in the ocean? The oceans are actually getting a little bit saltier every year. And if they were really millions of years old, you'd be able to practically walk across them by now."
Then Lisle moved from the oceans to examples in the earth. "For example, we find C-14 -- which is an unstable isotope of carbon -- and it can't last millions of years, and we find it in things like diamonds and even coal, things that evolutionists believe are millions of years old. But they can't be that old because the C-14 would be gone by now."
Lisle also talked about how rocks contain helium, but that's a gas that eventually leaks out. "If the rocks really were many millions of years old there shouldn't really be much helium left. But there's a lot of helium left in those rocks. You see, the helium in the rocks demonstrates that those rocks are not millions of years old. They're much younger -- thousands of years old. It's consistent with the biblical time scale."
A Journey Back in Time to Mount St. Helens
But the boys wondered about all that dating of objects science does that seems to prove they're millions of years old.
Lisle pointed to Mount St. Helens, where scientists radiometrically dated some of the brand-new rocks just created by the volcano's eruptions in the 1980s. "And they came out hundreds of thousands to millions of years old -- on rocks that we know are just a few years old. So you see, Mount St. Helens demonstrated that radiometric dating gives ages that are much older than the true age."
Lisle said the volcano backs creationism in so many ways, my crew and I went to Washington state to check it out.
Lloyd Anderson of the Seven Wonders Creation Museum in nearby Silver Lake told us of the wild fury released by the volcano's monstrous explosion May 18th, 1980. "This blast went sideways. 17 miles out it killed trees. 13 miles out it killed people. Destroyed 240 square miles of forest in three minutes."
While we were there, we decided we had to have a look from the actual 8,400-foot summit of Mount St. Helens, now more than a thousand feet shorter after the volcano's blew its top off in 1980.
It was a long, hard slog to get up to the rim of the volcano, but we made it after an arduous six-hour hike and climb.
From there we could look down on a wild surrealistic scene: a gigantic dome of new smoking rock, ripped up earth gouged out to a depth of hundreds of feet and mowed down forests for as far as the eye could see. It's a whole world of wonders for scientists to study. And one that vindicated many of the theories creation scientists have espoused.
Anderson told us the original May 1980 explosion caused the world's largest landslide. Indeed, it covered the huge valley area below Mount St. Helens with landslide material some 600 feet deep.
Then two years later came another massive eruption blasting right through that 600-foot deep material.
Anderson described what it would have been like that day. "In the afternoon hours as the crater becomes an oven, large amounts of super-heated water pour out of the crater with big pieces of volcanic rock, and gouges out first of all channels, then they deepen to ravines, then they deepen to canyons. By the end of the day, there's an entire enormous canyon system on the valley floor.all in one day."
Before that day, scientists claimed it would take tens of millions of years to gouge out such canyons.
And they stated it took a hundred million years to form the many layers in the walls of Arizona's Grand Canyon.
But a massive eruption in June 1980 laid down 25 feet of many complex layers in just three hours. "Well, when it was all over, it had put down at least 200 layers in 190 minutes. That's better than a layer a minute," Anderson said.
Nature Gone Wild
In fact, Mount St. Helens proved even solid rock can be blasted through in very short order by nature gone wild -- as in the case of 700-foot deep Step Canyon just below the crater. Anderson said, "Within five months this canyon appeared. And in the bottom portions of it, it cuts through at least one hundred feet of solid rock. And this had to have been done by pyroclastic flows as the mountain erupted again and again through the summer months of 1980."
Scientists will sometimes come upon many layers of fossilized forests piled up on top of each other and say it proves the ancient age of the earth.
But what Mount St. Helens' first big blow did to the lake just north of it -- Spirit Lake -- had a big surprise for them.
On that day of May 18th, 1980, the explosion of the mountain was so massive it literally gouged all of Spirit Lake right out of its lakebed and sent its waters right up the sides of all the hills surrounding that lakebed. It probably looked like a miniature of what the entire planet looked like when Noah's flood covered the earth. And as Spirit Lake's waters came roaring back down those surrounding hills, it swept over a million trees into the lakebed.
Many of those trees had heavy, dense material clogged around their roots, so they sank vertically. And they've been sinking in successive layers for 27 years. Now, a surprising thing about these logs in Spirit Lake is that the heavier ones sank to the bottom first -- again, standing vertically -- then lighter ones on top of that and lighter ones on top of those until it looked like thousands of years of growth, forest upon forest, but really created in just several years.
And, as Anderson put it, "If someone came along much later, they might presume that those were actually forests that grew and died one after another."
Now imagine how a violent worldwide flood accompanied by volcanic activity all over the earth would radically and quickly alter everything on the planet. Anderson insisted, "The earth can change quickly with a vast catastrophic event. We immediately go to the biblical Flood because it would have changed every square foot of the face of the earth in a more radical condition."
There's another startling find in Spirit Lake since Mount St. Helens began to blow in 1980 -- the material ripped off all those hundreds of thousands of trees swept into the lake plus all the landslide and eruptive material created a three-foot thick goo at the bottom that's an ideal precursor for coal.
Lab experiments show all it will take now is the right kind of eruption blasting the right amount of heat and pressure into the lake to turn this peat into coal.
Scientists have always said coal came from the rotting corpses of long-ago creatures like dinosaurs plus swamps decaying over many millions of years.
But that perfect precursor for coal that's settled into Spirit Lake gathered almost instantly. In fact, Anderson said most of it landed on the bottom of the lake the day of the eruption. And it could well take just one more eruption to turn it to coal any day now.
Back at the Creation Museum, Doctor Lisle summed up why the volcano has been such a boon to creation scientists. "Mount St. Helens demonstrated that a lot of things creationists claimed can happen in a short period of time, really can."
Lisle went on to point out to Austin and Ryan one thing after another that made the biblical creation seem a lot more realistic to them than the chaotic, evolved universe theorized by the evolutionists.
Now, with all the resources available in such places as the Creation Museum in Kentucky and the 7 Wonders Creation Museum in Washington state, Christian kids can head back into the public schools with their heads held high, knowing that what's in their Bible and what science says don't have to contradict each other.