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Creation Museum and the Ark Encounter!

I’ve never been to the Creation Museum, sponsored by Answers in Genesis, but it looks absolutely fascinating.  
According to the museum website: “The state-of-the-art 70,000 square foot museum brings the pages of the Bible to life, casting its characters and animals in dynamic form and placing them in familiar settings. Adam and Eve live in the Garden of Eden. Children play and dinosaurs roam near Eden’s Rivers. The serpent coils cunningly in the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Majestic murals, great masterpieces brimming with pulsating colors and details, provide a backdrop for many of the settings.”
Answers in Genesis believes in a young earth, which you can read more about here.  Young earth creationism is a literal interpretation of Genesis wherein the earth was created in 6 days as we know them to be now, comprised of 24 hours.
The museum, located near Cincinnati, looks like a fascinating field trip.  What caught my eye about this museum recently was an article in Homeschool Enrichment about the new Ark Encounter.  
Ark Encounter is an enormous exhibit planned to be complete in 2014 in northern Kentucky, about 40 miles from the Creation Museum.  The centerpiece is to be a life-sized replica of the ark!  (My husband’s immediate comment to this was: “Do they know something we don’t?”) 
It looks like they will have some amusement park-type activities and will be an amazing place to come visit with the kids.  Come to learn how the ark and the flood were pieces of actual history.  
Head over to the website, if you feel inclined, they are accepting donations. 
Has anyone ever been to the Creation Museum?  Leave a comment and tell me about it!

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Studying the Dinosaurs from a Creation Viewpoint

“T-Rex! (ROAR!) I’m a tyrannosaurus… I’m the biggest carnivore in the Cretaceous Forest!”
– Buddy, PBS Kids’ Dinosaur Train
No subject of the past is more interesting to young students than the topic of dinosaurs.  For thousands of years, humans have known about bones which were obviously from animals unlike anything they had ever seen before. In the last century and a half, dinosaur hunters have been scouring the land for more bones and other evidence of these reptiles. In fact bone rushes have pitted scientist against scientist in the race to identify more and bigger dinosaurs. Movies like the Jurassic Park series have struck terror into the hearts of thousands of young people worldwide. As well, the same movies have warned us of the growing abilities of geneticists to clone living animals, and perhaps in the future, those animals which are not.
Other controversies rage within the ranks of those who study dinosaurs.  The differences between evolution and creation exist not only with respect to time to accomplish the formation of today’s fauna. The evolutionary view of the dinosaurs and their time periods is much different from that of creationism.
An evolutionist, using the Geologic Time Chart, teaches that the dinosaurs lived during the Mesozoic Era made up of Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous Periods.
These three periods would cover the time period from 225 million years ago to 64 million years ago.  During this time, multiple swallow seas covered vast tracts of land at various intervals. Also during this time, the continents broke apart into the several continents we see today as they moved slowly away from each other. Each of these periods was characterized by fairly specific assemblages of flora and fauna, by which strata may be dated as well as identified. The end of the dinosaurs happened at the time of the K-T extinctions, perhaps caused indirectly by an astronomical event such as a meteor collision and its accompanying effects. The term K-T extinctions refers to the large-scale die off of species in the boundary between the Cenozoic Era and the Tertiary Era. So many organisms went extinct that this boundary has become legendary in the field of historical geology.
A creationist sees an entirely different picture. The foundational idea is that the dinosaurs, although created during the period of creation with the other organisms of the Earth, probably did not survive the Great Flood. This flood was no mere localized flood, but a catastrophic deluge of water accompanied by meteorological effects and vulcanism. The low number of dinosaurs which would have been saved from the deluge were perhaps not a large enough gene pool to survive the planetary recovery period. So, effectively, the flood signaled the end of the dinosaurs.  (This is just a theory, of course, no one really knows what happened to the dinosaurs.) The time of the dinosaurs coincided with the presence of humans, so that humans were probably aware of them. Secondary evidence of this occurs in the Book of Job (Job 40:15-24) as well as the anecdotal evidence of legendary monsters, like dragons and sea monsters. The separation of the continents occurred after the flood and during the time of memory of men (Genesis 10:25) and so would have affected not only the dinosaurs but the human population. The different flora and fauna assemblages recorded in the fossil record are explained by different environmental conditions and geographical isolation.
In order to provide some consistency between these views and in order that students may be able to make the conceptual leap between evolutionary and creationist views of the dinosaurs in their studies, I shall explain a way to understand these concepts. This method will not work for all geological time periods, but should work well for the Mesozoic.
Because the floral and faunal assemblages are so isolated and unique, I would like to use the period names as not only times but also ecosystems. So, Cretaceous would well describe a time period for the evolutionist, or an ecosystem containing the assemblages usually associated with the period for the creationist. While there are other very different aspects to these two views of beginnings, if we make this one adjustment, creationists can easily use resources written by and for evolutionists.
Evolutionary Framework Creationist Framework
Jurassic Period Jurassic Ecosystem
Triassic Period Triassic Ecosystem
Cretaceous Period Cretaceous Ecosystem
Note: This post is also the introduction to One Week Off unit study in Dinosaurs and Other Strange Creatures of the Past by Kathleen Julicher and Sarah Julicher, available at Castle Heights Press.
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Fossils: Stones and Bones, part 3: Searching for Fossils on the Internet

Use these helpful resources as you study fossils in your homeschool!

Fossil Sites and Collecting Locations
Straight-forward list by state.

Fossils for Kids
Great, creative website with fun things like the X Marks the Spot page, Now and Then (my favorite), and a Shark Teeth collection!

St. Louis Science Center
Nice museum site: fossils, dinosaurs, and many other topics.

The Creation Museum
70,000 square foot museum in Kentucky that brings the pages of the Bible to life!

San Diego Natural History Museum: Finding Fossils
Kids’ site on the who, what, when, where, why of fossils

Fossils, Rocks, and Time
Produced by the US Geological Survey, a very informative site for your older students

Everything Fossils…Fossil Facts and Finds
An educational site that tells you everything you need to know about fossils, including activities, coloring pages, specific dinosaur information, articles, links, and lesson plans

Black Hills Institute of Geological Research, Inc.
“the leader in paleontological excavations and preparation since 1974, BHI has been helping supply museums and collectors the finest in professionally prepared fossils and cast replicas.”

United Kingdom Natural History Museum: Dino Directory
Online guide to 333 dinosaurs, images, and classroom activities with printable data files.

Champlain Sea Fossils
See pictures of sea fossils from Canada.

Collecting Fossils in California
All you need to know if that’s the state you hail from- check it out!
You can purchase fossils from this outfit: specializing in low-cost, quality fossils.

Fossil Lesson Plans from Dinosaur Train!
I couldn’t resist.  I will definitely be using this with my little Dinosaur Train fanatic.

Print Resources:

An Illustrated Guide to Fossil Collecting by Richard Casanova and Ronald P. Ratkevich.  A fundamental book on fossils and fossil collecting, it starts out with a brief history of collecting incuding some of the famous collectors of the past like Mary Anning who was twelve when she found a complete skeleton of Ichthysaurus.  Following a description of fossils and  how they are formed, is a discussion of fossil classification.  Sounds technical but it is written for the real person who collects for his or her own bookshelf.  There is a generic chapter on the history of the Earth, evolutionary, of course, but written from the ecological standpoint.  Chapters on how to collect and display your fossils are included.  Lists of resources with museums, geological surveys, societies and paleontological libraries finish up the book.  The best chapter in number seven.  This is the chapter on fossil collecting localities in North America.  This is definitely the resource you need to find fossils on your vacation trips.  Recommended for all ages.

Dry Bones…and other fossils by Gary Parker.  A Master Books publication, this one is written from a Creationists viewpoint.  It is a dialog between Dr. Gary Parker and his family on a typical fossil hunting trip in Indiana, Dr. Parker covers most of the bases in the creationist story of the Earth from creation to the big flood, explaining fossils and how they are made.  This book also comes in a read-along tape version for your little ones.

The Illustrated Origins Answer Book  by Paul S. Taylor.  A wonderful reference book for older readers, the Answer Book has two parts: a textbook and a reference section.  The text is very concise having good definitions which are not oversimplified on the page the word occurs.  This book is not for young children, but for interested adults and older children who have been wondering about some little problem with scientific creationism, but didn’t know where to look.  There many quotes from scientists, creationists as well as non-creationists, in the reference section.  A handy reference for creationists who may become involved in debates or lively discussions.

Field Guide to North American Fossils by Ida Thompson.  Photographs!  In color!  This field guide claims to be the first all-photographic one published. Written for the field, the guide is valuable to have in your field pack so that you can identify that odd fossil without losing face before your children.  Actually, any age can use this great little guide.  It is, of course, evolutionary and has a description in the first part of the history of the Earth period by period.  There are interesting details of recent research in this discussion, so don’t overlook it just because of the evolutionary bias.  After the photo section is a chapter which uses words to describe the fossils of that type.  The discussions are correlated to the photos.

Roadside Geology Series This series is wonderful for keeping in the car on a trip and reading along as you ride through the countryside.  Most of the major routes through a state are covered in the books and a lot of the minor ones.  Geology is best studied outside and these books help you do that.  They help you figure out what is going on with the Earth as you travel past roadway cuts and outcroppings.  The book for Texas covers the different geographical sections (examples are from Southeast Texas: Upper Gulf coast), the typical landforms (like saltdomes and rivers), the different processes still going on (like longshore drift and hurricanes), and the larger routes (like Interstates 10, 35, and 45)  and US routes (59 and 290) and state routes (36)  The glossary in the back and lots of pictures throughout the text make it simple to understand.  Most states are covered, you can purchase the books at The Geology Store.

Dino-Trekking:  The Ultimate Dinosaur Lover’s Travel Guide   by Kelly Milner Halls.  This is another traveling book, but you’ll use it before you get in the car.  Well-known and not so well-known dinosaur sites are listed and described here.  In the margin are the details like address, admission prices, and facilities available. There are side boxes with interesting notes from the curators of some of the museums and parks. The last section is a description of many dinosaurs plus a few non-dinosaurs which are included.  Useful for dinosaur lovers.